Mon 31st Jul Cliveden Reach to Dorney
We had some hopeful Mandarin Ducks coming to visit us in the morning. We gave them some blackberries. Cliveden House was catching the sun as we left the island and headed downstream. We had heard that John and Barbara on Ichthus were moored in Staines.
Early morning at Cliveden
At Boulter’s Lock we were behind a wide beam that had been zig-zagging because the person at the helm was oversteering all the time. It had a wheel and not a tiller. They had just bought the boat. As we left the lock they beckoned us past, so we overtook them before going past Maidenhead and under Brunel’s sounding arch.
Brunel’s Sounding Arch
We passed some huge riverside mansions before we reached Bray Lock
Oakley Court Hotel
We moored just before the rowing lake at Dorney, at a place someone has named PG Point Who is or was PG? We may never know, but the name has been painted on the metal sheet piling. We pulled in behind a large white plastic cruiser on three floors.
There was a pleasant place to sit in the shade under a tree.
Hanging out the washing at PG Point
James went for a walk to the ancient little church, and was surprised to find it open. It has some remarkable wooden beams holding up the small spire at one end.
A tiny Sea Otter called OT was there. We have met them before at Polesworth in 2014 – Les and Lesley.
When James returned, the big white boat had gone, and in its place was a narrowboat called Black Velvet, with David and Rachel, and a small dog. We gave them some literature about BCF. The dog was very interested in Hugo, but he only wanted to play. Hugo stood his ground, and David called the dog away, who did as he was told.
The view from PG Point
Sunset at Dorney
2 locks, 5½ miles
Tue 1st Aug Dorney to Staines
Black Velvet at PG Point
We had a pleasant morning as we left the mooring and headed downstream once more. There were two cruisers behind us in Boveney Lock. One of them, very large, was tailgating us very close behind as we left the lock. We needed to visit the facilities on the left. Two boats were coming towards us on the left, and another on the right. We waited until we were past the two on the left before turning round behind them to reach the facilities. It was all a bit of a rush with this socking great white wall of plastic breathing down our necks behind us.
It only took us two minutes to get rid of the rubbish, and we were on our way again, through Windsor.
When we reached Romney Lock, it had just closed in front of us. That two minutes at Boveney cost us twenty minutes, because, although there were three staff or volunteers at Romney Lock, one was mowing the lawn, another was in the office, and the third was left to operate the lock on his own. Several boats entered the lock from below. Romney lock is side filling, so the lock keeper needs to ensure that all the boats are securely roped up, and it took him a long time before he was satisfied that it was safe to fill the lock.
At Old Windsor Lock we caught up with a very slow narrow boat. Apparently it was 7ft wide, instead of the usual 6ft 10in, and as a consequence it could not go through narrow canals such as the Oxford Canal. So he had all the disadvantages of the narrowboat, i.e. the confined space, but none of the advantages, i.e. go everywhere.
There were two other cruisers behind us. They both took off at speed when we left the lock. By the time we reached Bell Weir Lock, they were in the lock and going down, so we had to wait our turn. Meanwhile the very slow boat caught up with us. We tried to get some conversation out of the lock keeper there, but we only had one word replies. He is never very chatty.
Bell Weir Lock
Under the M25
We arrived in Staines, and moored alongside Ichthus, by the Old Town Hall. It was good to see John and Barbara, especially as Barbara had fallen in and was badly bruised, and had rope burns on her hands. They were both very shaken. We agreed to go out for a meal in the evening.
James went to Sainsbury’s for some provisions, and bought some flowering plants in Homebase. Soon after he returned it started to rain heavily.
Alongside Ichthus in the rain in Staines
Later the boat behind departed, so we were able to moor behind Ichthus. In the evening we went to a Caribbean restaurant called Turtle Bay. We couldn’t find turtle on the menu so we had things like Jerk Chicken and Goat Curry. It was very good.
2 locks, 5½ miles
Wed 2nd Aug Staines to Walton
Moored in Staines
We needed some log book pages, and we established that they have some at TLC in Byfleet, so there was no need to go to Penton Hook Marina. We set off in convoy with Ichthus using John’s walkie talkie radios to communicate.
Ichthus at Penton Hook Lock
Moored six abreast
Chertsey Lock was self service. Both boats needed water, so we used the hose below the lock. Then we used the elsan disposal point and rubbish bins at Shepperton. It was just starting to rain as we were leaving Shepperton Lock, and we decided to go round the old river route rather than through Desborough Cut. It started to rain heavily as were going past Lady Lindsay’s Lawn.
We continued under Walton Bridge and as we were passing Shepperton Marina, a widebeam emerged and followed on after Gabriel, with Ichthus behind. We spotted two mooring spaces at Walton near the Anglers, and we pulled into one, where we had about seven feet spare. The widebeam went on and took the other space. Ichthus moored alongside us. They are 69ft and we are 59ft, so we lined up the sterns, and the bows overhung the next boat by 2ft. The lady on board was very cross that we should dare to overhang her boat by 2ft without asking, but we had only just arrived, and it was still pouring with rain. The boats weren’t even touching. She had five feet spare in front of her boat. The man on their boat was more reasonable and said there was no problem.
Later, the two boats behind us moved off, and Ichthus was able to occupy the space they had left on the quayside.
The rain stopped and we all went for another meal out, this time Italian. John sneaked off and paid without us knowing as he wanted to bless us. Thank you John.
4 locks, 9 miles
Thu 3rd Aug Walton to Weybridge to Thames Ditton to Weybridge
Moored at Walton with Ichthus
Today was trip boat day with Graham and Sheila. We had agreed to meet them at what we call the Weybridge Wall at 10am. We set off upstream through the Desborough Cut and had to negotiate lots of rowers coming towards us.
We moored as close as we could get to the car park. There are three channels going off here: To the left is the old course of the River Wey, which emerges through a boatyard. In the middle is the access to the Wey Navigation and Thames Lock. To the right is the stream that comes from one of the weirs above Shepperton Lock. This is the most southerly part of the Thames for its entire route.
Graham and Sheila duly arrived and we all set off round the back of Desborough Island. James took a photo as we approached Walton Bridge. Sheila must have been talking at the time, as she doesn’t normally make that face!
Approaching Walton Bridge with Sheila and Graham
We had to operate Sunbury Lock ourselves. Graham took on this difficult task as he was the best at pressing buttons. Molesey Lock had a lock keeper. We passed Hampton Court and the mouth of the River Mole, and followed the backwater at Thames Ditton, mooring outside Ye Olde Swan, where we had a very pleasant meal. This time James was able to pay to bless Graham and Sheila. They will probably buy someone else a meal now. What a good system this is!
We returned past Hampton Court Palace, where Maffi was moored up on Milly M, but we didn’t see him.
Hampton Court Palace
Hampton Court Bridge
Then back past Hampton and Sunbury to Sunbury Lock, where Graham again excelled at the button pushing, as there was no lock keeper on duty.
Back through Walton, where we said hello to Barbara as we passed Ichthus. They have been given permission to stay there until Monday, following her fall as she is very bruised and still has burn marks on her hands.
We returned via the Desborough Cut, and moored on the Weybridge Wall. Graham and Sheila kindly took us to Morrisons for some shopping, and drove us back to the boat again afterwards.
5 locks, 4 miles
Next: Into the Wey Navigation, with a pause at Byfleet Boat Club for their “Fun Day” on Saturday, possibly a taxi to Weybridge Methodist Church on Sunday, then to Godalming and back.