Monday, 29 August 2016

Beale Park Monday 29 August

Well no planes last night but the boaters were on the go most of the time including 3 AM and before 6 AM just before the rowers started.

We set off at ten past eight, looking back there was mist on the hills, but the sun was burning it off rapidly. I am sure there use to be public short term, ie. shopping moorings in Henley but I DSCN1443couldn’t see any signs to indicate that when we past today. There are still rings in the face of the wall.

Going up the Henley waterfront in front of the rowing museum we were following a wide beam and a large cruiser, Marsh Lock is only  137 foot long so with those two in front we wouldn’t get in behind them, then at the top of the island the wide beam turned back downstream so we were in with a chance which worked out OK, While the Big cruiser reset the lock ready a small cruiser turned up and there would be room for him beside me.

Above the lock we came on another wild swimmer heading up the Thames, the orange buoy is very light like a balloon but at least there is something to see.DSCF5611
At reading we didn’t need Tesco and a good job too. I thought they were charging for these moorings, but it doesn’t look like it.DSCF5616 The old boat is still on the bottom on the opposite side and I expect it will stay there for some time to come. 

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One of the boats moored outside Tesco was a Fuel boat but what was unusual was he had a push butty strapped to his bows, but I couldn’t see his name or prices.DSCF5620

Better Boating were selling diesel at 79p/lt which is good for the Thames and if you take the advert in from Towpath Talk you get 5p discount. They don’t say if that is per lt. or the total bill?DSCF5621 Reading Festival was this weekend and the hordes where all heading homewards, a few looked as if they hadn’t  slept all weekend and lots were wearing wellies. I don’t think they neededDSCF5623DSCF5625 them as they all looked clean. Not only,were they walking but there were water taxis and trip boats full of them. It makes you wonder where they all go when they leave the festival, is it coaches and trains? some had next to no baggage when others had 4 wheel trolleys. I didn’t realise it was such a big event, they even build a suspension bridge over the river to get to the camping site.DSCF5626

The site must be a good mile and a half long including the camp site.

I felt I had to post a photo of this spoof post box that has appeared on the wall of the railway embankment. The wall runsDSCF5629 down into the river so there is no access other than by boat. In 2013 it was attached to the central buttress of a bridge on the Thames, again on accessible by boat. Details HERE. The other thing you may notice is how brown the water is, further downstream it was crystal clear but now its as thick as any canal.

Whitchurch Bridge was rebuilt in 2014 but it looks as if it is already going rusty. It even has its own web site HERE. DSCN1446We came up Whitchurch Lock with 2 canoes, on shot in right on my stern and then went down the side of me before we had any ropes on, the other had problems going in the right direction and missed the mouth of the lock, well it is only 18 feet wide. Above the lock were three pretty little tugs painted in the company colours .DSCF5634

We were aiming for Beale Park as tonight’s mooring and there were quite a few boats moored there already, one of them this smart cruiser which I think comes from the Norfolk Broad, one of Martham Developments old hire boats probably built the same time I was born.DSCF5635 I suspect the registration number is the old Broads Authority number. O and yes, there were people swimming in the river here.

We passed the entrance to the lake and then slid in behind the island in to a nice secluded spot away from the main river traffic.

Today’s Journey  map 37 17¾miles, 7 Locks in 6¼ hours

Sunday, 28 August 2016

Henley Sunday 18 August 2016

Last night as usual the planes suddenly stopped flying over. There was a wedding at the Rowing Club and there music didn’tDSCN1435 disturb us, I still managed a poor nights sleep, I don’t know why because it was really quiet.

We were away at ten to eight this morning, the first to leave, but DSCF5585the boat  moored ahead of us caught us up while Diana was setting Bray lock for us as it’s DIY outside manned hours.
I had a rain coat on much more than I had it off today with some heavy showers, but it was a good days boating, we had a good run with no big delays at any of the locks and apart from Bray there was at least one lock keeper at each.
I am glad I don’t have to buy my diesel on the Thames as this red diesel which is reduced duty is more expensive than the road diesel I put in the car with full duty. Considering they are buying it at about 70p lt if you include duty at a 40/60% split its a good margin. The petrol is exactly the same as you buy at the pumps. a good 30% mark up. DSCF5586 We passed Oakley Court looking very splendid even in the miserable weather. They were setting chairs out for an outside event so I hope the rain held off for them, its been much better this afternoon.DSCF5587

Some of you of a certain age may remember a place called Skindle’s Nightclub in Taplow. it didn’t have the best of reputations but had some great bands play there, I wont go into what the clientele played at, full details at It is now being developed for housing.DSCF5595

Cliveden House looks as imposing as ever as you make your way up Cliveden reach, it also as a chequered past, I wonder if its something in the water supply to Taplow as both properties in Taplow.DSCF5599 Another steam boat Alaska was getting ready for her guests at Bourn End, this must be the best looking steam boat in the UK.DSCF5602Below Maidenhead we came upon a Dragon Boat, not something you see every day on the Thames. This one was full of smiling faces.DSCF5604  As we came into Maidenhead lock there was a Narrowboat from Fenny Compton who we have shared locks with this trip on the Grand Union, the Lee and now the Thames. At the top of the lock there was another group of canoes waiting to enter the lock to drop down, they must give the lock keepers nightmares. Just think of something going wrong with all of them and half a dozen large cruisers.DSCF5605 We decided we would bite the bullet and pay £8 for a mooring in Henley so have moored on the side of the regatta course. I had expected a bloke on a bike coming for the money but he turned up in a water taxi. There has been a regatta going on today between nice wooden rowing boats, some one man and some two. The effect they have on an 18 tonne Narrowboat when they go past is surprising.

Today’s Journey  map 36

19½ miles, 7 locks in 6½ hours

Saturday, 27 August 2016

Dorney Lake Saturday 27 August 2016

Away at 8 this morning, although the planes were noisy until about 11 after that it was quiet but I still didn’t sleep very well so it was no problem getting up today. Managed to get a better photo of the Humber Keel Daybreak as we passed her this morning, we had been behind her under the willow. DSCF5561Moored just ahead of her was this boat. DSCF5562

The first lock was still on self service when we arrived and a large vessel came in behind us, 2 hire boats arrived to come down as they had to be back at the yard for 9 am.

Bell Weir lock house has a painting depicting the Magna Carta  on the end of it facing the lock. It was supposedly signed not far form here.

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  At Runnymede we saw the first of three Steam boats, this one was a paddle steamer the Lucy Fisher with a vertical boiler.DSCF5568

Carrying on towards Windsor I wonder if this house holder will be covered by his insurance for this damage to his wall, I somehow doubt it.DSCF5574 His next door neighbour is the owner of a cruiser which he keeps it over the river but above the water on a folding frame which I guess is hydraulically powered.DSCF5575

Then just around the bend a rather posh house with large gardens comes into view, on the down side ins on the landing flight path for Heathrow Airport but I am sure that is only a minor problem. I am sure if the owner was hard up she would be able to make a few bob from letting the moorings at £5 a night they must be half a mile long and all hard edged so maybe  £10 a night.There was quite a long wait to get into DSCF5576 There was quite a long wait to get into Romney Lock and a good queue built up behind us while waiting for the lock.DSCN1412 The Lock Keeper had squeezed 11 boats in coming down and the last few were rather slow in entering the lock. He said he could have got another couple in if need be. Plenty of room for a Narrowboat down the middle.DSCN1415 Once they were out it was our turn and we were right at the front, but this lock fills from the sides so its not so turbulent at the front but the boats do get pulled to the centre.DSCN1416 This was us coming out, I had let the cruiser with the fenders go ahead as he would have passed us soon as we were out anyway.DSCN1417

Streetley the second steam boat of the day had just loaded in Windsor with a private party and a string quartet on the bow.DSCF5581 
We stopped for water just before Windsor By-Pass bridge, the mooring was a bit tight as there was a speed boat moored to one end of the water point mooring but they soon moved it when they saw we were coming in. Just after we had finished taking water the Water Bus came down the slipway directly in front of us, it caught us both on the hop and we only managed a photo once it was afloat.DSCN1418 Once full of water we moved off and the speedboat moved back to the middle of the water point moorings. When we arrived at Boveney Lock there sat Streetley waiting to get into the lock,DSCN1419  this lock is much smaller than the next one down. Being small once Streetley was in there was no room for us so we and 3 small boats had to wait for the next locking. We thought we would moor by the Dorney Rowing lakes, I could see lots of boats there so thought I would moor by the concrete just prior to that and went hard aground, it took several minutes to extract us from this, the boat would rock and screw round, but didn’t want to come off, eventually it did and we moved up to the 24 hr moorings right at the end of the lake. There were three cruisers there all spaced out so I asked the chap in the middle one if he would move back a bit, he said why, you’ll get in there, he said he would move back of forward if I wanted him to but felt sure I would get in. He was right, he came and held the bow for us and the chap from the boat ahead came and took the stern rope just as the wind was getting up. I had to make two attempts at it as the wind was stronger than the river flow, but we tucked in nicely between them both. Mind you we are still on the flight path for Heathrow so another short night.

Today’s Journey   map 35 12 miles, 6 locks, in 6 hours

Laleham River Thames Friday 26 August 2016

There was no chance of being up late this morning as the planes coming in to land were following Brentford Creek and going virtually overhead.

7-30 am. and we had untied when a boat came from Brentford Basin, the Thames Lock gates were opening so I told him to go ahead and we slid in beside him.DSCF5536 The Lock Keeper said the tide wasn’t up enough yet, so not enough water below the lock, it would be just a few more minutes so the boat next to me tied off his stern line after taking a turn round the bollard. He then proceeded to delve into his weed hatch. The lock gates closed behind us, so I called to him the gates are closed we are now going down. He continued pulling polly off his prop. I shouted even louder the paddles are going up, you are still tied off. He sort of looked so with more urgency, we are going down, you are tied up. with that he got up and tried to undo the rope which was jammed hard. At that point I blasted my horn and the lock keeper dropped the paddles and came out from his control cabin to see what was wrong, the back wash was sufficient to loosen the rope and he could undo it. We carried on locking and dropped about 4 foot so what would have happened if he had been alone I don’t know.

We left the lock and made our way to the Thames, it was a DSCN1368 lovely sunny still morning and we soon  turned onto the Thames. The entrance to Bretford is easier to find now from the river as they have erected this sculpture since we were last this way.DSCF5538  We turned sharp right up the Thames and immediately our speed picked up by over 1½ miles an hour, however it didn’t last long before dropping back down, as we approached the Richmond Barrier which was still dripping the speed picked up again and stayed like it all the way to Teddington Lock. On our way we passed a family of Cormorants enjoying the morning sun.DSCF5540 We didn’t meet another boat until we were approaching Teddington Lock where the first batch of cruisers had just left the lock and we had to wait for the second batch, by now we had a third Narrowboat following us. All three of us required Visitor Licences and the lock keeper said to moor above the blue bridge and walk back when we were ready. When we left the lock there was a long queue of cruisers coming down to lock out, so once out of the lock I gave two blasts on the horn to cut through the queue. The boats were heading down to both of TeddingtonDSCN1385 Locks for a good half an hour and yesterday 100 locked down. There is an event at West India Dock this weekend. I walked back to get the licence and the EA chap asked if I would mind coming when they had all gone. Following all the cruisers there was the Yarmouth Belle going down, I think its wonderful that aDSCF5542 6” wide paddle hardly touching the water can propel such a large craft and the boiler burns so clean as well. Once I had parted with £61 for a weeks licence we were on our way.
Things are so much bigger on the Thames, the size of the waterway and the size of the groups of young canoeists.DSCF5549

I had heard the lock keeper at Teddington on the phone about a swimmer on the river, we met one by these canoes well to the other side of the river swimming between a Stand Up Paddle Board and a small support boat, later we would meet another one by himself just towing an orange buoy.DSCF5560

Something you don’t often see is a concrete Narrowboat, I don’t know how many still exist but this one has seen better days. DSCF5552 Mike on Victoria loading with coal on one of the hottest days of the year and its all manual work.

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We passed some skiffs, a couple were stopped picking Blackberries on the river bank but the other kept pace with us atDSCN1391 4 mph over the ground against the flow for quite a while. 

As we approached Molesey  lock there was bit of a race for the lock, this cruiser overtaking me in the bridge with a trip boat coming down stream.DSCN1393 We still got in the lock with them and the hire boat who went past us all and just shot straight into the lock second. Once in they didn’t have a clue what to do, gave the lock keeper the fenders to hold when he asked for ropes, at the next lock which we didn’t get to with them they weren’t doing much better.

Just above Sunbury Lock we saw an old friend with a new boat. Sue on No Problem XL unfortunately we only have a week to get to Oxford so stopping so early in the day was out of the question.

Some of the land owners take keeping boats from mooring on their land very seriously this one has even taken to employing a warrior to keep people away.DSCF5558

The Environment Agency or Thames Water have quite a large construction project going upgrading the water intake at what was once the Metropolitan Water Board inlet near the end of Desborough Channel, at the other end this lad was showing off the the girls by jumping in from the road bridge.



We had our eye on a 24 hour mooring at Laleham, most of the short term moorings we have passed have been empty. When we arrived there was a wide beam at the far end, an old Humber Keel called Daybreak, one of the few still capable of sailing and aDSCN1405 cruiser in the middle of a gap. I was going to draw back to the end and just tag on with a bow and centre line, but the cruiser owner shot out and offered to move back which gave us loads of room to moor under a large willow tree that is providing lots of shade.DSCN1401

Today’s Journey  map 34

19½ miles and  6 locks in  6¼hours