Wednesday, 4 August 2010

The Barge and the Brewery

The Caen Hill flight begins at Lock 50 in Devizes (if you are travelling west) and ends at lock 22, Lower Foxhangers Lock. Curiously the Boater's Guide to the K&A on BW's Waterscape website describes lock 29 as "Caen Hill Bottom Lock",  but locks 28 to 22 follow on immediately and as the Caen Hill flight is usually considered to consist of 29 locks then I think Waterscape must be wrong.(Shurely shome mishtake, Ed)
Foxhangers is the home of Foxhangers Hire Boats whose boats all carry the slogan "Based at the Bottom of Caen Hill Locks", although whether this is a threat or a promise I'm not really sure; I suppose it depends on your expectations of what a boating holiday is all about.
Foxhangers hire boat base. The pier in the middle of the cut formerly supported the bridge carrying the Devizes to Trowbridge railway line over the canal.
From Foxhangers there were five more locks to negotiate before our planned overnight stopping point at Seend. At 16.00 the visitor moorings above the lock were full, but we just managed to squeeze onto those below the lock without blocking either the water point or the pump-out station. Curiously, these facilities are located at different points within the visitor mooring space and there are no signs prohibiting mooring at either. We were asked by two local boats travelling together if we would move up a ring to create a space for them so that they could vacate the pump-out area after they had finished their pump-out, whereupon they promptly moved back and blocked the water point instead! Equally curiously the pump-out station was completely "open air" with pipes and pumping mechanism open to the elements, not locked away in a building. They obviously have little trouble with vandals in deepest Wiltshire.
The Barge Inn, Seend
There are two pubs in Seend. The Barge Inn (above) has the advantage of a canalside location but its not exactly welcoming, being a vast barn of a place specialising in food and where drinkers are tolerated rather than encouraged. Although it sells locally-brewed Wadworth's ale, serious pub-goers will do better to walk into the village and patronise the Brewery Inn, not least to watch the locals knock back pints of a thick, bright orange liquid that they call cider but which I reckon you could run your boat on!

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