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Monday, 21 July 2008

Hungerford to Devizes

Thurs 17th July we set off on a mild, overcast and breezy day. Intermittent light drizzle during day. We set off early for us as a boat came out of Hungerford Lock & it seemed a pity to waste it! We left the lock at 9.10, so you can see what early is for us nowadays!.

We crossed with 6 boats during the day when we cruised 5 miles and 10 locks and moored up at Gt Bedwyn. We were close by the railway station but the noise was not intrusive. The village is lovely. It has 2 pubs ( far from the best we have seen ) but also a Baker, a Store, a Post Office which was being run by volunteers to keep it ticking over till a new postmaster arrives, plus an interesting stone masonry exhibition. The Church was interesting and held the tomb of Jane Seymoor's father, and the village also had its own primary school, bowls and tennis club plus a British Legion hall. There was a large number of pretty houses too. It is well worth a visit and only 1 1/2 hours from London.

The next morning dawned very dull with the air full of drizzle. We moved forward early to the water point but found it occupied so we set off west at 8!! We shared several locks with an engineer holidaying here with his mother and his 2 boys who were complaining about the weather as he works in Chile and Peru. We arrived at Crofton Pumping Station just after 10, it does not open till 10.30 so we had a wander along Wilton Water for a while before entering and being assailed by the aroma of bacon sarnies...........we just had to have one.

Crofton houses the oldest beam engine in the world that is still mounted and working in its original building. Their web site is very useful ( and will give details of steaming days. I add a pic.

The weather had not improved a sight and we worked our way through the top lock at 14.45 and out onto the fairly short top pound. Most locks were for us as on the K & A they often get you to leave locks empty. I suppose it is to stop water seeping through the walls and washing out the fines behind the brickwork. Shortly after the top lock we passed through the Bruce Tunnel. Incredibly straight and almost totally dry. We watched several Kingfishers, Kites and Buzzards which helped to make up for the poor weather. We stopped for the night at Wootton Rivers. 5 1/2 miles and 13 locks.

Nicholson says it is a very pretty village with lots of thatch. We visited it on Saturday morning, and reckon that Gt Bedwyn is far better. We then cruised on for 12 miles and 1 lock to stop at Horton Bridge. The weather had been bright but with a strong cool breeze. Moorings along the canal are not good. We often moored with our bows into the bank in deep weeds and the stern out, kept out by the stones under water. We tried to watch qualifying for the German GP but found it difficult to see through the "snow", particularly annoying after the struggle we had to get moored up. So on Sunday we cruised for a couple of miles into Devizes and were fortunate to get a mooring in the Wharf. We had a visit by cousins of two f our friends who were anxious to see what a modern, fitted out narrowboat was like. Carol, of course, gave them tea and cakes. We had watched the GP with excellent reception, and we then wandered off to look around Devizes which is a peach.

There is an interesting Medieval walk around the town guided by cast plaques, one of which is just down the road from the Wharf. We followed round most of it on a lovely late afternoon and the town has a wealth of lovely buildings and sights. Do plan a stay to explore it, we will catch it again later.

Tomorrow its Caen Hill Flight

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