Sat 19th Aug Weybridge to Staines
Moored in Weybridge
It was a lovely sunny day as we left our Weybridge mooring and headed for the Thames. We passed the house that used to be a boat house, and where we once sang in the garden for a Weybridge Society event. Just after that, Bulldogs Weir takes water down the old course of the River Wey.
The old boathouse
Approaching Thames Lock
Tracey was on duty at Thames Lock. We shared with Barleywood, a narrowboat that had spent the night on the lock mooring. The Thames was low so we needed to drop down in the Pound Lock. There was another boat already there waiting to go up through Thames Lock, so the Pound Lock was a bit busy for a moment.
Sharing with Barleywood
Then we were out onto the Thames. We had had a great time on the Wey, which is a lovely navigation. It is a shame that the extra licence fee puts some boaters off exploring it. We took our Wey Visitors Licence off the window.
As we crossed Shepperton Weir Stream we spotted Large Marge near the Ferry, and just beyond was Milly M, but we did not see Maffi.
Milly M and Large Marge
We went up through Shepperton Lock, and used the Elsan and rubbish facilities, then below Chertsey Lock we used the water point. There were so many boats waiting for the lock that there was nowhere else to tie up anyway.
When we eventually went into the lock we shared with several boats including Janthea, a Dunkirk Little Ship built in Woodbridge in 1938. The history is here http://www.adls.org.uk/t1/content/janthea-previously-reda
It seemed that all the boats were in a race to get to Penton Hook Lock, two miles upstream. Then from Penton Hook everyone was rushing once again. We spotted fuel boat Merchant just before Staines Railway Bridge, and we had to judge our timing right to cut across the channel with huge fibreglass three storey gin places churning along in both directions. There is meant to be a 5mph speed limit on the Thames but I have never seen a speed camera.
Taking on diesel from fuel boat Merchant
We moored near Staines Old Town Hall and went for a meal at Jimmy’s where you eat as much as you can.
It was market day and we were pleased to see that one of the stalls was for the Staines Town Chaplaincy, so we went to encourage the guy.
Staines Town Chaplain
James bought some razor blades which were much cheaper than in the usual places. Are they fakes? Hazel tried to buy some Hotter shoes, but they didn’t have her size, so she ordered a pair for collection in Oxford. We went to Waitrose to stock up before returning to the boat
James then went off to Sainsbury’s across the bridge in search of flowers for the boat roof. Having no luck there, he went to Homebase and returned with some chrysanthemums. (Should they be chrysanthema?)
We had some guys drinking by the boat in the evening, but thankfully they were no trouble, and left before we went to bed.
5 locks, 6 miles
Sun 20th Aug Staines to Runnymede
Moored in Staines with the new flowers on the roof
We visited Staines Methodist Church and were hoping to meet Julie and Malcolm Underwood, but sadly for us they were away on holiday. Instead of a sermon we were given a report back from “Conference”.
As we had an event to go to, we didn’t have our customary Sunday Lunch in a pub, but we set off upstream, heading for Runnymede. We passed under the M25 for the eighth time this year.
Under the M25
At Bell Weir Lock the usual less than talkative lock keeper was absent. Instead we had a very over active volunteer, running around to catch ropes. We cruised up to the EA moorings by the big warehouse in Runnymede. The notice said they were called Egham Towpath Moorings. We registered our arrival online, which gave us 24 hours if we needed it.
EA moorings notice Egham Towpath moorings
We noticed that City Slicker and New Ark were also moored there.
We wandered about 200 yards to Mary and Jim’s party in the clubhouse of Wraysbury Skiff and Punting Club. This was a great venue, being riverside, with outside seating as well as space inside. They had laid on a hog roast, and later on, a cream tea. We met several new people, including a couple called David and Sue, who have a boat called Vole, moored on the Ashby.
Wraysbury Skiff and Punting Club
Ruby wedding cake
Mary and Jim
As were leaving it was starting to rain and getting dark. Thankfully we didn’t have far to go.
1 lock, 2 miles
Mon 21st Aug Runnymede to Dorney
Moored by the Runnymede warehouse
We had heavy rain in the night. City Slicker and New Ark had both gone by the time we were ready to leave.
We passed the Runnymede memorials and Old Windsor, and went up through Old Windsor Lock. Here the lock keeper warned us that the next lock, Romney Lock would be closed for two hours while they fixed a problem with the hydraulics.
So we travelled slowly for three miles, going round the Home Park, which belongs to Windsor Castle. It would be good if the Royal Family would release the towpath back to the public again. It was closed off by Queen Victoria. Thames walkers have to make a detour through Datchet.
Queen Victoria’s Boat House
When we arrived at Romney Lock there were a few boats waiting. James went to check how long the wait would be, and was told twenty minutes.
Waiting for Romney Lock
The estimate was very accurate, and we were soon through into Windsor. The free Windsor mooring was full with two big plastic boats, so we decided to do all our Windsor visiting tomorrow. We cruised on past the usual melee of hire boats and trip boats.
Amphibious tours in Windsor
Boveney Lock was ready for us, so we went straight in without using the facilities. We moored at Dorney.
Moored by Dorney Rowing Lake
We had a snooze, and later City Slicker came and moored behind us. They are Christians from New Zealand and they have a third share in the boat, which is usually moored in Harefield.
3 locks, 7 ½ miles
Tue 22nd Aug Dorney to Windsor
After a peaceful night, we turned and set off downstream, pausing to empty a cassette and some rubbish below Boveney Lock. We saw the gold painted control boxes to commemorate our Olympic Winners in 2012 at the rowing lake.
Olympic Gold at Boveney Lock
We took the boat round between the island and the shore, where there is not so much wash from passing trip boats. The only free space was on the island, and it was a bit shallow. We were going to go ashore when James discovered that he had left his hat at yesterday’s party. It had been dark and raining when we left so he hadn’t needed it. We contacted Mary and arranged to meet her this evening. James had spare hats.
When we reached the castle, we realised that it is better to book tickets online, as this way you avoid much of the queue. We had an audio tour with headphones, which are difficult to wear if you have a hat. James wore his behind his head, not on top.
When we reached St Georges Chapel we were just getting through the door when a uniformed lady came up to James and said “You need to remove your hat”. Not “Welcome to St Georges Chapel”. It struck us as a bit silly to allow everyone to wander round with headphones on their heads, but not hats! Ah but ladies ARE allowed to wear hats! But, to cap it all, in Jewish synagogues men are expected to wear a kippah or skull cap.
We broke our tour by getting a re-entry pass and visiting the Three Tuns pub for lunch, before coming back to do the state apartments.
There is a cannon presented by Sir James Brooke, Rajah of Sarawak, and friend of James’ ancestor Bishop Francis McDougall, the first bishop of Sarawak.
We toured the state apartments, where we learned that both Henry VIII and Charles I were buried in St Georges Chapel. We hadn’t seen their tombs so we guessed we had missed something. James went back in (hat off) and discovered there were no tombs, just a plaque on the floor. We must have been looking at the ceiling when we walked over it before.
Back to the boat, and in the evening we met Mary and Jim in the car park and went for drinks at the Vansittart Arms for drinks. Mark also came. So James got his hat back.
Mary dropped us back, and, back on the boat, James found that his wallet had fallen out of his pocket in the car! A quick phone call to Mary confirmed it, so we made arrangements to meet her again in the morning.
1 lock, 1 ½ miles
Next: further upstream towards Reading