Kennet and Avon Part 1

20 July, 2015

Once boaters venture off the River Thames and onto the Kennet and Avon Canal, prepare for work!  It reminds us how much we like the Thames as we are immediately back to manually-operated locks.

The Kennet & Avon is a very popular route for guests, who enjoy the close proximity of nature.  Our guests almost always enjoy helping with the locks and there are plenty of them to attempt with an average of at least one lock per mile, plus quite a few swing bridges.  It can be hard work and sometimes slow going.

Once through Reading Town Centre, we experience Fobney Lock.  The speed at which the water comes into the lock is a fierceness not to be ignored. The route to Newbury is relatively peaceful with few boats present. Compare this to later on beyond Bradford-upon-Avon and – what a difference!

Kailani towing a boat at Newbury

Towing the boat Flying Pig

As we approached Ham Lock at Newbury, we noticed a bit of activity. Narrowboat “Flying Pig” had approached the lock from upstream and was carried by the current towards the weir. Wishing to avoid the weir, the skipper tried to turn the boat, but this caused it to be lodged on an unseen underwater concrete post and the boat became stuck! Manpower and ropes would not pull it off. Even the skipper in the water pushing didn’t do the trick. The answer was relatively simple. Gordon manoeuvred Kailani into position attached a rope from Flying Pig’s bow to our stern. Then with care and a bit of appropriate throttle, eased The Pig off the post to the delight, cheers and applause of boaters and onlookers. Job done, we waved goodbye and later received a lovely Thank You email from Mary and Barry Rudge of the Flying Pig. Happy Boating and better luck next time, skipper!

Swing bridge on the K&A

K&A swing bridge

As we left Newbury town centre, David, one of our guests, was sitting at the front of the boat in his usual spot. Dorenda opened the paddle of the first lock – just a little. But it was enough for David to get a minor soaking! Whoops, sorry David. That’s one we need to remember in future. All laughed about it later – even David.

The River Kennet meanders alongside the canal and on occasions they are one. It has become a  Kailani tradition at Copse Lock to play Poosticks from the bridge where the river rejoins the canal. Had David not launched his stick early, we would have had a much fairer contest. As it was, the current took all 6 sticks across to the overhanging vegetation, so we don’t know who won anyway. Pam and Janet laughed, Richard couldn’t believe what mature people were doing and David just smiled.  Great!

Hotel Boat Kailani
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