Day 27 (3rd Oct 2013) – Newbury to Great Bedwyn:

The threesome of Justin, Stevo and Curtis set off from Newbury in the general direction of Great Bedwyn, it’s pretty easy to stay on the right path on a canal; if you aren’t in the water you’ve taken a wrong turn. Today was another challenging one, only 14 miles but 20 locks. The access wasn’t much better than the day before, some better than others. The Dun Mill lock, although quite picturesque, was the boys pick as the worst, with the kayaks having to be carried over a narrow road bridge with a blind corner before having to be passed over a fence. It was only afterwards that they noticed the gate…

It was a fairly overcast day and at around midday it started to rain. As they trolleyed the boats around the third of three vaguely close together locks, a nice lady from a narrow boat said to Stevo, “You’re as mad as we are”. “Madder, I suspect”, said Stevo. “Hmm, yes, I think you have the edge on us”, she replied.

As the lads approached Great Bedwyn they were met by Roger, who had walked up the tow-path from the Crofton Pumping Station which he runs. This is one of the old steam driven pump houses that supplied water to the canals at high points like Great Bedwyn. Roger walked alongside the paddlers to the Bruce Trust HQ where they met with Alice and Ollie and the other boats in the fleet, Rebecca, Diana and Rachel. Ollie is the engineer for the Trust. Soon they were joined by Rebecca, Hannah and Louise ‘Mummy’ Bruce. There was also cake. The crew were introduced to the local Wiltshire version of the English delicacy, Lardy Cake; a concoction of lard, flour, sugar and raisins. The Bruce’s left Alice, Justin, Stevo and Justin with a large amount of Rebecca’s famous sausage casserole for supper. Truly Scrumptious.

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Due to the large number of locks and the fact that the ‘Hannah’ had the bad luck to meet the few boats heading the other way at the locks, the support boat was four hours behind and the indefatigable volunteers where taken off by further local volunteers to their respective homes.

The remaining crew retired to the Cross Keys pub for a late debrief…

 

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