On Saturday 25th April we set out on the 3rd section of the Kennet & Avon Canal walk from Thatcham to Kintbury, led by Heather and Richard Wilson.
After assembling at the school layby, we headed for the Thatcham Nature Discovery Centre where we met up with other members. Sixteen of us then headed down the track over the railway line to join the canal at Widmead Lock (No.89).
Heading west, we followed the towpath. After a few miles, with time approaching 11.30, we were all in need of a coffee break, stopping at Newbury Wharf for coffee etc. at the K&A Canal Trust Tea Rooms. We were offered a trip on the Trust Barge, which was heading in our direction towards Kintbury we politely declined, preferring to walk.
Feeling adequately refreshed, we continued along the towpath, before crossing the busy High Street with its Market Stalls, past Newbury Lock. We reached West Mills Swing Bridge, which we needed to cross, just as the crew of the Trust Barge were about to open it so they could pass through. After a bit of friendly banter, they let us cross first…. after all it was sixteen against two!!
Several members commented that although they had visited Newbury many times, they never knew of this idyllic water side area to walk around.
At Benham Lock, we had a brief lunch break sitting on the arms of the lock gates, before setting of on the final stage to Kintbury.
The canal west of Newbury, starts to get very rural, when compared with the previous stages we walked, with the weirs etc, where the River Kennet flows alongside or integrates with the canal itself.
Upon reaching Kintbury, we stopped for drinks at the Dundas Arms. Three members had arranged to be met here, whilst the rest of the group went to the adjacent Station to catch the train back to Thatcham.
From Thatcham Station, we crossed over the road, to continue along the last stretch of canal back to Widmead Lock (No 89) then up the path between fishing lakes, and back over the railway track to the Nature Discovery Centre, before departing for home. Thus completing a further 9 mile section of the canal.
Early weather forecasts indicated a possible wet walk, but things improved to what became ideal dry walking weather.
ORC will be planning additional sections of this walk over the year, so keep a watch out for the date of the next stage – Kintbury, Hungerford and Great Bedwyn.