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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.

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