In my last blog I believe I mentioned that I skipped getting water on Thursday with Emily because I could get it done on Saturday with Alan. That was a mistake as the next water point after Aldermaston is at Kintbury 14 miles away. 14 miles and about as many locks. Locks take time and 14 miles is a long way for the weekend.
We left Midgham Lock area around 8:30 in the morning. Our goal was to get past Newbury and into the countryside. We get in sight of our first lock and I take the helm as Alan gets to the front to jump off. I start to bring the throttle down to lower revs and the handle goes loose in my hand. It had all but fallen off while in forward headed for a lock gate. I yelled emergency to Alan and he dropped his lock stuff to pull us in against the power of the engine. I pushed the handle in and tried to bring her down to neutral with no idea if I was there yet. Alan got her pulled into the landing and I tied her off.
We are not mechanics. Alan had a look and couldn’t see a way into the handle mechanism to try and figure it out. He went in to find the number of the River and Canal Rescue again and I sat down and looked at the handle. Maybe it was my late father whispering in my ear but for some reason I decided to pry the emblem cover off the handle. This revealed a screw. I got a screwdriver and removed the handle to have a look. It was very easy to unscrew. No obvious problem with the mechanism but that screw was very easy to loosen so maybe it was too loose. I put the handle back on an tightened it. We just had a screw loose….typical.
Now since things seemed happy we got the lock open and I got her into gear to go in. At this point I realise I had not gotten he into neutral before tying off so when I put the handle back on it was in the wrong position. Not dangerous but something I needed to fix when we could pull over again.
We got to the next lock and a hire boat turned up behind us. Alan held us in with the rope so that they could slide in next to us. While he had control of the boat I took my moment to get the throttle back on correctly since we hadn’t found a place to moor for repairs.
This lock was Monkey Marsh lock. I don’t know the story behind the name but it is some name. It was our second peat sided lock on the K&A. The build style of the lock is unique and rare so the lock is a scheduled monument and must be left empty to help protect from erosion of the peat sides.
The rest of the cruise was mostly uneventful. I hovered at locks as landings are almost never long enough for two boats. Alan worked locks with the crew of the hire boat and we got into Newbury around 1pm. We found a mooring as soon as we could and stopped for lunch. Alan wanted to go to a restaurant and I love not cooking so we headed for town.
We had been to Newbury once several years ago but it was late on a Sunday and a cold day so nothing stood out to us. This time the weather was ideal and it was a busy Saturday afternoon. There was a town pond to the side of the canal where people could use paddle boats. Cafés and restaurants dotted here and there. In town there was a market going on as well. The towpaths were very well maintained and it was easy to find our way around.
In town we found Blue’s Steakhouse. Think bbq and American themed. I was able to have ice tea with my meal which is unheard of at almost all restaurants in the U.K. The food was great and the service wonderful. Sadly, I didn’t have room for dessert though. Must go back for the Key Lime pie as I haven’t had that in probably a decade.
With full stomachs and a good mooring we decided not to push on in the afternoon past Newbury. Alan went back for the car and moved it forwards near to the next day’s ending and ran back. Seems the mooring options were poor after Newbury so probably the right decision to stay put.
Sunday morning we were off again as we still had to get water. I needed to do laundry and we couldn’t be sure we could make it another week so Kintbury had to be a stop off this day. Six miles, 8 locks, and 1 swing bridge between us and water. It was going to be a long day!
The first lock was next to the church in Newbury. The landing was too small for most boats. The space available behind the landing still was too small for our boat. Luckily a pedestrian opened the lock gate for us so we could get in. Next was a swing bridge which Alan walked down to.
At the swing bridge things got interesting. I hovered as there was a hire boat on the landing but they were not opening the bridge. Alan got the bridge open but then the hire boaters were not going off to go through the bridge despite being first in line. Finally I went through the bridge and pulled in at the landing so that now the hire boaters could come through and Alan could get the bridge closed. They so annoyed me as they were slow and the boat is heavy. So of course we ended up doing every other lock together for the rest of the day.
As they were hire boaters I let them get into the locks first each time and pull in before I would slide in as I had more experience. This also meant they got the landings each time and I hovered for all I was worth at every lock. They were nice enough conversation at the locks and having a buddy in the locks does make for a calmer ride. It also meant a bit of help for Alan working the locks.
When we got to Kintbury in the afternoon it was busy. Another hire boat went up in the lock just before us and straight to the water point. The water point only had room for one boat. We came up with our hire boat buddies who also needed water. We had to wait for the first boat to finish and move off while we were in the lock…no one was coming either way luckily. Then we moored to the water point and had our hire boat buddies double moor to us. They had the smaller tank so they went first. As they were filling two more boats coming up the lock needed water.
The second lock of boats needing water were still coming up when a widebeam come along to go down so he got to the landing directly behind us and in front of the lock. Our hire boaters finished their water while one of the lock boats headed onward and the other pulled up next to the hire boat. The widebeam got in the lock, the extra boat for water got on the landing. The hire boat was set off while we filled with water. The plan was that if anyone else turned up for the lock needing the landing they would double to the extra boat but thankfully that didn’t happen. The water point had excellent pressure and we filled up quickly and moved on.
There was a place to moor for the week about a 1/2 mile down the way. The grass was tall and the bank low but the water was high enough and we got her in. I used the plank to crush down some of the grass to make the plank more stable for our entrance/exit even though it was at about a 40 degree angle. It is a lovely spot though and it has great solar and the more lovely little village. It also has parking!! Perfect location for the week.