Saturday 20th May 2017 nb:Black Bart & our enlarged crew with 12 feet (cannee even start to workout how many toes we is talking aboat with this one) are weiry but sort-ov ready for our planned harbour cruise. Cap’ns MJP & J?B of Suffolk hills fame travelled many watery miles o’er long months to journey this way. Meanest pirates of the fast flowing Rivers Orwell & Gipping. Aaaarrrggh !!! Me H-aaaarrrggh-ties !!!!
Cap’n Black Bart’s ‘swollen crew’ are sadly crew-sing away from the Fantastic Bristol floating harbour. Lister is chuggen & waiting to engage friends for propulse time. Oh ! Great !! Start raining. Lovely !!! Knot to worry. Lines slipped, Bart creeps away from the floating pontoon. Too risky reversing to turn in the wider waters aft. Them harbour ferries come ‘flying’ roand that corner. Skip tinking might be safer to take ’em on moor face to face like. A Big chunky lellow comes at us from behind the hornly bridge ahead. Bart & crew fend ’em off. Then the Toothy one comes at us two. Swiftly & professionally dealt with !! Well done crew. Were probs a tittle easier & swifter with many moor toes ready for the ‘fight’. Full Power Lister. Cap’n Bart cries. No tears. Made of sturdier stuff than that !!! Craft & crew storm under the bridge, ready for the ambush that duth knot materialise. Scared ’em off already Cap’n. Aaaarrrggh !!!!
Bart reaches the end of the Arnolfini arm & beautifully spins (almost spins, anyhows) roand. (Seventy foot & twenty four+ tonne of narrowboat never really ‘spins’). Just as we is aboat to proceed back along this dangerous narrow channel one of them chunky lellow comes right on our port gunnel. Crew react quickly & they be swash-buckled away. Be Gone With You !!!
They just do Knot learn these ‘so-called’ Bristol Pirates. There’s an’udder one. Coming straight four us. Sorry ! there be only one this time. (No need to make tings up & try to magnify or ‘Bi-Up’ the danger of our harbour voyage). Our expanded pirate crew soonest deal with them. Give tittle shrift they were. Aaaarrrggh !! Me H-aaarrrggh-ties !!!
See !!! They keep’a’trying. A Great Big Lellow is heading write four Cap’n Bart & his fearsomely enlarged crew of pirates. A terrible battle ensues. Far too muchly gore & udder such nasties to mention or show awful pics ov. The cannons are FIRED !! !! !! Broadside. The last Big Lellow is gone. Shall see k-no-w’moor of them. Ha ! Ha !! HA !!! Aaaarrrggh !! Me H-aaarrrggh-ties !!! Unplug the Barrels. Crew deserve a bottle of rum of two (or moor ??) Cheers Chink ! CHINK !! CHINK !!!
The Good Ship (tug really) ‘John King’ swims over, port-side & gives Black Bart a Big Chuffing smoke to celebrate. We is OK now with extra reinforcements. Proper !!
Friendly embattlements overlook the watery battle strewn scene. All is calming down.
All the nasty unpleasant attackers have been destroyed & ‘av sunk. The turmoiled waters are a’settling. Why we cannee see ’em any moor. Good riddance too. Aaaarrrggh !!!
We is definitely OK Now. Brunel’s Marvellous creation is ‘ere to help two !!
We can finally relax & begin to chill a tittle four the remainder of today’s voyage.
Many furlongs later of dank soggy-ness, the completely open-thru Netham Lock swishes nb:Black Bart & many toes into the wide waters of the tidal River Avon.
Cap’n Bart requires speed. Lister ‘opens up’ them old cylinders & powers old prop. Proper Like indeed. We pass a dragon boat crew practicing their skills. Need to fine tune those sum-wot peoples. Knot Good enough. Quite straggerly if we is completely honest. Could Do Better !!
We is be swimming through these fine deep wide waters most delightfully. Thoroughly enjoying our chuggen jaunt. Even warmed up a tittle. we is starting to drip dry off too. Mayhaps even a tittle air-drying two. Or hapsmays three ?? Who knows. Who cares !!
Bart keeps bovering that heron. He fly away, land, Bart catches up, he fly away agin. He land agin. So-on & so-on. Tis aboat an ‘er & the final ripples of the tidal wash swishes nb:Black Bart into Hanham Lock where crew assist the upward motion using their finely tuned skills of gate & paddle operatings. Once oat the chamber, the floating pontoon directly ahead proves a most suitable night time location to rest all our weir-y bones & aik-y muscles. The Lock & weir proves a most fine ‘watering hole’ for a tittle light refreshment. Even though it might have a rained sum-wot earlier, & in-fact has started raining extremely enthusiastically agin, we is all a smite dry. Just a tittle. Knot our fault the rum barrels are empty agin. Aaaarrrggh !! Me H-aaaarrrggh-ties !!! Ciao four niao.
Sunday 21st May We must swim on many moor furlongs this day, voyaging our way steadily East from Western harbours. using the thoroughly swishingly waterway that be the River Avon.
These fine fellows ain’t bovered though. just sitting up there enjoying the view & the warmth from the sun. When it peaks oat occasionally. Bart & crew swim away from our overnight pontoon moorings, waving goodbyes to the dolphins. Unusual for this ‘ere ‘text’, that be knot quite as MAD as sum of you’ll oat there might think. One can certainly find dolphins in our rivers & harbours. They be keeping the floating pontoons & all associatedly secured craft safe. Look it up bloggets if one duth knot believe or simples-like, knot be understanding it’s factuals. Tight twist to port & then moor gentiles
in the flow of the rivers waters shepherd us to Keynsham lock where we create a tittle convoy. A wide beam be ascending said chamber & a hire narrowboat is waiting to follow. Bart rafts-up & when free, we share the lock. It’s nice to share. Ascent successful, we swim on to Swineford Lock. The new ‘team’ work well as we glide from one chamber to the next. Lead boat arrives & prepares lift. Swap over for the next one. & then swap back agin.
Saltford Lock, weir & the associated former Brass Mill swishes Bart & ‘hire’ into the local dinghy sailing club’s novice practice session. Makes for some ‘interesting’ manoeuvres. A wee bit awkward with the different tittle boats swishing this way & that with their multiple tackings. One particular fellow seems to be repeatedly attracted to Bart, constantly coming back across our bow. Starting to get a smidgingly frustrated. We eventually manage to get past & start to put some comfortable distance between our Big lump & his tiny fragile floater. Some people just seem to be intent on trying to cause an incident. Kelston Lock lifts our floating ‘train’ into safer, less trying ripples
that do not appear to have such floatingly shifting obstructions. Although the feeling of vertigo is strangely back. Skip really needs to get that sorted be-fore it becomes a problem. Then we spy some rowers ‘flitting’ aboat up ‘ere but they are moor uniform in their pointedly wet paths. The straight-ish flow evolves into a moor curvaceous rippling be-fore we is entering Newbridge where we be ‘jumping’ slowly a’risingly Weston Lock.
Now we be swimming through the final stretches of the navigable River Avon into Bath. As the river swishes roand to port on it’s way to the nearby Pulteney Weir (which we is knot climbing) (No. Knot doing it) (Stop ! ) (Stop !! ), nb:Black Bart is peeling off to starboard, straight into Bath Bottom Lock. We is back onto (into) the Kennet & Avon Canal. the bottom fills up & Bart is waterily transferred into
Bath Deep Lock. Back in the Biggy agin. The water is flowing very enthusiastically over the top of the upper locker gates, & splashing (Muchly Moor than ‘splashing’ we thinks) over the cill with a’gusto. Mayhaps Exuberance. Knot the most comforting sight for Cap’n Bart & crew. Skip keeps our long craft reversed into the corner created by the port side bottom lock gate, to stay as far away from the cill as we can get. The bow receives a most ‘spirited’ of washes. Fortunately the design at the bow with the chunky raised gas locker & cratch cover framework stands firm And rebuffs the old fervent H-2-O wet stuff. The higher Bart creeps the moor relaxed skip starts to feel. That were an ‘interesting’ lift experience !! Well-Done Aaaarrrggh !!! Me H-aaaarrrggh-ties !!! !!! (the sum-wot shallower) Wash House Lock whips us up the last few feet of the day & Bart is slowly squiggling into a most tight of spaces. Boats fore & aft are ‘tweaked’ to make our mooring position complete & proper !! And wot a Fine Berth it be !!! Roxy (1st Mate) meets the neighbour’s cat Bruno. Bruno isn’t too fazed bye our inquisitive girl as he lives with a English Bull Terrier called Masey. He just keeps Roxy at “arm’s-length”. Interesting to watch. Aft a rest our crew of many legs, feet & toes are a’walking
int’town to suck in that Wonderful ‘istorical air. Anyone fore a Bath !!
And Yes you is write to be informed that the vessel nb:Black Bart does indeed have a bath. But Knot a Bath. Work that oat if one can.
Monday 22nd May The lazy commencement of festivities on this fine (Knot a bank ‘oliday) Monday. A return trip into
the watery Bath is Most Splendidly enjoyed by all (except poor old poochy)
with the cherry/top & all that
With a Real Treat.
The Pump Room.
Extravagance !! A Delight !!!
Has to be experienced by one &
All who visit this wet city.
Strange name for a place of peoples dwelling. Oh ! Well !! Just cannee understand sum tings !!!
The Central, Sacred Spring is overlooked by the Pump Room. Within The Pump Room there be the King’s Spring water fountain, where you can purchase a glass of the warm spa water to drink. alas, our budget would knot stretch that far. The King’s Bath was built, using the lower walls of the Roman Spring building as foundations, in the 12th century. The bath provided niches for bathers to sit in, immersed up to their necks in water. Rings mounted on the walls provided safety for bathers as most could not swim. The Great Bath is just tuther side of that wall to the right. Summit like that/there anyhaps…. All Darned impressive !!!
Back to Bart World. We have to waive a teary ciao to our two extra crew today. They is off back to far eastern waters. Those Large Magical Waters of Suffolk.
Following further excursion ‘roand town’ Bart’s crew is off back home to relax & enjoy the fine weather we’s ‘aving roand ‘ere.
There is no denying, The City of Bath is a Most Gloriously Wonderful place to visit. Specially by the approach method of swimming. By Canal &/or by river. Preferably in a boat. Even moor so in a Fantastic vessel like nb:Black Bart.
Tuesday 23rd May Cap’n Bart decides 1st mate needs some bits & bobs. There be a specialist 1st mate store a fair few furlongs back West so we, the slightly depleted crew of three (agin) is a’walking along the river to Newbridge. I Said a’walking. Knot swimming. Bart, Lister & pals are a’chilling. That were certainly a long way. Specially for tittle legs (of four). Now loaded up like pack ‘orses we got to trudge all the way back agin. Deep Breath. & a few moor. We’re off. Some (long) time later. Bart welcomes us home. Need to recover now. Could take some time……… ……………… ……………… ………………
Tis early evening & we three be off agin. Walking South away from the river, up some very very steep hills (ridiculous) to see an old friend. Family really. To be honest. Haven’t see Cap’n MS-Doc (K-9 to ‘is mates) (Aaaarrrggh !!!) for a mad sort of ages !! Well, that wrong is a’being writed this very evening. The Good Ship ‘Blue Box’ is Most Welcoming to Cap’n Black Bart’s Crew. A Fine Evening indeed we all ‘ave. Aaaarrrggh !! Aaaarrrggh !!! ME H-aaaarrrggh-ties !!! Aaaarrrggh !!! !!! All quite silly really, but Wot Fun the old Fruity Brown Sauce can be. Yes Sir-rey !!!
Wednesday 24th May Time to go cruising agin. nb:Black Bart, Skip Skippet & 1st Mate (And don’t forget Cap’n Bart) are enjoying a Most Wonderful Sunny Day. Lister & pals guide Bart away from Beautiful Bath, a’rising the upper three locks. Abbey View, Pulteney & Bath Top Lock. Three CRT lock keepers look after Bart during the uplifting experience so crew just relax & enjoy being upwardly mobile together. We like to be together !! The busy Sidney Wharf ushers Bart & crew to-&-safely-thru the
shortly Cleveland (interesting place to live) & Sidney Gardens Tunnels. Lister is generally chuggen on quite low revolutions through much of today’s tittle voyage
due to many a moored craft of all shapes & sizes. And they certainly do provide muchly variety in design, & condition too. As is fairly common through much of the inland waterways in which we have travelled over the years. They just be in a moor condensed format as we swim gently through these ‘ere wetly channels.
Gorgeous Scenery continues to surround us & our watery companion as we glide steadily East together like. Quick tack to port & we is sort of ‘leaping’ over the River Avon & the railway by means of the Dundas Aqueduct. Quick tack to starboard & agin,
we’s passing through even moor muchly wonderful countryside,
with rolling hills, trees, all the shades of green you could think of (doubled), animals munching & relaxing in the fields & hills, birds flitting aroand the water & it’s surroundings, and swimming in the canal. Lovely tittle Moor Hens, the slightly bigger Coots, Canadian Geese (dirty swines), ducks of many different sizes & colours,
Plus our favourites, the Beautiful Swans (a healthy brood here)
& of course, the Heron. A Fantastic, common site on/in the rivers & canals we have swum. Quick tack to starboard & Bart is floating across the sky agin, swimming the Avoncliff Aqueduct which swishes us back (mayhaps aft-ly) gently over the Avon Valley & it’s ancient, natural flowing method of ‘transportation’ & the young (by comparison) doubled, twin gleaming shards of steel disappearing away into the distance.
Quick tack to port & we is berthing for the ‘ers of darkness that lay ahead. A tittle refreshment is sought in the Three Guns, where we sit & enjoy the evening sun, down by the shallower waters of the River Avon. Good Night to One & All…… Sleep Tight…..
Thursday 25th May Caio. Tis an’udder day of blue sky & Hot Sun. A Fine Day for a cruise cries (no tears involved) (you should k-no-w the ‘drill’ by now) Cap’n Black Bart. “Raise the Fore Sail”. Aaaarrrggh !! Me H-aaaarrrggh-ties !!!! Shiver Me Timbers Aaaarrrggh !!!! Jim-Lad !!! !!! (where on-earth did that come from) (has no place in Bart World surely) (There ain’t a ‘Jim’ or a ‘Lad’ amongst the crew cap’n. Sorry !!) (knot even a cabin boy called Roger) (Sum-people Eh ??). Lister (almost) stealth-erly directs our craft & crew passed all the sleeping pirates in there drunken stupors, lining this ‘ere narrow passages. They won’t even k-no-w we been thru Cap’n. Aaaarrrggh !!! (Quieten down. We dune wanna wake ’em-up) (Sorry !!!). The (quite) Deep Bradford Lock swooshes our metallic vessel & all who ‘sail’ in her, upward, into safer waters. We Hope. Make improved progress with a prevailing wind (tink that might be the write term-inology) we do, leaving Bradford-on-Avon to aft, gliding above an’udder railway, swishing by swung bridges & under udder types of bridge like constructions. (Tink the blogger person means just ‘normal’ bridges). To a duo of Semington Locks we do arrive. Lock companions there be. Novices, with an interesting take on how to handle a craft of the floating variety & similar approach to lock-keeping techniques. Skip & Skippet have two (& 1st Mate too) (Sorry !! three) be even moor, a couple (Yes, three really) of lerts. Makes for an ‘Interesting’ period of boat manoeuverings, chamber fillings & canal cruisings.
Don’t forget the gaggle (triple) of swinging bridges that follow soonest aft-er. Wot Fun We Have !!! Our tittle convoy of experienced crew & knot soo experienced crew is approaching the bottom (first) of five Seend Locks. Bart pulls over, mooring just past, and to the fore of a ‘static’, just be-fore the designated lock waiting moorings. There be a narrowboat already preparing to enter the water lift, so our companions are voted-in to join said craft. Moor boats be arriving. Skip waves a hire boat in, to moor ahead of Bart, so they can tie-up. Best to be safe. Knot everyone is comfortable just ‘hanging’ mid-channel. A sticky problem ensues, when the ‘locking’ boats get jammed trying to share the lift. As our ex-convoy member is aboat half way int’lock they suddenly is knot moving. Stuck !! With some effort, they manage to free their craft & reverse back oat. Gates is closed & the loner carries on up. Alone.
Ex-convoy member rafts up to second hire boat. When the lock has spat oat the up-ped craft & waters flowed back down, the rafted hire boats manage a fairly incident free, shared locking arising operation. Skippet sensibly suggests we just stay ‘ere now. Quite a nice position. Can have some fun lock climbing tomorrow per’aps. Aft a tittle rest skippet & 1st mate go for a walk up the lock flight, while skip chats with the new neighbours. Early evening a single handed narrowboat arrives, intent on some locking upward flowings. Skip offers assistance. Cannee be muchly moor long-winded doing all the necessaries when one has no crew. Skip is gone four ‘ers. Lost count of the timely passings. Still quite hot, even now, so all the running between locks to prepare ahead as Cap’n M.S-Handy slowly but surely ascends the nigh-on forty feet (Cannee even start to tink aboat the number of toes involved) (Far two sweaty, sticky & tie-red) of watery-ness, takes it’s toll. A weary skip arrives back at the bottom (Sorry !!) (naughty word agin !!!) of the chambers muchly later, in the dark. (Well, nearly). (Knot really, if the truth be know), but he were gone for quite sum-tym. Now, we can all re-commence with a’chillin.
Friday 26th May The sky is blue. Mr & Mrs Sun have those Fabulous hats on agin. We is readying craft & cru for a crews. Aaaarrrggh !!! Skip walks up to Seend Cleeve bottom (sorry !!) lock to prepare the chamber for Bart. A boat be waiting above, to come down. The boaty ‘bath’ is half full, or is that half empty ?? Tuther boaty skip is only mooring below the locks, so offers we empty the chamber completely to let Bart in first. Mostly Kindly. Thankee !! A hire boat appears on the horizon at the opportune moment, making it’s wetly way towards us, so we do the decently right thing & wait for them to reach & then share the big boaty bath with our Bart. A very careful skip & crew guide their craft in gently, fending off to protect Bart. There be sum stiction. The chamber is a tittle narrower than sum of the many wide locks out there on/in the wide canals of our Wonderful inland Waterway system. (The narrow canals are plentiful & Wonderful too. Even Morso). As we be starboard side of lock chamber, Bart’s port side fenders are raised to provide a tittle moor girth capacity. Now entree is smooth & stiction-less. They are thoroughly impressed with nb:Black Bart. Cap’n Bart & cru are impressed with their cautiousness. & say-so-two. They are happy we is liking their approach to boatings. Many a bemused experience has been had with udders (an unfortunately common scenario) knot being particularly careful with their boat (most definitely knot just hirers either) or concerned aboat the surroundings &/or udder craft near to where ever they be engaged in manoeuvrings. Bart, new lock companion & both cruise all enjoy a most pleasantly uplifting experience as we all calmly & carefully & respectfully climb out way to the very top. As we set our horizontal (no locks y’sea) course for the on-coming duo of swinging bridges we bid our new chums fair-thee-well as they is stopping just past numero due bridge-o (just a snippet of Italiano there four you continental types) & Cap’n Bart orders our vessel to continue in an Easterly salt of direction. On we swim. Sells Green l’aqua refreshment delays us only but a few ‘ers & we is merrily on our way agin before dusk. Shortly aft-er creeping past Caen Hill Marina we tack to port, squeeze buy the old railway bridge stanchion mid-ish channel & manage to moor opposite Foxhangers Wharf & all it’s green hire-narrowboats waiting fore many an ‘appy ‘olidaying boater.
The sun is still very hot so for sanding/prepping & varnishing the rum barrels the heavy rain ‘garment’ is put to a moor dry sort of use. During the prepping stage we have a visitor who stops for a chitty-chatty, coffee & ginger nuts. We love ginger nuts. Our guest is walking the K&A (along the towpath silly-billies) (knot actually along/thru the canal itself) (that would be moor than just stew-pid) (it would be very wetty-fying) (soggy, chafing, soreness. Oh !! ‘orrible !!) (Definitely ‘stick’ to the towpath matey). Really nice guy. No fixed abode yet but plans to live on a tittle boat & get his life ‘back on track’. Great to hear your story. He is meeting boaters & canal-side peoples during his journey who are giving him support & help. We Wish You the Bestest Luck Sir. He is heading West. Bart is cruising East. Might see you agin one day. The hire company based at the wharf is getting very busy. Boats being readied for new skippers & crews. Old skippers & crew being forcibly removed from craft. Sum even being made to ‘Walk the Plank’. Must have been sum write shenanigans going on roand ‘ere. One boat has moored in front of Bart & crew are following disembarkation codes ‘To the Letter’. Sum-tym later said craft is being reversed at pace, diagonally across the canal to the wharf. The fore of which is swinging in towards the starboard side of Bart’s Bow. They Knot be particularly concerned aboat the impending side swipe into Bart’s bow. Skip reacts quickly, ‘leaping’ on to the bow & pushing the idiot away. Knot easy. At least one of his crew is a-lert to the situation, but is slow to respond & from the canal’s edge his pushing is in vain as he suddenly realises the old overbalancing technique is always resultant of either a belly flop style or a head-first style of ‘Plunge’. !!! BIG SPLASH !!! Managed to go feet first so knot as bad as sum. Very wet end to a boating ‘oliday. Poor chap hangs onto the bow of his boat. He lets go & sort of swims over to Bart. Skip & skippet attempt to lift him oat the sogginess that prevails. He realises he can actually walk as the canal is knot deep. Bart knows this fact only too well. Once in front of Bart, at the canal’s edge we manage to hoik ‘im back onto dry land. A drippy trudge over the bridge back to the wharf takes him to a warm (hopefully) shower & some dry clothes. Thanks for trying to save our Bart from the impending impact. It were his son driving the boat, with one of the hire company’s staff ‘instructing’. KNOT VERY IMPRESSIVE. Knot even a hint of apology for the careless-ness. We is KNOT impressed !!!! Need to take a few deep breaths…… …… ……. …… ……..
Lower Foxhangers lock is ‘aving a peak. Cap’n Bart just stares back. (fore-ward really). Will see y’tamorra & know earlier Matey Aaaarrrggh !!! Shiver Me Timbers !!!!
A Glorious day be gradually coming to an end. But a Marvellous End it be. & Rightly so !!
Saturday 27th May Well my tittle Bloggets…… It’s The BIG One today. The Caen Hill Locks. Twenty Nine Big Wide Locks over a long two miles or so & over one hundred & thirty feet (over six hundred & fifty toes) (& buoy, sum of them there toes are going to be write Smelly by the end of the ‘cruising day’) of up-wardly mobile-ness. Crew is ‘aving sustenance. Breakfast. Power for the day’s (yet unknown) trials. A familiar narrowboat creeps bye, mooring in front of our Bart. Tis Cap’n M.S-Handy & his sturdy steed. Skip converses & arrangements are made fore sum lock sharing. Our companion has scheduled an extra crew member to join in the Fun. Should be with us before we ‘hit’ the main run of sixteen in quick succession. Cap’n Black Bart has been on the old ‘jungle drums’ (water jingles) & some olde’ Fear-sum pirates of the ancient Bath Avon flows & hot springs are swooping down the Caen this morn to SWELL our ranks bye Many fingers & toes. Cap’n K-9 of the Good Ship ‘Blue Box’ & ‘is Great Chum Cap’n Salty Seadog of Wot Good Ship we just duth knot k-no-w !!
They is knot quite ‘ere yet though !!!
An’udder narrowboat cruises in, landing in front of Bart’s lock companion. Tis agreed we shall lead our swollen convoy so Lister fires-ups. Let the Chuggens begin. Skip starts as Bart means to go one for this mamouth lifting session. Starboard side every chamber. Bow into far starboard corner, leave the stern central, lock keeper closes (lower) (obviously) starboard gate, skip tweaks stern over to starboard, steps up onto roof, takes starboard centre rope & climbs the lock chamber’s ladder to stand at the lock edge & hold Bart in ‘tight’ against the lock wall. Cap’n M.S-Handed & craft gently creeps in port side & lock keeper closes port side gate. upper ground paddles opened a tittle to commence water in-flow procedure & a’rising we are. Only open upper ground paddles fully when it be deemed safe to do so. Thankee !!!
No ! That is knot be Cap’n Salty Seadog & Cap’n K-9. Just a couple of ducks.
The first seven (slightly spaced oat) locks flow beautifully upward. Sharing is Such Fun !!! Our companion’s mate has arrived so he takes on the task of preparing each lock above (ahead). Our swelling has swollen two. We now have lock keepers extraordinaire, a’plenty.
Aaaarrrggh !! Aaaarrrggh !!! Aaaarrrggh !!!! Aaaarrrggh !!!!!
Glad we got that all over with. (pirate greetings !!!) (Actually goes on a lot longer than that but did’nee ‘av the time to right all of it doin). Can we get on with it please ?? The hill (lock) climbing thing. Thankee Sirs !!!
Forgot to mention Cap’n Black Bart, ‘is crew, ‘is swollen crew & the ‘bloke next door’ & ‘is mate is all quietly content that the blooming HOT weather of past days is knot with us today. Tis clouding in them there ‘ills & cool with it two. With seven to aft we now have the BIG Sixteen to fore. Few Deep Breaths. Off we go. Progress is steadily efficient. Crews are working well together. We have a Good system in operation. Skip is handing centre rope to lock keeper now, to hold Bart over while lock friend swims in. Fantastic !!!
We is also lucky that we only meet an individual boat coming tuther way (down) (We is going up, silly billies bow-bows) in three different pounds (watery bits between watery locks). Bart swims oat, moving across to port. Downward boat swims oat & straight into full lock. Bart swims into ’empty’ lock, moving back to starboard side (See above, if you ‘av forgot already you Fools !!!), Cap’n M.S-Handy swims from full lock to empty lock.
Onwardly Upwardly We Go. Twelve………… Thirteen…………. Fourteen………….. Fifteen…………… Sixteen……………. Eventually, Bart & Co. are staggering in wibberly wobberly fashion oat of the Top Lock..
We do take this opportunity to apologise for the mistake !! Cap’n Bart ordered the wrong flag be hoiked up the stern pole. So We are cruising for Queen Country today. And Rightly So !!!
Skip has become even moor delirious than usual, but me tinks we is taking these BIG Sixteen Watery Steps over a ‘sailing’ period of aboat ‘ers or so. Pritty Goode !!
Forgot to tell the ‘new’ crew, there be six moor locks, just to bring the tally to the correctly total of Twenty Nine. Keep Going. You’ll Going to be All-Right. Don’t Worry !!
Five & a half ‘ers-ish of a’rising motions And Bart & Co. Finally swim celebraitedly out of the (genuine) ‘Top Lock’. nb:Black Bart & friend started just aboat nine this morn. We is mooring up, very soonest above the locks just a wee’wile be-fore three tis aft’noon. Wot a Fabulous crewings everyone has been today. A Baptism of fire for the complete boaty novice. Of course, There were nowt of ’em ‘ere on tis crews. WELL DONE !! FANTASTIC !! !!
‘ere we go agin……
Aaaarrrggh !! Aaaarrrggh !!! Aaaarrrggh !!!! Aaaarrrggh !!!!!
Our cru that swelled this morn goes for a walk to investigate the nooks & crannies of Devizes. Poor old crew is blooming hungry. Poor pirates ‘hardly had nu’ting a munching all day. Need sustenance. We is trying unsuccessfully to find a purveyor of cooked food mid-aft’noon on a Saturday, on a bank ‘oliday weekend. Mad !! Peoples roand ‘ere is missing a trick. We is ending up by the Town Hall where ‘The Vaults’ looks interesting. We check 1st mate’s are permitted to frequent said establishment. Yes. Good. No foodies till later though. The Boss says we can get some delish rolls from Edwin Giddings just roand the corner, & come back to The Vaults to eat them. Fabulous !! Within a few moments we ‘as returned, & following some interesting tastings liquid refreshment has been chosen. We walk down int’cellar & sit down to thoroughly enjoy our Fine snacketts indeed & scrumptious flow from our glasses. Sum-tym later we is back up to ‘normal’ ground level, walking past the splendid Parish Church of St. John the Baptist
into a woodly area. The magnificent Devizes Castle is trying to hide amongst the trees to our right, but there it is. King John’s Castle dates back to 1080 and was rebuilt in 1830.
Aft muchly moor leggy, footie, toe-ly manoeuvrings We is all safely back home on our Bart. The Caen Hill Locks (additional) crew are keen to hang aroand for a wee while longer so we be settlings for t’evening. Many ‘ers of static-ness on, Skippet works those magic fingers (no smelly toes required) almost to the bone creating a scrumptiousness of consumption for all to delight in. ‘Leven oat of ten Agin !! Cheers !!! Chink ! CHINK !! CHINK !!! Tis Extremely late by the time we be waving a teary eye to our departing maties. See you’ll agin sum-tym pirates of the Bathly Avon. Muchly appreciated for ALL your Magnificently Helpings today during our incredible water climbing expedition. Will Hopefully see you agin soon, sailing towards us, over the crest of a Big luscious white foamy wave.
Sunday 28th May Wot a Day we (& our Fabulous ‘new’ crew of too) all had yesterday. Tis a bit of a lazy day we is ‘aving. Lovely late breakfast being soft boiled eggies (Yummy !! Yummy !!!) & toasty soldiers (in our tummies). The summerly rejuvenation of the rum barrels (Yes ! We have moor than one. Two in-fact we do. Aaaarrrggh !!! ) (Pirates need moor than just a sniblett of rum. Knot much, just a tittle moor) is continuing Most Finely. We be enjoying the gorgeous sunny relaxation of a Beautiful warm (water than that) day.
Monday 29th May A Cool cloudy & then, increasingly soggy day is ‘ad roand ‘ere on this fine bank ‘oliday. Probables you ‘as been ‘enjoying’ similar bouts of dampness where you lot (there ain’t that many skip) (silly buoy) be hanging oat. Such a shame. Duth knot affect Bart & crew too much. Just float aroand ‘ere for now. Skip braves the squelshy-ness to go Bart-erings for quartermasterly provisions. A brief foray int’a hardware world (the Fantastic Mainlys) proves most beneficial. Very helpful quartermaster in their. the stainless steel chain for the chimney’s cooly hats is successfully cut to required length, a 26mm a/f socket (a rare beast) for tightening (& the reverse) banjo fitting bolts on the fuel pipe connections (a long requested tool by Lister) (who where, understandably starting to getting a wee bit annoyed aboat the totally unnecessary delays) & some spare hacksaw blades. 24 tpi & 32 tpi. Nice & Fine. Could be very handy on occasion. Also ‘acquired’ a very useful small pair of bolt croppers. The same type that q’master used to cut Bart’s st/steel chains. Were impressed with how effective they were. All Good. Just a few bits&bobs for the larder store & then time to return to check on Bart & crew. Make sure all is relaxed & comfy.
Tuesday 30th May Time has come to move along thru the K&A watery-ness. To leave Caen Hill & Devizes to aft. Just as we is making fore the off, it ‘as a’started to a’rain. Lovely. A very slow aqua top-up & Bart is finally making a tittle moor headway, maintaining a pleasantly gentile pace fore the regular statics that line these watery paths. At least t’rain ‘as stopp-ed. Oat of ‘town’ we is pulling over at Devizes Marina to utilise particular services. A smite awkward due to rafted boats almost filling the on-line service mooring. Bart ends up ‘hanging’ off the end & blocking the marina entrance. We is waiting for staff assistance. A couple looking at boats to possibly buy are quite taken with Bart so they get a ‘tour’ aft being told “she’s Knot for sale”. Very impressed. Peoples sum-tyms Aaaarrrggh !!! staff arrive. Pipework is knot long enough to reach so Bart has to be repositioned diagonally across the bow of the ‘outer’ boat to aft & nose, poking int’entree. Personal positions become slightly precarious to ‘carry-oat work’ but all is eventually sorted. Lister & friends re-propulse craft & cru along sum moor. We be enjoying our anxious-less journey wibberly-wobberling through wonderfully greenery scenes.
Bishops Canning Swing Bridge duth knot delay proceedings fore long.
& a wey on, Roxy enjoys a swungly ride on Allington Bridge
Knot sure where you is going skip. Come Back ! Come Back !!
& Yes. It had to happen at one moment during our K&A crews. Aft-er continual disappointments Cap’n Black Bart (at long last) spies lusciously healthy exuberant Rhubarb. It might be a Good year aft-er’all. Love Rhubarb !!
Planned night landing for All Canning fails. All blocked oat. Far too busy. Cannee get Bart in ‘ere. Knot even if we was on a pocket sized ‘baby’ Bart one would knot squeeze in. Old prop just gets on with it. Pure sweet sticky, Honey Street provides a tasty location to sleep, in the shadow of the Pewsey Vale’s rolling hillinesses & the Westward bound White Horse. The Wonderful White ‘Beast’ is prancing along up there if you look closely.
Wednesday 31st May A cloudy warm bright, increasingly sunny day is enjoyed with a few Barty jobs incl’ renovations to the Barrels stands. They got to be looking Mighty Fine two. The sun be breaking thru so the day just gets better & better. A lovely lady (Pamela) on nb:Clara Louisa requested sum assistance to relocate her fine craft fore-ward out from under the tree coverage, to a muchly improved position. Help is duly & rightly provided. Safely relocated, thanks & invitation for chitty-chatties later are offered. Later we do indeed pop-over to see our new boaty friend & exchange stories. Twenty six years & counting, living on her boat aft-er life dealt & cruel blow. Fantastic you are still enjoying the boating life. We love to emulate your boaty credentials. A Fine example to us all. Those oat there that know Pamela & her story will know exactly what is meant. Lovely person !!
Thursday 1st June The Bees are all oat to wave us off today, aft coffee shared with our neighbour. A wide beam hath just passed Bart & ‘as aqua-stopped. Bart only swishes slowly fore aboat two-ish ‘undred feet (& a few toes). We land behind to wait our turn. fortuitously, their be fire occifers sitting in the Barge inn’s canal-side garden, giving boat safely advice + sum great ‘freebies’. Smoke & carbon-monoxide alarms are greatly received. They are interested on boaty life & like Bart so we bees chitty-chattings while waiting. Coffee is served as a thankyou. Thankyou Very Muchly Like !!
Strange colourful creatures are spied, playing on the hills above, leaping around in the sky just like our friends the Bees.
They is knot quite so clever, but they be ‘jumping’ aboat just like tittle beans & bee-buzzing aroand with Big Smiles on their tittle cute faces. Wot a Wonderful scene !!
Once aqua-ed, Lister bursts back into chuggen & the (real) Bees can finally wave goodbye (agin) & go back to their work fore the day. Good Luck Buoys (& Big Girl). We All need your help !! Barticus glides bye many a moored craft & a dredging work-crew de-sludging the canal bed (Thanks Guys) as we winderly wind our way through the Vale of Pewsey which (quite Amazingly) (& almost mysteriously) flushes (no smells this time) us & our vessel straight into Pewsey Wharf. Bart holds back while a Big wide hotel boat called Wessex Rose reverses past the moored craft ahead, to gain access to the service mooring. When they is safely in, Bart proceeds to the fore. A Lovely Wooden boat very kindly moves aft, so Bart can glide into a now large ‘nough space & rest we shall. Just so y’no, nb:Lady Aberlour is sited just aft of the wooden boat aft of nb:Black Bart. Skippet of said nb knows of our Bart. They bought their first narrowboat a few years before we pirated Bart. (Wot Aaaarrrggh !!! you going on aboat skip ??) Interesting fact be, their first nb:Moonshine were bought from the same sailors Cap’n Bart ‘acquired’ our vessel from. Aaaarrrggh !! Jim Lad. Shivers Me Timbers. Aaaarrrggh !!!
Friday 2nd June Cap’n Black Bart commands Lister, friends & cru to ready our craft for a’sailing. We is going water climbing agin. nb:Lady Aberlour & crew ‘ave already skipped wharf. Wonder if we’ll see ’em later. Depends if they’s be skulking in a tittle hidden cove sum-wear. They might have given us the slip. Lines slipped Propulsion is positive. Fore-ward we swim. Once oat of Pewsey there be knot so many mored craft so skip opens the old girl up a bit. Making good smooth progress. Looks & feels like the dredging team ‘av definitely done a good job along this ‘ere parts. Wootton Rivers locks are soonest there, reaching up towards the summit & the deep, dark, dank tunnel ahead. We the crew make light work of arising bottom lock (No. I’m Knot saying sorry this time) (bloggets have to get used to this sort of language) (that’s boats fore you). Only a short jaunt on, there be the second chamber. A Big wide beam is in the water lift now. That be the Big Wide hotel boat Wessex Rose (they obviously snuck oat early too). (We first spied Wessex Rose in Bristol Harbour) (A Fine craft for peoples to enjoy the watery-ways in the ‘Lap of Luxury’) (Trying to complete with Black Bart eh !!) (You’ll Never Take Us Alive Aaaarrrggh !!! ) (The Buoy’s Gone Completely MAD !!!). Tuther craft be nb:Lady Aberlour. Ahoy There !! Me H-Aaaarrrggh-ties !!! ‘Pleasantries’ over, We combine. Time fore sum lock sharing. Yes. We like to share. Chamber numero due is worked very well & horizontal we two be-fore a short while. Wessex Rose is getting ahead of the game. certainly ‘as their ‘oliday crew obviously be well trained. Up we go via lift-o numero tre & finally (just fore a wee while) on & into Wootton Top lock. That be numero quattro. At the summit we now buzzingly bee. On to the Bruce Tunnel we shall traverse. All 502 yards being constructed between 1806 & 1809. It bee a relatively short, but wide bore black hole, designed to cope with the ‘Newbury Barges’ used on the River Thames And along the River Kennet to Newbury, many moons ago.
On to the Bruce we chug. We have ourselves a tittle convoy.
Down the dark hole we go. We get lost. Like a labyrinth down ‘ere. Stumbling roand for ‘ers in the gloomy blackness. Fortunately (& eventually, in due course) we three all come oat safe & sound, escaping oat some ‘portal’ where light be streaming in. Almost dizzinesses up ‘ere on this summit, & blinded by that bright light in the sky. Disorientated we certainly bee. We is over 400 feet (many many many toes) up in the sky. But knot as high as that dazzling glare above. The air may be thin up this high, but soon-ish that be thickening back up (sorry, down) (Oh ! I don’t know) (just confused now) as firstly, four big chambers commence the lowerings of lead boat & then us two slimmer craft back down the mountain, bye a small degree.
Then knot long after, an’udder three descending water lifts is going down, swishing us all below Crofton Pumping Station. When ‘in steam’ the two Crofton Beam Engines, built over 200 years ago still supply water to the highest point of the Kennet & Avon canal, where it runs through Savernake Forest. Blooming Engineeringly Fantastic !!!
An udder pound flows all in a horizontal manner, presenting us to the last two chambers of the Crofton Lock Flight. Wessex Rose has gone for the static option, with crew securing her lines. Narrow vessels Lady Aberlour & Black Bart keep the (reduced) convoy descending by means of manoeuvring gates, paddles, sluices & such thing-amy-jibbies.
Them trains an’alf noisy.
& Blooming Close too !!
Get any closer Mate & you’ll be in ‘ere with us !!!
We is knot cruising much longer be-fore Bedwyn Church Lock is last ‘drop’ of the day.
1st Mate (Roxy to her mates) keeps an eye, as usual. Tinks she’s in charge or summit !! Safely down on the level again. Land Ahoy Cap’n !! Very busy along the towpath ‘ere in Great Bedwyn. Many a moored craft be lined up. Cap’n Bart spies a gap in the static queue & creeping towards the reedy bank.
Although a smidge difficult Bart manages to berth, with our companions sneaking in behind. We is remote from the bank & ‘landed’ in slightly wonky fashion, but at least we is in. Salt-ov.
Bart’s Long think heavy plank just aboat reaches. The ‘land’ end starts sinking into the soggy reedy mush below. Secondment papers are issued for quartermaster to hand oat extra, big heavy wooden blocks to shore-up the plank support system. !st Mate is volunteered to ‘walk the plank’ first. (It’s in the name) (part of the job) (certain responsibilities & all that). Now the rest of the crew can use the dis-embarkation method without fear of an incident.
Gotcha goe-cha bed zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz
Saturday 3rd June This day is a day for static-ness. Well That were the intention. Cap’n Black Bart & crew have a pow-wow (Core !! That’s just like in’juns) (‘cept we Aaaarrrggh !! Pirates). Our ‘ship’ be listing to port. Water levels is a’dropping’ skip were oat there late last night trying to push our floating vehicle away from the bank a wee bit moor. Managed to level the old girl off a tittle, so we weren’t rolling oat of our bunks & falling on the planks below all night. This morn, we is even worsely wonky than ever be-fore. Time to cast-off. A difficult process with heavy plank, numerous mooring stakes to extricate from the ground, clean & safely store And wide liquidy gaps to leap across, but crew manage without any watery mishaps. Lister & ‘is/’er mates shift us onward, in a generally easterly direction. Burnt Mill Lock sets us on our quiet, lonely downward voyage of descention. Lock after lock takes our motley crew s-lowly on, bye-passing Little Bedwyn & Froxfield.
The aerial hunters are circling high above in the sky. We must go on to safer waters. On entering the chamber of Picketfield we spy Wessex Rose resting below us. Cap’n Wessex pops up for a chat & to provide locking assistance. Most Welcome. Thankee sir !! (We first spied Wessex Rose in Bristol Harbour) (A Fine craft for peoples to enjoy the watery-ways in the ‘Lap of Luxury’) (Trying to complete with Black Bart eh !!) (You’ll Never Take Us Alive Aaaarrrggh !!! ) (The Buoy’s Gone Completely MAD !!!) (As if that’s NEWS !). Actually, to be moor exacting, Black Bart & crew (of then only two) originally met the very fresh faced Wessex Rose & her maiden crew in the year 2013. We was cruising the Grand Union of waterways & she were waiting for the darkness of wonder, readying to travel a long wide-ish dark stone & brick tube of wateriness. Tis alright to ‘steam’ into a world of darkened water if you is a narrowboat. Knot taken soo lightly in a wide beam. At least two narrowboats can pass each other in the labyrinth. Larger craft need to approach the dark-hole process much moor carefully. You have to send either a swimmer or a long legg-ed wader through first to clear any on-coming ‘traffic’. Obviously they must wear a head-light. Would be very dangerous to do such without.
nb:Black Bart continues on passed WR & under Picketfield Railway Bridge to the next (Cobblers) chamber. With water refilling complete, Bart moves int’lock. We is just closing upper gates ready for pulling the plug & the tittle hire ‘day boat’ (we passed just now, when it were berthed) comes roand the corner, swimming towards the lock. Cap’n Bart says we must open the gates to let them in, which we do with trepidation. (Many such ‘day boats’ tend to be seen cruising at speed & with minimum concern as to smooth, directional control, or care towards udder boaters or the waterway in which they are). There be a family on board, with (presumably) the teenager son at the helm. He is travelling slowly, & seems in control. The father stands on the roof to help guide/direct him in. A moment of incorrect tiller control is quickly corrected when Bart’s Skip & Skippet call out in unison. He pleasantly surprises us, and himself. He is congratulated on successful entree into lock sharing. A sigh of relief from both crews. Unplug. Down we flow together. Bottom gates opened & day hire is allowed to egress the chamber first. On-we swim in convoy. Over Dun Aqueduct onto Hungerford Marsh where we have the added fun of the Marsh Swing Bridge directly over the centre of the chamber. Day Hire moors & ties centre rope to keep safe while lock refuelling is ‘appening. Bridge swung, chamber full, gates open, we can cruise int’lock. The wind is brisk across this open area, so hanging Bart centre channel ‘as been proving awkward. Bart enters the lock moor keenly than normal, managing to avoid any unpleasant impacts. Day hire manages to untie from lock waiting mooring & brings her in very well. Most impressed. Well Done Sir !! When downed, Bart departs in the lead, on the lookout for a suitable mooring, allowing day hire to pick up his (parents) crew. Bart is re-berthing just ‘above’ Church Swing Bridge as our lock companions swim bye. We bid them a Very Good Fair-Thee-Well. First attempt at ‘landing’ is knot ‘appening. No chance ‘ere Cap’n. Fortunately, there be an’udder berth just a few boats ahead. We move back int’channel & fore-ward a tittle, then move toward the bank agin. Better ‘ere. Manage to almost ‘parallel park’ this time. Knot really, but the fore-well is quite close to the bank, Stern oat sum-wot but that be OK. At least we is almost floating proper-like.
Double Stakes in fore & aft. Lines secured. Fab. After a late lunch, crew of three bee walking into the
delightfully, lovely antique riddled town of Hungerford.
Our base for the night. A Fine place it is too. Probably the largest antiques (& udder tings) establishment,
with the most diverse collection of all manner of items fore sail.
Consideration given to a new venture for Bart World. Aft muchly careful thought, we think better of it. Might have been Fun though, Eh !! Ah !! Happy Memories……..
Sunday 4th June We decide to continue our journey.
Cruising passed the swungly Church Bridge & onwardly downward through Hungerford lock (waiving goodbye to nb:Lady Aberlour who be moored below) & a furlong or so East, the chamber of Dun Mill, where we luckily manage to pair-up with nb:Myrsky & her crew. They is going our way. Fab !! Time to share. We like to share. Sum-tyms. We have ourselves a proper tittle convoy agin. Wessex Rose who crept by us late yesterday, mooring between the swungly bridge & Hungerford lock obviously began their voyage before us & now we bee to the aft of our boaty ensemble. WR stays in the lead as Wire & Brunsden Locks come & go. Our immediate lock companions have forged ahead as we are planning to reberth at Kintbury. Changes in the route are required as soon as we arrive. WR hath ‘nicked’ the last ‘spot’. Spot really being too small a word. She is a large vessel. Unusually long for a wide beam, at 69′ & of course, pretty darn wide. It be packed oat ‘ere Cap’n. No chance. On we go. Our Lovely new boaty friends have waited in the deeply watered chamber with the upper lock gates open. They obviously anticipated Bart was coming on thru to continue our locking Fun !! We was ‘aving such a Wonderful time. Kintbury Lock swishes crafts & cruise into lower waters where we swim along, through beautiful green tree splattered countryside
& then be saying “Hello” & “Nay” “Nay” to ‘old friends’.
T’ought we might be ‘bumping’ int’them. Wide-beam ‘Kennet Valley’ were knot resting in her ‘home berth’ so sure were oat sum-wear. Only a matter of time. Really Lucky to see them coming through tuther week & again now, on our way back towards the Thames. Dreweat’s Lock continues the descendingly wet motion of voyaging through the Kennet & Avon Canal’s two century old man-made channel, guiding Bart & Mursky to & thru a further four chambers.
We glide bye many a concrete pillbox as we swim the K&A. Constructed during the Second World War, pillboxes were positioned along the canal as a line of defense against a possible German invasion. Adding to the ‘natural’ line of defence mayhaps afforded by the waterway itself.
Concrete anti-tank cylinders were constructed on & by bridges to improve the defensive line even moor. Some still maintain a protective eye or two over the canal.
Onwards & downwards we must cruise through these lush free waters. As a duo our vessels swim into one moor watery lift, to float downwardly together. Guyer’s Lock shepherd’s us into the poundal flows accessing the fine town of Newbury. The busy bank enroute to West Mills Swingbridge is ‘busy’. No room for a long Bart.
Our (almost departed) companions very kindly swing the bridge & Bart swims bye. Bye indeed it bee as our luck changes. We manage to squeeze into the last berth above Newbury Lock as we waive a Goodbye to our locky friends. Thankee fore all your help !! Skip asks the chap in the boat behind if he can move up to the next boat a bit moor, which he kindly does, so we can pull Bart aft a tittle bit moor so knot encroaching on the lock waiting berth. Lovely Job. Heavy rain starts just as we be double-staking & securing those lines. Good timing. nb:Myrsky & crew should be Ok as their base is just along from the lock aft-er the Newbury water lift.
Monday 5th June Here we shall remain today. True to fore-cast the weathering is most unpleasant fore boaty activities. Very Windy & Very Wet. Stay put in Newbury we are. Aft a brief, but successful foray int’town for a couple of tings, during a momentary lull in the onslaught we is back home, safe & sound. Bart & Roxy is very ‘appy to see us. Especially as it’s been Soo Long !!
Tuesday 6th June Shall we stay or should we go now ?? We be staying. Extremely Windy conditions & loads of the wet stuff be forecast. Hunker down sum-moor we shall. Skippet notices our aft-neighbour has scooted. Must have been desperate to go anyway this day. We take advantage & pull Bart to stern to escape the noisy weir to starboard (amazing wot a few feet & toes can do) & be moor clear of the ‘lock landing’ berth. During this relocation process we meet our new neighbour nb:’Mystic Moon’ who, following discussion, is keen to travel as lock companion to nb:Black Bart & crew when we cruise through & oat of Newbury tomorrow. Sounds like a splendid idea !! Aaaarrrggh !!!
Fore odd moments this afternoon the rain stopped, the clouds cleared a bit, sun made an appearance & then, quickly gone agin. That be the blooming noisy weir, just over there, & the fabulous tower of St. Nicolas Church in the background.
Wednesday 7th June Well. Wonder wot today might bring to us. Still Windy, but knot like yesterday’s forty+ blooming blusterings.
Black Bart & Mystic Moon Are cruising into & sharing the downwardly motionals of Newbury lock’s slight three feet or so. Soon we are swimming through Newbury, with pedestrians on-looking strangely at our passings.
Victoria Park swashes our duo onto Greenham Lock. There already be a ‘baby’ narrowboat preparing the chamber for downward ‘departure’. Mystic Moon volunteers to take the ‘lead’ of our swelling convoy. Turns oat the new-bees novices so needs they have some instructering & a tittle cajoling along. MM’s Skip take charge of said duties & off they go. Bart & crew are back to their common lone-sum journeying, agin. Via descending locks & horizontal swing bridges a’plenty, bringing up the ‘aft’ (no silly comments Please !!) (Thankyou !!) Cap’n Bart successfully negotiates Thatcham’s famous
turf sided Monkey Marsh Lock, swimming onto Woolhampton where we now have one of the FUN !! combinations. A deep lock swishes our craft oat in the direction of a main road swing bridge right into an unpleasant strong cross river influenced current which tries quite intently to swoosh our Bart sideways as we try to swim proper like, to & through the gap where swung bridge (once) were. Just aboat manage to avoid any impacts during the troublesum process. When you do knot have the ‘usual’ confident control of a watery situation there bee wondrous relief aft-er ‘getting away with it’. Skip is shore a deep drafted, long boat like our Bart inevitably suffers moor than some, with these most amazingly positioned flows & canal architectural combinations. Aaaarrrggh !!! That’s all 1st Mate can ‘say’ aboat the situation. And udders like it. Now we get some ‘bendy’ & (just aboat) wide enough waters in we must (& do) twist & turn passed the Frouds Pools, and there be ‘the novices’ moored as we approach Aldermaston Lock.
No sign of Mystic Moon, so enter & down we do. On our own-sum. This marvellous chamber were originally turf-sided, but enlarged in the mid-eighteenth century and given scalloped brick walls. Below the chamber we take a sharp tack to port & moor on the services berth for some Bart refreshment. Bart is pulled aft a while later,
decision made to rest up for the remains of the day. Mayhaps the ‘ers of darkness also. Before we all snuggle-up & go on our darkly snoozy-snory journey, Bart’s port side gets a much needed spit or two & polish. Muchly timings later, feeling smooth & slippery & looking Good. Four an’old girl.
Thursday 8th June We are greeted by an’udder windy day. That maywells be a fact, but t’ain’t stopping us from continuing wot be our east-north-easterly sort of wobberlingy wet swim-athon. Cap’n Bart reverses oat of our short toe of watery spat off the side of the main channel, (unfortunately having to admit that wind is be creating ‘difficulties‘) & spins (makes it sound soo easy man) the old girl to face int’proper-like direction. Skippet hath leaped ahead, stopping the traffic in a very mildly mannered way & swung the big heavy lifty bridge up int’air.
nb:Black Bart cruises quick(-ish like) through the new ‘hole’ before the bridge ‘falls’ down on top of us. Aldermaston Wharf being busy with moored hire boats, craft for sale & a splattering of privateers soon be to aft,
And then above us once Padworth lock & swing bridge have combined to swoosh vessel & cru downwardly onwards.
We do like these increasingly rare proper chunky meaty mooring bollards.
The continually Wonderful countryside saunters pastures us as Cap’n Black Bart Aaaarrrggh !!! Helms his stead (mostly) quite well. (Sum tings Aaaarrrggh !!! obviously dependant on differences of opinions). We all is swimming along together, passaging through a swathe of naughty, cloggy, pouring, gushing, sluicing, sticky & Very Wet (an interesting combination) trouble-sum chambers, electric swingly bridges & one manual pushy-type guideth we all to an unusually rare proper designated berthing type place. Fine position. We bee nigh-on in The-ale (as it hath writely been called by sum locals fore yearlies) (due to the many coaching inns that ‘adorned’ the local). Theale only’b a (reasonably) sensible trudge from our pleasantly still floaty location so off we go. Skip, Skippet & 1st Mate. A delightful place. Certainly is.
Holy Trinity Church is a Magnificence of a church.
Most commanding of it’s surroundings. Aft a return to our Bart we is popping oat duo fore a a tittle foodies & nectar Wadworth ales at the Fine establishment that be the Fox & Hounds.
Friday 9th June Sheffield Swing Bridge & the closely followed lock start our final swimming strokes of the famous old K&A. An extremely heavy (fortunately short lived) ‘Shower’ (in the strongest term of the word possible) suddenly makes us cru quite soggy.
This be the udder of only two remaining turf sided lock chambers. Strange beasts they bee. The udder sixteen have long gone. Such a shame.
Extremely leaky sluices with the added droplets just’a’dribbling over the top of the gates threaten to re-soggy-fy skip.
We manage to escape without being too wetted or attacked by the (fortunately sleeping) triffids. We do knot want to suffer a venomous squirty sploshy spray from these carnivorous greeneries. Garston, Burghfield & Southcote Locks creep by & roand Cap’n Bart’s vessel, breaking up the continuous flow of fields, woodland, leaves & foliage.
We cannee fore-get the wonders of wildlife that regularly stop to say hello. Two lock sharing boats have been following Bart’s lone-sum voyage. One of their crew being very helpful, riding ahead of them & assisting with the lock operations. Extremely handy as the locks are back to being tight on length for our Bart & the swinging of the bottom gates is proving difficult again. And the aggressive water flow from the leaky upper gates aft of the stern just adds to the Fun !!! Knot !!!
We have arrived & is be preparing the Larger than ‘normal’ Fobney Lock for our downwardly travel. Our chasers have caught up by the time the lock is eventually full. Our lock assistant of recent chambers has plenty of K&A experience so advises we should ALL be capable of ‘squeezing’ into this Beast. Bart cruises in. Our two new companions swim in, one at a thyme. Narrowboat three squeezes her bow in between Bart & ‘next-door’. Looks like we might just aboat be getting away with this. Numero tre keeps a close eye on the cill as the big water is slowly flushed away & we is lowered to ‘ground’ floor.
Lower gates opened, skippet back on board, Cap’n Bart ‘guns’ Lister. We is trying to accelerate (a relatively slow process in Bart World) & cruise oat of the lock in a moor speedy fashion than is ‘normal’ for us. This is the one with nasty strong cross flow in from port-side, directly below lower gates & a slightly less aggressive flow just past that, from starboard side. & a fairly tight bend to port just past the short lock landing stage. Lovely !!! As Bart is getting through the first, stronger of the cross flow we is pushed over & suffer (fortunately) a glancing blow to the wall starboard side, just fore-ward of the stern. We manage to ‘steam’ on through, tacking to port, making the bend without any further incident. Skip was knot looking forward to that one.
We can chill a tittle as we cruise into Reading. Skip is already worrying aboat that ‘orrible strong wide weir adjacent to County lock, which is approaching. And the moor than ‘Slightly’ Crazy ‘S’ bend approach to the lock. Plan is to try & keep Bart as close to the lock landing as is viable & cru to step off with Bow & stern ropes, securing both lines as quickly as is possible. Our luck is in today. A chap walks roand the corner just as we are stepping off & he tells us the lock is already full & the upper gates are open. Fantastic !!! Cheers Matey Aaaarrrggh !! Me H-aaarrggh-tey !!! Skip steps back ont’stern & steers Bart roand the awkward bendy bit while skippet walks roand with bow line still in hand, helping Extremely Muchly in that bendy manoeuvre. Skip hand gestures our first boat companion to come straight into the lock without delay, so they don’t have to mess aboat. This chamber is knot soo Big, but numero tre has dropped back, probably already aware of this pain in the aft, lock weir arrangement. No photographs were available at the printing stage, due to the fact that nobody had a free pair of hands to actually take any. Far too risky a distraction for this sort of negotiation. Now we can relax again, as the lock empties. Knot a deep lock this one. We is soonest on our way through the curvey traffic light controlled single file swimming that be the
Reading shoppy, outy eaty foody paradise place. Fore sum, one would guess, anyway.
We swim on, making our Barty way to & through
Blake’s Lock which be just like the locks on the Upper Thames nearer the western stretches of the navigable river on route to Lechlade. That being the Isis. Tis only a few moor minutes, a short furlong or so at the very most (if even that), the last bridges are sailing through the sky above our heads & nb:Black Bart & All her crew is swimming through the junction, leaving the relatively narrow channel of past weeks into the very wide flowing waters of the River Thames. Mayhaps we might ‘see’ you there…….
Black Bart hath cruised East from Bristol Floating Harbour to the River Thames at Reading, swimming aboat 90 miles of the Amiable Avon And the slightly Kantankerous Kennet & Avon Canal (including snippets of the River Kennet), crawling through one medium (Bruce) tunnel & two short (Sydney Gardens & Cleveland) tunnels, ascending 53 & descending 52 Big Wide lock chambers (secondly, of the uppers, being the Massive Chambers of the Bristol River Avon), traversing one fully open & level-waters of (the firstly) Netham lock, sailing over 10 strange channels called aqueducts & swimming to the side of 24 swung bridges, crawling under 1 lift bridge & under (summit like) 193 (fixed) bridges.
In 1724 the River Kennet were made navigable from Reading to Newbury, and by 1727 boats could reach as far as a watery Bath. For millennium be-fore people were talking aboat linking the River Kennet with the River Avon, but it were knot until 1794 that a route be fixed via Devizes and an act of parliament be passed. Many ‘ers of hard physical graft later the Kennet & Avon Canal was there fore all to behold. That were being in the year 1810. Water supply up to the summit where the dark hole hid, soon became a problem, so in 1812 a Boulton & Watt steam engine were installed at Crofton to pump water from Wilton Water. Only a short few years on, a second (Harvey’s) engine be also installed to assist in the humongous water lifting task. Unfortunately, aft all that time, money & effort the K&A were knot a prosperous beast. Such a shame. Lucky fore us & all o’you lot too, moor hard graft, money & time were expended to save this poor old decrepit, declining, disintegrating, channel & all it’s bridges, locks, aqueducts, etc, etc…. Aft the last ‘piece’ of the ‘puzzle’, the ‘monster’ Caen Flight were successfully completed in 1990 Her Majesty drover all the way to devizes to officially re-open the whole 87 mile waterway world that be the Kennet & Avon Canal. Fantastic !!!