Kennet and Avon Canal, a week away

Kennet and Avon Canal

Today we knew we’d be late arriving at our destination as my car is poorly and needed to visit the garage while we are away this time. After dropping it off we then also had to do a bit of shopping as stocks where running low. We also needed to get a basil plant to sit by the door as Oscar cannot settle when there are flies about and this plant is very good at discouraging flies. Just to make matters worse we made the mistake of taking the scenic route which took us through Pilton, forgetting that last weekend was Glastonbury Festival, so we ended up in an hour long traffic jam past the festival site. There are still plenty of service vehicles trying to leave the site.

Along the towpath on the Kennet & Avon Canal near Hilperton, Wiltshire, UK
Along the towpath on the Kennet & Avon Canal near Hilperton, Wiltshire, UK

In the end we arrived at our site that is right beside the Kennet & Avon Canal some time after 4pm with two grumpy dogs who desperately wanted a walk. Unfortunately it was still too hot at this point to walk them anywhere. So we opened up every window, vent and door in Daisy to make it as cool as possible while we waited for the temperature to drop a little. By 6pm it was still very warm but we couldn’t put the poor dogs off any longer so we set off, armed with plenty of water, and fingers crossed for plenty of trees to shade the way, for a short walk along the canal. We walked from Hilperton to Semington and unfortunately the sun wasn’t quite low enough to shade us much. It’s a shame neither dog likes to swim, as it would have been a nice way to keep them cool. I have a couple of really nice horse fly bites as souvenirs to the walk. This isn’t the prettiest stretch of the canal so we didn’t bother walking that way again.

Helming a canal boat in therain under an umbrella, Kennet & Avon Canal near Bradford on Avon, Wiltshire, UK
Helming a canal boat in the rain under an umbrella, Kennet & Avon Canal near Bradford on Avon, Wiltshire, UK

Thursday

Today started overcast and it was raining lightly but still very warm. The weather report did say it would get nicer in the afternoon so we thought we’d just take the dogs for their walk in the morning then use the time to catch up on some work before getting a better walk in the afternoon. So for our morning walk we headed off in the direction of Bradford on Avon, me wearing a light jacket, as I didn’t want to get wet and Nik wearing a thin sweatshirt because he didn’t want to get hot. After we’d been rained on a few times Nik was damp but cool and I was dry but too warm and we couldn’t decided who was better off, tch. Anyway, we got as far as Hilperton marina before turning back with the hope that it would be clearer weather in the afternoon as Nik wanted to get some good photo’s here.

At the beginning of the week Nik put a very pretty fly screen in the doorway in the hope of discouraging the flies, for Oscar. The screen is made of thin colourful string, which works wonderfully when there is no wind, but the slightest breeze sends it flying all over the place. Not mention the dogs getting tangled in it, so whilst Nik was catching up on his editing in the afternoon, I decided to macrame the bottom half to give them a little weight and hopefully make it easier for the dogs to go through them. I am rather chuffed with the end result, as they still discourage flies at the top but now have extra weight at the bottom to stop them flying quite so much and look pretty as well.

The afternoon did indeed come out brighter and thankfully the temperature had dropped a bit so we set off to retake Nik’s pictures. And have a nice walk along the canal. One of the reasons we love walking along canals is the boats. We love to see all the different ways people decorate their canal boats. Generally people living in canal boats are very friendly people too, happy for a chat as you wander by. We also spend an awful lot of time discussing the different ways we would decorate if we lived on one. Living on a canal boat does very much appeal to us and if it wasn’t for the fact that you are limited to only travelling along canals we would happily find one of our own. So we’ve decided it’s a ‘maybe dream‘ for the future.

Fox sat in a meadow in the evening, Wiltshire, UK
Fox sat in a meadow in the evening, Wiltshire, UK

So we had a lovely walk, daydreaming and watching the scenery, and ended up walking much further than we had anticipated. We turned back just past the Bradford on Avon marina. On our return journey Nik spotted a fox sitting in a field on the far bank, this alone was enough to put a smile on both our faces, but to really wax them in place, the fox was so relaxed that he just sat there watching Nik taking his photo before getting bored and laying down. Super way to end the day.

Friday

We decided it might be nice to walk to Bradford on Avon for the day, so had a quick look on google maps to see how far it was, and had to have a good laugh to realise we were about 5 minutes away the night before. So as there was a nice cool breeze and the sun kept hiding behind clouds we decided it was going to be a good day to walk the dogs there.

Public direction signs infront of the 14th century medieval monastic stone barn, Tithe Barn, Bradford on Avon, Wiltshire, UK
Public direction signs in front of the 14th century medieval monastic stone barn, Tithe Barn, Bradford on Avon, Wiltshire, UK

About a third of the way into our journey we bumped into a woman walking a goldendoodle that was full of life and wanted to play. Ella was in her element. Once we went our separate ways with Ella happily panting the sun broke out and the wind dropped. This was very bad timing as Ella hadn’t had a chance to cool down from her play and was starting to get uncomfortable to the point that she just wanted to lay down. If she liked to swim this wouldn’t’ have been a problem. So we found a nice cool area of woodland and took her in here to sit and rest until she felt better. The water that we had brought with us to drink we used to soak Ella after she and Oscar had drunk as much as they needed. So fully bouncy again we set off, Ella on a lead to stop her from over heating herself again.

The Boat Cafe on the Kennet & Avon Canal at Meadows Bridge, Bradford on Avon, Wiltshire, UK
The Boat Cafe on the Kennet & Avon Canal at Meadows Bridge, Bradford on Avon, Wiltshire, UK

By the time we arrived at Bradford on Avon the breeze was all but gone and the clouds had disappeared leaving the day very hot, so we decided it was best not to wander through the town where it was just going to be far too hot for both us and the dogs and instead stay by the water where it was slightly cooler. We’d been here before so we weren’t missing out. when we came to the 14th century Tithe Barn we couldn’t resist taking a detour. Whilst we were there we realised we were very close to the river Avon so we took the dogs to a shallow point and let them paddle in the water for a while. Oscar was having fun old time splashing about in the water up to his knees. Ella was a little more reserved and only stuck her pinkies in, but it served the purpose and made the dogs feel a whole world cooler. As it was nice and shaded beside the river we decided to continue our walk along this route before cutting back along the canal just beside the Boat Cafe.

Narrowboat on the Kennet & Avon Canal crossing the Avoncliff Viaduct near Bradford on Avon, Wiltshire, UK
Narrow boat on the Kennet & Avon Canal crossing the Avoncliff Viaduct near Bradford on Avon, Wiltshire, UK

Here stopped for some light refreshment. They do a two scoop ice-cream cone, so we bought one for the dogs and instead of the cone we had a bowl. Ella who hasn’t had ice-cream before liked delicately and in a lady like fashion. Oscar on the other hand picked his ball of ice-cream up in one mouth full and woofed it down before the owner of the cafe had even got back to the boat. I’m not sure what he found funnier, Oscar eating the ice-cream so quickly he probably didn’t taste it, or us shouting in unison, “Oscar No!” before cringing. Either way it made his day. Do dogs suffer brain freeze? We still have no answer for that, although Oscar was pretty quiet for a few minutes.

Once we’d had our drink and cake we set off again for our end destination, Avoncliff. It probably took us another hour to get there, even though it really wasn’t that far because came upon two herons sitting on the bank, shortly after we’d set off. They were so unafraid of us or the dogs that they let Nik get really close to take photo’s before flying to the other bank.

Mallard duck and ducklings, Anas platyrhynchos, Kennet & Avon Canal near Bradford on Avon, Wiltshire, UK
Mallard duck and ducklings, Kennet & Avon Canal near Bradford on Avon, Wiltshire, UK

When we eventually made it to Avoncliff Nik thought he was in [i]Nerdy Heaven.[/i] First we have the magnificent Avoncliff aqueduct which carries the canal over the river Avon and the railway line. Then you have a train station beside the river and a weir. Not to mention old buildings. All of which had to be photographed. Just top top it all of Nik managed to get a fantastic picture of a mother duck and her chicks taking advantage of the little steps found all along the edge of the canal to help wild fowl on the steeper parts of the bank. Yup it made his day!

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