And on to Caen Hill

Friday 19th May and we moved to Crofton. First though we had to reverse back to the winding hole to turn around. This I managed with Charlie on the bow with the long pole. I was very pleased with myself just taking it slowly, and occasionally straightening the bow with forward thrust. Past a line of trip boats as well. We don’t have the luxury of a bow thruster, but we managed and turned in the winding hole to face the right way. After negotiating  4 locks we arrived at Crofton. We said goodbye to Mary and Stephen who we had been sharing locks with, as they wanted to move further along, On Saturday we took Izzy for a walk to Wilton Windmill. It is only open to the public on a Sunday afternoon, but it was a pleasant walk anyway despite the showers.

Wilton Windmill

another view

Built in 1812 it was still in operation today. They mill flour here on certain days which is for sale when open. We walked back to the boat and had coffee and cake before setting off for Crofton pumphouse.

trains very close by; pumphouse on the other side of the tracks

Crofton pumphouse

Under a tunnel that takes you to the site, and there is an honesty box to pay the admission fee. Key dates of this building are

1809 First engine working; 1810 K&A canal completed; 1812 second engine working; 1841 London/Bristol GWR opened; 1846 first engine replaced by Sims combined; 1852 GWR took over K&A canal; 1896-1905 Lancashire boilers installed; 1959 Engines stopped as chimney shortened; 1968 K&A trust buys Crofton; 1970-71 both engines restored and back in steam; 1997 chimney rebuilt.

this engine is the oldest working steam operated beam engine in the world that is still in it’s original location. No 1 engine, single acting, condensing, 1.08m bore, 2.1m stroke, power 29kw, pumps 9,730litres of water per minute

the boiler; coal is burnt behind the 2 black doors to produce steam which drives the engines. made in 1899 and acquired from Imperial Tobacco installed in 1986. Contains 18,000litres of water, 1.4bar working pressure, 2.8sq m grate area taking 1 and a quarter tonnes of coal a day.

steam valves. there are 3 for each engine

the beams are the highest parts of the engines and connect the steam driving cylinders to the pumps.

No 2 engine. Cost £1637 single acting, condensing, 1.07m bore, 2.3m stroke, power 31kw, pumps 10,700litres of water per minute

Both of these engines have international significance for industrial archaeology

They were built on this site to help draw water from a fresh water source (Wilton water), to the summit level of the canal, as it had no natural water supply. The water is raised 12m before being discharged to the canal leat and thence to the canal summit. This is all done by electric pumps today.

The sort of big beasty boat often seen on this canal

Sunday 21st May. A lovely sunny day and we headed off early through 8 locks and 1 tunnel on our own and stopped at Pewsey, meeting up again with Mary and Stephen.

Pickled Hill; a relic of Celtic and medieval cultivation

The Vale of the White Horse

We had one night in Pewsey. I walked into the town on Monday morning with Stephen and Izzy, but I didn’t have the camera so will have to stop on the way back. This town is in the ancient kingdom of Mercia and a statue of King Alfred is in the centre of the town. I bought a “traditional pasty” in the bakery as someone said they were better than Cornish! I beg to differ; they were not a patch on a proper pasty. We had a lovely cruise to Honeystreet as another sunny day., and no locks!! We moored on 24hr visitor moorings outside a pub that sadly looked as if it were closed. Tuesday 23rd May and we moved along to Horton outside the  Bridge Inn pub on another 24hr visitor mooring. We had a shower then went to the pub and had a lovely meal and a pint.

lovely meal in this pub and very friendly staff

Mary and Stephen had gone on ahead to Devizes in readiness for the Caen Hill flight of locks; we met up with them again at the top of the lock flight at 8am. We will have to stop here on the way back and check out Devizes.

Caen Hill locks

The locks are split into 3 groups. 6 taking you out of Devizes; 16 in the Caen Hill section; then 7 taking you to Foxhangers. The weather on Wednesday started off misty and cold but soon turned very hot and sunny; a bit too hot for doing all these locks, but we had a good system going with our little team, and got through in 4 hours (with plenty coffee, juice and cake). We were going to stop at Foxhangers Wharf but the view wasn’t very tempting so we carried on a bit further to Sells Green to recover. 29 locks in just 2 and a quarter miles.

at Sells Green. This little opening in the canal was made to allow water to pass naturally from canal; before it was built the adjoining field was constantly flooded, so BW purchased the land to build this area

There were plenty of fish here and wildlife.

Charlie spotted a fox in a nearby field

cattle grazing in the countryside

I made cake and bread on Thursday, and it was another very hot and sunny day. Friday 26th May and we set off again for Seend Cleeve, stopping in the pound between the last 2 locks. Decided to have a BBQ with Mary and Stephen on Saturday as it was so nice. Managed to muster up a variety of food to cook, and between us had salady bits. Overnight though we had a thunderstorm and torrential rain, which cooled things down remarkably on Saturday, and brought with it a fairly strong wind. Undeterred we still had our BBQ but had to cook it under cover as it was so windy. Not the first time we have had to do that because of the British weather.

Today I woke early. A much quieter day weatherwise and sunny again, but the water in the lock pound was very low and threatening to put us on the bottom, so I woke everyone up and we were moved through the lock by 9.30am. Bank Holiday tomorrow so staying put as many hire boats too-ing and fro-ing. Next stop may be Hilperton; we have decided to go to Bristol after researching it. My son has a long week-end coming up on the 9th June, so he and his partner will travel from Cornwall to visit us in the floating harbour for the weekend. We will travel more slowly to ensure we don’t arrive there too early as it is quite expensive to moor in the harbour, but is good for exploring Bristol. But we have Bath to checkout first.

Finally some cute goslings


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