Saturday, 14 January 2012

Down Caen Hill on the way to "The Three Magpies."

Lock 37, part of the continuous flight of 16 locks
Here we are walking, once again down Caen Hill, the famous flight of 29 locks on the Kennet & Avon Canal at Devizes.  This is lock 37, one of the locks in the middle the continuous flight of 16.  The flight down starts at Town Bridge Lock, after which you travel through 6 locks, meet the continuous 16 down at Foxhangers, and onto the last 7 locks to Lower Foxhangers.  This flight is 5th in Britishwaterways "Wonders of the Canal System" list.  I have travelled up and down this flight on many occasions when I had my lovely boat, and used to gather a good crew of 6 friends and make a day of the journey, eating tasty rolls and drinking beer on the way!  

With a crew and depending on how busy it was, the entire flight could be traversed in 4/5 hours, although on some occasions we travelled very slowly and took three days!
Looking up the flight from the bottom of the 16 locks
The best view of the flight is from the bottom of the 16.  John Rennie was the canal engineer, and I always wonder how he felt looking up this hill and thinking, "How on earth do I dig to the top?"  But to the top he dug, digging out tons of earth and clay by hand and shovel with the workman navigators or "Navvies" as they were known.   This last section of the canal was completed in 1810, opening on December 28th of that year.
Hire-fleet boats moored at Lower Foxhangers, with the newly opened "Foxhanger's Marina " in the background.  The disused bridge, the pillars of which can be seen mid picture, used to carry the railway line from Chippenham to Devizes over the canal.  Mr Beeching axed this line in 1960 to save money!  We eventually arived at the "Three Magpies" for lunch and a pint, and then walked some of the way back.

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