Woke up in the morning to find the boat on it’s side.
During the night, the pound, (the expanse of water between locks), had emptied out. I can see from my bed that one side of the boat is much lower than the other.
This makes me kind of uneasy, as I don’t know how much water has gone from under the boat.
As I look out of the window, it doesn’t look to be a lot. Still, if I leave it, it will get worse, especially if people come and start using the locks.
Quickly put some clothes on, do an engine check and start the engine.
I can push the stern out from the bank, but not the bow, which seems lodged.
I shove it in reverse, kicking up the mud and gravel and shit, and waggle the tiller a little, which has the right effect.
As I drift backwards, the front end follows, and I drift backward to the safety of the bollards of Potters Lock.
It looks like the pound had emptied by around a foot or so whilst I was asleep.
Moored at the locks, which you’re not supposed to do. Had a bit to eat and got going before anything else could go wrong.
Later on down the pound, a wide beam has run aground on the shallow water.
Earlier on the following day, some large canoeists had been leaving all the bottom paddles up and gates open, now all the pounds are empty.
16 Miles 16 locks
There’re more sets of locks on this Kennet than any other canal.
They’re all double.
Apart from that, they only have one sluice or ‘paddle’, this means that unlike the other double locks on the CRT system, they fill very slowly.
Most double locks have a ‘ground paddle’, which opens and lets water in from the bottom of the lock, and a ‘gate paddle’ that lets water in at the top of the gate, water level.
This has the net effect of creating an even filling of the lock.
These locks are much slower. Painfully slow.
So, I hang around.
Crofton Locks and Pumping Station
During the day, I encounter the highest part of the Kennet and Avon lock, it’s called Crofton.
There’s a large pumping station that used to supply water to the top of the locks and regulate the system. Reading the OS guide to Southern canals instructs me that there’s some unique engineering featured inside.
It’s open to the public on Sundays. As it’s Tuesday when I pass, I have to make do with a photo.
The CRT volunteers here are particularly good, and I don’t have to get off the boat for 7 locks, not like Fradley Junction where they just open the paddles then walk off.
10/10 for Crofton then.
The Kennet and Avon canal
Was restored entirely by volunteers in 1975. There’s a plaque halfway up the Crofton locks dedicated to the men and women who helped in the restoration, (above).
This is the Bruce Tunnel, named after it’s engineer Thomas Bruce Earl. There’re two railway lines intersecting above it, one of them still operational and Savernake Forest.
The canal begins it’s steady descent towards Bath…
I pass a couple of Tors, and a White Horse to the right.
It’s getting late by the time I get into Honey Street.
The sun has gone down, it’s dark.
I can’t find any moorings in the village, and the reception is so bad, I can’t check my map to see where they might be on Google.
All the way through the village, the bank is very soft and shallow. Not suitable, or even visible to get out and secure the boat. Eventually, I see somewhere with the light of the street-lights that has a re-enforced concrete bank, generally an indication that the water will be deeper.
I pull up, it turns out to be part of a disused industrial instalment, now converted to someone’s back garden. Never mind, I’m well and truly parked. It’s dark.
I leave the boat and go to meet old school friend, Daniel.
We go to the Red Lion in Avebury, I have a mixed grill which is rather nice.