Kennet and Avon Canal, Caen Hill Locks

Kennet and Avon Canal, Caen Hill Locks

We both had to work this morning so couldn’t get going until late afternoon so we thought we’d stop off in Long Sutton, Somerset, near the river Yeo. We had a nice easy journey with the weather staying nice and sunny for us. Our CL site was really nice, well set out, electric if you want it, toilet empty and bins all nicely tided away, and a shed with information in it. The owner was also very nice and helpful.

15th Century Medieval Bridge, Long Load, Somerset, UK
15th Century Medieval Bridge, Long Load, Somerset, UK

We decided to have a walk along the river before eating as it was getting late and we didn’t want to loose the light. From our site the walk to the river is minutes away across a farm field with a dyke running down the edge. All along the edge where pairs of butterflies flitting about doing their mating dance, very beautiful to watch.

Once we reached the river we decided to turn left as this way looked like it might have more for us to look at and photograph. Oscar was having a fine old time sniffing anything and everything. After joining us only two weeks ago Oscar has settled into the family so well it’s like we’ve had him since a pup, and we are already able to let him off the lead with the confidence that he will come back when called. We don’t know how he is around other animals such as sheep and cows yet though so when our walk took us close to a herd of cows we put him on a lead. This turned out to be a wise decision as when the cows saw us they ran straight for us, this scared Oscar who started to bark at them. The cows where not at all bothered by this and surrounded us which wasn’t good for Oscar. Nik and I had to separate to distract the cows and open up a gap so I could move Oscar on and out of this field as quickly as possible. Luckily we weren’t that far from the gate. Afterwards Nik said he thought he was going to end up in the river as the cows where pushing and surrounding him so quickly.

Field of cows, Somerset, UK
Field of cows, Somerset, UK

The next field was planted out with corn and had hay bails around the edges so we found one to lean against and sat down for a little rest. Oscar was hot and a bit bothered after his experience so we got out his collapsible bowl and discovered Nik had forgotten to refill his water bottle after our walk last night. Because of the nature of his wounds and the long recovery, Oscar still needs plenty of resting on walks as his fitness isn’t quite what is should be yet, but he’s getting there. The river bank was to high here for us to get him water from that source, so what little water we had left was given to Oscar. I’m sure he appreciated the sacrifice. Whilst we sat by the river we saw a pair of swans flying over head, sadly too far away for Nik to get a photo and three herons. It really is a lovely walk. It was a very hot evening and Nik and I where quite parched so we decided to make a move back towards Daisy. We couldn’t go back the way we came so we followed the river until it met the road and slowly walked back that way. The road is really quite busy for such a little country lane so we didn’t get much enjoyment out of it. After two and a half hours of walking in the hot sun we arrived back at Daisy nicely warn out and very hungry.

Sunday 22nd June

We started the day with a lay in, very unusual for us. Travelling to the Kennet and Avon Canal today so we took it nice and slow getting ready. We walked Oscar along the river before setting off, this time we turned right. It was turning out to be a rather uneventful walk until Oscar accidentally jumped into the middle of a dyke. All along the river are cattle gates which need to be navigated in different ways if you are a dog. As we approached the last gate on our return journey Oscar decided to follow down the edge of the field we were in. In the mean time anther couple with a Springer Spaniel reached the gate. Nik went through the gate and walked on down the side of the dyke and I stayed near the gate to call Oscar, who saw Nik in the other field almost opposite him so decided to take the short cut without realising there was water between them, jumped over a clump of grass and landed with a huge splash right in the middle of the dyke. As you can imagine, he came crawling out coughing and spluttering, covered in green gunk and all we could do was laugh at the poor boy.
OscarWe arrived at the Devizes Camping and Caravanning Site at around 1pm. The site is beautiful, right next to the canal. We had a spot of lunch and set off to find Caen Hill. We had a choice of left or right, we chose right and of course it was the wrong way. We had a lovely walk though, the canal is very pretty with many colourful canal boats all along the route and is teaming with wildlife. The sun was very hot and this particular part of the canal isn’t very shaded so we had to make lots of stops along the way in the little shaded areas we could find so Oscar could cool down and have a drink. We didn’t mind this at all. We walked all the way to Semmington Dock before we realised we where going in the wrong direction. During our walk we had many opportunities to wildfowl test Oscar and thankfully came to the conclusion that he just isn’t interested in them, which is a relief as we spend a lot of time walking along rivers and canals. We arrived back at the site at 5.30 somewhat shattered and hungry, both Nik and Oscar flaked out on the sofa and had a little snore whilst I cooked dinner.
After dinner Oscar was sprawled on the sofa playing dead, pretending to be broke after his long walk when a noise from outside made him jump up and look out the window. Before we knew it, our sweet, gentle, knackered dog flew out of Daisies window (which from outside I have to stand on tiptoe to look through), hit the ground running and chased the wild bunnies that where all over the grass, around the van. So we thought we’d better take him for his evening walk. It wasn’t a long one though as we were all shattered.

Caen Hill Locks on the Kennet and Avon Canal, Devizes, Wiltshire, UK
Caen Hill Locks on the Kennet and Avon Canal, Devizes, Wiltshire, UK

Monday we are a right bunch of lazy toads as we didn’t wake up until after 9am. After a leisurely breakfast we walked the correct direction to Caen Hill Locks. From our site it only took ¾ of an hour. The sun was hot again but this side of the tow path was mostly in the shade so it wasn’t quite so tiring. We thought the canal was pretty yesterday but this part of the canal is much prettier and far more populated, which you would expect as it’s near the famous Caen Hill gates. Nik was very pleased to be able to get some (hopefully) great pictures of the locks from a bridge just at the start of the hill. The walk up the hill was nice and steady and it barely felt like we where walking up hill. Each lock had a lovely big area with beautiful water plants and all manner of wildlife and their babies. We where sad to notice signs asking people to put their dogs on a lead because a signet had been killed by one last month. There are plenty of areas of short grass all along the canal for you to stop and picnic or just take a load off. We enjoyed taking advantage of this to rest Oscar. At the top of the hill there is a coffee shop which also sells ice-creams so on our return journey we stopped in for some refreshment. Oscar experienced his first ice-cream which he thoroughly enjoyed.

Nik and Oscar sat beside the canal, Caen Hill Locks on the Kennet and Avon Canal, Devizes, Wiltshire, UK
Nik and Oscar sat beside the canal, Caen Hill Locks on the Kennet and Avon Canal, Devizes, Wiltshire, UK

Whilst cooking tea we tide Oscar up with some washing line so he could come and go as he pleased. He chose to sit outside with Nik where it was cooler and watch the bunnies who stayed just out of reach, teasing him.

After tea we walked back to Caen Hill as Nik was hoping to get a good picture in the evening light. Nik was as happy as a man with a camera can be when we got there. The clouds where quite grey and moody but the sun was lighting the lock gates beautifully. He walked away happy that he’d got a fantastic shot.

Just before setting off for home Nik realised his deliberate mistake. The passenger side windscreen wiper lost it’s rubber on our last journey so Nik went and bought some more and replaced them. Only what he had done was take them off, take the new ones out of the box, then put the old ones back on and the new ones back in the box. Senior moment or what!

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