IN TOW

SOME NOTES OF A SUMMER CRUISE
ON INLAND WATERS

It is a happy thing for a world which tends to run in grooves that there are still many ideals of what a holiday should be, and many widely variant methods of enjoying one.

To escape, for instance, from the trials and turmoils of ordinary travel, and ordinary halting-places, and to glide leisurely - complete in one's own chosen company, and adrift from the rest of the world - over placid water-ways into the heart of one's own country; these, it seems, are things pleasant in the sound to others besides ourselves; and it is, therefore, a pleasure to recall some of the arrangements and experiences on such a placid cruise, for the guidance of any who may, perhaps be sufficiently enterprising and venturesome to embark upon a novel kind of travel, and to steer to pastures new.

The voyage of which I write came about in this way. My brother and I were spending Easter at the comfortable little Plough Inn at Shiplake. Picking up a map one evening (after a day on the river, the serene enjoyment of which had been rudely disturbed by the unwarrantable incursion of a boat-load of full blown 'Arries into our own private and particular backwater), our eyes fell on the blue-tinted streak of the Kennet and Avon Canal, which winds its easy-going way from Reading, by Newbury, Hungerford , and Devizes, to Bath.

We speculated over our pipes whether, without desire to emulate the Utrecht Velvet Saloon and the scornful highlanders of Mr. Black's strange adventures, it might not be possible to explore these unfrequented waters in an ordinary canal-barge. We carried forward sufficient interest in the project overnight to incite us next morning to punt up to the Kennet mouth at Reading, and make inquiries. The results were not encouraging. We found, indeed, above the second lock on the Kennet, a couple of old wooden monkey-boats (as the narrow-gauge canal barges are called); and after a long hunt, ran the owner of one of them to earth. The boats, which were about seventy feet long, by seven feet beam, and open from end to end, except for a tiny cabin in the stern, and a still smaller foc'sle hold, had evidently been used for carrying coals and clay in bulk. Their hulks were cased in mud and deep in filthy bilge, and the cabins were suggestive of carnivora of the most aggressive kind. Nor was the old skipper more inspiring when strove to drive our project into the voids of his comprehension. He evidently regarded us as harmless and entertaining, rather than dangerous lunatics, and he carefully guarded himself against denying that the thing moight be done. But further than this he would not go; and we punted our way back to Shiplake, feeling that we had not gained much by our reconnoitre.

But discouragement whetted our obstinacy, and after much fruitless inquiry, my brother, who was then doing some Thames sketches from a large barge moored in the tideway, explained our idea to its owner - a delightful specimen of London waterman - whose interest was so far aroused that he thought he would like to come with us "for a bit of a 'oliday like"; and also piloted us to a certain office in Mincing Lane where a very pleasant lighterman offered us the hire of one of his iron monkey-boats by the week; and, with her, the services of one of his own canal-men as mate.

We clenched the bargain at once; and having thus brought our cruise into the region of practical politics, we found ourselves face to face with the "beastly details". And here I may fitly drop into the first person singular, merely premising that my brother Tim, being an artist, could not possibly be expected to descend to the trivialities of lock-gauges, horse hire, cooking utensils, and so on. He would, no doubt, be a very competent critic when the time and the hitch came, but, till then, he was willing to leave the preliminaries and responsibilities in my hands.

Indeed, I take credit for considerable determination - candid friends had another name for it - in sticking to our plan for living in the hold of an ordinary cargo boat, and of forcing our way up the deserted little Wilts and Berks Canal. We received little enough of encouragement. We were gaily assured we should be devoured alive, run down in the night, crippled with rheumatism, permanently jammed in a lock, and so on. The owner of a house-boat on the Kennet and Avon Canal, who had very kindly offered us the use of his craft on this water, wrote:- "Nothing but a common trade-boat will, at present, go up the Wilts and Berks Canal, as the bridges (wooden) are too low, and out of order; unless these were properly kept it would not be worth while making a boat to suit them", etc.; while our Reading bargee sent us the following kindly and characteristic warning:-

"Sir i rite to you hearing
that you was going to have
Mr. H----'s boat ada wich is not a bit
of good for the wilts and berks canal as
she is to wide and long to go along the
men that is going with you are no more
fit to go with her than nobody as Mr. H----
as not got a man a working for him that
knows where you want to go
to as the wilts and berks canal want
men who are accomston the canals
as to working the locks are very dangerous
and that for a donkey would never tow a
boat like the ada as she tows so heavy sir
rite and say wether you will want me."

The moral of this was so clearly indicated in its last sentence that the rest did not greatly perturb me; but when I found that the bulky blue-book on canals, which Mr. Stanford sent me, gave the maximum width of boat for this particular canal as two inches less than our Ada's beam, this stubborn authority, under aegis of a Royal Commission, gave me pause. I went to Mr. H----, our Mincing Lane owner. I showed him that the maximum width of vessel for the Wilts and Berks locks was given at 6ft.10in. He admitted that his Ada was a 7-ft. boat, and that she had never been up this canal. All the same he pronounced laconically that "he believed she'd go", and, in the strength of that faith, I promptly determined that go she should.

This settled, the question next arose how we were to convert our monkey-boat - which might roughly be described as a semicircular iron trough 70 ft. long, with rounded ends, cross-stays at intervals, and a tiny wooden cabin with raised deck-top in the stern - into a comfortable house-boat for a months sojourn.

The Ada herself was not get-at-able, but a tour down the river to the King and Queen Buoy, at Thames Shad, introduced me to a sister craft ; and having got a few leading dimensions, we were able to plan out and prepare our fixings, of which the sketches will give a general idea, and which I may as well describe at once.

The "Ada" as fitted up for our cruise.

The little cabin was our crew's quarters. It contained a bunk on either side, serving also as coal and clothes boxes; various cupboards; an iron cooking stove; a door and hatchway aft; and a small opening in the bulkhead dividing it from the hold of the boat, just big enough to hand plates and dishes, etc., through. Our men always slept ashore; but these cabins have often been, and are still sometimes, in spite of Canal-Boat Acts and Inspectors, the homes of families of four or five - even, according to George Smith of Coalville's testimony, of "father, mother, and six children, some of them quite grown up".

From the cabin bulkhead forward to the mast, and thence again to the little foc'sle hole (where is a bilge-pump and storage room for ropes and paulins), gangway planks are laid on the cross-stays, which form the only means of locomotion, fore and aft, when the hold is empty. Our plan was to raise and lash these planks from the centre of the cabin roof to an upright balk of timber fixed to one of the cross-stays near the middle of the boat's length, and thus to form a combined gangway and roof - top, over which a length of tenting canvas was stretched and tacked down to the wooden gunwale on either side: thus forming a tent cabin about 18ft. long, with a pitch roof, about 6ft. 6ins. high in the middle, sloping to about 4ft. at the sides. The end of the canvas amidships hung down to the flooring, so that our quarters could be closed in at night when we turned in. From this point forward we left a clear space of some 10ft. in length, which practically formed our quarter-deck and saloon. Here, with the aid, if need be, of a handy little six-rung companion ladder, we came aboard and ashore; here we pitched our "canvas-back" easy chairs, and slung our hammock under the projecting end of the centre plank; here, when fine and not too windy, we spread our breakfast and lunch; here, in fact, was the centre of our life on board. Forward again from here to the mast (an ignominious square post to a hinge pin on which the tow line is looped) we rigged, with the help of half a dozen bamboo sticks and plenty of good cord, my brother's sketching tent, which served as studio and ''best parlour", where we generally sat in the evenings when dews were falling fast, and where we entertained the guests who occasionally honoured us with a visit. With the tent our conversion of the "common trade-boat" ended. Before the mast there was still some 16 or 18ft. of open hold - a very useful lumber-room for the storage of our boxes, tarpaulins, fodder sacks, buckets and brooms, and other impedimenta.

In the long cabin aft we put a couple of folding camp-beds, a handy table, two or three camp-stools, anti the cases containing our cooking utensils and stores. A goodly row of hooks screwed into the gunwale, and a broad plank shelf fixed across the cabin bulkhead, just below the little communication window, gave places for most of the requirements of the moderately civilised existence we contemplated. The progress of a monkey-boat through many scores of locks and tight places is not, it may be premised, unattended with occasional bumps and sudden full-stops, which make it inadvisable (as we soon learned at the cost of some crockery) to put light or breakable things on mere shelves; but it is astounding to find how very few of one's belongings there are which are not amenable to hook and string attachment.

However, the details of internal arrangement and decoration (our gangway balk always carried a couple of glasses of flowers, graciously replenished daily by the ladies of the locks) may well be left to individual ingenuity, and a word must now be said on the more important subject of the crew.

Reed, our skipper, was professionally a tideway rather than a canal bargeman. His own craft was one of those great square barges which are so familiar a feature of our London Thames, and which one sees drifting on the top of the tide, under the apparently inadequate control of a single figure, lugging hopelessly at the end of his gigantic "sweep". He came with us for a bit of change and holiday; and though he felt, I think, at times a little out of his element in tow upon the placid waters of the canals, he took kindly to the new order of things, worked genially and good--naturedly, and managed to get a good deal of quiet enjoyment out of novel surroundings.

Of course Pearce, our mate, being the owner's man, was practically chief navigating officer. He knew the canals well, and was thoroughly accustomed to the handling of a tow-boat; and those who may think that monkey-boat travel means nothing more than keeping an old horse in motion at the end of a tow-rope, need to be reminded that many of the locks on the Wilts and Berks Canal were only a few inches longer than the boat, and often not one inch wider; that the first eighteen or twenty miles up from Reading are really on the Kennet river, "canalised" to a certain extent, and that here the stream is sometimes very strong, and the turns all but impossibly sharp for a 70-ft. boat, especially if she is running light, as we were, and carrying a good deal of top hamper, in the way of tenting canvas, to catch a side wind; and that, while locks are everywhere plentiful, below Devizes there is a flight of over thirty within a couple of miles, which means a morning of hard work and good steering. Besides the locks, with which canal progress is perpetually punctuated, there are a good many swing bridges on the Kennet and Avon and (much more troublesome) lift bridges on the Wilts canal, which combine to give plenty of work for a crew of three when one is on the move; whilst "strapping" (i.e. checking the boat's way as she enters a lock by taking a turn of the stern painter round a post) selecting moorings, finding quarters and stabling, and provisioning, etc., need a handy, level-headed man, if things are to go smoothly and easily

Our third hand, "Charlie", we picked up in the Reading market-place, ten minutes before we started. He was seated on a post, alertly inactive, waiting for something to turn up. Could he mind a horse? He reckoned e could; he'd been stable-boy for a bit. Would he come with us for as long as we wanted him, drive the horse, and do whatever he was put to? Yes, if two shillings a day wouldn't hurt its. How soon could he be ready to start? He'd be at the lock side with his things in ten minutes. He turned up well within that time, with a clean collar on (he made a special point of this) and his ''things" in a red handkerchief on his finger. It transpired later on, when Charlie grew confidential, that, not finding himself very happy or valuable at home, he had anyhow made up his mind to start on tramp for London the very day after we came across him and hence his traps were ready packed and his collar cleaned. He turned out a handy and amusing fellow, and I should be inclined to bet that he has ere now taken the Queen's shilling and provided Her Majesty with the raw materials for making a good soldier. He hankered after cavalry, but I fear his inches will not have run to that.

Finally, Mr. H----'s agent at Reading found us our horse: a venerable white steed whom we promptly christened "Methuselah"; and who came to us out of the shafts of a prehistoric hansom, but who, under the benign influence of light work and good beans renewed his youth amazingly, and even on one occasion tried to run away with the Ada up a seductive meadow.

Perhaps an outline sketch of a day's journey will best serve to convey some kind of impression of the general surroundings and amenities of monkey-boat cruising.

Our crew, as I said, always slept ashore; and whenever we elected to halt, they seldom had much difficulty in finding their way to fairly comfortable quarters though of course we consulted our mate, who knew the canal-side towns and villages pretty well, before deciding on our stopping-places.

Made snug for the night.

Unless we had arranged otherwise overnight, our three men, and the horse, generally came down about seven o'clock; and the crackling of their cabin fire, or the splutter of their breakfast rasher, were our morning "call" from dreamland. The canal water, as a rule, was clean and clear, and we seldom missed our dip and swim - a practice, I believe, not encouraged by the canal bye-laws, but very refreshing nevertheless. Bob, the collie - whom I don't think I mentioned but who was a very active and important member of our community - always assisted energetically at this function, in which he thoroughly delighted. And here, too, our companion ladder, slung over the side amid-ships, proved a very handy addition for getting aboard out of the water.

Dressing accomplished, we gave our quarters a general sweep-out and tidying-up, before getting breakfast ready. Our cooking kit was extremely simple - a spirit-stove, a couple of saucepans, a frying-pan, and a kettle, being its chief compo-nents; but, with the occasional assistance of the cabin fire (which we always used for vegetables, etc.), it met our requirements admirably. Reed brought us bread, milk, eggs, and butter when he came down from the farm or village where they had slept and our store box contributed tea, bacon, potted meats, marmalade, etc., so that our breakfast table was always well stocked while for lunch and dinner we never had any difficulty in providing, as we went along, with plenty of excellent vegetables, tinned meats and soups, and chops or steaks, and so on, when the opportunity offered. Indeed, I flatter myself I became a very creditable chef: my omelettes and scrambled eggs were de la haute cuisine, and a certain hot-pot of corned beef, with a thick, onion-flavoured sauce, was so good that I have often - but vainly - hankered for it since.

In the meantime the men had rolled up our tarpaulin covers, filled our water jar, if good water were anywhere available, polished up the cabin top, etc., with the universal mop, and generally got ready for a start. Methuselah was hitched on to the long white tow-line: our mooring pins were lifted; Reed lighted his beloved cutly, and went to the tiller; Pearce walked on, to get, the next bridge or lock ahead open; and, with a sounding smack from Charlie on the white lugger's haunches, we started on our journey.

The great charm of this sort of travel "In Tow", is that while you can be as absolutely idle as your ever-wrought soul may desire, there need never for a moment be lack of occupation. To begin with, there are what one may call the domestic requirements to be satisfied; beds to be made, general tidying-up, catering and provisioning; then there are plans to make, guide books and maps to be studied, letters (we did not greatly trouble Her Majesty's Post-office) to be written and got, to say nothing of the constant chances for a sketch or a photograph. I had a half plate camera, a red lamp, and a good stock of plates with me, and brought back about a hundred negatives, most of which developed into very pleasant reminiscences of our voyage; while Tim, of course, spent a good deal of his time in sketching, though rod-fishing from the stern, and sailing the delightful little bass-wood canoe, which we brought with us as our "tender" from Reading, and which we housed in our spare space forward when not in use, often proved strong counter-attractions. And all this, of course, takes no account of our sight-seeing by the way; our explorations of sleepy little hamlets, and quaint old cottages and inns; our gossips with the natives, and yarn-spinning with the lockmen; nor of our spells on duty - for we generally took our turn for all hour or two at the tiller, and in working the locks and bridges, some time or other during the day.

Concerning these latter, it may be thought, when I mention that we passed through over 130 locks between Reading and Abingdon, and probably about three times that number of bridges (those on the Kennet and Avon canal swing open on a pivot, as a rule; those on the Wilts and Berks lift vertically, on hinges, with balance weights), that these constant obstacles must prove very- wearisome and monotonous.

We thought them so ourselves for the first day or so, before we had shaken down into our respective berths, and accustomed ourselves to the order of our going; but once this was accomplished, they soon became a part of the routine of our progress, and were so little noticed that we found ourselves hopelessly at fault when we tried at the end of a day's journey to recall how many we had passed through.

The lockmen, who live at intervals along the canal side, are each in charge of a certain beat or flight of locks. They are generally responsible for the condition of the gates and sluices, and for the regulation of the water level; but they are not required to work the locks, which each crew does for its own boat - a key, or winch-handle, being an indispensable property of every canal craft.

Mr. Ferris, Lock-keeper, Marston Flight.

It should, however, be added that the lockmen on our route generally lent a hand without being asked; we found them (with one or two surly exceptions) a very civil and obliging set; and they kept us well supplied with vegetables, eggs, flowers, etc., as we went along.

Of course, we made constant stoppages when-ever any feature of interest or curiosity occurred upon our route; and we always had a good hour's halt at midday for the men to get their dinner. A keg of excellent cider, and biscuits, honeycomb, and cheese stood us in good stead for lunch, and left time for a ramble inland, if we felt so inclined, before we sauntered on our leisurely way again. And so the hours wore on till we reached our bourn for the night, picked a handy and comfortable spot on the off-side of the canal - if possible a little away from the village or town, or lockman's house - and proceeded to fix our moorings. Then, after a reconnoitring stroll, while the men went off to find quarters for themselves and Methuselah, I donned my cooking cap, and we proceeded to evolve our dinner.

August evenings are long, and, as a rule, warm; and we generally smoked our post-prandial pipes in the tent; but once or twice, when the mist rose thick and white and the air was chill, we crept along our gangway plank to the cabin aft, and warmed ourselves over the embers of the stove. Before leaving us, the men unrolled the tarpaulin sheets over our sleeping cabin and across the open space between it and the tent, and we were always snug and warm enough when we turned into our canvas stretcher-beds. Our first night taught us the necessity of this envelopment, as, though gloriously fine when we went to bed, it came on to rain heavily before dawn, and, when we got up, the open space amidships was a rapidly deepening pool, from which a respectable streamlet was making its way into our cabin, the canvas roof of which was also hardly waterproof where anything came in contact with its surface. Nor was it conducive to sound and dreamless slumbers to have lightning playing brilliantly, and rain dashing heavily, upon a thinnish and semi-transparent sheet two feet above one's nose. With the thick black paulins over us, we felt we were double-roofed, and could lie and listen in lazy contentment to the soft patter of the water-rats, who sometimes boarded us in search of Methuselah's nose-bag or the still lighter footfall of the birds, who came twittering and exploring this strange craft in the glimmering dawn.

I have outlined a typical day. But the charm of our progress lay in the fact that no one day was like another; and its rule was the absence of all hard-and-fast rule or plan. If we liked a place, we stopped there, and stopped as long as we liked; if we didn't we went on. At Bradford-on-Avon, to which, in our ignorance of its unknown delights, we had allocated only a luncheon hour, we stayed three days; other places, where we might well have been tempted to linger - such as Bowood, or Dauntsey (near Malmesbury), we were content to glide idly by.

Of the features of our route I have not space to speak here, but the rough itinerary which is appended gives some indication of the country and the places we passed. Of these, the most interesting were Newbury; Savernake, with its glorious forest; Silbury; and Avebury Stone Circle (to which we walked over the Wansdyke from Honey Street), Bradford-on-Avon, a wonderfully picturesque old hillside town; Freshford and the charming Avon Valley to Bath; and, on the Wilts and Berks Canal, Lacock Abbey; Cadenham Manor; Lydiard Tregoz (near Wootton Bassett); and dear old Abingdon, where our canal voyage ended. Our time being up, we returned to town by rail from there, leaving the men to bring the boat down the Thames to our starting-point at Reading, which they did in a couple of days.

This, at the easy-going rate we travelled, makes just a three weeks round - as it must be remembered that Sunday is strictly a die's non on the canals; so that one plans, as far as may be, to reach pleasant quarters on Saturday, as for in-stance, Aldermaston, Honey Street (whence is a capital walk over the downs to Avebury), Freshford (within an easy walk of Bath), and Abingdon. It should also be mentioned that if another week or so is available, a very pleasant extension of our round may be made by turning up the North Wilts Canal from the Wilts and Berks at Swindon, and joining the Thames and Severn Canal at Latton, and the Thames itself at Inglesham, near Lechlade; whence the river is navigable--and very delightful--down to Oxford or as much farther as the voyagers may desire.

Finally, let me jot down two or three hints and provisos which shall absolve me from the dire responsibility of having lured the unwary to their undoing. Our cruise "In Tow" was such a success that it would be lamentable if others should find failure or disappointments in following us into these placid waterways. There are some few essential conditions on which the success of such expeditions must depend. First, of course, the clerk of the weather holds your fate in his hands. To us he was very kind. We had many rainy nights, when we were safely tucked in under our tarpaulins, but I think we only had one really hopelessly wet day. Then, enough has been said to show that the life is a camp existence practically, and entails the various primitive conditions and restrictions of that venerable method of living; domestic and culinary labours must be duly reckoned with, and provided for. We ourselves were only two, on board; we might well - perhaps better - have been three, or even four; there is room enough and to spare; and, for the incorrigibly lazy, a further division of labour would thereby accrue. The other main elements of success are a handy and good -tempered crew, and time enough to make hurry unnecessary and to leave a spare day or two for the unexpected which is certain to crop up somewhere.

On the score of expenses it is difficult to give an accurate guide without too many particulars; but our own costs, including everything - hire of boat, canoe, and horse; wages of crew furnishing of cabin; food and forage, liquor, fuel, canal-charges gratuities, etc. - came to just 12 a week and, of course, for three or four, the rate per head would be proportionately less - as, except for food, the items would all have been practically the same, had we been twenty instead of two. We were not extravagant, either in camp furniture or victualling; but we made ourselves very comfortable, and lived on the fat of the land; and moreover, on two or three occasions, visitors from town joined our strange barque for the day (the Great Western Railway is never very far from the canal between Reading and Bath), and declared that we fared sumptuously, and were right cosily housed.

For those, then, who are glad to get away from the madding crowd, the beaten track; to escape for once, from noisy trams and crowded coaches and dusty roads; from unknown hotels, with their strange beds, their constant packing and unpacking, and paying of bills; from the boredom of fellow-travellers and crowded tables-d'hote; from the perpetual planning of journeys, catching of connections, and all the small worries and turmoils, in short, of ordinary travel;--for those who want to slow down the pulse of life a little, and are content with a leisurely pilgrimage at an average rate of less than three miles all hour; who are true lovers of our quiet English country and its slow, strange life who can discover for themselves the charms of quaint old nooks and corners which no guide-books chronicle, and who are glad to lead simple lives for a while under the wide panoply of heaven: for these, if such, besides ourselves, there be - and I think there are - some such a peaceful progress as I have tried to describe in outline may safely be commended, and might well prove a happy variation of the conventional holiday.

ITINERY------KENNET AND AVON CANAL.

Day

Our Time

Miles from Reading

Number of Locks

Place

Notes

1st.

11am

2am

0

4

1

4

County Lock, Reading

Burghfield

[The first eighteen miles between Reading and Newbury, are on the River Kennet itself, with intermediate dead-water cuts here and there uniting some of the bends. From Newbury to Bath is canal proper. The locks are 74 ft. X 14 ft. minimum.]

1st.

2nd.

6pm

11am

11

15

Aldermaston

Very sharp bends here, and a strong stream in the Kennet after rain. Moor on r., above lock; pretty reach.

2nd.

12.30pm

5pm

13

18

15

22

Midgeham

Newbury

Ropewalk, above lock. l. Pubs r. and l. of bridge.

Sharp turns before entering Newbury. Pass under stone bridge through the lock, and moor against old wall l., above. Charming old town; see Cloth Hall, Old Barn etc.

3rd

4th.

11am

    (Spent at Newbury) See Church, long granary etc

Vale of Speen, r.

4th.

1pm

3pm

24

29

Hampstead

Kintbury

Fine Park (Lord Craven), l. Canal widens to reedy pools.

Kennet River on r. Pretty backwater, l. Dunn Stream joins Kennet. Open pasture land.

4th.

5th.

5.30pm

10am

27

33

Hungerford

Hungerford Marsh

Pass through, and moor above lock. Good stone bridge over Kennet. Inn, Three Swans.

Littlecote Park and House, r. (see Murray for story).

5th.

1pm

3pm

4pm

30

33

34

52

level

Little and Big Bedwyn.

Crofton Flight

Severnake Tunnel

Big Bedwyn, r. has quaint old street.

Nine locks close together. Pumping station, r. After Crofton the summit level of the canal is entered.

Canal goes through straight tunnel 500 yards; haul boat through by chain festooning wall, l. No tow path. Horse goes by footpath over hill.

5th.

6th.

5.30pm

35

  Burbage Wharf

(Spent at Burbage Wharf)

Timber wharf, r. Explore Severnake Forest, r. fine trees, great avenue, deer, long drives; inn at the "Ruins"; Tottenhan House (pictures). Marlborough two miles beyond. railway to Severnake.
7th.

10am

12am

37

40

56

Wooton Rivers

Pewsey Bridge

Here, after four descending locks, the canal enters the "Long Pound"; fifteen miles without a lock.

Martenshall Hill and The Wansdyke to r. Wilcot Park, l. Pretty reaches and fine downs.

7th.

8th.

5pm.

44

Long pound

Honey Street Wharf.

(Spent at Honey Street Wharf).

Alton Priors, r. Barge-building yard. Grand walk to White Horse and Avebury Stone Circle by Wansdyke and Silbury Good home-brewed ale at Red Lion, Avebury (Peter Neate).
9th.

11am

49

  Bishops Canning. Stanton Fitzwarren. Fine old steepled church, r. at Bishops Canning.
9th.

10th.

2.30pm

10am

1pm.

52-53

85

90

Devizes

Devizes Flight

Seend Flight

Cutting. Pass through two locks and moor, r. Devizes is an historical but not otherwise interesting.

Twenty nine locks. Get an extra man to help through the locks, and leave them lowered. The descent takes three hours.

Five locks. Long straggling village, l.

10th.

11th

4pm

11am

60

92

Semington. Large "winding" pool for turning boats. Entrance to Wilts and Berks Canal, r. Moor under trees in pool, l.

Pictursque old houses and inn in village, l.

11th.

2pm

65

93

Bradford-on-Avon Fine old town on hill-side. Beautiful old stone houses. See Tithe Barn, Kingston House (Jacobean), Dridge, Saxon Church.
12th.

13th.

By Train

67

68

72

75

100

Freshford

Limpley Stoke.

Bathampton.

Bath

The charming wooded Avon valley now begins. Pretty village country. Mill chimneys begin.

(Unless a sojourn in Bath or a visit to Bristol be desired, the voyage should halt here; either town can be quickly reached by rail. The boat is turned at a "winding hole" and brought back to Semington.)

Cottage at Semington.

ITINERARY (continued). - WILTS AND BERKS,
AND THAMES.

 

Day

Our Time

Miles from Reading

Number of Locks

Place

Notes

14th

11am

12am

0

2

1

Semington

Melksham.

(The locks on this little canal have a nominal minimum length of 74ft. and a width of 7ft. 2in.; but gates and walls are often in bad condition, so that a 70ft. X 7ft. boat can only just pass).

Good country town. Some fine wrought iron brackets etc. on houses.

14th

15th

3pm

9am

7

4

Lacock Moor at wharf below bridge. See Lacock Abbey, very fine old house, one mile up road, l. Quaint Bowood village (M. of Lansdowne), r. Avon river, l.
15th

10am

1pm

4pm

5pm

8

9

11

15

18

19

7

10

13

20

Pewsham.

Branch Canal., l.

Branch Canal, r.

Foxham

Dauntsey

Seven Locks

Canal agents residence. See remains of old section boats, r.

to Chippenham. Stanely Locks.

to Calne. bacon Factory.

Below Foxham Bridg, on l., see Cadenham Manor, old moated house with good panelling and stone dovecote.

Great Western railway runs along canal side. Branch from Dauntsey to Malmesbury.

15th

16th

6pm

10.30am

21

22

Wooton Bassett Sleepy little town, one mile, l. over hill. Bassett Downs to r. See Lydiard Tregoz church. (st. John family monuments.)
16th

17th

12am

1pm

3pm

4.30pm

11am

24

27

27

30

24

28

Summit Level

Swindon, New.

North Wilts Branch, l.

Marston

Often very short of water in this top pound.

Grimy town; abode of 9000 Great Western Railway mechanics. Canal office.

Joins Thames and Severn Canal at Cricklade. Old Swindon on Hill, r.

Pass through first lock and moor, l. above. Make aquaintance with Lockman Ferris at Lock. Stratton St. Margaret one mile, l.

17th

12am

1.30pm

34

38

30

Bourton.

Uffington

Shrivenham on l. Wanbrough and Compton Beauchamp, r.

Wharf, r. and church with octagonal tower. good thatched cottages.

17th

18th

10am

44

  Branch Canal, r. to Wantage. Sleepy old town. Statue of Alfred in market place. Steam tram from Great Western Railway to town.
18th

1pm

46

49

36

38

39

Grove Locks

Ardington

Steventon

Six locks.

Flat, wide"fields" of pasture land. Thames valley comes in site at Drayton.

19th

5pm

54

56

59

62

66

72

42

43

44

45

46

47

Abingdon

Culham

Clifton

Day's Lock

Benson Lock

Cleeve Lock

see old town, alm-houses, and bridge. Here canal enters Thames.Boat can be taken down to Reading in two days

)

)see THAMES GUIDE

)

)

20th  

72

77

80

84

85

48

49

50

51

52

Goring Lock

Whitchurch Lk

Mapledurham L

Caversham Lock

Reading

)

)

)see THAMES GUIDE

)

)

)

Reginald Blunt.

[Pall Mall Magazine-1894]

This article is now available as an A4 booklet.   It is reproduce as a facsimile from the bound edition of Pall Mall and contains ALL the original illustrations.  It is spiral bound, printed on 100 gram paper with card covers and clear plastic front and back.

From             D G Small,
                        8 Raymond Rd.,
                        Maidenhead,
                        Berks.,
                        SL6 6DF

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