Sunday 9 August 2009

Hire boat holiday 2009 (honeymoon with seven of the children)

Karen and I got married on 8th August 2009 and spent the following week with seven of our children on the western end of the Kennet & Avon canal.  We hired an Alvechurch boat from their Hilperton marina.

Our hire boat decked out with wedding ribbons

To start the trip we headed to Bath as most of the children had never visited the city before.

One of several bike sculptures on the way down to Bath

There are a couple of fine aqueducts across the River Avon but their true majesty can really only be seen from the river level.  Sorting through the old photographs I could only find ones taken as we crossed the aqueducts.

Crossing the Avoncliff aqueduct (Sophie driving and Jake reading – both ignoring the newlyweds!)

Crossing the Avoncliff again on our way back (Polly keeping look out and Joanna reading)

Dundas aqueduct (Polly and Joanna pointing out which way to go)

We bought our first narrowboat after this trip and were based on the K&A for a couple of years before becoming ccers and venturing farther afield.  We have fond memories of Avoncliff as it is one of the best places we have found for ransoms (wild garlic leaves); the best we have found is near Preston Brook at the top end of the Trent & Mersey canal.

Pretty houses at Avoncliff (the Cross Guns pub and microbrewery sits behind the houses and is well worth a visit)

Most of the bridge and bankside stonework is quite ornate in Bath and very different from most other cities that canals pass through.

Sydney gardens footbridge in Bathwick

In the background of the picture above is Cleveland House sitting on top of Cleveland House tunnel.  Cleveland House was the headquarters of the canal company until 1864.  Tolls used to be collected through a trapdoor into the tunnel roof.

Karen musing on a stone bridge

The number of boats using the Bath end of the K&A has vastly increased since 2009  and places like this would be full of double moored boats now, just like London.

The quieter mooring times around Bathampton

Not sure what Catherine was doing here

Looking at the picture above reminds me that gangplanks are required at most mooring spots on the K&A.  Some people find this annoying and put the canal down because of it.  As we cruised mainly the K&A and Thames in our early boating years it was the norm for us and we found it strange once we started going farther afield onto waterways where gangplanks are not required.

Once we had been to Bath we turned round and headed hack east to visit Devizes.

Bottom of the main flight at Caen Hill in Devizes.

We didn’t have enough time to do the flight but walked up to the top to get ice creams.

Side pond with heron on the walk up the flight

Karen with Catherine and Joanna

Jake, Sophie, Polly & Lauren

Each lock in the flight has a side pond to help conserve water – great views across Wiltshire

Colourful boats moored above the top lock of the main flight

We travelled 40 miles through 31 locks during the holiday.