Day 32 (8th Oct 2013) – Avon Valley to Bristol:

Last day, Wow again. Skipton and North Yorkshire seem a long time ago in a galaxy far away…

The paddlers totaled five, Justin, Stevo, Curtis, Terry and Charlotte as they took off along the River Avon towards Bristol. The first lock encountered was another shocker and the crew had to man-handle their craft down a steep flight of stone stairs and get-in down a five foot length of ladder. The next lock was mercifully open but the kayaks encountered the incoming tide as the Netham lock just isolates the Bristol Floating Harbour from the Avon and doesn’t have an associated weir. By the time they were approaching the Netham lock though, the tide had turned and was getting stronger. The lock-keeper at Netham didn’t want any extra silt from the flood tide in his harbour and wanted the kayakers to wait for the ‘Hannah’ and her pre-booked entry time. There was no get-out point so after Charlotte smiled sweetly and said how cold they all were he relented and let them in – although along with a stern lecture while he had a captive audience in the lock. After they were through and dismounted the lock-keeper redeemed himself by making everyone a cup of coffee with biscuits. ‘Hannah’ turned up presently and also Victoria and then a surprise appearance of Adrian revisiting after the Oxford/Shillingford Bridge leg. They all moved about halfway along the harbour to get through the swing bridge and then decamped to the Shakespeare pub to allow sufficient time to pass for their pre-determined 3:30pm entrance at the Baltic Wharf. Adrian joined the paddlers in the spare ‘Little Red’ kayak to swell the numbers to six for the magisterial final half mile kayak and the waiting throngs at the Wharf. Finally, it was over.

There were some faces from earlier in the trip with Patrick and Paul and also Paul’s wife Camille with her school class with a sign welcoming Justin and Flat Stanley. There was a chap with a gold medallion who was the Mayor or Lord Mayor of Bristol, plus various media, even BBC TV. A buffet was put on in ‘Hannah’ for all and the whole ambitious project wound slowly down.

We’ll finish off with a version of the Lord’s Prayer by the soon to be ex-communicated Catholic JP:

Our Gutless, who art in kayak

Paddle be thy game

Thy destination cometh

Thy waterway may be calm as in thy dreams

Give us this eve our daily TPN

And forgive high canal bank builders

As we curse them for our mangled limbs

And lead us not into public houses

But deliver us from curry

Amen

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