And No Sleeping With A Politician! 7th August

Boveney Lock To Cliveden Woods

As you can see from the above we got moving today.

A yellow flashing light could be seen near to the lock as we had breakfast, whatever was happening needed to be watched and we weren’t the only ones going to gongoozel.

Lots of high-vis

The crane had arrived and was being set up alongside the lock. Fencing panels removed to get the outriggers in position. Despite the number of people wearing high-vis, a bright yellow crane with a flashy light, members of the general public still tried to walk through the area even though there was a footpath just behind a hedge. Extra barriers were put up to protect everyone.

The crane powered up, extended itself, turned then lowered it’s big hook to which chains were attached. These were zoomed out over the top of the lock and positioned ready for use. Someone got a big hammer out, knocked wedges out and the broken collar.

It being Saturday morning we decided to do an outside broadcast to the Geraghty zoom call. Not sure what the other topics were today as we were very much engrossed in activities by the lock.

The chains were attached to the lock gates, slowly the gate was lifted back in line. More hammering, nuts and bolts were tightened, wedges knocked in. A bit of a careful lean on the gate was required to get everything back in line. A cuppa was handed round, a bit more hammering, then the moment of truth.

Was it only the collar that had gone, or could something have happened to the hydraulics too?


The gate faltered a bit then closed met by the other gate. They then both opened. Closed, then opened again. The Lock Keeper came to the end of the island and announced that she wanted the first three boats. She wouldn’t be packing the lock, that would take too much time, just three boats at a time. There was an obvious cheer from the small crowd.

Second lock down, our turn

The first boat above the lock was a hire boat who’s crew had abandoned ship this morning, the hire company sending a cab for them. This didn’t matter to anyone, the first three cruisers made their way into the lock as everyone else rushed back to their boats to make ready.

Filling up the lock

Below the lock two cruisers were first in line, in they went, the grey narrowboat in front of us being given the cross signal. Boveney lock is only 45.59m long so clearing the back log would take some time. Boats were left to sort themselves out, most people relieved to be able to move again. Only one boat pushed their way round as they’d been stuck longer than others, everyone else just let the next boats go, easier and quicker than letting those out from the inside first.

Thank you!

We were in the second lock, three narrowboats and a pretty wooden boat that was just narrow enough to come alongside in the gap behind us. Up we went all the time the Lock Keeper on the phone calling the other locks either side and hire companies to inform them that she was up and running again. Big thanks as we left.

Excuse me!!! Doesn’t that cat know all the health and safety implications of sitting out when they move the outside! No wonder he’s got a funny ear!

Each boat found their natural pace. NB Zenith passing us before we passed the narrowboat in front of us. Zeniths second mate sitting out on the bow watching the world go by. I really hoped that Tilly couldn’t see this as it might give her ideas. We all know our cats and I have to say I wouldn’t trust my little thug not to have a walk down the cat walk to see if there was anywhere to jump off to land, so she will just have to live with the world passing by through the window.

Bray Studios looks to have been almost rebuilt. They were in the process of knocking bits down two years ago. Now the building looks crisp again, behind it you get a glimpse of the studios. In a field a short distance on was a huge wall of plywood about 40ft high. Maybe this will be a giant green screen for some filming?

Bray Lock is even shorter at 40.94m. This meant the keeper only took two boats at a time so we had a wait before it was our turn. Above the pretty village of Bray comes down to the waters edge soon followed by the bigger fancier houses in the run up to Maidenhead.

Red and yellow and pink and blue!

In the run up to Maidenhead Railway Bridge buoys marked a channel, a sign mentioned a regatta. Gazebos filled the river bank, we moved over to port despite the colours of the buoys being wrong. At least at this end there was a sign, coming through the bridge ahead boats were unaware and headed straight down through the course, thankfully no races were happening at the time.

What a lovely roof

A pause was required for lunch below Boulter’s Lock, it also meant we got out of the rain for a while. With the sun back out we joined the queue for the lock, the lock keeper trying to squeeze a couple of cruisers in behind three narrowboats. It worked, but was a touch of a tight squeeze. I’d put my wet weather gear on again and as the lock gates closed I felt very over dressed compared to everyone else. But as the water started to rise the black clouds came back over bringing rain, I now felt that I was the only one prepared.

Overtaking the overtaker

The rain felt like it was setting in, did we really want to get soaked? It was a bit after 3pm we decided to stop if we could find space on one of the islands below Cliveden. The cruisers had different ideas and both sped off whilst all three narrowboats looked for somewhere to moor.

NB Old Nick

All the spaces on the islands were taken, we waved at NB Old Nick which looked very comfortable nestled into it’s mooring. We tried further up along the river bank finding a space where the bow came into the side, but the stern stuck out a touch. This would do us if only our rope throwing skills meant we could moor! After a bit of toing and froing with the rope we succeeded.

Tilly had already approved our choice and shouted at us to HURRY UP!!! The rules were recited along with another one ‘No sleeping with a politician!’ Mick said he was fairly sure John Profumo was dead, Tilly had no idea what we were talking about. I have no intention of cuddling up to anyone but She and Tom.

Fun on the river

Once we’d booked ourselves into our mooring, £10 a night to the National Trust, I had a look at possible walks. The estate would close at 5:30 when visitors are asked not to be in the grounds. I chose the red route (3.1 miles 1.5 hours walk) and decided to go clockwise round it, so hopefully if I overran the time, I’d be past any member of staff in the car park, I did take my NT membership card in case I needed it.


Luckily Tilly was busy as I headed off, the occasional glance over my shoulder to make sure she wasn’t following me. The route took me to Spring Cottage where a minimum 2 night stay will set you back £2250, but it does sleep 6 and you get a welcome hamper and can book a chef to cook for you, although I suspect that would cost extra.

Here a zigzagging path climbs up the cliff. At the top spectacular views make your out of breathness all worth while.

Not a bad view

Views across the countryside below and one back to Cliveden House.

Cliveden House and Gardens

I was surprised at how far away it was, next time we’ll stay for longer and get closer to the house and gardens where over 25 years ago I helped do specialist paint finishes in a new wing alongside the infamous swimming pool.

Green Drive

Surrounded by trees I followed the cliff top path to a cross roads where the route led to the Green Drive. Here a large avenue of trees leads you away from the house, it’s width gradually diminishing as you reach the car park. This was possibly the original approach to the house.


I avoided the car park bypassing it to the view point, more stunning views across the lower landscape and to the river. Carved bears and snails look after the track before you continue through the wood at the top of the cliff again. Then a steep path brings you back down to the Thames where I headed northwards back to Oleanna where Tilly greeted me with her tail held high. It’s good here, can we stay? Maybe next time Tilly, maybe next time.

3 locks, 6.34 miles, 1 lie in, 1 crane, 6 workers, 90 minutes reduced to 9, 35 boats, 3 at a time, 7 downpours, 1 regatta, 1 empty wee tank, 1 over dressed prepared boater, 0 island moorings, 1 National Trust mooring, 3.1 miles, 1hr 15mins, 1 stunning view, 0 people on the Lady Astor balcony, 1 cat in heaven, 0 MP’s toes to keep warm, 1 Mrs Tilly stamp of approval.

One thought on “And No Sleeping With A Politician! 7th August

  1. Anonymous

    Red Kite country love seeing them, we only get the very occasional one around here.

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