Walking the Kennet and Avon Canal         Day 3: Monday 8th September 2008

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time grid ref comments
1 0940 SU528663 Thatcham Railway Station. Forgot to charge phone and so not too many updates today.
2 1028 SU499667 Three boats going my way. Two runners. One dog walker. One courier. Sunny.
3 1208 SU470671 Cycling's Tour of Britain comes to Newbury in 2 hours time straight down the main street.
4 1238 SU447667 Thanks for yr message Barbara. Hope the GNR goes well. BTW it's not wet in the SE.
5 1420 SU426675 Recharged mobile in pub. Posh busy nice expensive restaurant. But I got 1.5 pints and food for 10.50 UKP.
6 1422 SU426675 Very pretty young waitress said I was fit...
7 1502 SU411673 Had an interesting chat with Basil. He's on a boat hired by Newbury's Rotary Club.
8 1540 SU386672 Got to Kintbury Railway Station; time for home.

Radley     0827,0927
Reading    0903,1002
Reading    0912,1012
Thatcham   0935,1035

Kintbury   1547,1617,1654
Newbury              1702
Newbury              1716
Hungerford      1622
Hungerford      1641
Reading    1617,1717,1745
Reading    1624,1740,1817
Oxford          1806
Oxford          1821
Radley     1707,1827,1853

Saver/Cheap Return  14.70
Open Return         17.20

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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After the bad predictions for the last couple of days, the weather forecast for today looks good: sunny periods with temperatures up to 17 degrees.

Today's walk is from Thatcham to Kintbury. Both places are served by the railway line from Reading and both stations are close to the Canal. So getting there and back should be easy. However, as you can see from the plan on the left, the return journey may involve lots of changes. We shall see.

I think a new ticket system comes into being today: so out go Cheap Day, Savers and they are replaced by Off Peak and Anytime. It's heralded as a simplification of the complicated ticketing system.

I recall the same was said when Saver Returns were introduced. (I tried to find out from the web when that was but I didn't succeed.) Unfortunately, after they had replaced a large number of ticket types by Savers, they later introduced Super Savers, Apex, Advance, ... . And so it got out of hand once more. I wonder how long today's new system will remain simple. Rant over. Let's get on with the walking.

Today's walk is about 9 miles along the towpath. I want to do 6.5 miles before lunch as that's the location of the most convenient pub.

SU5266 : Monkey Marsh Lock by John Lloyd
Monkey Marsh Lock
  © Copyright John Lloyd and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.

I'll be passing locks 90 to 78, that's a few more than yesterday. Lock 80 is about half way up the incline from Reading to the pound at the top of the Canal. So, by the time I reach lock 80, I will have done half of the 340 foot (103 metre) climb.

The first lock is Old Monkey Marsh Lock. There's a photo of it above. I get to it almost immediately after leaving the Station, and (like Garston Lock which I saw two day's ago) it's a turf-sided lock.

The Nicholson's Guide says Old Monkey Marsh Lock, one of only two remaining examples of a turf-sided lock, has been listed as an ancient monument by English heritage. It is now restored with iron-piling to two feet above low water level, turf-lined banks sloping to the top of the lock, together with a timber framework
show larger map     open kml file (?Google Earth) to delineate the actual lock chamber when full. The lock should be left empty after use.

There is then a long straight on the run into Newbury. This used to be the end of the Kennet Navigation before the Kennet and Avon Canal Company extended it westwards to the River Avon at Bath. The Navigation (from Reading to Newbury) was completed in 1723 with the work to Bath completed in 1810.

Newbury will be busy and hating crowds I'll aim to get in and out as quickly as possible.

Pressing on, it's about 3 miles from Newbury to the place where I can get lunch. The plan is to go to the Red House in March Benham. Nicholson's Guide says that it's about 0.25 miles north east of Hamstead Lock. Charming pub-cum-restaurant in a thatched estate village near Benham Park. Once the local bakery it now dispenses ales. Expensive, though appetising menu by award winning chef, served in bar and restaurant.

Here's a photo of the Red House:

It's taken from the Red Houses's web pages. Although their pages say that their real ale is popular amongst the walkers, boat owners and lunchtime trade who have come to regard The Red House as their second home, it doesn't say what they have to offer. Their pages do explain in detail their extensive menu and wine list.

For example, the Light Snacks menu includes
Bacon and mushroom, grated cheddar
Grilled chicken, avocado and brie
Minute steak and red onion
Galloway smoked salmon, cream cheese and cucumber
Open sandwich of grilled goat's cheese, sun-dried tomato & rocket

All of these are served on Red House baked bread with coleslaw. They are all at 5.95 UKP. I also see that there's a Cheese Ploughman's at 6.95 UKP.

The first lock after lunch is Copse Lock. Here is a photo of it in a sorry state some years back:

The photo is taken from the Kennet and Avon Canal Trust's Museum pages about the Decline of the Canal.

From Copse Lock, it's about another two miles to Kintbury. The Wikipedia page for Kintbury says that: Kintbury was spelt Cynetanbyrig in the 10th century and Kenetebury in the 13th century. After Saint Birinus converted the people of Berkshire to Christianity in the mid 7th century, minsters soon became established in the county from which priests were sent out into the countryside. One such was founded at Kintbury, possibly it was the 'holy place' mentioned in the will of the Saxon thegn, Wulfgar, in 935. It also says Kintbury was named by the Sunday Times in 2007 as in the top ten of England's most sought after villages.

Nick Corble's photo shows a horse taking a break from its duties pulling a tourist boat at Kintbury on the Kennet and Avon Canal.

It is released under a Creative Commons license.

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