Wednesday 1 September
Our aim today was to get to Crofton, approximately half way to Hungerford. One of the places we didn't get to visit when we passed by the first time was Wilton Windmill, so we hoped to make time to see it.
We'd forgotten how heavy and difficult the locks start to get now, they really are so much easier to work once you're past Devizes! We can see why some people give up and turn back before they've seen the best of the Kennet and Avon Canal (and there's more winding holes on this stretch of waterway than any other we've travelled along), you need strong muscles to open the gate paddles and the gates. Ah well, it's all good for the figure getting some more exercise.
Along the way we stopped at Wootton Rivers, another place we'd missed and wanted to return to. However as we were so tight on time, Barry went for walk to investigate the village while I did lunch - his photography is so much better than mine, and cooking and food preparation is definitely not one of his stronger points, so I sacrificed the visit knowing I'd get to see it through his eyes anyway ...
Shame they have to ruin this scene with power lines and TV aerials
I think the thatcher might have been at the 'Royal Oak' for lunch
One of the locals
Still a few boats around in the changing season - check out the autumnal leaves
A tranquil part of the country
How to get rid of 'bingo wings' - work rusty old lock paddles
Glass-like water on another beautiful sunny day
Sandra had left Barry to walk from one lock - not realising how far it was to the next one!
Barry's back on the boat capturing shots, ready to go through Bruce Tunnel
Chains from when boats used to pull themselves through Barry's turn working the locks
We made it to Crofton late afternoon, the final lock being tediously slow to fill with only one gate paddle working. Most of the locks now have to be left empty - so it means arriving to an empty lock, filling it, going in then emptying it - it's brilliant when there's another boat coming in or out, but otherwise feels like such a waste of water. If you're going up you have to fill it and then empty it every time. We must be missing something somewhere about the logic of this BW rule!
Such remote scenes, but the canal is flanked by the railway line for much of it's way
After tying up at the mooring, we walked to Wilton and it's Windmill. It suggests in the Nicholson's guide it's about 1 mile to Wilton, but we reckon it was at least a mile and a half . It was worth the effort though, a quaint village and wonderfully well-kept windmill that's open to the public at all times, with tours on Saturdays and Bank Holidays and an open visitors shop.
An old telephone box in Wilton and our first view on foot of Wilton Windmill
Wilton Windmill was originally constructed in 1821 following the construction of the Kennet and Avon canal, as the canal was built over and through the site of some of the previous local watermills, and the pumps providing the water for the canal lowered the river levels so the remaining watermills were no long viable.
A working windmill for 100 years, and after restoration in 1976 is still able to grind/mill flour
Along with the picturesque Windmill, the views of the Wiltshire countryside are breathtaking
The mill was built as a traditional tower mill with a fantail which turns the Cap, ensuring the sails always point into the wind
Wow! What a wonderful windmill - and an amazingly photogenic evening light
Walking back to the boat Barry fancied taking an alternative route - he'd always rather not re-tread the same steps but try and see something different. Mostly his directions are excellent, but occasionally, although he sort of knows which direction to go, there's not always a suitable path to take and this was one of those occasions. The road he chose was rather twisted, I suspect not meant for walkers as there was no footpath so we had to doge passing cars speeding past, and ended up being about two and half miles across country! The road sign we'd foolishly followed had said 'Pump House' - but that must've been if you're in a car! We eventually got back to the boat about 2100hrs and subsequently ate a very late tea, but an early night to bed as we were both shattered.
The Combine Harvesters are out in the fields ...
Made it back to the canal at last - just another half mile walk!
You can't be sad with sunflowers around - awesome