Time To Go. 16th June

Hanwell to Bulls Bridge

Over the last couple of days the pound we have been on seems to have dropped a bit and we’ve been waking up on a list. Has the blood been sitting in our heads too much over night and the cause of what feels like a mild hangover in the morning? The joys of having a cross bed, but then again neither of us can fall out of bed when on a list.

Today it was time to start our journey northwards, but first we had to carry on towards the Thames. The River Brent is shallow, full of silt and weed, along with rubbish! So even though it looked wide enough near our mooring we weren’t confident in being able to wind without getting stuck or having to spend hours clearing the prop . Some people manage to turn at the bottom of the locks, but that would have meant a long reverse back and no guarantee as this is where there is quite often a build up of silt. Mick pushed us off from where we had settled whilst I stayed below dealing with emails.

P1050727smThe advantage of having done a stretch before is that the odd glimpse up from the computer means you are aware of when you’ll be needed again. The weir walkway above Osterley Lock came into view, so I saved what I was doing and headed up top just as Mick was starting to pull in. The first time we came down here the amount of rubbish sitting above the lock was disgusting, today it was hardly noticeable. The ground paddles were hard to lift, but even harder to drop once the lock was full. Mick had to take over with the windlass to force them down with a bit of boy power.

P1050731smWe’d heard of people winding under the Piccadilly line bridge, here it is quite wide, but would it be deep enough for us. As we turned Mick had to keep stopping to discourage a plastic bag from getting too close and intimate with the prop, but this was our only problem and we were soon back at the lock to deal with those ground paddles again.

P1050742smA call to the Volunteer Lockies on the Hanwell flight worked this time and meant that the locks ahead would be set for us. Approaching the bottom lock of the flight I could see someone descending in the next chamber, Mick bipped the horn, I waved my arms and shouted to not close the gate and was spotted just in time. The bottom lock was almost in their favour so I topped it up and opened the gates to help them down. This meant that the bottom three chambers were all sat waiting for us with their gates open (the top one having blown open after being closed). By the time we had reached the third lock I could see a Lockie arrive above on his bike and start to set the next chamber. He helped us up the next three opening up in front of us and closing the lock as we finished.

P1050748smP1050751smAll these locks have a wide walkway on the topside of the top gates. But because this is here they have to have a curved notch in them for to accommodate the ground paddle mechanism. A nice handy walkway, just don’t do it when you’ve had too much cider!

P1050753smP1050757smAt the top of the six another Lockie was trying to persuade a swan to come out of the chamber before we arrived, this worked but only for it to sneak back in behind us. I opened up the same side ground paddle and crossed over the gates to do the gate paddle, this would hold Oleanna into the side giving the swan space. But the volunteer Lockie started to open his gate paddle a bit too soon sending the bow over, the swan managed to avoid this and went over to the other side, just as the lockie dropped his paddle making the bow return. The swan couldn’t fight past the amount of water coming into the lock, so I quickly dropped my paddle managing to avoid a very squashed swan. It wasn’t grateful and decided that we needed a good telling off in the next pound, launching himself at us and spinning round and round in the water, he wasn’t happy!

P1050766smP1050768smUp the last two locks and we got commended by one of the Lockies for knowing how to work the Grand Union Locks, shame his pal wasn’t quite so offay! Then on to Bulls Bridge where the 24hr mooring was empty again. Is there something we don’t know about here? As our cupboards needed restocking for the next few days we decided to call it a day, a big shop, a load of washing hung out to dry and one mardy cat. Long grass, sideways trees, not perfect but okay, really don’t know why they wouldn’t let me out! Instead I had to make do with hunting the flying things inside, not as much fun as finding friends, at least it was something to do!

10 locks, 1 twice, 4.81 miles, 1 wind, 3 lockies, 2 troublesome paddles, 1 determined swan, 1  p’d off swan, 0 rubbish, 1 yellow tank emptied, 1 bucket swap, 1/2 day hunting for photos, 2 photo samaritans so far, 1 biggish shop, 1 load washing, 1 bored Tilly!