Quick Bath

We set off reasonably early yesterday to work our way back up through the Bath Locks.  I wondered if we’d have volunteers to help as we had when we came down.  I left Clare on the jetty and went to get the lock ready.  It was set our way, so I only had to open the gates.

There was no sign of any volunteers so we moved on to the Bath Deep Lock.  I had the novel experience of opening the enormous gates with a windlass.  They don’t half take a lot of turns, but the gearing means the effort required isn’t too great.  As Clare headed in to the next lock the resident swans and (full-size) cygnets followed.  Clare called to me to keep them out of the lock.  All I could do was try to close the gates, but she managed to find some stale wholemeal bread and throw it out of the lock, and use some sort blasts with the propellor to keep them there.  I’m not sure this is good training for their future behaviour, but they didn’t come in to the lock on our watch!

At the next lock we caught up with another boat.  The crew were clearly enjoying themselves, but not very experienced.  They only had one crew member working the locks, and she had got confused by meeting a boat coming the other way, and now having us joining them too.  I arrived at the lock just as she was starting to open the top paddle with the bottom gate still open and Clare trying to drive in.  I shouted to her not to.  She realised her mistake and went to shut the gate instead.  Once things had calmed a bit, I apologised for introducing myself by shouting  – I think she accepted it.  We worked the remaining three locks together, including an aborted attempt at a simultaneous lock entry.

View from a canal bridge.  Two narrowboats coming towards us have left a lock together.  Tied to the bank is a widebeam narrowboat waiting for its turn to use the lock. a lock together
Narrowboats Passing a Wide Beam

We didn’t go much further after the locks, but just returned to a mooring near Sydney Gardens.  We needed some shopping before we left town, so I took the folding bike to the high-class supermarket (other high-class supermarkets are available).  This morning I repeated the trip for the things I had missed.  By the time I came back, the grass cutters and strimmers had been along.  The side of the boat had been thoroughly sprayed.  Even after I had taken a brush along there was still quite a covering.

The name on the side of the narrowboat Bartimaeus with grass clippings sprayed over the lower half and covering the gunwale and the surface below.
Bartimaeus with a Grassy Respray

We set off in the sunshine against a steady stream of boats coming the other way, with an occasional art works on the offside of the canal to distract us.

Canal side artwork.  An abstract structure built around bits of bicycle frame painted in mostly pink.
Cycle Based Art by the Canal

We moored up at Bathampton because it felt like lunch time and there was a space.  A family of swans appeared as soon as we had moored.  Clare fed them with the remains of the bread – one of the cygnets was more determined than the rest to stick its neck out.

Full-sized cygnet stretching its neck up to take bread from an outstretched hand at the back of a narrowboat.
Eager Cygnet Reaching for Food

After lunch we moved on to the water point beyond the bridge.  There was only just room to get in because there was another boat on the same section of bank, but by tying to a fence instead of a ring we got in.  We were just discussing that a longer boat would have had trouble when a man appeared asking “Is there a problem?”  It turned out to be his boat that was “in the way”.  I told him there wasn’t a problem, but we thought a longer boat might struggle.  What started feeling like a confrontation turned in to a very pleasant chat.

We drove on a few more miles until I saw another vacant mooring.  We had come along this section in the other direction with a time constraint, so I wanted to explore.  We walked ahead to have a look at the Dundas Aqueduct, and had ice creams at the Brassknocker Basin.

After dinner we spotted a hot air balloon drifting across the sky behind us.  It quietly disappeared over the next hill.

A view along a canal to a stone humped back bridge.  A hot-air balloon is directly above the bridge and reflected in the canal below it.
Balloon Reflected in the Canal

We went for a short stroll down in to the river valley as the sun was setting.  There is a pumping station that used a water wheel to pump a water supply for the canal.  It is open to visitors twice a month, but we are not going to wait two weeks for that.  We went over the level crossing to Warleigh Weir.  It  is apparently often thronged with swimmers, but this evening it was very tranquil.

A weir on the River Avon.  The water above the V-shaped structure is still and reflects the pink clouds in the sky. A heron is perched at the tip of the V.
Heron Perched on Warleigh Weir