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.

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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!

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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.

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

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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.

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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!

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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.

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

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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.


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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.

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Bath Top Lock River Avon and Return back up to Wash House Lock Moorings

Wednesday September 10th 2014

5.32 miles, 9 locks, One 2nd deepest in country! 6 locks in flight we did 3 twice.

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70 ft winding hole Sydney Wharf.

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Bath Narrowboats.

Click on the photo’s to enlarge.

The weather is amazing for this time of year! Yet another great day in store we set off heading the wrong way after yesterdays misfortune with Bath locks being closed it meant our plans to get to Saltford were scuppered. So today we just wanted to have a cruise through Bath on the river so we started by turning in the Sydney Wharf winding hole. 3 shunts I seem to think it was 4 point turn! Then off to tackle the flight of 6 locks to get us down to the Avon. Easy going in the first lock Bath Top Lock No. 13 of the Widcome Flight. Then into Pulteney Lock No 12 where upon the crew in front noticed us and we them so they helpfully waited for us to share the rest of the flight later dropping down through the flight. We went on to find that they were Dave and Helen from the share boat Freedom based in winter at Hawne Basin Birmingham and anywhere on the system in summer. A vote of the share holders decides this each a.g.m. a good idea I think rather than out of the same marina all year. This this year they were based along the K&A. So we shared Abbey View Lock No. 11 and then Wash House Lock No. 10, Then it was onto the big one Bath Deep Lock No.s 8 & 9. These two locks were combined when the canal was restored in 1976. So with Helen, Karen and Ada Jane working the locks we had a bit of a wait as there was a boat already in the chamber so the ladies assisted it down (no thanks given apparently and stood back and watched!) then they had to refill the lock up before it was our turn. Dave entered first I was lingering wide out in the side pond. So after a our wait we in for the drop of 6 m (19ft 5ins), making it Britain’s second deepest canal lock.

All very exciting even Dave got his camera out and fired off a few shots. Soon we were through Bath Bottom Lock No. 7 during our passage down I said to Dave we were heading up to Pultney Weir to have a look from river level, he thought an excellent idea to, but the lock landing on the river was left out the lock down stream and we wanted to head right so I landed on the lock landing to pick up the ladies as did Dave he said I though you were going right I said I am I proceeded to reverse back into the bridge hole for lock No. 7 and turn round made a bit of a pigs ear and had to have two goes at it. Dave was heading off down stream by now we had said thanks for their assistance and them returning the thanks to us. Now we were in for a treat, having seen the River Avon from the bank by Bath Rugby Club and way up on the Grand Parade to see it from the river was grand. I was hoping to get our 48 footer round in one in front the weir as the flow would help alot but alas no didn’t get over far enough right so had a 2 point turn here.

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Old warehouses over the river now converted.

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We Winded here before Weston Cut.

Then we pressed on down stream in glorious sunshine. We soon then passed Dave and Helen coming back up they had had to go further down stream to wind their 62 footer, they shouted “any moorings up there?” no we said they are closed for repair works to be carried out to the embankment which we knew from yesterday when we walked along there. So we pressed on downstream under the railway and past the old now redeveloped mill buildings and the city moorings opposite. Looking at the time and the desire to get back up some of the Bath Flight before stopping we decided not to do Weston Lock to turn around not long after and come back up it. So we turned just above the canal cut to Weston Lock. Then I made a photographic record of all the bridges on the way back to add to CanalplanAC as I noted they were absent during my route research. I have put most up there now. We made for the new mooring by Sainsburys for lunch, a building site alongside at the moment so rather noisy passing the refurbished Victoria Bridge which was the subject of the closure yesterday still being policed by a hi vis chap in a motorised dingy so you did not pass directly under the workmen.

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Entering the bridge hole to the K&A and lock 7.

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Bye bye River Avon.

After lunch we headed back up to the Bath Flight, I had an interesting time in the deep lock alone, Karen and Janey decided to wind open the paddles fully from the word go! no way I could hold the boat against the lock side against that they didn’t even look down in to see all was well! so I bounced around like a cork for a while until the currents subsided with the depth of water. We did number 10 then found a good spot on the end of the line of boats before the bridge to moor up. We popped up the rest of the flight on foot to find something for tea at Tesco’s and check out the parking situation for Janey’s BF who was joining us late this evening and staying the night and leaving with Janey in the morning to head off to Falmouth for his graduation. Not long after tea another BP crew arrived down through Lock 11 looking for a mooring and asked if they could breast up. The crew we met on Saturday they were the 1st to leave, old hands and had done all the BP bases to hire from there were 6 of them and they blasted off Saturday and got to the foot of the Devizes flight and went up Sunday had a day in Devizes Monday and headed to Bath Tuesday so they were not hanging around to be here Wednesday evening. Lovely people the older chap was a narrowboat instructor for people or children with learning disabilities and the like. After a conflab we let them know we had a late visitor arriving and we intended a sharp get away in the morning. So it was decided they take the inside mooring also as they were longer than us and we would be as silent as possible bringing Rob back across their boat at 11ish pm. Rob found the right street and Janey and I walked up to meet him and then soon to bed.

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.

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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.

Semington to Seend Cleeve and return to Bradford-on-Avon

Sunday September 7th 2014

9.32 miles, 10 locks well 5 twice.

The aim was The Barge Inn Seend Cleeve for Sunday lunch.

Then to get Jacko and Rachel back to B-on-A for early evening so they could get back home in time for work Monday.

we had an interesting nights sleep and actually slept well and the bed was comfy.

So I had a 10am departure in mind, 10.15 it was.

Then straight into the first lock of the day Semington bottom lock, all went well considering the 28 years since we last operated one.

Rachel had done some canal cruising in the not to distant past with her family.

Then on past Semington Dry Dock. Looks a decent place going on the set up on view.

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Then onto Semmington top lock all running very well and no hold ups then to cross the A350 road on the relatively new aqueduct complete with central reservation and keep right arrows! oh I missed that whoops! no other boats so got away with it.

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Over the A350.

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Keep Right!

Soon the flight up to Seend was upon us we shared the 3 locks with a private boat who moored at Caen Hill Marina. The boat and owners name I forget, he had thought a weekend previous would be the last one out before the weather turned to autumn. But as this weekend was so hot and sunny they couldn’t resist another weekend out on the boat.

My Pearsons guide advised the winding hole was the west side of the pub but my lock companion said in fact it was above the lock east of the pub. So following his advice I made the turn there a number of point turn it was too! I had an audience which always makes it harder to do without embarrassment.

We turned then back into the same lock, (left the gates open so no one could turn it against us) and proceeded down.

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Lock above Barge Inn

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Mooring for Sunday lunch.

We were in good time and so decided to carry on down the next two locks after the pub and walk back so we made the most of our available time for our B-o-A return. We had a later booking 13.45 for a table and the service was slow! I had to ask for someone to come and take our order though staff passed the other side of the area we were in they ignored us, when questioned at the bar to take our order the member responsible said she was unaware we had arrived!. Failings on an upper level though as we reserved and checked in to be told where to go to our table, no procedure in place then to follow up a customers arrival with a personal table visit. Anyway the lamb was only available for 3 covers that turned out to be two, so two of us had beef instead and chicken I think it was, all good meals and hot enough just! Puddings were ordered and those were good too. By 3 ‘o’ clock we were back at the boat and on our way to complete the other 3 locks left to do.

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Jacko very pleased after his Sunday Roast at the Barge Inn

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Karen admiring the view up to the Barge Inn

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Karens view

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Janey and Rach looking happy.

We shared with a Sally Boats narrowboat the last two locks at Semington.

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Got it right this time keep right!

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Happy boaters in the sun.

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Then back past our previous nights mooring and full steam to Bradford. The sun was out and it was hot and we really enjoyed the open countryside and floating along.

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We made good time and moored up east of Widbrook Road bridge soon Jack and Rachel gathered their bags and we helped them back to Jacks car and waved them off. It was great to have their company for the weekend.

Karen was not happy with the mooring as the signs were missing, there was one saying no mooring but not between here and there! She asked a neighbouring home owner he advised we would be ok for one night but actually there was no mooring between the gate and the bridge, feeling uncomfortable we moved into the cutting the otherside of the bridge it was ok and we had an evening walk into Bradford to check out the moorings for a supermarket visit in the morning.

Heading off to Semmington

Though disappointed with Bl,Pr’s service we were still full of smiles to be heading out on a narrowboat holiday on a cracking hot sunny day.

I didn’t really take many photos to start off with. We were soon at the bridge by the marina to pick up our visitors for the weekend Jack and Rachel.

They stepped on at the bridge narrow but were suffering after waiting so long for us in the sun since 14.00hrs. It was now 16.00hrs. We pressed on well tick over so many moored boats, then when we got free of them I push on just shy of creating a wash on the bank.

Karen and then Jack took a hand on the tiller after Staverton Jack did well considering I imagined he was watching what I was doing, later I discovered while I was trying to hold the boat while on a swing bridge landing he didn’t know where neutral was on the throttle I was struggling to hold the boat he had her in tick over!

Then later Karen at the helm with Jack I’m in the hatches Ada-Jane with Rachel in the bow, Karen’s voice is rising ohhhh ohhh and Jack grabs the tiller I see reeds rubbing along the windows I lean over quick and hit reverse full throttle and we avoid ramming the bank just! Janey and Rach in the bow saw it coming and managed to duck.

I took to the tiller and we pushed on to Semmington, lovely country we were passing through. Soon we crossed the aqueduct over Semmington Brook. I noticed the lamp posts along the road at Semmington, so we started looking for a mooring. We passed the lovely Grey Hare moored up and the owners enjoying a glass of something table and chairs on the towpath.

I spotted a space and thought we ought to take it we were in sight of the road bridge. Got into the bank and out with the pins and all went well for our 1st mooring for the night.