Day 28 (4th Oct 2013) – Great Bedwyn to Honeystreet:

Today the usual suspects on the paddles was down to two, as Stevo decided to take a day off to let some blisters on his fingers have time to heal.  Justin and Curtis were joined by Roger from the Crofton Pumping Station who is also a keen local kayaker.

The lads set off up the Crofton flight of locks to the pumping station, where Roger had organised a tour for the boys. The station has the oldest working steam beam engine in the world, built by James Watt’s company in 1812. It supplied the summit reservoir of the Kennet and Avon canal and is still capable of doing the job nowadays done by automatically operated electric pumps. After the tour the lads and Alice were treated to tea and sweets at the station café.  The paddlers continued upwards and then through the Bruce Tunnel (500 yards and no relation to the Bruce Trust). From this point the canal would begin dropping towards Bristol. Along the way the lads met a chap walking at a brisk pace and carrying a Google Earth camera pack on his back, mapping the canal tow-path. Justin thinks the cameras caught him relieving himself into the path-side bushes. Further down the track future users of Google Earth can see a pixelated Stevo opening the gate of lock number 56 of the K&A…

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Roger eventually left the lads to return to Crofton and they continued on to Honey Street and the Barge Inn for debrief. Honey Street has a kind of bohemian vibe and Justin attracted the attention of a group of fortyish, stylish American women who had a hippy look. That is if Hippies could afford designer clothes, manicures and personal hairdressers. The ladies donated to the cause with what coins they had, mostly one euro pieces and a US penny.

Meanwhile, back at the support boat, after working through all the locks and the tunnel, the new crew of Rob and wife Cheryl, plus Alan and John were cruising the last few miles with Stevo when the temperature warning light and alarm went off. Uh-oh. The crew pulled over to the canal side and shut down. Alan stepped up as the resident engineer and checked the weed trap for anything wrapped around the prop shaft. All clear there. After inspecting the cooling system he figured the pressure cap may not have been working correctly and water was forcing its way out of the system. The engine was allowed to cool and ‘Hannah’ set off and a cautious 1200 revs for Honey Street. No further problems were encountered and the team were reunited outside the pub. Bruce Trust engineer Ollie arrived later to inspect the engine and replace the cap and was just in time to share in a sausage curry casserole with mash and beans prepared by Curtis and Alice. All was well with the world…

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