We had a day off in Hungerford, partly as it was raining and partly to let the hangover subside from a night emptying Quaintrelle's wine cellar. We shared a few wet miles and locks with Quaintrelle to Great Bedwyn.
There are great 48 hour moorings opposite the pumping station but we carried on up the remaining six locks to the summit level to a 'wild' (i.e. shallow and overgrown!) mooring we had marked in the guide, doing a bit of train spotting in the locks on the way up.
From the summit level we went through the short Bruce Tunnel and began the long descent towards the River Avon. The scenery immediately starts to open up as you descend and we had some great views on the run into Pewsey.
We had a lovely meal at the Waterfront in Pewsey, and quite a lot of guest ales so it was a slightly late and foggy start the next day as we made our way across the Vale of White Horse towards Devizes. The scenery on this stretch was really pretty even though the weather wasn't great (still waiting for that promised late summer heat wave....).
To prepare ourselves for what lay in store we took the little bikes for a ride down to see what the 29 lock Caen Hill flight looked like. The flight has a warm-up and warm-down of about 6 locks either side of the 16 lock flight itself. The 16 locks drop 130' in less than a mile so it looks like the canal drops off a cliff from the top.
We agreed with Quaintrelle to make an unusually early start of 9:00 the next morning and, bleary eyed, we set off down the locks right on time. The 16 locks are closely spaced, with barely enough room to pass boats coming the other way. We managed to squeeze a pair of breasted-up hotel narrowboats between Pas Mèche and Quaintrelle without a bump, despite the crowd of onlookers.
After a night at Hilperton we stopped for good value diesel at The Boatyard before carrying on to the very picturesque Bradford on Avon.