Anchor, Check. Life Jackets, Check. Escape Pod, Meow! 28th May

Jericho to above Days Lock, River Thames

The lovely Isis Lock

Guaranteed to get wet today so it was hard to muster ourselves for the ready, a passing boat helped jolt us into action. We took the opportunity of being near a tap to top up on water and also empty the yellow water whilst in Isis Lock. The fresh water tank took a similar amount of time to fill as the lock took to gradually drain down to be level with the Sheepwash Channel. A hire boater walked past with a rucksack full of washing, she’d spied a washing machine just a little bit further along the cut, we warned her that her key of power would most probably not work as the services there were for the Agenda 21 moorings. She was still hopeful, but also had sussed out a laundrette a walk away.

We’re ready!

With tanks emptied and filled we turned into Sheepwash Channel, passing under the railway and then a left to head downstream onto the Thames. The flow was quite fast through Osney Bridge and as we approached the lock we could see a Lock Keeper setting it for us, we pulled into the layby and waited for the gates to open.

As we pulled into the lock the Lockie asked what we’d done with the weather and that she’d be adding a tenner to our licence because of the rain. We needed a licence so tied up in the lock gave the Lockie our vital statistics (length) so she could fill out the paperwork. Just as she pressed the button to open the sluices we got a hint of sunshine, she said she’d refund our tenner.

Round and under Folly Bridge, we’d driven over it yesterday, slowly in traffic. Then past all the college boat houses, several rowers out on the river, an eager pair trying to overtake us but having to pull back as a trip boat approached.

Iffley Lock

Iffley Lock, my favourite on the Thames. It’s the position of the lock cottage and it’s gardens that even today smelt of lavender, not normally a favoured smell, but right in this setting. The sluices wouldn’t lift, a walk to the far end required to close them there, then we could work our way through.

Graffiti with a social comment

The artwork under the big bridges have changed since last year, no longer knights but a dragon and on the other bridge a reclined cigar smoking fat cat from Thames Water. Round a few bends we came across a Dutch barge that looked to have slipped it’s stern mooring line, bow into the bank, stern out towards the channel. The engine boards were up and someone was very busy.

At last we’d reached Sandford Lock, only a day late for our Leckenby lunch. The chamber was empty so I walked down spotting a couple of boats heading upstream. I signalled to Mick there’d be boats coming up and went to open the bottom gates. The open sluice light was a fixed green, meaning the lock was empty and I could open the gates. However it was lying! I could see the sluices were up and the lock was empty. I closed the sluices then opened them again, the whole emptying process has to be gone through despite the lock already being empty! This took forever and a while longer. Luckily the crew from one of the boats had had the same problem a couple of days ago, a Lockie had been around who did just as I’d done. Thankfully the gates now opened and we penned the boats up.

Sandford Lock and the King’s Arms

Now our turn. Oleanna in the lock, sluices open button pressed. This all seemed to be taking a long time. As the sluices raised I could see the far side one was lagging somewhat behind. I lowered them again, then lifted them, the far one kept up this time. By now the Dutch Barge had arrived behind us, the skipper came to thank us. He’d got grounded after picking up a lot of stuff in his cooling system and had been trying to clear it as we came past. Our movement lifted his boat enough to free them. He then quickly needed to put pipes back in place so that he could avoid being pulled onto the next weir!

Now the long reach to Abingdon. Boat houses I could live in, trees clinging onto the banks, all the normal moored boats had moved to the opposite bank and the boat that had been sunk for some years has now gone. We wanted to stop for lunch and hoped for a space above the lock, but this was all full, new paving displaying hazard striped edges.

Only NB Escapology and one other in the whole of Abingdon

We pulled in to make use of the elsan and skips as a pirate boat crewed by children came up through the lock. Our turn next, they’d closed the top gate and the level had dropped an inch, the top sluices had to go through the whole thing of lifting carefully before the gates would open. I think I’m going to get used to this as many of the locks will be unmanned this year. 8 minutes to fill, 4 to empty.

House for Sale hidden out of view, click photo for details

Only two boats moored in Abingdon, we headed for the rings through the bridge and really should have winded to have more control coming in. We managed to tie up and sat down for a quick lunch before pushing off again. Normally we’d have stayed for the rest of the day, but we wanted to be further on today if we could.

An improvement as month ago it took an hour to fill!

Out the other side of Abingdon we turned away from the weir and onto Culham Lock Cut away from the danger. Another lock that needed to be reset. A note stuck to the control panel warning to be patient, it may take 20 minutes to fill! I will get used to this. Plenty of time to sit down and reply to some messages.

15 minutes later the flashing green light became solid and I could open the gates, thankfully the lock didn’t take so long to empty. What seem like new instructions on the control panels suggest the lower sluices should be left open. I don’t remember this from when we’ve headed upstream in the last few years and several of the locks have had them raised when we’ve arrived. So I left them up, stepping onto Oleanna I looked back a cruiser just arriving behind us, sorry.

A long sweep round to Clifton Lock, much shallower and far far quicker to do anything. A shame in a way as I was busy admiring the plants in the garden and the long line of wheelbarrows.  This would be our last lock of the day. We now passed excessively long gardens, some of the houses so far away they felt like they were in a different country.

I prefer the artists impressions

A new development of two quite ugly executive houses. I grew up in a house with wood cladding and rather like the natural silvering that happens to it, but here it looks like the wood has been treated with what I call ‘paint on poo!’ coloured varnish. You can see some details in the link, but I haven’t been able to find any mention of price!

The lovely Clifton Hampton Bridge

We headed to the field moorings above Days Lock. Here the river runs north to south and when nestled into the bank you can enjoy sun sets on one side and sun rises on the other. A new hedge seems to have been planted recently and then the occasional tree. No signs about mooring, two years ago there were signs informing you of a website to log onto to pay. There were also no NO MOORING signs, so when we saw a length of clearish bank we winded and pulled in, facing upstream to moor.

The wind was quite strong, Tilly not too keen. Well the trees were a long way off! We checked on the river level on Gaugemap 0.07m, a look around outside to try to find a reference point (hard to do when there are no bricks to count), we’d have to keep an eye on the internet. As the evening progressed the wind grew, whistling around us, this was soon followed by torrential rain. By the time we went to bed the river had risen 2 inches, how much further will it rise by morning? A quick check to make sure our ropes had some slack before shut eye.

7 locks, 17.2 miles, 1 full water tank, 1 empty wee tank, 0 rubbish, 1 soggy day, 1 lock keeper, £79 licence, 1 right, 1 left, 1 laboured attempt at mooring, 1 expert execution of mooring, 0 signs, 15 minutes to fill! 10 minutes shore leave, 4 wheelbarrows, 0 stoats.

2 thoughts on “Anchor, Check. Life Jackets, Check. Escape Pod, Meow! 28th May

  1. Dave (Scouts)

    Glad to see Isis lock still looks good given the amount of painting we did last year (and the new fence)
    Think wolvercote is next for paint when it’s dry enough.


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