Monday, 21 November 2011

Back on the Grand Union

Wow - time sure flies. I hadn't realised it had been quite so long since I updated this blog until my mom asked me about it - at least my mom is following me!

So, where were we? Oh yes! Bath and the Kennet and Avon Canal. Seems like years ago!

Those who know English geography will know that Bath is in the West Country. We've since turned around, and went back up the Kennet and Avon to the Thames.

The Kennet and Avon has been a wonderful experience. Much of the canal is rural, and it runs through some beautiful countryside. The countryside itself bears the marks of ancient inhabitants, with stone circles, earthworks, and other iron-age remnants.

It was great being in the West Country, but we did seem to have a lot of work going on in London and the South East, which meant that our trusty little Fiesta travelled up and down the M4 countless times. The only injury she sustained was a flat tyre, and that was while parked near the boat - so really, I couldn't have asked for better motoring luck.

The Kennet and Avon joins the River Thames at Reading. Apparently there is nice mooring in Reading, but I've never found it. Our night there, we were moored next to a very grotty park where there was evidence of drug users, and we saw a "sex act" being performed. Not really the kind of place you want to stay for long - and we didn't!

Cruising on the Thames is an entirely different experience to being on the canals. By and large, on the canals you have to operate the locks yourself, where as on the river they are much larger, and are done for you. Mooring is also more difficult on the river, as along the canal, one side is always "Towpath" - and so public land, but on the river, much of the bank is privately owned - which means you either can't moor there, or need to pay. Still, we saw some beautiful properties...!

We left the Thames at Oxford, continuing north up the Oxford Canal. We've done this bit before, and were back in territory that was familiar. The Oxford, Leicester, and Grand Union canal all join around Braunston, and so we took the Grand Union canal south, and are now slowly chugging towards Marsworth - where we like to spend our Christmas - it's a bit of a tradition now.

Ever wondered why the path on the side of the canal is called a "Towpath"? At first I thought it was a "Toepath" - i.e. somewhere where people walked - but it's actually the path that the horses used to walk when they towed the boats. The photo is of a horse drawn boat we encountered on our way to Reading.

Autumn is here, and winter is almost upon us. Dark days, and the little light we do get is used mostly to collect wood! We're still warm, though, and waiting to see if we get a bit of Christmas snow.