KENNET AND AVON CYCLE RIDE 400 words
Our train pulled into Reading Station and we were off through the damp grey morning and pleased not to be in the town too long. It became brighter as we cycled past fields and hedgerows, over or under bridges that protected the sluices that feed or feed off the canal’s water supply.
Sheep’s parsley as tall as trees and yellow flag irises were constant companions for this three-day pedal. Teatime was enjoyed in Newbury, at the canal side tearooms with a tempting array of cakes.
On day 2 we were expecting rain and it did, occasionally quite violently. It was not until we had ridden 30 miles in the wet and was almost into Devizes that the sun shone over the Wiltshire downs and a skylark rose high above us to pipe us into the town.
Mid afternoon we ‘shortened course’ to minimise the soaking and pulled over for a cup of tea in Pewsey Village, here the canal is almost at its highest point before dropping down into Bath and Bristol.
Devizes was the overnight stop and we we stayed at the Southdown B&B (http://www.whitehorsewalking.co.uk) in Roundway just outside the town.
Day 3: The sun shone and promised a lovely day. It was a gentle twenty-two miles into Bath, easy down hill all the way. It was glorious day; sung to by birds and saluted by every flower along the way. The deep decent of Caen Hill Locks westwards out of Devizes is a flight of twenty-nine locks, a decent of two hundred and thirty feet, which would take a narrow boat six hours to go through.
Ten miles from Bath we pulled over for another canal side tearoom experience at Bradford-upon-Avon, a delight place. Good coffee and a long natter with Peter, the owner of a lovingly restored boat The Grey Hare from Deepcut (on the Basingstoke canal) in Hampshire.
Between Bradford and Bath the canal cross the railway and the River Avon via two splendid limestone aqueducts Avoncliff and Dundas, both restored to their former glory and looking down on the graceful river.
At lunchtime we pull off Route 4 and into the arms of Bath Spa railway station for our journey home. The traffic was quite a shock after the tranquil towpath; however we had enjoyed some great cycling through Berkshire and Wiltshire on one of the west of England’s loveliest waterways.