Fri 24th April
Weybridge to Byfleet
After a peaceful night on the Weybridge Wall we set off across the Shepperton weir stream, which was quite calm today, and into the Wey Navigation. The Pound Lock was open, so we went in and tied up. The water level was low and it was difficult to get off at the stern, so James got off at the bows and went to find the lockkeeper. He discovered that the access gate to the office was padlocked, and all the black railings had recently been painted, with a sign saying “wet”. He had to make signs through the window to attract attention. It turned out in the end that the paint was dry.
The Pound Lock at Weybridge
Lex was the guy on duty. Apparently Dave Towlson, who used to be the lockkeeper, and Tracey, who used to be the assistant lockkeeper, had swapped positions, and Dave was leaving, and was taking some time off. We found out later that it was Dave’s back that was causing him problems.
We bought a 3-day licence, which came to £34.20, after deducting 10% for being members of the National Trust. We cruised up the river section, and noticed that the bank by the lock bollards opposite our house had recently had new piling and back filling.
The two Wey bridges
We delved in the locker for the long reach windlasses, which we hadn’t used for a year. James went up the footbridge and saw that the lock was open and ready, so he beckoned Hazel in. We moored temporarily at the top of the lock. There is a road running alongside the canal here, so it not a good place for overnight, but the depth is good.
A few minutes later our friend Willy came along the towpath, so we caught up on some local news.
We walked back over the Old Wey Bridge to Portmore Quays, and knocked on our front door for our appointment with our tenants, Ali and Elena. We were warmly welcomed and shown round the house. They have it looking good and there were no problems that we could see, except the oil stain on the drive that we knew about. They are changing the culprit vehicle in a few weeks, and they have someone lined up to clean the block paving after that.
We went round to see Paul and Rosie at No 8 for a quick catch-up, before going to No 5 to see Sid and Christine. We took them to lunch at Prezzo, where we had a very nice meal. Hazel went to collect a prescription that had been ordered, while James went back with Sid and Christine to collect some paperwork before returning to the boat.
Sid and Christine
There were two other boats now moored beyond ours. We seemed to have started a trend. There was another boat just disappearing round the corner out of sight. We never caught up with them, so the two locks were against us. We noticed that our old mooring place was occupied by another boat, but there seemed to be two other spaces available on the line.
Coxes Mill and Lock
We went through Coxes Lock with no problems. We didn’t see any baby birds here, but there were some geese nesting. New Haw Lock was next and then the long straight section past all the moored boats. We saw Chas by his boat under the M25, and cruised on past the Basingstoke Canal junction to Byfleet Boat Club, where we moored up and were greeted by Adrian.
James washed the port side of the boat. He had done the starboard side at Runnymede. We put the hood up as rain was forecast.
4 locks, 4 miles
Sat 25th April
Byfleet to Pyrford and return
The boat was wet from the rain in the night, so we dried off the hood and lowered it. Brian and Jackie Glover were boat hire stewards, and they were getting the boats ready, but the sky was overcast and hopes for a busy boat hire day were low.
We visited Stuart and Julia at TLC for some toilet blue, and Hazel bought another tiller pin to replace the one that is at the bottom of the Grand Union Canal near Yelvertoft.
Dave and Caryl Ingoldby arrived as planned, and joined us for a cruise up to the Anchor at Pyrford for lunch. By West Hall Farm we saw a fox in a field of rabbits. We also met David and Jane on Rowan and had a few brief words. We saw them again on the return and paused for a slightly longer chat, before returning to Byfleet Boat Club.
Dave and Caryl
Dave and Caryl left us, and later on Greg came with Jasmin and Claudia, and we all went for a meal at the Harvester in West Byfleet.
Back at the boat club, very little was happening. Few people were around, and there was no social chat going on in the clubhouse.
Moored at Byfleet Boat Club
0 locks, 3 miles
Sun 26th April
Byfleet to Walton
The weather forecast has been changing. Two days ago, Sunday morning was forecast to be wet. Yesterday morning it was still forecast wet, and we prayed that it would be dry for our journey to Weybridge.
This morning it was cloudy, but not raining. Our prayers were answered. We left early, before anyone else was around, and spotted two tree creepers near the railway bridge. We also saw Chas briefly as we passed his boat. New Haw lock was open for us. One of the bottom gates is very difficult to open and close, because the beam is too short, and the end of it is in bushes.
New Haw Lock
Near the canoe club we saw a sandpiper. At Coxes Lock we had to fill the lock first. While we were doing this, Richard Fox came along the towpath. He is the leader of King’s Church, Addlestone, and it was good to catch up with him.
We moored just above Town Lock, where we saw Willy once again.
We walked to the Methodist Church, where some were expecting us, and others weren’t. The main absentees were Jose and Lili, who were away. There were several changes, including work going on in the garden at the back, where an unused patch of undergrowth was now a paved barbecue area.
After the service we walked to Morrisons to do some shopping before returning to the boat for lunch. There was one boat below the lock, and two others came down through the lock while we were there. The Thames Lock closes for lunch, re-opening at 2pm, and we thought we would be in a queue. However, when we went down through the lock, and passed our house, the other three boats were all tied up, so we were first. We found Helen McNamara walking along the towpath with her dog. It was good to catch up with her, as she had not been at the church.
With Helen at Thames Lock
As we approached the lock, we were beckoned straight in by Paul, the Sunday volunteer, who then locked us down. As we left into the Pound Lock, a wide beam was coming up, so we changed places.
Shepperton Weir stream was very calm, and we cruised down Desborough Channel and under the new Walton Bridge. The old bridge has now gone, including the leg structures that used to divide the channel.
The towpath moorings at the Anglers were fairly full, but there was one space on the quayside by the pub, which was just right for us. We set off on foot for Walton Methodist Church, where there was a farewell service for Mike Deacon, our superintendent. The worship was led by Breeze – very good. There were various preaches and speeches, including a humorous presentation by the youth group. It was followed by tea, and it was a good day.
After lots of farewells, we walked back to the boat, and tried to find a better mooring. The rest of the line there was full, and we spotted Madam, a boat owned by our friend Louis. We couldn’t see anyone aboard, so we continued downstream, and moored on Desborough Island, near Kate Winslet’s house.
The mooring wall was very high – level with our roof – but it was peaceful. Hugo spent a lot of time ashore.
Peaceful mooring on Desborough Island
Hugo enjoying the undergrowth
5 locks, 6 miles
Tomorrow – on the tide to Limehouse. Then via Camden and Regents Park to Little Venice for Cavalcade next weekend.