Sunday, 7 August 2016

Kew, queues and sunshine, eventually!

So, back up the Thames we go. Not the best of starts though, as when we cast off, the heavens opened, so going up Shepperton lock was a little damp. Not so bad for me, as we had left the pram hood up, minus the sides and with front and rear screens rolled up. But damper for Ali holding the bow rope in the lock. Normally, the hood is folded down when travelling, but on these broad waters, with little in the way of overhead restriction, it was good to have it for shelter.

It was nearly lunch time when we set off, so we did not anticipate going far and by mid afternoon we arrived in Staines. We thought you could moor behind Truss's Island, but the limited moorings were full, then Ali spotted a boat passing upstream that had been on the moorings lower down, so back down river a little and onto the 24 hour mooring just below the bridge. Quite a pleasant town.

The next day the plan was to head for Datchet. We had spotted good visitor moorings on the way down, in easy reach of the railway station. It was not to be. The moorings were empty, as the trees overhanging it were due to be felled the next day. As we wanted to remain, we had to move on up river and so Windsor it was once again, behind the island and £8 per day thank you. Can think of worse places to tarry. A walk to the station, tickets purchased and ready for our trip the next day.

Fabulous views of Windsor Castle and the park

and as we came into moor the Magna Carta 
River Thames in style if you have a few spare £
£1900 pp for 3 nights!

Thursday dawned bright, but with the chance of a few showers, so coats packed which ensured not a drop fell!  The trains in the south are good value and offered a deal in regard to entry to Kew Gardens. Present your tickets with a form collected from the station and one person goes in free. An easy journey in, with a short walk to the fabulous gardens.

We had a fantastic day, the weather was kind and even the excellent food on offer was very reasonably priced. Well worth the diversion. A meal in The George in Eton rounded off the day.

The Treetop Walk

On Friday we awoke with a bump! A large cruiser style hire boat was attempting to turn behind the island. He failed and struck our stern with a thwack. Luckily, no damage done. It got us moving though! A short hop up river, we spied a water point just before the bypass bridge. It was in use, but good to know it's location as it is not marked on any map. Not a problem though, as all services are available at Boveney lock. Upon arrival, we quickly emptied the nasties, then pulled over to the water point. And waited... A considerable time as it happens, but the sun was shining and we chatted as we waited. Once done, we were quickly up the lock and on our way to Bray. The lock prior to this is by Thames standards, small. Only big enough for say, three wedding cakes. As we approached, there was a queue. I guess about nine boats were waiting, with room on the landing for only five or so. We hovered, all the time more boats arriving. It seemed to take an age before we eventually got in and up. Because it was busy, we decided to moor up at the first opportunity and found a spot just before the railway bridge in Maidenhead. Only one fly in the ointment, we would have to move early on Saturday, as there wass a rowing Regatta being held here, first race at 0800hrs!

The queue for the lock

 Arriving for lunch at the Waterside in style,
 they even moor the boat up for you!

We did manage a walk around Maidenhead. Not the most inspiring of places, a bit like Scunny on Thames to be honest.
Maidenhead Bridge - IK Brunels the widest single arch in the world

Saturday we were up uber early. By 0700hrs, we were on our way. The preparations for the Regatta were already at this time ongoing, so we thought it polite to get out of their way. 

Beautiful morning

The first lock is rather large. We were on our lonesome. Whilst the boards stated lock keeper on duty, we knew that this was an error and Ali was in control. We think that the paddles are restricted when on self serve, as it seemed to take an age to fill. After this, it was the beautiful Cliveden deep stretch, with woodland hiding picturesque cottages and of course, the big house itself.

It was still prior to the lock keepers working hours when we reached Cookham lock, so same again. Then on past the very smart village of the same name. All the moorings here were full and seem to remain so over every extended weekend, a very popular spot. So on to Hurley, and a beautiful mooring below the lock. This is another very scenic village and we had a walk around in the sunshine. Of course, this is the Thames and little is free. Soon there was a call from a chap purporting to be the warden. £5 please sir. When I asked for a receipt, sorry, not our policy. I know others have had this, so my receipt was his photo, in case of any dispute.


Being the weekend and busy, we find an early start best policy. You miss the rush for the locks when the keeper comes on duty, as local boaters seem to think they should not have to work them themselves it appears. Getting an early mooring is also advantageous, as after lunch, space for a Narrow boat  does become limited.  We arrived at Henley by late morning and moored on the west bank just prior to the town. Had not even switched the engine off before the warden arrived in his boat. £8 please sir. At least we got a receipt this time.

700 (well that depended, we were told 700, 600, 400 by various marshals, but there were a lot) of swimmers taking part in the Thames Marathon Swim 14k from Henley to Marlow this morning

The sun shone, and when you got out of the rather keen wind, it was hot. A walk around this pretty town took us to The Rowboat. A fantastic Sunday lunch and a good pint. Recommended if you pass this way. A further amble and a waitrose visit for desert,( too full after lunch!) and then back for a sit in the sunshine watching the boats go by.

Some do not know what slow means though and the advice in regard to no braking wash is comprehensively ignored. If the 8km per hour rule was enforced, they would make a fortune and perhaps provide a few more free visitor moorings with the proceeds?

Waves from the wind and the traffic this afternoon

Hoping this beautiful spell of weather holds. Loving the Thames.

35 miles of large rivers.
14 large locks.

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