Jake by the tall grass.
Friday, 19 April 2013
After eating breakfast with Hendrix, the dog, we were quickly reacquainted with the canal. Angi, who owns a canal boat with her partner, was moored up just outside Great Bedwyn, so we gingerly clambered on for a brief farewell.
The canal's water is dynamic in colour, transitioning from muddy brown to pastel turquoise and then back again. The grassy tussocks make me think of scores of bushy haired gents bathing their weary shoulders in the drink. As the heads of the bathers rest near to the canal banks, Jake and I imagined their toes slowly bobbing to the surface on the opposite side.
Jake by the tall grass.
Our second night of luxury accommodation at Mariola's Colthrop Manor Bed and Breakfast.
We left the Barge Inn with out spotting any aliens (the area is bathed in crop circles). Bullrush and grassy tussocks line the banks, their roots like the coral of the canal. The morning was sullen and damp. It is certain, as birds flicker here and there, that the other animals and plants are far more partial to a drop of rain than us people.
We passed Pewsey, buying pastries, and arrived at the Cross Keys, in Great Bedwyn, after 25 kms of hiking. After being introduced to Susan, the Bed and Breakfast owner, we were shown to our room. The sight of the bath filled us with delight, but perhaps for a reason difficult to predict...
After dropping our bags I nipped to the toilet. As I walked back into the bedroom, I found Jake sitting one metre from the television, David Attenborough on the boil.
As we rested our David Attenborough saturated minds, unbeknown to us, Susan (to Jakes left), and her sister Anji (my right), were holding a pub quiz below us. The wonderful sisters and the quiz contestants decided to donated all of the winnings, £202.20 in total, to WaterAid via our donation page. So, thank you to Judy, Dave, Chess, Chris, Rob, Adam, Ed, Henry and everyone else in the Cross Keys that night, your generosity is inspiring.
The morning after our first night in the Tempest 200.
The initial temptation to hitch a ride with one of the many boats that float the canal was quickly rejected as we overtook one after another. It is certain that you must be a lethargy lover if you are to live the canal life.
The smell of the wood burners dominates my senses, evoking nostalgia.
We passed one of Wiltshire's chalk White Horses
A lot of locks.
One of the most prominent landmarks of the Kennet and Avon Canal, Caen Hill Locks. Jake proves the worth of his last minute red shirt purchase, as he performs our previously choreographed emergency signal dance. Stunning, is it not? Oh, and the locks were cool too.
From Bath we rejoined the Kennet and Avon Canal, ambling along an engineering feat that boasts over 200 years of history. The canal is flat and straight, yet in all its predictability lie hidden treasures that show themselves to those who foot; a swan's beak skims the water's surface, a pike stirs.
After passing through Bradford on Avon, we arrived at Sells Green campsite with weary legs and shoulders. A gentleman in a striped dressing gown, blue Crocs and a wash bag in hand strolled passed us as we settled down to cook. His wife, presumably followed in almost identical attire. It was a stark reminder of campsite etiquette.
Our first camp meal - day two
Sunday, 14 April 2013
37,795 steps, which converts to 30 km (18.5 miles), after leaving Bristol, Jake and I arrived in Bath. Here are a few highlights from along the way.
A preying heron perched on one of the many boats dotted along the Avon River.
Bristol in our wake.
Lavender coloured flowers coating cottage walls.
We arrived in Bath, grabbed a quick lime and soda and then met up with Milli and Ryan, some friends who kindly offered us a roof for the night.