As I was driving towards Devizes I noticed the sign on the left advertising Caen Hill Marina. 300 Yards, it said, with a big red arrow. Turn Left, it shouted. That's odd, I thought, last time I tried to look around the Marina I was turned away and told it was private. I went to investigate, turning in where the signpost said Foxhangers, past all the side turnings marked Private, No Unauthorised Access, Keep Out and so on, over some very rough road, past some gated car-parking sites with similar signage, and pulled off the road onto a gravelly verge, near the Marina road entrance.
Some new fencing had been put up around Foxhangers Wharf and there was another gate by the path with signs warning walkers to keep out, and the entrance to Caen Hill Marina still had similar signs like before. I walked back to the path down to the canal bridge. The footpath stile opened onto a boggy waterlogged field and the path ran next to a metalled road leading to the British Waterways pump house, but again there was a new locked gate and a big new sign instructing walkers to use the footpath.
I squished along the footpath to the towpath and found yet more new gates and warning signs preventing one from even walking up to the pumping station or onto the moorings where one could have freely walked a few months ago. I crossed the footbridge and walked along the towpath to the spot where I took this picture, the folding bridge marking the entry to the Marina, this being the closest I could get. I found this regimented hostility along this formerly pleasant stretch utterly dispiriting.
I walked back along the route I had come, and was traversing the boggy field on the footpath when I passed an old guy walking a mangy Alsation guard dog with a green tennis ball in its mouth. Good afternoon, I greeted him. Is that your red car parked at the top?, he retorted, giving me a lecture about it being a private road, and there was a sign I should have seen. As I was walking off in disgust he told me that if I parked there again, my car would be towed away.
Before I returned to the main road I stopped to look at the sign. Private Road To Hire Boats And Moorings it said, but unlike all the other signs whose instructions I had observed, added nothing about who could or couldn't make use of it.
If you're thinking of hiring a canalboat, don't get it from Foxhangers.
Consecutive Blip #000
No Public Access
Canal At Foxhangers
Lenses: Pentax 17-70mm
One year ago: Hoverfly On Kitchen Window