Canal Cottages, Dauntsey Lock
The next time the old Wilts and Berks Canal crosses a main road after Foxham Locks (visited yesterday) is at Dauntsey Lock. I had briefly visited it on November 4th after my alpaca encounter but the light was going fast. When I reached this spot I had surprised a heron, which flew off along the canal, its wings almost touching either side of it. No heron today, though apparently it is a resident of the area, but far better conditions, despite some spectacular mists which had shrouded the lower fields behind it.
I walked in the other direction to this, north along the towpath, until I met a volunteer tending to the hedgerow who pointed out that I was on private land and asked me to turn back. However she told me all sorts of interesting facts. She'd recently seen a barn owl on a fence post there, and there had been two kingfishers the previous weeks, two shags, swans and cygnets, moorhens and ducks. Fish have also been seen including bream and carp, some of them goldfish. Sometimes the water has been bubbling with shoals of them, at other time there is none to be seen for a couple of weeks.
There are hopes to reopen all 57 miles of the canal by 2025, although while some sections are well advanced, some landowners are so far refusing any access whatsoever. It is hoped they will change their mind when they see the benefits enjoyed by neighbours who have seen their sections of canal restored without cost to them. There is no overall funding for the canal, though each of the seven sections of the canal have been responsible for raising their own funding and sponsorship. If this lady plants a certain number of seedlings by spring, for example, the council will give her section a £1000 grant.
On the way back, I drove down a Cul-de-sac leading to a farm that crosses the canal path at City Bridge, and you can see the canal has been completely grassed over (and of course the cow is staring at me).
Wilts & Berks At Dauntsey, 15 November 2010 (Flickr album of 21 images)