The Fox to Teddington Visitor Moorings, River Thames
According to Waterway Routes we had a couple of hours cruising to do before reaching Thames Lock onto the Thames today. The Lock Keeper would be on duty from 2:15pm which is when the tide would be right for our journey up to Teddington. With things to do before going out onto the river we pushed off at around 10:30. This would give us plenty of time.
Approaching the weir above Osterley Lock we were pleasantly surprised, on other occasions here it’s been very hard to see the water it being covered with huge amounts of rubbish. This stretch is looked after by the Environment Agency and today for the first time it looked like they were doing a good job, just a lot of weed to contend with. A wide beam had just come up so the lock was with us.
Once past the railway bridge Oleanna was onto new water, she’ll be on new water from now until October. Our Nicholson’s guide of the Thames only having been used for a week before still looks pristine compared to those that cover further north. We tend to have the guide out as we cruise for information on places we pass, especially new places.
The Gauging Lock at Brentford is the penultimate lock before Thames Lock, this requires a key of power to operate. 3 years ago I had great difficulty opening the gate that leads down to the locks, but today it was easy as pie. There being two chambers I chose the nearest one as both were just about full.
Moving heavy gates is no problem when it all happens at the push of a button. Below the lock you are back on the river and it is semi tidal. There are weirs to keep it at a certain height, but when the tide comes in the level rises above the weir, so headroom under the bridges can be affected. We had no problem today with this and carried on down to wait above Thames Lock with a couple of hours to spare.
Weed hatch checked and prop cleared of anything. Engine checks. The well deck cleared of stuff that has accumulated (it’ll get a good sweep one day soon too!). Anchor attached, bucket of chain and rope positioned and checked (this is so much easier now the anchor has a home), I nearly forgot to get Tillys escape pod out of the cupboard, this was assembled even though she wanted to go in it before it had it’s roof attached. Life jackets out. Lunch consumed, We were ready.
There was time to send some work emails, trying to get my design within budget and not short change myself. A weeks painting before rehearsals start is needed and I don’t see this as part of my design remit, so sadly today I added to the figures and didn’t take away much to compensate.
Another project that is on the cards also required some attention from me today. Email after email arriving and needing to be replied to. But as soon as the Lock Keeper arrived work was put aside.
We’d been joined by NB Ella whilst we waited. They’ve never done the tidal stretch up to Teddington before so it was decided that we’d lead the way. Both in the lock, the water level equalised with that of the rising Thames and the gates opened.
From here there is a distance to travel before coming out onto the river. A long blast of the horn to warn any on coming boats that we were about to pop out in front of them. No body was there to hear anyway.
With the tide pushing us along we reached 7mph without trying. NB Ella sounded their horn and appeared onto the river behind us, small and insignificant on the wide river.
The lion on the roof of Syon House still stands still, not waving it’s tail. Ham House sits too far away to be seen through the trees.
Richmond weir and lock are next. Here the weir keeps the river at a navigable height, half tide, up stream to Teddington. When the tide goes out you have to use the lock on the weir, but our passage was timed so that this would not be necessary.
Richmonds grand waterfront steps up away from the river, plenty of people out enjoying themselves
All the islands are passed to the left, moored boats tending to fill up the right hand side.
We passed the extension and terrace that once used to be attached to a life boat on the Grand Union, maybe they don’t need the Granny annex anymore.
The first part of Eel Pie Island looks a disappointment, flats with little character. Thankfully these are followed by prettier properties and boat houses.
This time our transit felt like it took half the time it did three years ago, maybe the tide gave us more push, or maybe it being our second time with less wind and waves we were more nonchalant about it.
The lights pointed us in the direction of the Launch Lock. There are three locks, the Launch lock (fairly conventional in size), the Skiff Lock (the smallest) and the very big Barge Lock (used for larger vessels than us and most probably several at a time.
A wide beam was waiting patiently on the pontoon so we pulled up alongside, soon followed by NB Ella. Two boats were coming down, then it would be our turn, we’d all fit no problem. Narrowboats in first followed by the widebeam. They had come up the river today from Limehouse with a Waterman on board. One day we’ll do it ourselves in the early hours.
Now we are on Environment Agency water. This means either having to buy a licence for the duration of your visit, or already holding what is known as a Gold licence. Earlier in the year we did our sums and the amount of time we wanted to spend on the Thames didn’t warrant the extra expense of a gold licence.
The chap on NB Ella showed the Lock Keeper his licence, he’d paid the right amount for a Gold licence, but there was no G on it. A slightly heated debate ensued. Once the lock was full we all exited and headed off to moor, each returning to pay for mooring and licences as needed. We wanted a nights mooring and a transit licence to the Wey, total of £20.50. NB Ella managed to sort their licence, a phone call to C&RT and an email which he isn’t able to print out as they don’t have a printer on board. They may well get asked at each lock they pass through as with no G visible they could be chancing the Thames without paying the extra.
With our licence paid we adjusted our mooring a touch, having to use the life ring as a fender to keep the cabin side away from the overhanging bank. Tilly was allowed out, extra rules apply on rivers. Three years ago we were all still getting to know each other so whilst on rivers she wasn’t trusted not to fall in. This of course is still a possibility, but she tends to head straight off to find the nearest tree to climb or friend to pounce on.
With so many trees surrounding us you would have thought she’d have a great time. But she returned time after time, Thank you for coming home Dreamies issued, then another few minutes outside. Despite having been given three and a half hours leave she most probably only used one, preferring to have a snooze on the bathroom floor. Maybe it was too warm, maybe too may woofers, most probably too many noisy green birdies.
Guess how much this property is being sold for. Hint, it’s not on Eel Pie Island and there is more to it than can be seen from the river.
Answer in tomorrows blog
5 locks, 8.28 miles, 1 right, 1 tideway, 1 anchor at the ready, 2 life jackets, 1 escape pod, £20.50 for 24 hours and mooring, 1 pants mooring where that Lenny lives!