In early January 2024 the lift bridge of the A340 Basingstoke Road over the Kennet and Avon canal in Aldermaston Wharf had to be removed for some major refurbishment work. During the initial preparation for its removal there wasn’t much to see, although I did manage to get some decent shots of the bare bridge in the afternoon light one day. Then on Friday 12/Jan/24 I was lucky enough to catch a good part of the loading of the bridge on to a trailer during my lunch break walk:
The bridge will now receive some long overdue maintenance and improvements over a few weeks before being reinstalled in mid March 2024. I’m hoping to be lucky again and be out for my lunch break walk at the right time, but obviously can’t promise anything.
After a wet end to 2023 leading to saturated grounds in much of England storm Henk and shortly after some very heavy rain in early January brought some significant flooding to many parts of England. While not as serious as in some other parts of England there is also some flooding along the Kennet and Avon Canal in Aldermaston Wharf and Woolhampton in West Berkshire. I’ve lived here for 15 years and think on the stretch of canal I regularly walk it’s the worst it’s been in those years. There has been flooding before, but this year seems more and higher. On Saturday 6/Jan/2024 I went for my regular walk and took my camera with me for a few pictures and video:
01 – View from my flat: A view out of a window from my second floor flat, the canal is level with and has flooded the path the boaters use to get to their boats at the permanent moorings02 – View of my block of flats over the canal: A view to my block of flats from the other side of the canal, The canal wall is only just visible next to the boats with the very high water level in the canal03 – Closer look at the canal wall outside my block of flats: A closer look at the canal wall outside my block of flats, showing the canal pretty much level with the top and flooding the path along the wall04 – Basin below Aldermaston Lock: Very high water levels in the basin below Aldermaston Lock,, going over the pier wall with a Canal & River’s Trust barge05 – Cormorant below Aldermaston Lock: Strictly speaking not the floods, but I spotted this Cormorant just below Aldermaston Lock. However, notice the very high water levels almost going over the top of the wall06 – Waterfall over the top of Aldermaston Lock: With the high water levels and huge amounts of water coming down the canal the overflow (just visible behind the right canal gate) can’t cope, so the water just goes over the top of the lock gates07 – High water levels in the Kennet & Avon Canal in Aldermaston Wharf: Very high water level in the Kennet and Avon Canal at the western end of Aldermaston Wharf08 – Flooded towpath in Aldermaston Wharf with passing kayakers: A flooded towpath at the western end of Aldermaston Wharf (doesn’t look that deep, but is actually ankle deep slightly further down). Two kayakers passing regardless (I believe the canal is currently closed for canal boats, don’t know about other craft)09 – New lake in the horse’s paddock: A new lake has appeared in the horse’s paddock10 – Flood at the gate to the sheep and cattle fields: I’ve seen these fields partially flooded before, but never as bad as this11 – Flooded field with a few sheep: This field often floods at the end where the trees are, but this time it’s flooded all the way to the fence. Some sheep are still in the field towards the right12 – Flooded towpath at the culvert: This stretch of the towpath has flooded before (making the culvert redundant), but I don’t think I’ve seen it that high and long before. I can remember it going just over the foot, this time it’s going well over the ankle13 – The bridge to nowhere: This bridge leads to some hidden hut in the woods with a very private owner. I don’t think he needs to worry much at the moment about visitors.14 – Fallen tree next to the flooded towpath: The fallen tree on the left was a victim of storm Henk just a few days earlier, the owner of the boat on the right told me he actually saw it falling. To their credit the canal trust cleared it up fairly quickly, making it easier to pass despite the flooding of the towpath15 – Flooded field and rushing canal panorama: A panoramic view near Woolhampton, a flooded field (sometimes used for cattle grazing) on the left, the canal in full flow rushing past on the right16 – Flooded football pitch at Woolhampton: Anyone for water ball?17 – Flooded towpath near Woolhampton: A heavily flooded stretch of the towpath just outside of Woolhampton. The two boats on the left were previously moored here, but had to give up their moorings as the bank had become too soft and dangerous18 – Flood rounding the corner: An impression from Station Road in Woolhampton, flood water coming from the lakes and the River Kennet is running down the road and then turns the corner to run down the track leading to the football pitch19 – Rescuing a drowned car: Another scene from Station Road, a rescue truck pulling out a drowned car20 – Flooded footpath sign: Don’t think anyone will use these footpaths for a while, the water was approaching the top of my wellies21 – Flooded footpath entrance Footpaths closed for now….22 – Flooded footpath and field: A flooded footpath and field near the Woolhampton lakes23 – Flooded car park and field at The Rowbarge and River Kennet Part of The Rowbarge car park heavily flooded on the left, the River Kennet in full flow approaching and flooding the field west of The Rowbarge24 – Flooding at the River Kennet footbridge and Woolhampton lock A view from the footbridge over the River Kennet, the mooring area outside Woolhampton lock is flooded25 – Flooded moorings at The Rowbarge The moorings at The Rowbarge are heavily flooded, the water well above the mooring bollards. It’s also up well over the first step of the stairs26 – Flooded track at the Woolhampton lakes The lakes at Woolhampton are overflowing, covering this track near Oxlease bridge27 – Flooded shores at the Woolhampton lakes The area around the lakes at Woolhampton (former gravel pits) is heavily flooded. The normal lake starts at the tree line 20 metres in front of it, but now everything around is flooded28 – Flooding at Woolhampton swing bridge Very high levels at the swing bridge in Woolhampton, going over the moorings for the bridge and into the gardens on the other side
I also recorded a few short video clips, here is the video I edited with them showing some of the flooding:
Floods around Aldermaston Wharf and Woolhampton, West Berkshire in January 2024
I hope you found the pictures and video interesting and informative, please let me know your thoughts in the comments.
I go for a walk along the Kennet & Avon Canal every morning, on a weekday I usually walk from Aldermaston Wharf to just past The Rowbarge in Woolhampton. Over the weekends I often walk a bit further, past the old Lock Cottage towards Midgham.
Usually I’m walking with a pair of weights, today I decided to leave the weights at home and turn it into a photo walk. I left fairly early in the morning at about 6:45, which gave me some nice mild light for a while.
Here are 10 of my favourite pictures from this morning, click on the pictures for the larger version in the gallery:
(1) Swan cleaning in the morning sunshine(2) More Swan preening in the morning sun(3) Colourful canal boats on the Kennet & Avon Canal(4) Colourful canal boat stern at its mooring(5) White flower(6) Canal boat in the tree alley(7) Pepper growing in the morning sun(8) Tree reflections in the Kennet & Avon Canal(9) Bright green trees along the Kennet & Avon Canal(10) Green leaves in the sunshine
A variety of pictures, from Swans to colourful boats to beautiful trees and reflections. I hope you’ll find something you’ll like. Maybe let me know of your favourite picture(s) in the comments?
After one of the worst storms in decades hit the south of England including West Berkshire with storm Eunice on Friday 18/Feb/2022 there was a lot of damage. When I write this on Saturday afternoon the village of Aldermaston (just over a mile down the road from where I write this in Aldermaston Wharf) still hasn’t got any power and might not get it back until late in the evening or potentially even Sunday. I know of at least two trees having come down and having hit houses in Aldermaston Wharf, luckily as far as I’m aware nobody was injured (and I believe there was no serious damage to the houses). This morning I went out for my regular daily walk (slightly extended as it is Saturday, where I usually go on a longer walk than on weekdays), here is some of the storm damage I spotted along the way:
(01) Canal boat hit by fallen tree(02) Damaged solar panels on canal boat hit by fallen tree(03) Fallen tree next to a field with cows and sheep(04) Fallen tree fully blocking the towpath(05) Snapped tree next to a railway line(06) Two fallen trees blocking the towpath(07) Tree fully blocking the towpath, this is where I turned around(08) Fallen trees at a footbridge(09) Fallen tree near a boat(11) Twisted off fallen tree(10) Two fallen trees in the woods(12) Bonus: The obligatory fallen fenceStorm Eunice damage along the Kennet & Avon Canal in West Berkshire (click on the pictures for the large versions)
One of the first things I saw was also one of the scariest, a quite large tree had fallen across the canal and the top of the tree had hit a moored canal boat (Pictures 01 & 02). The owners had already cleared most of the tree off the boat and as far as I could see there was no significant damage to the boat itself, only the solar panels were rather smashed up.
Not very far down the canal along a field with cows and sheep there was more damage: Three smaller trees had been snapped off (I suspect the wind had enough space to run up across the field and hit them hard) and were pretty much blocking the towpath (pictures 03, 04 &11). I managed to squeeze past two of them, for the third one I had to climb over the fence for a short ‘detour’ across the field (luckily the cows with their calves were far away, so it was safe). Luckily I didn’t have to do that when I returned about an hour later as kind boater had taken his chainsaw to the trees and cleared the towpath.
After that it wasn’t too bad on the towpath, of course there was branch debris pretty much everywhere, but there wasn’t really any blockage. The fallen trees were either away from the towpath or left enough room to get past them without much difficulty (Pictures 05, 08, 09 & 10).
But my walk was stopped by a fallen tree just before where I usually turn around anyway on my longer weekend walks. While I just managed to squeeze past the first tree (Picture 06) the second one, a large tree covered in Ivy, fully blocked the path (Picture 07) and I couldn’t find a way past it. So I turned around and walked back to Aldermaston Wharf.
Just before arriving back home I couldn’t resist the obligatory fallen fence picture (Picture 12), I believe that’s a standard for after the storm pictures. Interestingly the fence at the communal garden below my flat was swaying precariously yesterday, I think at least one of the posts is pretty much gone. So far it’s still holding up, but will it survive the next storm?
Having decided not to travel to Islay because of the Covid-19 pandemic this year I had a two week staycation at home in West Berkshire. Unfortunately the weather didn’t turn out as nice as I had hoped, so I didn’t get out for walks as much as I had thought (I ended up visiting a Swedish furniture store and completing some home improvements I had thought about for a while instead). Still, I managed to squeeze in a few short sunny walks along the Kennet & Avon Canal allowing me to take a few nice autumnal pictures (click on the pictures for the full size gallery):
(1) Colourful trees from the window
(2) Autumnal trees reflecting in the canal
(3) Canal boat in the autumn sunshine
(4) Chestnuts in their autumn colours along the canal
(5) Boat moored under colourful autumn trees
(6) Canal boat cruising through fallen autumn leaves
(7) Colourful autumnal trees along the canal
(8) Autumnal trees and floating leaves on the canal
(9) Colourful autumn tree next to the canal towpath
(10) Looking up a beautiful autumn colour tree
Except for the first picture (which is from my flat overlooking the canal in Aldermaston Wharf) all the pictures are from the towpath from Aldermaston Wharf walking west towards Woolhampton. Some really nice autumnal colours around, especially over the second week. All the pictures were taken with my large wide angle zoom lens (14-24mm, mostly towards the 14mm), allowing me to capture some big views of the trees and their autumn colours.