Newbury is a nice enough little place, even if they do hide the boring but useful shops on the edge of town up a scary dual carriageway. The RSPCA shop looked packed with fun stuff, but failed to be open either of the (perfectly reasonable) times I was passing...
Weds 27th July - Newbury to |Hungerford
Shopping for practicalities (moored by the town park for a bit) - and a lengthy chat with Pat at Newbury Marine (fuel, and paint, of more anon) left a fairly late departure from Newbury.
While still in town though I stopped to chat with ['they call me'] Traveling Jack, a roving cyclist, bike loaded up with his worldly goods. I'd seem him a day or two earlier; he lives along the canals up & down the country, and long may he continue to do so.
I left Newbury via though the'classic' lock & swing bridge I either remember from cycling through many years ago, or more likely seeing photos of it ;-)
At this point I picked up another 30' boat and we shared locks through to Kintbury, shame two more didn't join us too. We met the horse trip boat just after Kintbury lock, good timing as apparently they go through, turn and come straight back up - an impressively organised, but slow, prcedure, I was told.
The lock before Hungerford, Dunmill Lock, nice setting with the river flowing off to one side, below the lock:
And here's the mooring in Hungerford, another classic view, I suspect...
When I got there everyone was eating fish & chips out of posh boxes. Inspired, a quick look up the high street got me chips in a plastic box - I found the posh chippy the top end of the high street in the morning. After that picture was taken the moorings soon filled up...
That evening I saw a dutch student cyclist I'd passed at a lock earlier - he'd only accidentally found the canal at Newbury, was using it for some of the way to Marlborough & Avebury, and I pointed him and looking up the Ridgeway as a possible route back, as he was thinking of cycling along the Thames back to London. It's nice that I've seen quite a few touring cyclists along the way, a very freeing, flexible way of travelling - while your knees are up to it, and I'm not sure if mine are any more.
Thurs 28th July - Hungerford to Great Bedwyn
The morning's exploration of Hungerford yielded nothing from the two charity shops I found, but a few very reasonably priced books from the nether regions of one of those multiple-seller antique markets, where everything is paid for at the front desk. It goes back a long, long way, mostly full of stuff that... well, anyway.
Crossed with a boat that the owner proudly told me he'd bought cheap on the west end of the K&A and was taking to London to sell on at a tidy profit, and had been doing the same for a while. Capitalism, eh?
Cobbler's Lock Cottage is being done up, but has obviously had a few problems along the way...
Not sure who'd picked out the lock name in various colours, but I like it - it reminds me of something from way back, like the lettering on a Noddy & Big Ears book, or perhaps a 70s sweet wrapper...
The main feature of the afternoon were showers, which became heavy rain by Great Bedwyn. I'd wanted to stop for a look round anyway, but by the time it was dry, I decided to stay put on the visitor moorings (and make use of the waste disposal point).
The guide book shows a banked hill fort, which I tried to find, but anything visible was hidden behind fenes and walls, possibly trees too. A heritage style sign did point to Chisbury Chapel, but this was the best view I could get, tucked away at the back of a very gated stud farm:
Great Bedwyn has a slight mytholocal status for me - for a while some of the local stopping trains through Ealing Broadway terminated there. I was enlightened as to why by an ex railwayman as we passed at a lock - Berkshire council subsidised local trains & stops, Wiltshire didn't, and as a result has much fewer stations still open. Sadly the station just says 'Bedwyn' - 'Great Bedwyn' sounds straight out of fiction, a little like the use of 'Great Wen' for London (even if it's origin is less romantic. Also reminds me of when they finally replaced the 'Brentford Central' signs with the more prosaic, modern, shortened versions there today.