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Shipmates set sail from Tiverton

Chard and Axminster branches joined forces earlier in the summer to embark on a voyage – though there was no need for sea-legs as the shipmates and their guests never left the West Country.

The 24-strong party travelled to Mid Devon for an evening trip on the Tiverton Horse Drawn Canal Barge - one of the last of its kind in the UK - which included a fish and chip supper.

As well as enjoying the views along the canal on a lovely evening, there was an informative and amusing commentary to point out places and events of interest along the way while the ‘engine’ – Ross the hoss – gently plodded along the canal bank.

Supper was taken on board at a stop next to one of the two bridges the barge passed under, and there was time on the journey for the party to stretch their legs by taking a quick walk along the path to view a 19th century aqueduct.

The round trip took two and a half hours and was a most pleasant and unusual night out for all who thoroughly enjoyed the experience.

The canal trip runs along part of the old Grand Western Canal, originally conceived to provide a short-cut between the Bristol Channel and English Channel vis Taunton and Exeter, allowing coastal shipping to avoid the route around Lands End, but the rapid expansion of the railway network put paid to the canal plan.

Pictured: Shipmates join the broad-beam barge at Tiverton, and Ross the hoss is given some encouragement.