Wednesday, 30 August 2017

Weybridge to Windsor

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

Bulldogs Weir

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.

Wey Licence

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


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 ruby wedding 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

Speech time

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.

Dorney Church

Olympic Gold at Boveney Lock

 Approaching Windsor

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.

Castle Tour

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.

Coldstream Guards

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.


Cannon plaque

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

Saturday, 19 August 2017

Godalming to Weybridge

Sat 12th Aug  Godalming to Guildford

Moored in Godalming

End of navigation

We reversed the boat from our towpath mooring near the Methodist Church to the sanitary station, turning round at the corner. We filled up with water and did all the other necessary things. The elsan point was in a good clean state, unlike the last time, when we found it blocked and unusable.  Hazel went to do some shopping in Sainsbury’s.

Turning at the corner

The facilities at Godalming

Our visitors arrived soon after – John, Gemma and young Samuel.  John went off in the car to meet us in Guildford, while Gemma and Samuel had a boat trip with us.  There were several day hire boats out and about from Farncombe Boathouse, and we shared every lock with a different one.
John and Gemma with Samuel

WW11 defences

Broadford Bridge

St Catherine’s Lock

We moored on the meadows, as near to the rowing club as we could get, and John came and found us. We all had lunch on board.

Later, Hazel had one of her occasional infections, and we arranged an appointment via 111 at the Royal Surrey Hospital. We took a taxi there, and she was prescribed antibiotics. We took the prescription to the pharmacy in a large Tesco near the hospital and then took two buses back to the boat. The pills seem to have worked OK.

3 locks, 4 miles

Sun 13th Aug  Guildford

Early morning on the meadows at Guildford

Water Art

We walked to Guildford Baptist Church at Millmead for their 10am service.  We spotted John Archer, a colleague of James’s from Tear Fund days 27 years ago.  Just in front of him was Steve Bishop, a colleague from MasterSun days 17 years ago.  We were able to catch up briefly with both of them over coffee after the service.

Steve Bishop

John and Mrs Archer

Worship band at Millmead

We did some shopping later before returning to the boat via a grassy path down from Quarry Street.
The famous clock

The Angel Hotel

In the evening we had a visit from our son Greg and granddaughter Jasmin, and boyfriend Gavin, who joined us for dinner at an Italian restaurant. Greg’s wife Jessy was in Malaysia, and our other granddaughter Claudia was in Poole with Amanda. It was good to find out about Greg’s recent trek to the base camp at Everest.

Hazel Gavin Jasmin Greg

No boating today

Mon 14th Aug  Guildford to Triggs Lock

It was sunny as we left the mooring on the meadows, and went through Millmead Lock. There are always Gongoozlers here, and James had a pleasant chat with a lady from Nelson, in New Zealand.

Once through the lock, we tied up near the Alice statue, to do some last minute shopping, before moving on once more to Dapdune Wharf to use their facilities.  We didn’t need water – just as well as there was a queue for the hose.

Alice and the rabbit statue

Guildford Town Bridge

17th century tread wheel crane

Dapdune Wharf

Here we were pleased to meet Adrian (not his real name), who spends a lot of time on a small white cruiser.  The first time we met him was several years ago. He had been slumped over in his boat which still had the engine running, in forward gear, keeping the bows into the bank, above the weir at Walsham gates. When we went to see if we could help, we couldn’t understand what he was saying, and thought he was from Eastern Europe. He had several empty wine bottles in the boat. We got him to turn off his engine, and we moored his boat securely. If we hadn’t been there he could have ended up going over the weir. The next morning he had sobered up and we realised he was English and quite well spoken.  He obviously had a problem with alcohol and had called his AA mentor.  The fact that our boat was called Gabriel challenged him and we gave him some Christian literature. 

This time we invited him on board for tea, and discovered that he has been completely off the booze for two years, he has done an Alpha Course, and his girl friend is a Christian who goes to Hillsong. We gave him a New Testament and a “Why Jesus?” booklet. We are so pleased that we met him again, and will continue to pray for him.

We moved on from Dapdune, going downstream through Stoke Lock and Bowers Lock, mooring eventually on the river section below Triggs Lock, where we have seen deer in the meadow in the past.  No deer this time, partly because they have mown the meadow short.
Stoke Lock

Broad Oak Bridge

Peaceful mooring below Triggs Lock
4 locks, 5 miles

Tue 15th Aug  Triggs Lock to Byfleet Boat Club

Morning reflections

A lovely place to moor

We had a very peaceful night at this lovely mooring, away from the traffic noise of the A3 which spoils the area near Sutton Place and Bowers Lock.

We came off the river section at Worsfold Gates, where we spotted the old wooden boat that has been used to strengthen the bank.

Worsfold Gates

Old wooden boat

There was just one visiting boat moored in Send. We stopped at Cartbridge Wharf to fill up the water tank, before moving on past the new Send Marina where Geoff, the owner, was operating a JCB.

The tap at Cartbridge Wharf

Send Marina under construction

We had Papercourt Lock to ourselves, and after the river section we saw Travellers Joy moored up. This belongs to Margaret and Barry who are no doubt jet setting off somewhere as usual.

Papercourt Lock

Travellers Joy at Newark

Soon after Newark Lock we came across a team tackling the Floating Pennywort which is really bad around here this year.

Weed clearance

The house where the poet John Donne lived from 1600 to 1604

The Anchor at Pyrford

A huge plane tree


When we arrived at Byfleet Boat Club we found that Tony and Pat on Paws 4 Thought were there. We last saw them in Reading. Strangely, we both needed a 6kg gas bottle, so we went to TLC who thankfully had two bottles on stock.

Tony and Pat were planning to visit Brooklands Museum, and we had also considered doing this, so we said we would go too.

3 locks, 6 miles

Wed 16th Aug  Byfleet Boat Club

We took a bus to Brooklands Museum. It was several years since our last visit, and there were several changes. First of all the entrance was from the Mercedes World area, instead of from Brooklands Road.  The museum now includes the Weybridge Bus Museum, which used to be near Silvermere.  We went round the site at different speeds but met for lunch in the cafe.
Brooklands F1 exhibition

The Napier Railton


Crane made in Ipswich

The aircraft park

Brooklands Race Track

Classic Cars for the hill climb

Barnes Wallis’s bouncing bomb

Byfleet Boat Club

No boating today

Thu 17th Aug  Byfleet Boat Club to Pyrford

Strangely the new bottle of gas we had started only three days ago ran out.  There may be a gas leak, so when we reconnected the new one bought yesterday from TLC, we turned it off when we weren’t using it.

We set off north and turned in the junction with the Basingstoke Canal, before returning and passing Paws 4 Thought.


Turning in the Basingstoke Canal Junction

We went to Pyrford, and turned in the Marina entrance, before mooring up on the towpath in a wooded area.  It was much quieter than at Byfleet Boat Club, where the M25 runs just a few feet away.  Paws 4 Thought  came and moored nearby.

0 locks, 2 ½  miles

Fri 18th Aug  Pyrford to Weybridge

Paws 4 Thought left before we did, and we are unlikely to see them again this year.  We went into Pyrford Marina to buy another bottle of gas.  We saw our friend Dick Dolton there.

Farewell to Paws 4 Thought

Gas from Pyrford Marina

Interesting boat name for musicians - B Natural

We then departed for Weybridge, going back past the boat club and the Basie and under the M25 with its colourful graffiti.

Basingstoke Canal Junction signpost

M25 graffiti

We caught up with a boat called Grainne Mhaol and shared New Haw Lock with them. We left the lock first as they had crew to pick up. We had a heavy rain shower at that point. When we reached Coxes Lock there was a boat waiting, and we could have shared with them, but would have been queue jumping, so we beckoned Grainne Mhaol on. They were very grateful as they were meeting people at the Pelican.  Before we could use the lock, another boat came up, Nauti C’s, owned by Byfleet Boat Club members.

New Haw Lock

Coxes Lock

Nauti C’s

We moored just above Town Lock as we had shopping to do, and we needed to see our Weybridge property at Portmore Quays.  Although we have been paying gardeners to look after the garden, due to some non-communication, the work hasn’t been happening.  The issue we think has now been resolved.

Portmore Quays

Overgrown garden

Comma butterfly

We walked to the shops, and bought a new brolly from Dyas, as it was raining hard and our old one had broken a spoke.  Then to Morrisons for some provisions.  The rain stopped as we walked back to the boat, so we moved on down through Town Lock.  It is said that some of the old stones at this lock came from Oatlands Palace which was demolished around the time that the navigation was built. Oatlands Palace in turn was built with stones from Chertsey Abbey.
Town Lock

Oatlands Palace stones?

Once through the lock, we went downriver, and were pleased to find that the mooring we were hoping for was unoccupied.  As we were heading there, Paul came round the corner on Iron Duck, and we confirmed that we would see him later.

Paul on Iron Duck

An hour later we had a knock on the side of the boat.  It was Alison and Laura from Large Marge, last seen in Newbury.  They were moored on the Thames by the ferry, and were out to explore the Wey and the village.

Alison and Laura

Soon after they had gone, there was another knock. We thought it was them back again, but it was the lady from Grainne Mhaol. They had also moored by the ferry. She was handing over to a gentleman called James,  She asked about Canal Ministries and BCF, so we gave out the appropriate leaflets.

We went to our neighbours Paul and Rosie’s for a lovely evening meal. It was good to catch up.

3 locks, 3 ½  miles

Next: out onto the Thames and upstream to Staines for Sunday at Staines Methodist Church, followed by Mary and Jim’s ruby wedding at Runnymede.