Walking the Kennet and Avon Canal         Day 2: Sunday 7th September 2008

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time grid ref comments
1 1011 SU644708 Crazy start as replacement bus to Didcot did not arrive. I drove a lad and myself to Didcot. Still on time. Dry.
2 1033 SU637698 Lots of people using tow path doing various activities.
3 1057 SU626691 but no boats moving. Now at Tyle Mill Lock.
4 1115 SU617686 Have got to Ufton Lock that no longer exists. When it existed, it was only about 1.5 feet.
5 1133 SU610680 Towney Lock. This one's full whereas the rest have been empty. Maybe a boat in front.
6 1158 SU606672 Yes, I've caught up with the boat at Padworth Lock.
7 1231 SU598672 Saw a swing bridge with traffic lights in action.
8 1343 SU573664 Arrived at pub, ordered fish and chips and now they have a powercut. Grim.
9 1441 SU567665 F and C was excellent. Sat in the beer garden on my own as pub too hot and crowded.
10 1504 SU548662 Midgham Lock. Sunny, windy and a bit chilly but I'm in a T-shirt.
11 1539 SU538663 Colthrop Lock surrounded by industry.
12 1603 SU528663 Arrived at Thatcham Railway Station.

Radley   0751,0911
Didcot   0816
Didcot   0850
Reading  0905,0946
Reading  0944,1044
Theale   1002,1107

Thatcham 1511,1619
replacement bus
Reading  1547,1711
Reading  1645,1743
Radley   1717,1820

Cheap Day Return     12.00
Standard Day Return  12.60

Use this link to see the photos for today.

Click on the middle of the photo to get the title of the photo. The photos together with the titles give a sort-of-diary for today.

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Today I'm first doing about 0.75 miles to re-trace from Theale Railway Station back to the Canal at Theale Swing Bridge and then about 8.5 miles along the towpath to Thatcham. Today's walking is therefore about 9.25 miles.

According to Nicholson's Waterways Guide 7, I'll be passing locks 100 to 91 and they give rises of 4'1", 6'4", 0'0", 9'8", 5'1", 6'11", 8'11", 8'11", 7'9" and 7'7".

The book also says that the Canal remains close to the railway and A4 ... constantly joining and rejoining the River Kennet.

Aldermaston Wharf is reached after 3.5 miles. It'll be a good place to stop and have a coffee.

SU6067 : Aldermaston Lift Bridge by Pierre Terre
Aldermaston Lift Bridge
  © Copyright Pierre Terre and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.

From there it's another 2 miles to Woolhampton. Just before Woolhampton, the Canal is crossed by Wickham Knight Bridge. According to a web page, here there is a GPS cache. The page says you are looking for a small clip lock box which contains a logbook, pencil, and items for trading. Please make sure the cache is covered over when you rehide it, as it is quite close to the footpath. The page also says this cache replaces Woolhampton Walkover (GCVWDJ) which was muggled. Something to look out for!

But I won't get too distracted as it's time for lunch. The Nicholson's guide mentions the Row Barge Inn as being a canalside pub offering both restaurant and bar food. Renowned for its wide range of well-kept real ales.

The British School of Ballooning has one of its 14 bases behind the Rowbarge Inn. So maybe I'll get to see a hot air balloon. Here's one of their photos:

And here's a photo of the Rowbarge Inn. It's the one given on Woolhampton's Wikipedia page. The photographer (Chris Wood) owns the copyright but it is released under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike License.

Here's a link to another photo of the Rowbarge Inn. That collection also includes a photo of the Canal before it was restored.

Keith and Jo are living on a 70ft working narrow boat called Hadar.
SU7273 : NB Hadar at Reading Waterfest by Graham Horn
NB Hadar at Reading Waterfest
  © Copyright Graham Horn and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.
They've been documenting their trip, and, according to their useful review of Woolhampton, they passed Woolhampton on June 19th (2008). The review says that Woolhampton owes its existence to the mail coaches on the old Bath Road. It is a small but pretty village with some nice old properties; some actually have old signage painted still on the house walls. One advertising the fact it was a bakery dating back to 1875. Also some of the houses are named after their usage, such as the Old Forge, the Old Bakery and the Old Post Office. The village does have a small shop for provisions, a post office and three pubs. The Falmouth Arms, the Row Barge Inn which is near the Woolhampton Swing Bridge and The Angel Inn, which classes itself as a Bar and Brassiere, looking at its menu prices I can see why 12.95 UKP for Cod and Chips, I should say the chips are described as rustic ha ha ha. We gave that a miss this time. For basic pub grub I think the Falmouth Arms is the best bet. Still a nice village with character.

Curiously, on eBay at the moment, there is a postcard of the Falmouth Arms for sale.

Micky Flynn's blogshack also has some photos of the Falmouth Arms. Here's one:

Here's a link to a web page that has reviews of pubs on the Kennet and Avon but be warned that it dates from 1998! The page says that the Falmouth Arms serves Thomas Hardys only but the Row Barge on the canal itself has top quality (but not cheap) food and six interesting guest beers. Highly recommended.

I'll make a decision on the pub on the day, or maybe I'll make a decision by having a half in each of them!

After lunch, it's 3 miles to Thatcham where there is a Railway Station close to the Canal. However, on a Sunday, a bus replaces the train. Alternatively, I could pay extra and get the 102 bus back to Reading. On a Sunday the 102 has an hourly service from Thatcham Broadway to Reading's Railway Station.

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