Monday, 1 August 2016

A Wey to go.

The Thames is a beautiful river, but we are ready now for a diversion. So, a turn off and onto the river Wey is our next call.

On Tuesday, we abandoned the aviators dream moorings and headed once more down river. As we try to moor into the flow, this involved a turn. Not easily done on a Canal, but a breeze on these wide waters. We had but four locks down to our intended mooring, all manned so very easy. The locks themselves are very gentle, even though they are huge to us ditch dwellers.

Our first lock was Bell Weir. Although we were on our lonesome, the lock keeper was not at all chatty, but we did manage to dispose of the rubbish here. The services are spread between locks and as we intended to stay put below Shepperton lock, before entering the Wey, we needed to make use of all of them.

 Big lock for just us

A different view of the M25

We were quite impressed with the environs of Egham and Staines. The Riverside is pleasant and a lot less industrial than our memories of our last visit. Worth a stop when next passing. The weather was pleasant, not too hot, with fair weather cloud.

Not that many boats around either and a good 50% of those moving were narrow boats. So an uneventful cruise, taking it slowly and taking in the passing scenery. That was until we reached Chertsey lock!

As we were approaching, we became aware of three narrow boats rapidly gaining on us . Not a problem, as for once the landing is huge, and the lock itself would accommodate all of us and some! We were stopping below the lock for a water fill anyway. Boats were rising in the lock and so we waited. The top gates opened and we waited. Nothing moved.

Ali had walked down to sus the water points location. There were three boats in the lock. What appears to have happened was that a narrow boat entered first. The captain and crew were somewhat inexperienced, by their own admission. The crew had hopped off with the ropes on the port side. The one holding the bow rope then tied it off to a bollard, rather than just holding it. When the lock keeper requested that the boat moved forward in the lock, in order to accommodate other craft, the captain/plonker put some power on. At this point a rather large cruiser/wedding cake entered towards the starboard side. As the numpty narrow boater powered forward, because the bow line was tied off, this caused his stern to swing out, glancing the towering cruiser. The narrow boat had two cycles attached to the stern and these were the point of contact. A further, small cruiser was behind these two.

As far as we could ascertain, an argument developed as to whom was at fault as the lock filled and the boats rose up the lock. When the top gates opened, captain numpty, placed his narrow boat across the lock, preventing any exit. As far as we could see, the only damage was a scuffed cycle tyre! The " discussion " continued. The wedding cake refused his details, Captain numpty ranted, whilst his crew could not hide their embarrassment at the whole sorry episode. Nobody was moving. The three other boats with us waiting contained a scout group on a schedule. For some reason, the two lock keepers present made no intervention. So I approached and requested they continue their debate out of the lock to allow passage. He moved out!

Not a good ambassador for canal boats was Captain Numpty!

So eventually. We four boats descended.

The water point here is awkward and primarily designed for short cruisers. But we managed to fill up and resumed down river.

At Shepperton lock, we disposed of the nasties, then dropped down and moored up near the confluence of the River Wey.

My recollection of Wednesday is a little hazy. Sue and Quentin from N.B. Twizzel had arranged to meet us mid afternoon in a local hostelry. They travelled to Weybridge by rail, a good two hour journey and some.

Obviously, they needed refreshment and it would be rude not to join in. Many pints later, after a cracking session, we waved them farewell. How Sue got Quentin home I do not know. Mind you, I have little recollection of the walk back to the boat either!

Thank you both for a great day.

Surprisingly, Thursday dawned fine and so was I... Ali however had a disturbed night. A combination of my snoring and boats passing at 0200hrs, shining lights and looking for a mooring. A quick shower and we were below Thames lock on the Wey before 0900hrs. Enough time to fill the water tank before the lock keeper arrived to accept our hard earned cash. As this is a National Trust waterway, it is not covered by our licence. So with a lighter purse and a hefty loaned windlass, off went we.

This is a beautiful waterway. We made good time as we met up with another boat to lock share. By early afternoon, upon reaching the water meadows just beyond Newark lock, we called it a day. This lock has just got to be one of the most scenic on the system. The ruins in the background give it a timeless quality. Rain was forecast, but we seem to have been between storms with only a light shower.

and under the M25 again

On Friday we began the journey to Guildford in sunshine. The river is behaving itself and even the locks were not too bad. As we were once again on or lonesome, roping up is imperative going up. Especially securing the stern around the yellow bollard near the bottom gate. They fill with considerable force, then the boat starts to be pulled forward, so care needs to be taken. Got the hang of this rivers foibles now though.

They aren't joking!

 some of the bends still have the tow line rollers on them 

We have seen a number of boats we assume are heading for the Woking Festival

Dapdune Wharf

We had a pleasant cruise into Guildford, then called it a day upon reaching Dapdune Wharf. Here is located the National Trust office and visitors centre, as well as a children's education centre. There was one boat moored as we arrived, with space for three or so. Ali found a staff member, and we booked in to stay overnight. Some of the bollards had notes attached, referring to a reservation for the previous day, but nothing current. The moored boat then moved off, shouting to us as they went something about moving the notices as they had a reservation. Since the only notices were out of date, we really did not see the point. We moved into the corner in order to make space, then went sight seeing.

Quite a pleasant town, with a smattering of older buildings. We even spotted Strictly's Flavia out shopping.

and another town with a  Lewis Carroll connection

On our return, the moorings were full. However, notices had appeared beside our boat stating the space was reserved for the boat that had vacated it earlier. The NT staff had no problem with us, but the other boater was not happy as his reservation had not been placed before he left for his trip out. Being local, he decided to move on, shortly followed by another moorer, leaving just two boats. Such they say, is life!

Saturday dawned and saw us making the final push for Godalming. We filled up with water in order to keep the bow as low as possible, as Broadford bridge is a tad low. At normal water levels it's 6'4, and we are 6'2, so not a lot of room for error. Off with the Burgee for this one. It's a kneel down job for this one, but we made it safely with a couple of inches to spare. Phew...

Loads of room - but then it gets lower in the middle!

Upon arrival, we winded and moored up opposite Sainsbury's and the service block, for a bit more privacy. A bit of a hike into town, but very pleasant. Godalming has got the best barbers in the UK . It's a Turkish run establishment and the service is superb. No quick trim here. I must have been in the chair for an hour and that was just for a hair and beard trim! It was well worth the three year wait since our last visit. (and all for £14 - bargain!)

Anyway, that done, we booked in to the Bel and Dragon for an evening meal. This is situated within a redundant church. A fantastic place. Back to the boat for a shower before eating, we caused a problem. The trip boat here is horse drawn. We had our pram hood up, which we were told quite forcibly was against the rules. We managed to lift the rope over successfully and apologised. We would be gone before their next trip.

Great meal at the Bel in a fantastic setting.

Sunday was all down, so a lot easier than ascending. Mindful of the forecast for rain Monday afternoon, we cracked on. I suppose you could do the length of the Wey in a long day if you were minded, but we stopped at Send, would you believe it, right outside a pub! Rude not to, so in we went.

Monday was a little dull. We needed to top up with fuel and Pyrford marina was competitive for this area, in fact the only source for a while. A few locks down, reversed in and onto the services dock. After finding the manager, turns out he knows Ally,(Beacon Boats) so a small world on the system. One down side. Before we left the marina, a wide beam turned out ahead of us. I say turned, more poled out. This was a warning of things to come!

We had the slowest journey ever between Pyrford and Weybridge. He came to a halt at every bridge and his progress at other times was less than our tick over. As for locking. Never seen anything like it. Incompetent is just too mild a term. Bearing in mind, he locked down ahead of us and we had to close the bottom gates, refill and then drop down and did all this with him still in sight! So we caught him up again by the next lock. Thankfully, he moored up just before town lock, but the delay had cost us well over an hour and the clouds were gathering. We also met Thames lock at the keepers lunch time. So a bit of a wait before we handed back our borrowed windlass and descended back onto the Thames. Now moored up below Shepperton lock and sitting out the weather.

We were going to do part of the Basingstoke, as far as we could get due to low bridges, but due to the Woking boat festival, decided against it. Think it may be a tad busy.

So back on the Thames!

Total 46 miles and 36 locks

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