The latest from Atlas

Monday, 16 June 2014

Amy Abroad: Cruising the Kennet and Avon Canal

When you can’t go biking, you go barging, and cider drinking of course!

The British canal system is a nationwide network which connects almost the entire country by waterways. Since the Roman times, canals have been used for transporting coal, building materials and many different goods. Nowadays they are used by avid excursionists, off for a spot of recreational travel or as homes on water. These decked out holiday homes are called "narrow boats".  Anyone can hire them as no special boating licence is required! Rich and I were lucky enough to jump aboard his Aunt and Uncle’s 50ft "Phoebe Jones" and motor off for the day.

Please note the average speed of a narrow boat is approximately 2.5 to 3 miles per hour, we weren't getting far quickly! Even the people walking along side of the canals on the towpath were travelling faster than us!  The towpaths were once used by horses to pull the barges along before they had engines. Today they are now very popular with cyclists or locals strolling to one of the 70+ pubs that line the banks of the Kennet and Avon Canal. We, of course, were heading to the pub however we had a full day’s work ahead of us before stopping.

Cider time
The 29 Devizes locks of the Kennet and Avon Canal are known for being one of the longest flights of locks in the World. "Locks" are devices built into the canal to raise and lower boats between two stretches of waterway. Caen Hill of Devizes has 16 consecutive locks which form a steep flight up the hillside. Over the course of a long day we opened and closed the 29 locks of Devizes, travelled 2 miles in distance and had risen 72 metres from our original starting point.  A pint of cider was nearly in our sights and we had definitely earned it!

Hello Dave Zee!
We arrived at the Barge Inn at Seend and moored up the narrow boat. Here we bumped into one of our favourite Atlas locals, Dave Zee, as Seend is his hometown! With Thatchers Gold cider on tap we all couldn’t resist. This traditional English cider, perfect for any occasion, is smooth and fruity fresh with the sparkling taste of crisp apples. There was a massive steak burger on special so we indulged in an evening of delicious drinks and food. Being a Wadworth pub I had to sample a couple of tasty Horizons too!

Thatchers is one of many cider farms located in the Somerset area. Next week I will head across to the border into Somerset for a cider tour. I’ll be visiting a few farms to find out what makes all these ciders so unique and tasty!