This afternoon I took my friends to the Kennet and Avon canal. Since this fact is probably of little interest to you I have taken a series of pictures to give the feel of canal life and how it differs from everyday life.
We met a chap who runs a coffee and ice cream bar from his 55 foot boat. His only official mooring is in Huddersfield. For the last 10 years he has cruised the canal system presumably making a living from selling tea, coffee, ice cream and soft drinks. He can only stay in the same place for two weeks due to the regulations but is quite happy with this and has adapted to it. Cleverly he has a little serving hatch on either side of the boat so someone can stop their own boat and buy a coffee, or order one from the tow path. He lives on the boat.
Francoise asked him if it was a safe mode of living and he said that it’s like going back 35 years. He claimed you don’t have to lock your boat but having said that, the only thing that the occasional opportunist person steals is bikes. He seemed very happy to be of service to us and and I thought that was a lovely way of earning a crust. He said with a smile that customers lean over from the tow path to order something, and their mobile phone falls out of their breast pocket. Once it is down there in the murk there is nothing you can do.
The only difficult part of walking along the canals is that people ride their bikes at quite a speed and some forget to ring their bells, or don’t have one in the first place, and it may be a good idea to walk along one side or the other of the path and look behind you before changing your position. Why not a sign saying ‘walkers to the right’ or walkers nearest to the canal’
If you want a starting point for this canal walk both ways East and West, type in BS15 2HD. You can also start from Bradford on Avon which is about 2 miles to the east. This is a particularly lovely spot because you can see the confluence of the river, railway line, and canal they going over each other. There is also a cafe open Thursday – Sunday called Number 10.