2004  TRIP

                       I got to know Mike & Liz Holloway, because they had their narrowboat built by    Heron ( as mine ) and also started a website about their boating aspirations and then the            reality. ( see  www.snecklifter.com ).
                   We finally met up last year, first at Abingdon and then later on the Oxford Canal.  They had earlier ventured onto the Kennet & Avon Canal, but only got as far as Newbury,  and decided they could not face any more of the K&A obstacle course. I said they had missed  the best, and it was worth the effort to carry on.
                    In a rash moment ( after a couple of shandies ) I suggested meeting in Reading in   2004 and travelling together all the way to Bristol and back. It would be a lot easier always
 working two boats through the locks, very helpfull to me, single handed, especially some of  the awkward swing bridges.  The final plan agreed was to do the K&A, then up the Thames to  Lechlade and then the Oxford Canal to Braunston. I had also decided to move the boat to the  Midlands, and had secured a mooring in Braunston Marina, and Mike & Liz needed to get  back to the Midlands.
                     I left Newbury on Saturday May 1st, and on Sunday afternoon met up with  Mike & Liz above Fobney lock on the outskirts of Reading. Monday we started our adventure  ( back via Newbury for me ) and set off towards Bristol.
                     The weather started badly, but improved after a few days, eventually staying  very good for the whole trip, seven weeks. We soon got a good system working through the  locks etc. and with my knowledge of my home canal, especially moorings, we settled into a  most enjoyable routine.
                      As I said, the K&A can be a bit of an obstacle course, but it pays back the  effort with a sense of achievement, some beautiful countryside, villages, wild life etc. and it's  aspect keeps changing.  We spent a lovely weekend in Bristol Floating Harbour, the Industrial  Museum had a special working / steaming weekend, and with lovely weather the place was  really buzzing.
                      I will not go into details of the trip to Bristol and back to Reading. ( Mike's web  site diary gives a very good account ) But I will mention all the lovely places we stopped.  From Reading to Aldermarston, Newbury, Kintbury, Hungerford, Great Bedwyn, Wooton  Rivers, Devizes, Sells Green Bridge, Bradford on Avon, Bath, Bristol, Bath, Avoncliff, Sells  Green Bridge, Devizes, Pewsey, Crofton, Great Bedwyn, Froxfield, Hungerford, Newbury,  Theale, and back into Reading.
                                                 Phase Two.

                             We left Reading on the 1st June, and set off up the Thames towards Lechlade,  via Goring, Abingdon, Hagley Pool, and Tadpole Bridge. The upper Thames past the Duke's  Cut was new to all of us, and with great weather it was very enjoyable, all though it is hard  work negotiating all the bends.We saw plenty of bird life, Red Kites, Curlews, a Barn Owl,  Heron of course, but suprisingly only once a flash of blue, a Kingfisher.
                        After a couple of lazy days at Lechlade, with visits from friends, we stopped  near Rushey Lock and at Bablock Hythe on the way back to the Duke's Cut and the Oxford  Canal and a mooring at Thrupp. We had plenty of time to get to Braunston so movement up  the Oxford was very casual, stopping at Lower Heyford, Chisnell Lift Bridge, Banbury, Little  Bourton, Cropredy, Fenny Compton, Napton and arriving at Braunston on Mon 21st  June.  We had a last meal together at the Mill House on Monday evening and Mike & Liz set off  Tuesday afternoon. I see from their website the lazy days have become a habit, isn't life grand  on the cut..        
                         I wrote earlier it was a rash moment when I suggested the start of this trip,  but it was definitely one of my best. The trip could not have turned out better, the weather  was mostly good, the scenery mostly beautiful, nearly everybody friendly, we were able to  moor everywhere we planned, and seven weeks in the company of such lovely people as Mike  & Liz  made it a trip to remember with delight.
                         The holiday carried on for me until the weekend. My son Lee arrived on the  Friday, and we had a lovely day showing him the area, an evening meal at the Mill House, and  a pint with a jazz band in the tent as part of the Historical Boat Festival. Saturday was the  parade of boats, and Lee drove me home in the evening.
                           From the log, the total journey was 333 miles; 291 locks; 56 swing bridges;     6 lifting bridges.

  Mike Hecken.