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In 1977 we hired our first narrowboat from Anglo Welsh at Market Harborough.From that moment our destiny was set. In 2006 we finally purchased our own brand new 57' narrowboat which we named 'Free Spirit'. Our aim is to travel the length and breadth of all the navigable rivers and canals of the UK. This will be our story as it unfolds.

Wednesday, 8 July 2015

Couldnt believe our luck. Austerity came our way.

Okay, so this canal can be frustrating and challenging at times but the lower end toward Bath makes up for the downsides. The views are stunning and if only we could have stopped to admire them. Still we may just have arrived at Bathhampton and Bath at the wrong time. Maybe we need to stay in bed longer in the mornings and wait for boats to leave.  9.30 is definitely to early to find a mooring. On our way back from Bristol we will plan differently 'cause I would love to have a wander round Bath.

So leaving early AGAIN!!! it was another slow trek to our first swing bridge. On route we encountered a tree hazard, and being on a bend with a boat moored just beyond it, we stood little chance other to scrape under it. You can see in the photo the trouble Dave had to get past.

Note the height gauge hanging from under the swing bridge. Warning maybe, in case boaters thought they could get under it.

Views of Bathampton

Cleveland House tunnel
Beyond Bathwick we came across our first lock of the day, Bath Top lock. A flight of 6 with some very sharp turns to negotiate and one of the deepest locks in the system. Only Tuel Deep lock on the Rochdale is deeper. Apparently 7 locks made up the flight in days gone by but lock 8 and 9 were merged because of new road development, hence the deep lock.

From Wash house lock a very sharp right hander to lock 8 and 9

Lock 8 and 9

 Bottom lock was the last on the canal system and we emerged onto the river Avon. Oh how lovely to be able to move freely without the restrictions of the CM's.

Onto the river Avon

Landing pontoon to pick up ones crew.
When the river Avon is mentioned so many of us immediately think of the one in Warwickshire (Stratford on Avon) but this Avon is in Somerset and has nothing to do with the other. In fact this river ends up in Avonmouth in the Bristol channel. Many a brave soul has made the journey from Avonmouth to Sharpness (Gloucester) via the Severn, not something to take lightly as a pilot is needed and the estuary could get choppy. On a flat bottomed boat this journey doesn't appeal to me one bit (although Ian would love to do it!) Anyway traveling this Avon was a delight. Only had one bit of bother and that was when Heather tried to get off the landing at Swineford lock. A very sharp left hander off the landing was almost impossible with the wind keeping the boat in. To the rescue came Ian and having witness Heathers difficulty I made sure to keep the bow out into the stream when I left.

Turning off the river towards Weston lock

Weir at Kelston lock

Mooring wasnt easy on the river. Non to be had anywhere until we came under Bitton Railway Bridge and there a lovely pontoon leading to a picnic area. And not only that but the Avon Valley Steam railway runs along this route every Wednesday. And what day is it today??? Wednesday. How lucky were we.

It was only a 5 minute walk to the terminus. Dave, a real train enthusiast, assured me this is Austerity a shunting locomotive.

And seen on route,



These bees were building their hive in the rubber fenders along the river pontoon landing.

Carrying a small section of leaf

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