The Kennet Navigation is delightful. It’s made up of sections of the natural course of the river Kennet and sections of artificial cut. But even the man-made canal sections are very natural looking, so sometimes it’s difficult to know which you are on. There is plenty of wildlife, we have seen herons, kingfishers and an egret among others. Though the countryside is lovely, the locks are very hard work, so after doing 14 of them today we are exhausted.
We started off through the ‘Oracle Centre’ of Reading, which is the main shopping centre. The river goes right through the middle. Unusually, this section is controlled by traffic lights, because if the Kennet is flowing stongly it’s difficult to manouver, so boats are only allowed through in one direction at a time. This morning the river was placid and there was no problem at all.
The lock gates are large and heavy, though the paddles are relatively easy. But what has worn us out is that the flows from the top paddles, when filling the locks, are extremely strong, so holding the boat on ropes has been really hard work.
|Strong flows from the top paddles|
Also we have been following a pair of boats most of the day, so we have had to ‘turn’ every lock.
Some of the locks on this part of the the canal are “turf sided”. All the original locks were like this, but only a few survive, The locks were basically just a hole in the ground with a wooden framework to keep the boats in the middle. The current ones have been updated a bit, but not much.
This is Monkey Marsh lock: