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The Odyssey Summer 2008 – Day 41

Posted by indigodream on 24 September, 2008

Great Bedwyn to just past Kintbury (Bridge 73)

Prop memorabilia!

Prop memorabilia!

I’m pleased to report that the trains didn’t disturb us at all overnight so we can definitely recommend Great Bedwyn as a mooring site!

Our first job was to reverse back to the wharf to fill up with water and get rid of yesterday’s prop memorabilia – a fisherman’s umbrella! Richard nearly caught up with the dogs in the ‘give Sue a nervous breakdown’ stakes having managed on this trip to sprain his ankle, slip and graze his other leg quite spectacularly at a lock and finally stabbing himself with a knife when he was extricating the umbrella from the prop. Just as well I carry a comprehensive mobile ‘man and dog’ pharmacy on board 🙂

As we steadily locked down I started to notice a change in the nature of the canal. There were still

Blue and Lou on the look-out

Blue and Lou on the look-out

plenty of rural landscapes but more frequently doted with larger villages and towns. It felt as if London was reaching out to gently tickle the countryside and wake it up in time for the commute to the big city. This meant a little more vigilance with the dogs, who, as you know, have an absolute talent for running into trouble! If you come this way then watch out for lock 68 – there’s a lane that runs adjacent to the canal – no fencing and just enough cars to make them fast and inattentive – Blue and Lou were firmly secured on board (much whinging ensued!). However just after the lock, the towpath is securely gated so they could have their usual lock-side rummage. Once again, many of the towpaths on this stretch are gated from the

Looking towards Little Bedwyn

Looking towards Little Bedwyn

road – I’m sure that the cyclists will complain but, as owner of two naughty dogs, I was relieved!

The approach to Hungerford is particularly attractive. We like this town and have stopped here on several occasions. The dogs like Hungerford Marsh but we have to watch out for cows and cow pats. The dogs won’t bother cattle (far too big) but why take the risk? However Blue considers cow pats to be the cologne of the gods – smells wonderful, soft textured and spreadable – it’s got it all. Needless to say we don’t share his enthusiasm!

Blue had a lengthy rummage in the field adjacent to Cobbler’s lock – so lengthy, in fact, that we’d moved on to Hungerford Marsh Lock and I’d sent a search party back to find him just as he reappeared. Blue likes to be independent but his preference is

Reflections.....

Reflections.....

to stay withing sight of us – when he has the odd extended rummage I’m never too sure whether he’s thinking “free at last” or “oh no, where have they gone?”. He certainly seemed relieved to see Richard!

Just above Hungerford Marsh lock the canal is very shallow and is a great area for dogs to have a splosh in the cool water. Bearing in mind Blue’s dung fetish he was allowed a paddle on the lead (which almost resulted in me having a paddle as well). Lou had a good splosh – she’s such a good girl (when there’s no other greyhounds and suchlike to chase).

Hungerford Marsh Lock: Don’t forget to swing the bridge over the lock before you move your boat in! Swing bridges this side of the Kennet & Avon seem mostly to have a huge bolt which you tighten or loosen with a quick slap on your windlass. Providing you remember to carry your windlass then it is a lot less fiddle then the padlock system (which needs a BW key).

We stopped for lunch just above Hungerford Lock – there’s good mooring between here and the church. Amazingly there was only 1 boat on the moorings above the lock – where is everybody?

And more views....

And more views....

It’s a little more secure for the dogs here, though for access to town you can’t beat mooring below the lock. There are lots of friendly passers-by so it’s a convivial place for a break. We’ve moored here previously and it was quiet and secure place to spend the night.

With all the locks on this stretch I easily underestimated how long it would take us to get down the canal. I’d had an idea that Hungerford was only round the corner from Great Bedwyn (and so it is by train or car) but it’s a fair few lock miles. With this in mind, our vague target of getting to Newbury was quickly blown out of the water and we aimed for Kintbury instead. A local boat coming up through the locks told Richard that Kintbury was full and recommended that we should try going a bit further and moor above Dreweat’s lock. It’s apparently very charming there with

The approach to Kintbury

The approach to Kintbury

deer coming down to the canal to drink (which would have made Blue and Lou’s day!).

We’d forgotten how nice it was in Kintbury – the approach to the bridge above the lock is so ‘neat’– the houses opposite are so well-maintained and the towpath is positively groomed. This explains why its such a popular mooring spot – that and the water point, pump-out and waste disposal services just above the lock. We toyed with the idea of mooring well back from the lock but thought we’d try somewhere different (we’ve stayed here before).

In the end we split the difference between Kintbury lock and the recommended Dreweats lock. We moored up just before Shepherds Bridge (Bridge 73). The canal is shallow here so it was a ‘plank and machete’ mooring’ (as I like to call them) but this was a truly

Our mooring made vivid by the sunset

Our mooring made vivid by the sunset

wondrous place. It feels so remote it’s hard to believe that there is a village with a train station just a mile away. Although the train line was close, it seemed to lack all power to penetrate the peaceful idyll in which we found ourselves. A few local dog walkers stopped for a chat and they all, without fail, rhapsodised about this little bit of heaven.

This has to be the most perfect dog mooring anywhere on the network. The bridge itself is a footbridge leading over the canal to a footpath across open fields which must each have been 100 acres or more and now dotted with straw bales after the harvest. The greyhounds went ballistic – Lou raced back and forth so joyfully that I laughed with the pleasure of it. Blue was busy rummaging to his heart’s content and I was happy to see that even he couldn’t get into trouble here (unless weeing on a farmer’s straw bales is a cardinal sin!). They spent

Our idyllic mooring....

Our idyllic mooring....

the evening exploring while we enjoyed the sunset’s vivid light-show. The autumn chill finally forced us inside at around 8pm – the dogs went to bed and slept solidly through to the next morning. Always a sign of satisfied dogs; and satisfied dogs, as you know, means satisfied humans and a quiet night was enjoyed by all!

Photoblog:

I can’t resist just putting in a few more photos of the sunset – it really was special here….

The autumn light show

The autumn light show

Blue enjoying the open country

Blue enjoying the open country

Sunset over the straw

Sunset over the fields

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