I am Linda and along with my husband Richard and our dog Muffin we enjoy our summers on the UK's canal system

Monday 29 September 2014

Theale Swing Bridge (Kennet & Avon Canal) – Sunday 28th September

A sad day as we left the lovely River Thames.  I have so enjoyed it, and as I might have already mentioned, we will be back next year to spend most of our summer on it and really explore.  However it was also a happy day as it was Steve’s birthday J

As is the norm we were away at 10am and headed down to Caversham Lock under the nice Caversham Bridge.

 Caversham Bridge
Caversham Lock
Locks have been documented at Caversham since the 15th century, although these were undoubtedly flash weirs. It wasn't until 1777 that the Thames Commissioners decided that they had to spend £1,000 on building a pound lock, the first one using fir wood. In those days the owners charged a toll of two pennies per ton to merchants taking their barges through the lock.  It is recorded that in 1778, a new lock office be built for the keeper. It was a small wooden affair, provided 'for the keeper to receive his money and put in his tools for the necessary opening the pound.'

We pulled over at Tesco to stock up on fresh stuff and then said goodbye to the River Thames for this year :-(

Goodbye River Thames 
Hello Kennet and Avon Canal
At Blake’s Lock the fun began!!  As we approached we could see a boat in the lock and one waiting.  The chap on the one waiting appeared to be single handed so I went up to help.  As he entered the lock I realised he wasn’t single handed – his wife was sitting in the cratch and proceeded to hold a bow rope round a bollard – from the cratch.

Blake’s Lock

Blake's Lock is unique because it is the only one that, while controlled by the Environment Agency, is not on the River Thames. As with most other locks on the River Thames, Blake's was originally a flash lock.  It used to be owned by the then Kennet and Avon Company.  Records show that there was a lock keeper's house here in 1802, but this was demolished to make way for a new building in 1840.  In 1771, the toll at Blake’s Lock was fourpence halfpenny, and in 1821 it was 19 shillings per 140 tonnes.

Down through the Oracle

The traffic lights were on red so I pressed the button and waited.  Two boats came through saying that there was a hire boat behind them (three boats – interesting!)  We waited and waited and then our light turned green – what to do!  When it turned red we went anyway not wanting to miss our turn.  Down through the Oracle with trepidation in case we met the hire boat on a bend but there was no sign of it until we got to County lock waiting where they were – I’m not sure what they were doing!  Steve managed to nose up to the lock gate and drop Diane off but Richard got caught by the current and we were at a rather strange position for going into the lock!  Eventually we came alongside the hire boat and I asked why they hadn’t gone when the light was on green and it was something to do with the lock gate came open so they went back to close it.  Anyway no problem (well I was very annoyed – understatement) and we went into the lock.  A hire boat came down the river and tried to come alongside the lock waiting but the current took them too and I really thought they were going to get stuck on the weir but with me shouting instructions (I’m not sure if the skipper could hear but it made me feel better) they straightened themselves out and pulled the bow into the lock and ended up nose to nose with Daisy Chain!  Still it all adds to excitement – the Thames locks have been lovely but a bit boring!

Someone is the wrong way round!

At Fobney Lock we found our “single hander” in the lock with the ghost crew doing her bit from the cratch.  Diane and I worked them up!  We pulled over for lunch not long after Fobney and then moved on through Sheffield Lock and Theale Swing Bridge and pulled over for the night.  That was enough excitement for one day!

8.66 miles
7 locks

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