Not making waves!

Limehouse to Oxford 2015

June 20 – 30, 2015.

June 29: Oxford

Osney Lock Oxford

Osney Lock Oxford

Cows

Cows

 

June 28: Wallingford

Waiting at Goring Lock in the rain.

Waiting at Goring Lock in the rain.

June 27: Pangbourne

Pangbourne Meadow

Pangbourne Meadow

June 26: Sonning

Moored at Sonning

Moored at Sonning

Hurley Lock

Hurley Lock

June 25: Marlow

June 24: Runnymede

Moored at Runnymede

Moored at Runnymede

June 21 – 23: Shepperton

A goods train passing over Woodham Junction

A goods train passing over Woodham Junction

Woodham Junction on the Wey Navigation for the Basingstoke Canal

Woodham Junction on the Wey Navigation for the Basingstoke Canal

Coxes Mill at Coxes Lock on the Wey Navigation

Coxes Mill at Coxes Lock on the Wey Navigation

Thames Lock on the Wey Navigation

Thames Lock on the Wey Navigation

Happy family at Shepperton

Happy family at Shepperton

Moored at Shepperton

Moored at Shepperton

Saturday June 20: Tidal Thames Limehouse to Teddington.

Passing Richmond on the tidal Thames

Passing Richmond on the tidal Thames

Somewhere on the tidal Thames heading to Teddington

Myah reading her book while her father sleeps! Somewhere on the tidal Thames heading to Teddington

Heading up the tidal Thames with Hetty

Heading up the tidal Thames with Hetty

 

Reading to Oxford on The River Thames

June 18 – 21, 2014.

Having started the day on the Kennet & Avon canal just downstream from Ufton Swing Bridge 25, with Dave who joined me for the day as crew,  I was back on the Thames at Reading by mid-day finally mooring at Pangbourne Meadow mid-afternoon.

Pangbourne Meadow

Pangbourne Meadow

The journey from Reading to Oxford on the Thames is approximately 40 miles distance and includes 13 locks. Today’s leg took me through just 2 locks – Caversham Lock in Reading and Mapledurham Lock – and covered a distance of approximately 7 miles.

Single-handed again and leaving Pangbourne early in the morning before the lock keepers come on duty, the first lock of the day, Whitchurch Lock, was set to self-service. This suits me, as I’ve written before, operating the locks is straight forward if you can press a couple of buttons in the correct sequence, and I prefer doing things at my own pace rather than being needlessly rushed, which can be a struggle when single-handed, as sometimes happens with the lock keepers. Passing by Beale Park it’s 4 miles before I reach the next lock of the day at Goring, which too is set self-service, however another boat is already there setting the lock and I can cruise straight in. Leaving Goring lock it’s less than a mile to Cleeve Lock, my last lock of the day which is manned, although I still have a further 6 miles to travel to my intended destination Wallingford.

Pillbox on the Thames

Pillbox on the Thames

Travelling from Cleeve Lock to Wallingford I spot my first pillbox on the Thames. I’m sure there are many more but I’ve missed them. I also passed the boathouse in the photo below which looks interesting and appears to be a home, possibly being renovated.

Boathouse house

Boathouse house

Hnaging on in Wallingford!

Hanging on in Wallingford

After a relatively easy day yesterday I decided I wanted to try and make it to Oxford today. Making an even earlier start I managed to get away before the person who collects the mooring fee of £5 for Wallingford turned up – terrible I know 😉 It’s not always free on the Thames!

A  few of the locals come out to greet me

A few of the locals come out to greet me on my journey to Oxford

I managed to make Oxford after 9 hours on the river, travelling 22.75 miles and 8 locks (according to the Nicholson Guide 7) including a short break for lunch at Abingdon. Moored up on the Thames just before Osney Bridge I’ve a couple hundred yards to travel in the morning before turning off onto the Sheepwash channel that will take me onto the Oxford Canal for my journey up to Braunston.

Moored on The Thames Oxford just above Osney Bridge

Moored on The Thames Oxford just before Osney Bridge

Limehouse to Reading on The River Thames

May 17, 2014 – May 22, 2014.

Limehouse Lock

Limehouse Lock

I made the journey out of Limehouse up to Teddington with my friend Ian who was travelling in his own boat Hetty with two of his daughters, Sophie and Holly, as crew. I had a another friend Peter as crew for the day. We couldn’t have wished for a better day. There was hardly a breath of wind and the Thames was like a mill pond at 08:00 when the St Pancras Cruising Club left Limehouse to travel down the Thames. We left at 13:00 with the tide. Two other narrow boats joined us in the lock and left at the same time. Although there was little wind, and river traffic unexpectedly light,  the river was surprisingly choppy and made the part of the journey up to the Houses of Parliament both nerve jangling and exhilarating at times. Passing under Tower Bridge was the highlight of this part of the journey for me. We arrived at Teddington at 17:30-ish passed through the tidal lock and purchased our licences to travel on the River Thames. We had intended to moor for the night at Teddington but all the 24 hour mooring places were taken. We travelled on to Kingston and moored there instead. Our crews, Sophie and Holly, and Peter, left us at Kingston and travelled home by train.

Sunbury Lock Wacky Racers

Sunbury Lock Wacky Racers

The following morning, day two, the sun was shining and we left Kingston with no final destination for the day in mind, preferring to see how far we’d get, or if we saw a good mooring place then we’d stop for the day. In the end it was a combination of the heat of the sun, on what turned out to be one of the hottest days of the year, the amount of traffic on the river and finding a good mooring that saw us settle for Walton-on-Thames and a mooring close next to the Anglers pub. Just 2 locks, Molesey and Sunbury, and 7 miles that included passing Hampton Court Palace.

The Anglers pub Sunbury

The Anglers pub Sunbury

We left Walton-on-Thames with the intention of making Runnymede. Passing under the new and impressive Walton Bridge, the first single-span bridge when travelling up the Thames. Rather than take the twisty scenic route around Desborough Island, which we took last year, we opted for the direct Desborough Cut to reach the first lock of the day – Shepperton Lock.

Shepperton Lock Little Blue

Shepperton Lock Little Blue

Shepperton Lock Hetty

Shepperton Lock Hetty

Through Shepperton Lock, where we were delayed for about 20 minutes while some maintenance work was carried out,  we continued round Pharaoh’s Island to Chertsey and Chertsey Lock before passing beneath the M3 motorway on route to Penton Hook Lock and Staines. Leaving Staines we passed under the second single-span bridge – Runnymede Bridge – that carries the M25 motorway, soon reaching Bell Weir Lock, our last for the day before mooring at Runnymede mid-afternoon. Runnymede is an important historical site. It’s thought that the Magna Carta was sealed here under oath in 1215 by King John.

Moored at Runnymede

Moored at Runnymede

Runnymede was to be the last leg of the journey I shared with Ian and Hetty who was turning the following morning to return to London.  Before going our separate ways we paid a visit to the Air Forces Memorial (Copper’s Hill,  Englefield Green, near Egham), which commemorates by name the men and women from the Commonwealth who lost their lives during WWII air operations and have no known grave. From the top of the memorial you get a great view of the Thames below and a fantastic panorama of west London (weather permitting!).

Air Forces Memorial Runnymede 1

Air Forces Memorial Runnymede 1

Air Forces Memorial Runnymede 2

Air Forces Memorial Runnymede 2

With the weather turning greyer I set off around mid-day on the short hop to Windsor about six miles to where I moored between Windsor Railway Bridge and the Windsor & Eton Bypass Bridge. There don’t appear to be any free moorings in Windsor, other than the Environment Agency moorings which have enough space for two boats, needless to say, they were full. I was on a council mooring that cost £8 for 24 hours. A large part of the river side belongs to the Crown Estates and mooring is not permitted – which is nice! The cruise to Windsor passes through Old Windsor, Old Windsor Lock, Datchet, past the famous playing fields of Eton, Romney Lock, and the college itself.

A bit of Windsor Castle

A bit of Windsor Castle

Misty morning in Windsor

Misty morning in Windsor

To me, approaching the Marlow suspension bridge, travelling upstream with the weir to the left, is one of the great sights on the Thames. I had the company of a friend Dave leaving Windsor in the mist aiming to complete the 12 miles to Marlow. The early start meant that when we reached the first lock, Boveney Lock next to Windsor racecourse, it was unmanned and the self-service sign was up. On the majority of locks the lock keepers don’t start work until 09:00. No need to worry, operating the lock is straight forward and just a case of pressing the right button in the correct sequence. Leaving the lock, it’s a pleasant cruise through the countryside. Approaching Bray Lock you pass Monkey Island and pass under the M4 Bridge. We shared the operation of Bray lock with the lock keeper who was just coming on duty. Passing the village of Bray it’s not long before we’re into Maidenhead and entering Boulter’s Lock.  With a further 6 miles to go before we reach Marlow, but only 2 locks, we’re confident of making it in good time to find a mooring.  Cruising up the Cliveden Deep we pass Cliveden House, go through Cookham Lock, past Cookham village, Bourne End and eventually through Marlow Lock to enter Marlow, pass the weir and go under Marlow Bridge to moor up for the day.

Moored at Marlow

Moored at Marlow

Marlow suspension bridge

Marlow suspension bridge

Single handed again on the last leg from Marlow to the Kennet at Reading, approximately 14 miles and 7 locks, and trying to get as far as possible before the rain started, I made another early start knowing that I’d have to self-operate the first  two locks, Temple Lock and Hurley Lock. On the reaching the third lock, Hambleden Lock, the self-service sign was up too. After preparing the lock and taking my boat in, fortunately, the lock keeper turned up and took over. At that point I wasn’t aware the lock was side filling and would have had an unwelcome surprise without the lock keeper warning me.

Self Service at Hambleden Lock

Self Service at Hambleden Lock

Hambleden Lock is a side filling lock and if you’re not prepared for the force of the water filling the lock pushing against the side of your boat, you may not be able to hold it and it will go crashing to the other side of the lock or, worse still, crash into the boat next to yours on the other side of the lock. Fortunately, there are are only 3 side filling locks on the Thames.  As a single hander it’s particularly difficult.

Henley on Thames 1

Henley on Thames 1

Leaving Hambleden Lock the rain had started and I was soon in competition with the rowers out training on the Henley Regatta Course. It was no competition – they left me standing, or more precisely, moving very slowly at normal speed for a narrowboat! There’s much to admire as you cruise through Henley, but you do have to be constantly alert for rowers and keep out of their way.

Henley on Thames 2

Henley on Thames 2

Henley on Thames 3

Henley on Thames 3

Leaving Henley and Marsh Lock the rain was heavy with thunder and being soaked through I decided to moor up at Shiplake in the hope that the rain would eventually pass. It did, or so I thought. The sky brightened and the sun was about to break through – at least until I got underway again! The rain came down heavier than before with thunder, lightening and hailstones. I pressed on nonetheless wanting to reach Reading. My arrival at Shiplake Lock coincided with the arrival of another narrowboat I knew through coincidentally meeting at various places on the journey and also because they left Limehouse at the same time. I had their company as far as Sonning and through Sonning Lock where they moored for the night. I carried on to Reading and turned off the Thames and onto the Kennet & Avon canal.

Kennet & Avon Canal at Reading

Kennet & Avon Canal at Reading

I moored for the night on the council moorings at Chestnut Walk (near the prison) which are on a loop off the mainline.