Teddington to nearly Weybridge New Bridge, River Wey
Rain. At least we knew it wouldn’t rain all day, so we sat it out. By about 10:45 it was drying up so we made ready. NB Ella must have been waiting too, they pushed off a few minutes earlier than us, still with their pram hood up should it start to rain again. We had our waterproofs at the ready.
Upstream from Teddington is Kingston-upon-Thames. Here there are several places with 24 hour moorings. The signs take a bit of getting used to, canal dwellers don’t often associate a big white P on a blue back ground with a mooring and signs with lots of writing on canals tend to warn you of hefty fines should you not have a permit to moor there. There were a few spaces free which we could have pulled up in, but today we needed to be off the Thames as our licence only covers us for 24hrs.
NB Ella pulled over after most of the bridges on a long length with no boats, we hope they managed to find some means of mooring there as we suspect there was a reason for it being empty. We carried on, I managed to have a chat with Gemma my Production Manager before we reached the first lock, I’d had ideas of how to find my painting fee.
Hampton Court sits alongside the river, a long high brick wall leads you to the gilt ornate gates. There were spaces here to moor also, but we’ll come back to make the most of a visit in a few weeks time. It’s a pricey place, but with a 2 for 1 with a train ticket it will be more attractive.
Molesey Lock would be our first Thames lock, one of only two today. A Dutch barge was waiting it’s turn so we followed them in. In Thames locks you are required to rope up for and aft and turn your engine off. If the lock is manned the gates and paddles are operated for you. This was our first Thames lock three years ago also, I’d had reduced digits for almost a year and ropes in locks still bothered me (not saying that they don’t now). Today the water pushed us back and forth, I had to step down out of the way of my rope, Mick ended up turning the engine back on as we were moved around so much, the crew on the Dutch Barge didn’t seem to have any hassle.
Onwards past more houses for sale and some boats too. Numerous Islands and posh houses. We’ve decided to only point out the exceptional ones to each other as there are so many. Approaching Sunbury Lock two boats came towards us but we were too far away for the Lockie to hold the gates for us, another boat was waiting to come down.
Rivers and landings are not really designed for narrowboats with low gunnels. We pulled up and cast our ropes over bollards to await our turn, our gunnel lower than the overhang on the landing. I managed to get a fender in between Oleanna’s cabin side and Mick spent the next few minutes as the lock was emptied doing his best to push the stern out. Sadly we didn’t escape un scathed, I have a couple of places where first a polish will be tried before a touch of paint!
Not much of todays cruise had been familiar, that was until we pulled up at a space outside The Weir pub for a lunch break. We’d stopped here last time too. As we were tying up a small inflatable ‘Swan Rescue’ boat pulled up in front. A handy loop to tie to for them as we dug out our mooring spikes.
After lunch we continued on our way upstream. Mick called ahead to our next lock and was given instructions of what to do on our arrival. At Shepperton Junction we chose to turn left. Here numerous islands give you so many options of which way to go. Nicholsons doesn’t show these clearly, but the Waterways Routes map did, second exit, straight on.
There ahead of us a green sign pointing the way, or should I say Wey. Sorry!
Soon we approached the bottom gate which was open for us and pulled in where we’d been told to. Ian the Lock Keeper came down to greet us, ‘Welcome to the River Wey’. We’d been slightly speeded up whilst on the Thames, now Ian slowed us back down. Plenty of time to chat with our personal Lockie.
He suggested we filled with water as the tap has the best pressure on the river. Whilst we did this he gave us various pieces of information we’d need whilst on the river, he also checked what draught Oleanna has. Today Thames Lock had about 2 ft of water over the cill, not quite enough for us. No problem.
Thames Lock was first built in the mid 16th century, the river was the second in England to be turned from wholly unnavigable to navigable. The lock led straight down into the Thames which at that point was tidal all the way up to Staines. Navigation on the Thames relied on ‘flash locks’. Flash Locks were a bit like weirs, when the water had built up sufficiently upstream paddles were removed and the boats would rush through on a ‘flash’ of water, hence the phrase ‘gone in a flash’. This was quite dangerous, going up hill was harder, boats had to be winched up stream when levels were suitable. This method of moving boats was used on the Thames until the 20th century.
By 1653 the Wey had upgraded it’s flash locks to ‘pound locks’ those we know today, Thames Lock being one of these. The River Thames was slower with their upgrade leaving it until the 19th century. The construction of a weir and Shepperton Lock on the Thames meant that where the Wey joined the Thames the level dropped by about three foot, this stopped laden barges from being able to enter the navigation. Something had to be done.
A new cutting was made joining the existing lock to another channel down stream of the existing one. Finally the old route was blocked off and a single gate added to the end of the new link/chamber. This now created a staircase lock, on a bend. Ian today closed the gate behind us and lifted paddles at the lock above rising the level in the bottom chamber by around a foot, this would mean we’d easily be able to get over the bottom cil into Thames Lock.
Once in the lock Ian tied our stern line to a yellow post right by the bottom gates. The bow line was passed up, around a bollard and passed back down to me. He then lifted a paddle on the same side of the lock as Oleanna. Just a bit to start with, then a touch more when he could see how she reacted. The stern line thankfully stopped her from moving forward into the plume of water coming through the gates. We gradually rose to meet the first reach of the river.
Not being a busy river we could leave Oleanna tied up in the lock whilst our licence was sorted out. We opted for a three week licence, this is only about £20 more than that for a week. If we over stay by a day we’d be charged another £25. We also get a 10% discount with our National Trust membership. With three weeks we hope that we might be able to go onto the Basingstoke for sometime (another licence required) and still make it back to the Thames before our Wey licence runs out, the Basingstoke Canal runs off the Wey.
An information pack was handed over in return for money. A long handled windlass has been loaned to us for our stay too.
A line of moored boats just after the lock had a space. These are permanent moorings, but Ian said we’d be fine for a night if we fitted, sadly Oleanna was quite a few feet too long. On we pootled looking for possibilities. We could tie up after Town Lock but with a road close by that wouldn’t be suitable for Tilly.
The river bends around large properties, the biggest I’m surprised I didn’t get my camera out in time to take a photo, was huge with striped immaculate lawns. Blimey it’s posh round here! Maybe I’d better give Oleanna a wash. Soon a stretch of rusty piling showed itself, we gave it a try. Oleanna came into the side with ease. No chance of using nappy pins or chains as the piling was too thick and may not cope with anything round it, so we resorted to pins.
Wey Hey Hay!! Trees!!!! This Wey outside wey beats the Thames outside. There may be quite a few woofers about, but there is plenty to play in. There is also some Tilly cover by Oleanna.
I quite like the look of the neighbours houses too. That roof looks like I’d have a good vantage point from there.
This barge has 3 bedrooms and lives on the Thames. Two years ago it had a major refit.
A bungalow, still on the Thames.
Answers and links in tomorrows post.
3 locks (maybe 4 if you count the bottom chamber at Thames Lock), How many ‘Thames Lock’s are there? 10.99 miles, 1 left, 1 rainy morning, 1 rib in the way, £500 saved, 2 many choices, 1 personal lockkeeper, 2nd licence in as many days, 1 loaned windlass, 3 weeks, 1 happy cat, 1 master ground plan copied.
£1,999,995 just think change from £2 million!