A K&A Cruise with Waiouru Tom & Jan

Saturday 11th July 2015

7.14 miles 0 locks.

So a bit of background, I have been into canals the history the life on the cut in carrying days, boats and all that is our waterways since my first introduction as a 10 year old. So as I mentioned previously the last canal holiday was 1988, then over many years Karen and I have been cycling the towpath between Bath and Trowbridge and always enjoyed being by the water and boats.

So with a rekindled interest I started searching the internet for boaty things holidays users etc. etc. it wasn’t long before I found Nb NoProblem ‘s blog, then reading through that I came across Sue’s remarks on poor ole Tom & Jan’s predicament at Aldermaston wharf seeking somewhere to stay , while they get their disaster of a build before arriving at Aldermaston sorted. So this led me to a major read of Tom & Jan’s blog to get up to date and they do have some tale to tale. This would of been probably been late 2013. So I’ve been an avid reader of Tom’s blog since then, Tom likes to put up a post everyday so it does get compulsive to have a look.

Well over that time until July this year I’ve made many comments on the blog and a few email conversations with Tom, so when I read Jan & Tom were heading down our way to the the K&A, I thought I’ll have to pop up and see them and Waiouru.                             Tom posted up along the way about meeting blog readers so the seed was sown and after many emails to and fro, events of ours getting in the way Tom & Jan reached Bath.                                                          The Saturday we thought we would be able to meet up we thought we would be on board going down the Avon towards Bristol but Tom & Jan had had a change of heart and advised me that they were actually winding in the morning and returning to Reading.

No problem for us. They would be off at 09.00 to traverse the two tunnels in Bath and wind at Sydney Wharf winding hole. A bit early for us on our first day off of the week so by now we are in telephone contact and Tom advises they will fill with water at Bathampton around 09.30. So we hatch a plan to drive to Bradford-on-Avon and then ride back to Bathampton to meet them.

Avoncliffe

This is us enroute crossing Avoncliff Aqueduct.

We arrive at Dundas in about 20 minutes and I call Tom to see how they are doing (in case they had an early start which Tom & Jan often do!) no answer so we guess they are cruising I leave a message saying we will continue.

We arrive at Claverton and call again this time Jan answers the first time we have spoken to each other and Jan is unsure how the tank filling is going, so we decide to cycle on and see if we can make Bathampton if not we will meet somewhere and sort the bikes etc. from there. We make it just Tom is just leaving the mooring on the water point as we arrive, in a deft move he pops it into reverse and grabs the centre line and waits for us to get the bikes locked up grab our panniers and get aboard. A little incident while Tom & Jan held for us, a hire boat went by rather quickly into the bridge hole and dragged Waiouru with it! Jan had to apply a bit of forward power while Tom was bankside to stop anything becoming of it.

On board we were welcomed and soon on our way.

Tom on the tiller soon gave us a brief run down of the boat and was quick to point out how Waiouru is so much heaver than a hire boat and needs more starting and stopping more on that later!

IMG_1914

Jan & Karen closing up he first swing bridge, shortly after Tom very kindly (some would say foolishly!) offered me the chance to take the tiller, what a treat I jumped at the chance.

IMG_1915

Then shortly after I dropped Tom off to do the next swing bridge he doesn’t do them very often.

IMG_1916

Tom watching my progress! then after I go through an approaching boat is mid canal and pulling towpath side to stop. I think I’ll pull up after him then another boat appears! he’s heading where I want to go! the first boat has pulled up with enough room in front for me but I’ve got the angle of approach all wrong and underestimate the length and (remember the stopping warning!) the stopping distance required! oh dear bump!! Jan advises poor Toms face was a picture! we collect Tom and I apologise profusely, Tom’s back on the tiller.

IMG_1918 Soon Tom decides to let the learner have another go and we manage to nudge on a bit from tick over in a few places.                                                                                                  Next bit of excitement as Tom reported on his blog is a slow slow day boat coming through a bridge hole before Dundas the boat in front Little Jack pictured above gets stuck on the ledge avoiding/waiting for the day boat, Tom at the tiller effects a great manoeuvre slipping by them both and offering a tow to Little Jack first the captain declined but soon Tom persuades him its for the best and gets the rope from the forward T stud ties it on the dolly on the back of Waiouru. It does take some application of power to drag them off but soon done.

IMG_1917

Then we had to make room for a ‘LAD’ boat complete with chair on roof! and another boat after that one, good job Waiouru handles well and oh forgot to mention bow thrusters which are handy when you get the hang of which button operates which thruster!

IMG_1919

IMG_1920I return to the tiller after the stop plank narrows the other side of Dundas Aqueduct.

IMG_1922IMG_1925We pass the Boatyards fuel boat on the straight before Avoncliff They decided against a delivery as it was a tricky situation not sure why, but he advised they will pass their yard along the way and to grab some fuel.

IMG_1926

We meet some canoes with Pirates aboard just before Avoncliff so Tom takes charge to avoid a calamity!

IMG_1928

The ladies retired to the cratch soon after Dundas to let Tom & I talk engines! we didn’t really but did discuss the build of Waiouru.


IMG_1929

IMG_1930

Toms back on the tiller as I thought it wise to select a mooring.

Tom made for a very tight gap, I was not so sure but I learned a lot from watching the expert at work. The boat in front taking up a couple of spaces appeared and kindly offered to move up. So that was it moored up and cruise over just after 13.00hrs about a 4 hour trip.

Then we were spoiled royally by being offered lunch, which we did not expect! It was New Zealand style new to us but in a nut shell don’t expect to be handed anything, it’s help yourself, we were fine with that. Lunch taken and enjoyed and we were given a proper tour of the boat and she is a mighty fine testament to Tom & Jan’s efforts.

Then we said farewell and back to the car and collect our bikes from Bathampton.

All in all we couldn’t spend a Saturday in any better way fab.

Thanks Tom & Jan.

IMG_1931

IMG_1932

Advertisements

Claverton to Bradford-On-Avon including the Tour of Britain Cycle Race.

Friday September 12th 2014 5.18 miles, 0 locks

Coiled the ropes and we were away at 09.06 as we had a cycle race to catch! The Tour of Britain Stage Six came to Bath then enroute to Hemel Hempstead it crossed the K&A at Winsley Hill

So we headed off and soon arrived at Dundas where at the foot bridge Karen jumped off to dispose of the rubbish at the wharf, Jack and I continued to moor by the lift bridge for the Somerset Coal Canal.

Picking up Karen on we went across the magnificent Dundas Aqueduct and on into Conkwell Wood before mooring up just shy off Limpley Stoke Road Bridge No. 175

SDC15713

Well Kept? Jack can’t quite believe what he’s seeing!

SDC15721

Interesting Butty now powered or new always been powered.

SDC15724

Approaching Dundas

SDC15725

SDC15729

Bye Bye Dundas

So we arrived in plenty of time walked up onto the hill a small way beyond the bridge. Being cycle race fans and multi Tour of Britain visitors we knew what to expect.

1st you get the sponsors vehicles coming through some handing out free bees.

2nd the officials judges etc.

3rd the police escort this is always fun as they move at a rate leapfrogging the race to keep the rolling road closure going.

Then we get to see the race proper even uphill the riders pass very quick, but we spotted the stars.

Followed up by the team support cars.

Most enjoyable.

So back to the boat and coiled the ropes and on to our Over night mooring Bradford-on-Avon.

Washhouse Lock Moorings to Claverton

Thursday September 11th 2014 4.12 miles, 3 locks, 2 tunnels.

So Thursday dawned and we had breakfast and walked up to wave off Rob and Janey they are heading off to Falmouth to Robs Graduation. Was not long after returning to Ena that we coiled the ropes and were off at 09.47. Karen walked on up and set lock 11. Soon I was in and gates shut, I climbed the lock ladder for the 1st time on this holiday to assist Karen with operating the lock. Karen was a little apprehensive about doing the 3 locks unassisted but she was fine and took it all in her stride. It was an easy passage and we had a few gongoozlers on Bath Top Lock 13 and by 10.25 were through and on our way.

The weather still lovely we made our way to Bathampton to the water point to fill the tank. Soon done and on our way. Lovely cruising weather plenty of moored boats around here but we have plenty of time. Next along was a couple of fine looking boats 2nd being a traditional pair motor and butty.

We slowly made our way to Claverton to moor up for the day. 12.20 ropes were tied up and time for a relaxing afternoon .

Had another wander down to the weir and pump house in the late evening, I do like it here. I watched a farmer negotiate the unmanned level crossing He opened both gates then went across to call the signalman on the line side phone and returned to his tractor not long after a train came through, he still waited I wondered what was up then out of nowhere a 125 came flashing through! seen in the photo I guess he was told wait for two trains. He crossed and closed up the gates. Much later about 23.15 I popped out to meet Jacko who was joining us again for Friday and Saturday took the torch up to the road and met him a nice quite place there for him to park for 2 days.

Claverton to Bath

Tuesday September 9th 2014

3.95 miles, 0 locks, 2 tunnels

Woke to another glorious day this was the scene out the side hatch

IMG_6115

Coiled the ropes at 10.30 and off for Bath.

More nice scenery in the avon valley, first up there was a need of water to replenish the tank.

Just after the swing bridge a water point was shown, we nearly missed it as it was just a concrete built cupboard, I reversed back and moored up but we were defeated you needed a special key to access the cupboard we didn’t have one!

So back aboard we head on knowing there should be another chance at Bathampton. After another tick over mile or so (moored boats) we arrive at Bathhampton and find the tap and get our tank back to full. A good flow on it not as slow as others I have read about.

Not sure why Janey has her Gillette on was lovely day.

Not sure why Janey has her Gillette on was lovely day.

Then onwards to Bath.

IMG_6127

Janey on the tiller

Nudged my 1st boat going for the gap to a moored boat between it and an approaching boat, ahh not happy about that, should of waited!

That was not it though approaching Darlington Wharf with solid moored boats I encountered a widebeam around a blind corner he was well over his side me not so! I got across ok and avoided the widebeam well, but forgetting how a narrowboat spins on it’s centre rather than back following front I nudged another boat by putting the tiller right to bring the bow left after getting through, I needed to wait a touch longer!

Still it was very minor nobody noticed but me. Then on through Beckfords Tunnel, Sydney Gardens and Cleveland House Tunnel quite surreal after cycling through here many times.

Wonderful stuff cruising through Bath, then arriving along the pound to Bath top lock there were boats everywhere and a ABC boat was reversing out of the lock. When he got level the steersman advised “Do you know the bottom lock is closed ?” well actually I did but the CRT stoppage notice I had seen online said stoppage until 12 noon. So after a chat as they were heading for the water point I learned there could be a possible lift of the closure at 16.00hrs. Well I noted I could get out 48 footer around at the top lock which with some use of the pole in the bow by Janey and Karen we did. Others had to drop 2 locks wind in the side pound and back up. We found a mooring on rings just along from bridge 188 and decided to stay put and move on in the morning.

So that gave the opportunity to spend the afternoon grabbing retail therapy in town.

Rather surreal as we would do this maybe 4 or 5 times a year anyway but by car from home 35 minutes drive!  We had tea in The Slug & Lettuce top of Milsom Street a sort of Witherspoons really but all good no complaints. We noted on the way back to the boat the area for eating out looks to be the new environs around Bath Spa Station. We walked back up through the locks around 18.00hrs and noted the bottom lock still chained.

The mooring was fine and no disturbance through the night.

Bradford-on-Avon to Claverton

Monday September 8th 2014

5.98 miles, 1 lock.

Wasn’t the best nights sleep we had a bit of a list! Before retiring for the night I loosened the bow rope and pushed away from the bank a bit, didn’t seem to cure it but it appeared we were definitely floating. Morning came breakfast was done and an earlyish start to find a mooring nearer the supermarket. As luck would have it there was a free one we just fitted into complete with rings. So moored up and headed to the supermarket the girls were way ahead as I locked up and checked everything. I stopped to chat to a guy on a bike noting down licence numbers in his book, I asked if he was checking boats had a licence in part he was but main reason was to report over stayers on the moorings, he was not a CRT employee just a volunteer he said “I’m putting a something back into the waterways as I get so much pleasure out of it” only a young kid 20’s I’d say.

So I headed off to Sainsburys to catch up with Karen and Janey, Managed to grab most of what we required. Then trollied it back to the closest corner of the car park to the bridge and used the well warn path through the shrubs! down to the pavement and back to the boat. Not long after stowing our shopping we were on our way dropped down through      B-O-A lock collected my crew and we were on our way in the lovely sunshine.

IMG_607810401355_10152668243215609_2898600594163552046_n

Made a mess of the turn to cross Avoncliff Aqueduct its a sharp one! had to back up!

Lovely country and clear of moorers for a while! one of our favorite parts of the canal along through the Murhill Woods. Soon lunch was calling us so we were looking for a mooring, I didn’t realise how close we were to Dundas but we found a wild mooring on the end of the winding hole. Lunch consumed we were on our way 2 bends and Dundas Aqueduct appeared would of been better for lunch. This is such a nice spot here.

Back amongst the moored boats tickover! still lovely country though.

Then about 14.15hrs we arrived at Claverton and moored up.

If you watched Great Canal Journeys Prunella had her hair done on a wide beam in B-O-A well that particular boat was receiving a new lease of life in front of us having a refit from the towpath workshop. We were looking forward to a paddle down at the river on such a hot day a great place for swimming too I’ll let the pictures do the talking.

Then Karen made a lovely tea and we walked the towpath for a mile or two towards Bath in the evening.