19 July 2004

River Thames to Bristol

Hi, we have finally made it to the other side of the country. After celebrating June's birthday on 29/06, twenty-one again, we had final Wednesday bar night drinks at MYC and left Kingston on Thames on 01/07 to drop a few things off at home and head up the Thames for Reading. On the Wednesday we received a message at Molesey Lock, that Hambledon Lock, at the downstream end of the Henley Regatta course was closed until further notice. This being regatta week at Henley, we were uncertain what, "until further notice", could mean. We had visions of having to get to Reading, via Braunston! In the event it was sorted overnight. We moved slowly upriver so that we did not attempt to pass Henley during the regatta. We started on the K & A on the Tuesday 06/07, the first thing we noted was that, unlike five years ago, all locks and swing bridges had access moorings. This was a vast improvement. The locks as far as Newbury, were a motley collection of the early restorers' gatherings of discarded gates and paddle gear from other canals. However rural moorings were still non-existent. There was not really even an opportunity to stick ones bow on the bank. So no, " this looks a good mooring, lets stop". It took until we reached Bradford on Avon for rural moorings to start. As a result, from Reading to Bradford, we had to go between recognised mooring sites, mainly designated, "24 hour max", by BW. On our way up to the summit of the K & A we received a message tied to paddle gear that 2 locks on, lock 68 was broke and would be mended the next day, so we spent the night on the lock mooring awaiting repairs. BW actually repaired it at 2000hrs! Some cynics said, "double time?" 4 locks down from the summit on the Bristol side, we encountered the K & A's gem, a 15 mile pound finishing at Devizes, the home of Wadworth 6X! Whilst at Devises we met an old colleague of Dave Walker's, another retired Humber Pilot! We worked the Caen Hill flight together and as you would expect drank in the pub at the bottom of the flight together. All of a sudden we were in striking distance of Bristol, instead of it being weeks away. After a weekend off at Bradford, we dropped down to Bath and then to the Floating Harbour at Bristol, on Wednesday 21, £12.75 for 24 hours use! A couple of visits to Wetherspoons and we are now east bound. Regards to all. Terry, June, Jade and Hanley. Message from: - Terry Carter On board N/B Pluto 07885 399 324