Narrowboat Tacet

Silent Movement - Our gap year travelling the inland waterways

Tuesday 30 April 2013

A Long and Busy Day

We had pulled pins before 9 this morning and with no locks for a while it was a good opportunity to get a few jobs done inside.
By the time we got to the services at Dundas, I'd almost finished sweeping the floor all through the cabin.  With all the necessary things emptied, we got going again and I returned to do the dusting.
The trees are noticeably greener than when we came through about 8 days ago.

We stopped at Bradford-on-Avon, cos we had promised ourselves a Boatman's Breakfast at the Lock Inn.
And afterwards we went to look for the Saxon Church.  On the way we passed this row of weavers' cottages, with workrooms at the top, very similar to the ones we've seen in Yorkshire.

We loved this little alley and the stone cottages.

The Saxon church is Bradford-on-Avon's oldest building, it is one of the most complete Saxon buildings still standing.

It is a very simple style chapel and apparently from the early 11th century.
For centuries the Saxon church was lost, hidden behind buildings of various other establishments. It was used in 1715 as an 'ossuary', a skull and bone house, and in the 1800's as a free school for boys. It was also used as cottages, you can still see the blackening on the nave walls from the kitchen fire.

When we set off through Bradford lock, it was clear we had a problem.  Loads of smoke was billowing from the exhaust.  So we had to tie up as soon as we could, once out of the lock.
Ian thought he knew what the problem was. He had ordered a new push rod for one of the valves in the engine, which we were going to pick up today from an address in Hilperton.
We needed it now! Fortunately Hilperton was not too far away, just about 2 1/2 miles along the towpath.
It was a hot walk, we found Stella's house easily, it backs onto the canal.  We found Stella through the BCF and she was happy to have the parcel delivered to her home ready for us to pick up on the way past.

With the walk back and time to fit the new rods, we lost about 3 hours this afternoon.
But I also fitted in bathroom cleaning and some brass polishing.

We were glad we had had that big breakfast now, it kept us going, and we would be able to tackle the locks and swing bridges ahead and have a late dinner when we eventually stopped.

Mrs Swan on her nest
Mrs Moorhen next door

With the dinner in the oven, we took turns with the locks and bridges to Sells Green, enjoying being out in the sunshine and finally banging pegs in at 8pm.

So, a busy day is a happy day as Just William was often told.

13 miles, 8 locks, 6 bridges

Monday 29 April 2013

On to Dundas

Leaving our lovely little mooring at Bitton behind we made our way along the river Avon back into Bath.  Travelling again with James and Doug on nb Chance, sharing the locks and the work with them.

We stopped briefly in Bath to visit Sainsbury's and restock the fridge. James and Doug carried on.
Once back with the shopping we set off and joined the Kennet and Avon Canal at the bottom of Widcombe flight.  We didn't meet any other travellers (in boats) just towpath walkers who followed our journey up all of the locks. With lots of questions about our life afloat and the canals, rivers and places we've been to.

Once again travelling through Bath, Bathwick and Bathampton was a joy, the views across the city, and out into the countryside are just lovely especially when the sun is shining.

Cleveland House once the canal company's headquarters stands above the ornamental tunnel which then leads into Sydney Gardens with its ornamental iron work bridges.


We moored up at Claverton for a stop to look at the pumping station down by the river.  It was designed by John Rennie and the pump was powered by two water wheels pumping water to the canal from the river Avon below.

Water is still pumped up to the canal though now by electric pumps.  The restored water wheels are currently having works carried out and will be operating again on special weekends next year.

Our mooring at Claverton is nice so we decided to stay put and take Jumble for a walk along to the junction at Dundas where the Somerset Coal Canal goes off towards Paulton.

It is very narrow and is only open for those with moorings along to the small basin at the end.

Walking along the towpath of this short canal was enhanced by the beautiful smell of primroses.

One of my most favouritest (it really should be a word) flowers.

And then we walked down to river level to get a proper view of the Dundas Aqueduct.

Moored up on the other side of the aqueduct was nb Chance, Doug and James had called it a day there too. We'll catch up with them again soon and 'do' Caen Hill with them.

View from our mooring, showing a lot more green on the trees than a few days ago.

11.5 miles, 10 locks, 2 bridges

Sunday 28 April 2013

Bristol Sayings and Saying Goodbye

The saying 'All ship-shape and Bristol fashion' has its origin from the days before the floating harbour where we have been staying.  

The floating harbour was constructed with locks gates and a holding basin to the river Avon to keep a water level that didn't change with the tides.  This meant that boats could be loaded and unloaded without fear of ending up on the mud and leaning over as the tide went out. Prior to the harbour's construction boats coming into Bristol would have to secure their loads, so as not to lose them overboard when the tide went out. Hence 'all ship-shape and Bristol fashion'.

Another saying for you.  'Paying on the nail'.  
In the market place in Bristol and Bath we have seen a metal pillar where market traders and customers would agree their price for goods and then cash would be paid on the nail.

Here's some more pictures from our stay in Bristol, a random selection from our wanderings around.
Looking up Park Street to the Universisty buildings
Our moorings below the amphitheatre and the Lloyds building.
The steam train running along the harbour edge has been busy over the weekend.
Today when we returned from church the amphitheatre was full of buses of all types and decades past.
Opposite our mooring was the M shed, an interesting museum of Bristol life, Bristol people and Bristol work. And it's free! The centre cranes have been lowered in honour of a crane driver who has recently died.

But this afternoon it was time to leave our Bristol home as our time was up.  So Chance let go their ropes first and were off, and we soon followed suit.
Making our way back out of the harbour,
First comes St Mary's, Redcliffe, whose spire is the tallest point in Bristol.
The frontage of this waterside warehouse is being saved and protected.
More old wharf buildings.
At Netham lock the gates were open for us to go straight through, the tide was level with the harbour level.
At Keynsham lock there was plenty of time for a chat, it's so slow to fill.
And our lovely mooring at Bitton railway bridge, with a good grassy bit for Jumble, he's barely seen any grass over the past few days in the city.  Our good neighbours on Chance are tucked safely behind.

10 miles, 3 locks

Another Bristol Wonder - SS Great Britain

Another of Isambard Kingdom Brunel's great achievements was the building of the SS Great Britain.

At the time of building he broke a number of ship building conventions and changed the history of ship building.

When she was launched in 1843 she was caledl 'The greatest experiment since the creation'.

No one had ever designed so vast a ship.

She was the first to be built of iron.

Brunel used a 1000hp steam engine, the most powerful yet to be used at sea. She had sails as well to save coal in the right conditions.

He decided not to use conventional paddle wheels but to fit her with a screw propeller.

So the SS Great Britain is considered one of the most important historic ships in the world.

It felt like a privilege to be able to walk around her, underneath her, and below deck too.

She was built here in Bristol in the very same dock in which she is now housed.

She was the first great ocean going liner, carrying passengers around the world.
She was also used to take emigrants and gold seekers to Australia.

After 30 years carrying passengers she was converted to carry cargo, carrying coal and wheat betweeen England and the west coast of America.
She came to the end of her working life in the Falkland Islands and was sunk there in 1937.

She was salvaged and brought home to Bristol in 1970 on a floating pontoon towed across the Atlantic. But was floated up the river Avon from Avonmouth, pulled by tugs.

Saturday 27 April 2013

Clifton Suspension Bridge

A visit to Bristol would not have been complete without a look at the superb suspension bridge at Clifton. 
We set off back along the docks to the lock that would take you back out onto the tidal river.  At this point we were glad to be on dry land, not in Tacet. The tide was right out!

 Walking along the banks of the river, you can see the piers and landing stages, little used today.

 And the bottom station of the Clifton Rocks Railway, a funicular railway that ran up through a tunnel in the cliff rocks. Looking rather sad and forlorn today, but apparently the site is open for viewing occasionally, though no carriages can run up and down now.
But we came here to look up at the amazing spectacle that is Isambard Kingdom Brunel's audacious crossing of the Avon gorge.
 It really does take your breath away.
 74 metres above high tide.
 It spans 214 metres across the gorge.
 Each pier is 26 metres high.
 The chains are anchored 17 metres below the road.
 It's total length is 412 metres.
 It was completed in 1864 after Brunel's death as a memorial to him.
 It's proved to be a lasting one, still carrying traffic today.
 This was where my legs turned to jelly, looking down on the river below. Gulp!
 But I managed to go round and look the other way too!