6 Through 17. 10th June

Brookwood Country Park to Frimley Lodge Park

Last night putting the spare bedding away under the sofa I pulled it away from the wall that bit more than I’d done a day or two ago. Some bright blue! My Bumbag!!!!. How had it got there? Before heading to Scarborough I’d lifted the sofa to select some yarn for a pair of socks revealing access to the secret passageway. This is irresistible to Tilly, so I think between the two of us my bumbag had been in the right place to be assisted into the depths of the passageway. I’m pleased as now my camera and phone can be with me whilst cruising, plus I have my bank card back!

An awkward mooring

No time for tea in bed, we still had a little way to go before reaching our next booked locks. Kath had said it would only take us five minutes, but the depth of canal might have a different idea, we allowed half an hour, just in case. It took us 12 minutes, better to be sat waiting for a keeper than be late.

Just before the bottom of Brookwood Locks there was a boat moored on the offside. Their plank at full extent and ropes way off into the friendly cover. Spied through a window was a second mate of the feline variety. Activity soon followed, the plank being lifted, aerial laid flat on the roof, we had locking partners.

Into the first lock for today

Mick’s phone rang, the Lock Keeper had a flat tyre, someone else would be with us in about quarter of an hour to unlock the locks. By the time I spied a van pulling in up ahead NB Olive had joined us in the lock, it took a little bit of doing as the depth was shallow, we’d grounded out and the boats wanted to go the way they wanted to go rather than the way the tiller was encouraging.

Josh and Andy (Dad) have lived aboard their boat for three and a half years with (Mum) Diane. Some of you may have come across them Taylor’s Aboard A Narrowboat on youtube, we hadn’t, but then again we’ve never really got into youtube vloggers and it was only the cameras at the bow and stern and Josh filming the scenery that gave it away. I asked Josh what the name of their cat was. Which one? We have five! Well that made for six cats in the lock together. I hoped Tilly didn’t spot any otherwise there’d be hissing through the windows at locks and we had quite a few to do today!

Chris on his way to unlock

Chris the Lockie from yesterday arrived and walked down to unlock one paddle, the other out of use. Josh wound it up, the bottom gates hadn’t wanted to close fully and they still didn’t. A pull and push hadn’t helped even with two of us. Chris headed off to get a keb from his van.

Chris on the lock gate fishing out debris

Four poles were put together with a keb on the end, first he dragged along where my gate met the bottom cill, quite a bit of branches and gunk. The gate wouldn’t close still. More gunk was moved and removed, still no. Chris came over to my side of the lock and dragged it again, still no! He then climbed onto the gate and crouched past the paddle gear, balancing as he dragged along the cill (please don’t try this at home!). After several goes the cill was finally clear and the gates would close. Hopefully that would be our only problem today.

The morning had started off wet, but thankfully the rain didn’t return and we’d have some rather wonderful sunshine at times, the temperature however required the wearing of jumpers for much of the day. Andy and Mick chatted away at the stern, Josh and I chatted when we could be heard over the water. We soon got into a rhythm as we worked our way up the first three locks of the day. As yesterday there would be a boat heading downhill, so we were to leave the top gates open for them.

Deepcut Bottom Lock cottage

There was a gap in locks for about twenty minutes, time to make a cuppa and have a piece of flapjack, far too early for lunch but with 14 more locks to do today keeping the fuel levels up would be important. There was time to make that cuppa but not drink it despite the use of the electric kettle!

The start of the Deepcut Flight was more open, but the sky soon disappeared, more green canopy and dappled sunlight, how wonderful.

Mike explaining things to the helm

When we reached Lock 16 another Basingstoke Canal van came towards us, this was Mike, now with a new tyre. Another warm greeting. This time we had different instructions to follow once we’d passed the downhill boat. Mike decided to give instructions to Mick and Andy at the helm, some of the information they needed to know, but the whole crew could have been briefed at the same time, saving Chinese whispers. I managed to catch the tail end of the instructions regarding closing up and that some of the top gates won’t open fully. Mick filled me in on the rest.

Mike headed back up hill, the next time we saw him he was getting ready to follow the downhill boat, ashing up the top gates of the locks. A long pole as Chris had had but with what looked like a plastering trowel on the end, he also had a big bucket of whatever they use to ash the gates up. This gets sucked into the gaps around the gate by the water and bungs them up.

Mick waiting for Josh to lift a paddle to close the top gates and then give a big blast of the engine to lift the silt.

At the next lock we met the downhill boat, now we needed to help with the ashing of the gates. Once the two boats were up and out of the lock, Josh and I were to close the top gates but leave a gap of about 2ft, then one of us would lift a bottom paddle, which would make the top gates close by themselves. Once they were closed and the lock emptying, one of the boats would have loitered in line with the stop plank slot above the lock, they were now to give a big blast of the engine, this would pick up silt on the bottom of the canal and push it towards the top gates, doing part of the job of ashing them up.

Josh and I got into the rhythm of this, whoever was left on the offside of the lock would lift the bottom paddle before they walked up to the next lock.

What tranquil views, all that green, beautiful. What a shame it was accompanied, almost constantly by the sound of gunfire and artillery. The whole length of the locks is bordered by an army shooting range, or ranges. Looking at Google earth you can see the long lines, the Army Training Centre, Pirbright, there’s also Bisley Shooting Ground and the National Rifle Association.

Third lock from the top had it’s bottom gates closed and was obviously part full. Time to lift the paddles to empty it, the top gates obviously leak a lot. This was also the case at the very top lock. Here picnic tables are reserved for cream teas on Thursdays and a chap appeared from nowhere to sit with a cuppa, it only being Monday this was allowed.

He chatted away telling me about the lock cottage and how Peter Munt the old Lock Keeper used to keep a book with comments from boaters about the Deepcut flight and on Sundays served cream teas by the lock. How in the dry dock you weren’t allowed to make any noise, yet the planes flying into Farnborough and the shooting ranges were exempt. About the new huge housing development being built and how the run off water was having to be stabilised in a lagoon before it could enter the canal. That the SSI status of the canal was to do with the weed in it, I think the last one might have been a joke as the higher we got today the more and more weed appeared around our props. It was nice chatting to him, but by now both boats were out of the lock and it was time to lift a paddle, everyone was waiting for me.

The chatty chap

As agreed with the crew of NB Olive we would be mooring in different places today because of the feline crew. There is only one more lock on the canal which we can do at anytime without booking it, so we may or may not meet up to ascend Ash Lock. They took the lead and we slowly followed, long gone is the speed of the Thames, welcome to the speed of shallow weedy canals reminiscent of the Chesterfield Canal. Patience.

Deepcut cutting

The cutting is bordered by more tall trees, a jumper definitely required in the shade at the bottom. A reservoir headed off to the north then the canal turned towards the south again, under the railway and soon the first mooring came into view alongside Frimley Lodge Park. A lady sat and watched as we came in, a bow rope thrown over a bollard at the bow and the stern brought in as close as we could get it, bunches of nettles between the two points. Once we were settled our position noted, the rules were read and Tilly was given a couple of hours shore leave.

Woofer stamps!

Tilly shouted at me for having walked into the park talking to the lady who was recommending the cafe. Well you were glibly walking away from the safety of the friendly cover to a huge manicured grassness. I could hear you so you had to hear ME! Anyway have you seen that sign there! That is not the right stamp of approval! That stamp is the wrong shaped paw print! Is this woofer land?!

Tilly got over her initial concerns and made use of the outside not returning for quite a while. She’s still deliberating as to whether it should have a Mrs Tilly stamp of approval pasted over the woofer one.


This morning when we came to set off I flicked the switch on the nebolink as normal (the voltage relay switch not as yet connected, I can’t remember why). Usually within the time it takes to roll up the covers I have received an email to say Oleanna is on the move, this morning no such email arrived. I tried turning it off, then back on again, still nothing. On the map Oleanna showed as being stationary. I left it switched on in case signal was poor. By the end of the day it still hadn’t moved. Mick undid various things to see what he could see, the red flashing light flashed, power not a problem. He tinkered some more, still not working. A message was sent to Nebolink support, we won’t hear back until tomorrow as they are based in Australia.

It no working!

To celebrate our reaching the top of the locks today we enjoyed a roast chicken and a glass or two of wine.

£650,000 click photo

17 locks, ?miles, 6 second mates, 20ft of pole, 1 keb, 1 trowel end, 1 downhill boat, 1 flat tyre, 2 Lock Keepers, 1 none stop chatting man, 64716316569665896668836116449 rounds of ammo fired, 1 none working Nebolink, 2 paw prints!?! Hmmmm


2 thoughts on “6 Through 17. 10th June

  1. Mick Gemson

    You have just cruised past my childhood home in Brookwood. Our garden in Heath Drive went right down to the canal bank. The canal was unnavigable for most of the time I lived there but was slowly restored and in good shape when Christine & I last saw it in 2019 when we sold the house.
    If you get time – have a stroll through Brookwood Cemetery on your way back
    FYI – Frimley Green was the home of SOOTY
    All the best

    1. Pip Post author

      Hi Mick
      You are the second person to suggest we need to visit the cemetery, so we must go. We’ll be heading back down hill soon so will wave to your childhood home as we pass. Another friend used to drive tugs along the canal before the full restoration was completed, it’s a popular area.
      We may have to find where Sooty lived in Frimley Green, as we know where he lived in Lymm for a while before Matthew sold up.
      All the best to you and Christine. x

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