Indigo Dreaming

The journeys of the Narrowboat Indigo Dream

  • Blog Index as a pull down

  • Recent Posts

  • Meta

  • Recent Comments

  • wordpress counter

Archive for September 20th, 2008

The Odyssey Summer 2008 – Day 38

Posted by indigodream on 20 September, 2008

Bathampton to Seend

The view from Dundas Aqueduct

The view from Dundas Aqueduct

I think that any adrenaline that had permeated my system over the weekend finally evaporated today as the reality of being back on the K & A hit home. I was niggly all day, not helped by the fact that we cruised in tickover for hours on end because of miles and miles of online mooring. To add insult to injury, we encountered several ‘barking dogs’ – boat owners who run to their hatches to shout ‘slow down’ as you go past, regardless of the speed that you’re actually doing. It’s tedious and unpleasant (being as couldn’t get any slower without turning the engine off!). Richard tried to explain to one boat that several feet of slack in a mooring rope will mean that a boat will move when another passes it but they were convinced that our 800 rpm counted as speeding. I do believe that there are moorers on this stretch who don’t want anyone but them to use the canal. Maybe if the waterway was allowed to grow over then BW wouldn’t want any licence fees – I suspect that would suit many a continuous moorer down here!

Antother view from Dundas Aqueduct

Antother view from Dundas Aqueduct

Having said that, BW’s promised purge on unlicensed boats seems to have worked – there are far fewer unlicensed boats than when we cruised here last year.

The trip from Bathampton to Seend is certainly scenic. It’s stunningly rural for most of the way. The canal follows the gentle contours of the landscape and, at the bottom of the valley beneath you, the Avon meanders unseen and the railway quietly goes about its business. There are several swingbridges here – excellent opportunities for dogs to jump off and have a rummage. The swingbridges are fine for a crew of two but must be immensely awkward for a single-hander as the mechanisms are on the opposite side to the boat landing.

Looking across the valley to the Somersetshire Coal Canal

Looking across the valley to the Somersetshire Coal Canal

We stopped for water at Dundas w

Wharf – this is a useful service point with reasonable water pressure which also has a pump-out facility and waste disposal. Even if you don’t need the services then stop here – the views down the Avon valley are particularly lovely. You’ll also see the entrance to the short stretch of the Somersetshire Coal Canal here. As the main canal winds around one end of the valley you’ll get a good view of the coal canal perched on the far side.

The stretch from Dundas to Avoncliffe is quite breathtaking – the canal follows the contours and above you is a steeply wooded embankment and your right is an equally steep drop down to the Avon. The whole canal is cool and shady, dappled green and lovely. The air was chilled here, as if the sun hadn’t had a chance to warm it since the winter. Richard thought I made it sound so sinister, as if some dark god had cast his shade over the water and condemned the cut to everlasting night. I’m not sure about that but I’m sure a fantasy writer could be inspired by this landscape…..

A view along the stretch between Dundas and Avoncliffe

A view along the stretch between Dundas and Avoncliffe

We’ve passed this way three times before and each time I’ve taken a fancy to a house overlooking the canal – high enough no to worry about flooding and to have a magnificent view over the trees, but with an immaculate garden leading down to a generous canal frontage (perfect for mooring). Well this time we noticed it was for sale! It’s such a good spot that I did wonder whether I could overcome my antipathy of the K & A in order to come and live here. The decision was made for me when I looked up the details (hurrah for the internet) – it was on sale for £825,000. A tad out of our price range…….

I walked the dogs along this stretch – there’s no roads for miles and there’s good rummaging to be had in the strip of woodland by the towpath. We met a lurcher puppy here – 9 months old and utterly gorgeous. Blue ignored him and Lou chased him round a bit but the puppy wasn’t bothered!

Avoncliffe Aqueduct, and no, I don't think you're allowed to moor there!

Avoncliff Aqueduct, and no, I don't think you're allowed to moor there!

The Avoncliff Aqueduct takes you back over the Avon and out of the shady trees. The next stretch into Bradford on Avon is slow with on-line moorings but Bradford on Avon itself is a good town for exploring. We’d recommend mooring below the lock – more room, better access to the town and the towpath backs onto parkland which is excellent for dogs. We didn’t stop this time but we spent a week here last year – it was a great holiday destination! Oh, and this is where we bought the two pieces of sheepskin (for £5 each) that have proved so useful as dog beds when taking Blue and Lou to the pub!

There are a few locks and swingbridges to make the canal interesting between Bradford-on-Avon and Seend. We met up with nb Somerset Joy at Semington swingbridge and shared the last four locks up to Seend. They were very good company and we hoped that we could co-ordinate our cruising so that we worked the Caen Hill flight together. They gave us the useful information that the flight was closed on Friday for emergency repairs (only for 1 day) so it was essential for us to get through tomorrow or we’d be stuck again!

Sunset in Seend

Sunset in Seend

We moored up opposite the Barge Inn at Seend. There are good facilities here (pump-out, water, waste disposal) and the pub does very good food and allows dogs. We ate on board this evening though and enjoyed the gentle sunset while the midges, in turn, made a meal of Richard!

Richard had sprained his ankle a couple of days ago and was hobbling around. So I took the dogs for a late night walk – the lane running parallel to the towpath (down from the bridge) seems to be used as a footpath and gives greater rummaging potential. It’s well worth walking down to Seend Park swingbridge (Bridge 155) where the path leads to the open fields full of rabbits beloved of the greyhounds. After all this activity, a quiet night was had by all on this most silent of moorings.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a Comment »

The Odyssey Summer 2008 – Day 37

Posted by indigodream on 20 September, 2008

Bristol to Bathampton

Old brewery ready for development in Bristol Floating Harbour

Old brewery ready for development in Bristol Floating Harbour

We had a bit more energy this morning so we set off on the long trip towards home. It was a bit sad to leave Bristol. Richard went to university here so he’s had pleasant trips down memory lane; I’ve just enjoyed the buzz of the harbour. You could have a good holiday here – maybe a 2-centre break with a cruise down to Portishead and back…..

The floating harbour is surprisingly large and the route out towards Netham Lock winds its way through a mix of regenerated buildings plus a few old sites that are just biding their time for the developers. Bristol really has made something of its waterfront.

Netham Lock is generally open unless there’s a very high tide. We’d expected it to be open when we arrived but it seems that not only was there a spring tide but they had dropped the level in the harbour slightly. The lock gates could only be opened with the aid of a tirfor! Once they managed to open the lock gate there was a strong flow of water from the river. Richard and Blue had gone for a nosey -I had to use 1000rpm just to stand still in the lock to pick them up! As you come out of Netham lock do watch out for this flow – the tide was running out and the water was pretty fast. Use lots of revs and stay to slightly to the left coming out (with a look out) until you’re onto the river proper. Go too far to the right and you

The lovely river Avon

The lovely river Avon

can get caught in the main river flow to the weir. Nothing that a big engine can’t cope with but why take the risk?

After the drama of the lock the river was fine – water levels were high and there was a strong flow in places (especially below the weirs) but it was all very manageable. There’s particularly strong cross-current from the weir below Swineford lock. It’s a pleasure to be on this stretch of river – from Bristol right up to the outskirts of Bath the scenery is just stunning. There are several locks – all are very rural and great places for dogs to have a rummage. They had a very stimulating day!

What struck me most was the high wooded banks looking lush in every shade of dark green. I’d love to see it in October when it has its autumn colours. 'Vultures' on the Avon!Mind you, by then we’ll be on the Thames and that’s quite magnificent in the autumn as well. There was lots of bird life around – we saw several streaks of irridescent blue flashing past – kingfishers – almost too fast to register on the eye before they’re gone. We also saw four buzzards circling lazily above the river. In fact, it might have been in Africa as the local cormorants did their best impression of vultures sitting atop dead trees!

Visitor moorings are few and far between on this stretch. We did like the look of the pontoon just before bridge 211 – a huge disused railway bridge that now carries the Bristol to Bath cycleway (and footpath). The moorings looked like they backed onto top rummaging territory for the dogs. If we come this way again we’ll have to work the schedule so that we stay the night there.

Just after Kelson lock we had cause for envy. As you know, Blue’s obedience, in particular, lacks a little something. Just above the lock we saw a load of chickens leaping off their coop and running up the path. We thought they were being

Useful visitor moorings on the Avon

Useful visitor moorings on the Avon

attacked, but no, they were running towards their owner who was whistling at them to come. I hate to admit it, but that flock of chickens was better trained and more obedient than my dogs. I hung my head in shame and cruised by quickly!

After the lovely run up the Avon it was such a disappointment to come to Bath. Here’s a city that’s done nothing with its waterway. The watersides are bleak and there are few visitor moorings until you get well out of town up the Bath locks. I know that there’s a bit of brightness if you venture up to Pultney Weir but I think that the city really has turned its back on the river. It makes me cross – it could be such an asset for boaters and city coffers alike.

We made it to Bath in good time so we carried on

Bath - drab from the water

Bath - drab from the water

up the Bath locks, eager to escape this drab city (from the water). We shared the last few locks with an unlicensed continuous moorer – he had asked politely if he could share the locks with us and we couldn’t really refuse. By the end we felt exploited – I respect anyone’s ‘freedom’ to choose a lifestyle but not if I have to pay for it. As the solitary young man said “I just move between Bath and Bradford-on-Avon – BW don’t like it but there’s nothing they can do about it, so there”. With a £150 hike in license fees for continuous cruisers in the offing I wasn’t amused. That’s the trouble – BW don’t seem to think it’s feasible to enforce the rules on mooring but they think a hike in fees is manageable. But all that means is that the people who ‘honesty’ pay now end up paying more and those that don’t pay now won’t care! I was glad to lose our freeloading companion at Bath top lock.

We cruised on to Bathampton – there’s a particularly fine canalside pub, The George Inn, by bridge 183. There are good moorings by the pub but these are generally full unless you get there early. We took the earliest available towpath mooring – you’ll need a plank and a machete but they’re otherwise fine! We had an enormous meal at the pub – truly excellent and went back on board in good spirits.

Photoblog:

I thought I’d add a few more views of the Avon though the pictures don’t do it justice. If you’re ever cruising down here then don’t stop at Bath – do the last bit down the Bristol. I promise you won’t regret it! I’ve also thrown in a few photos of the dogs because I think they’re cute!

"Are we there yet?"

Lou adapting to the pace of life onboard!

Lou adapting to the pace of life onboard!

A thriving habitat on the Avon

A thriving habitat on the Avon

Lou being a poster girl for Kelston Lock

Lou being a poster girl for Kelston Lock

Views from the Avon

Views from the Avon

Views from the Avon

Views from the Avon

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a Comment »