The fishing was good at The Cunning Man. Plenty of bites on the ledger, shame I kept missing them!!! The flow was quite considerable no doubt because of the width of canalised river. I did manage Perch and small chub so not all was lost. Dave came a knocking on FS at 8.30am to say it was time to leave so rods packed away, pins pulled and away by 8.45!!!!
So far the K&A hasnt disappointed. Rural and scenic but no time to sit and admire as not only did the locks come quickly but the swing bridges too. Never having seen a turf sided lock before I was suitably impressed and looked it up on the internet to see why they were built this way. I got this exert from Wikipedia ,
One of only two remaining working examples of turf sided locks on the canal
Garston and Monkey marsh Lock has been described as needing "more water to operate than
the now more common brick or stone-sided variety" as the sloping sides
increase the volume of the lock.
The two sets of lock gates work differently: the upper set operates
via a mechanical system, while the lower gates are hydraulic.
The top part of the lock chamber has sloping banks which are covered by
vegetation of various types rather than by turf. An arrangement of
steel rails ensure that boats stay in the centre of the lock during the rise/fall of 7 ft 7 in (2.31 m).
At Sheffield lock the sides are scalloped. Not sure why that is but maybe to hold more water?
Now the swing bridges are either mechanical (windlass) hydraulic (key and button) or manual to open. The first we came across was at the pub Fox and Hounds, Theale swing bridge, with a hire boat inconveniencing us by mooring on the bridge landing! Heather managed to get Dave off and all we could do was sit and wait. It was all good natured though, the lads just having a jolly good holiday, as they do, right by a pub.
|Pretty much what you see in this picture is what you get. No where to stop with banks full of grass and wild flowers. Very pretty but a pain if we had wanted to stop.|
Towey lock was fun. The approach is through a narrow overgrown channel and one of the gates refused to open fully. With me at the rear all I could do was reverse back and I ended up well and truly foliaged!
|Approach to Towey lock|
|Heather telling me to back off.|
Once in this deepish lock, the men cracked a paddle and even though it was only open a notch it was a good job we stayed toward the back. Blimey there was some force of water coming in. Took over 20 minutes to fill but that was only because Dave and Ian dare not open up the sluices fully.
We arrived at Alderston with just Padworth lock to do before we stopped at the facilities. Hindering our passage was the three boats in the photo. The two at the back, Ara and Archimedes, had aware notices on them so goodness knows how long they had been there!
Having spent 30 minutes filling our water tanks and, with a hire boat coming down through the lock and swing bridge, we thought we may as well take advantage of an open lock. The hydraulic swing bridge, being a road bridge, was closed by the hirers so Ian walked ahead to get it open again. I was hovering midstream, Heather was hovering midstream but no sign of the bridge opening. Then Ian shouts to us that there was a 15 minute time delay between operations on re opening the bridge, all for the benefit of the motorist. We must have waited, trying to keep the boats toward the middle for nearly 10 minutes!!!. If we had known it would take that long we would have stayed tied on the bollards!
|Key in box and countdown had started.|
|Dave joined Ian and still the wait!|
By this time what breeze there was had pushed me onto the side, so it was a mad scramble when the bridge did finally allow us to proceed to get through and not cause to much of a hold up!
We wanted to stop here but as was the norm for this canal, no spots available so we pushed on towards Woolhampton. Here we encountered the notices about strong stream conditions between Old Woolhampton swing bridge and lock. Both lock gates and bridge are to be open before attempting entry to the lock. Going upstream the flow comes from the left and one needs a bit of throttle to power into the lock. Heather unfortunately didn't put on the power enough and ended up hitting the side. I just went for it and hoped I would stop in time before I hit the top gate! Mission accomplished we then started to look for a mooring. Once again it was almost impossible and the only place we both could get in was after the 48hour moorings.
|After the swing bridge there was a slight flow. If the river levels are higher then this could cause a problem|
|The river joins on the left and the flow was deceptively fast.|
|Hmmm...would those cyclists stop?|
|Yes and they even offered to help.|
|Another fun mooring on the K&A.|