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
"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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
Miles from Reading
Number of Locks
|County Lock, Reading
[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.
Very sharp bends here, and
a strong stream in the Kennet after rain. Moor on r., above lock;
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.
||(Spent at Newbury)
||See Church, long granary
Vale of Speen, r.
Fine Park (Lord Craven),
l. Canal widens to reedy pools.
Kennet River on r. Pretty backwater, l. Dunn
Stream joins Kennet. Open pasture land.
Pass through, and moor
above lock. Good stone bridge over Kennet. Inn, Three Swans.
Littlecote Park and House, r. (see Murray
|Little and Big Bedwyn.
|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.
(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.
|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.
|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
||Stanton Fitzwarren. Fine
old steepled church, r. at Bishops Canning.
|Cutting. Pass through two
locks and moor, r. Devizes is an historical but not otherwise
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.
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.
||Fine old town on hill-side.
Beautiful old stone houses. See Tithe Barn, Kingston House (Jacobean),
Dridge, Saxon Church.
|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
Miles from Reading
Number of Locks
|(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.
||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.
Branch Canal., l.
Branch Canal, r.
|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.
||Sleepy little town, one
mile, l. over hill. Bassett Downs to r. See Lydiard Tregoz church. (st.
John family monuments.)
North Wilts Branch, l.
|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,
|Shrivenham on l.
Wanbrough and Compton Beauchamp, r.
Wharf, r. and church with octagonal tower.
good thatched cottages.
||Branch Canal, r.
||to Wantage. Sleepy old
town. Statue of Alfred in market place. Steam tram from Great Western
Railway to town.
Flat, wide"fields" of pasture land.
Thames valley comes in site at Drayton.
|see old town, alm-houses,
and bridge. Here canal enters Thames.Boat can be taken down to Reading
in two days
)see THAMES GUIDE
)see THAMES GUIDE
[Pall Mall Magazine-1894]
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