Is There A Festival Going On? 24th June

Shepperton Village Moorings to Footbridge 207A, Grand Union Canal

Just the ticket

A lie in at last, with Saturdays newspaper, followed by a bacon butty. It’s felt like we’ve been getting up extra early forever! With covers rolled up we pushed off and winded a little before 11am, a rower appearing from nowhere, Mick had to call out to him so we didn’t collide.

Round the rest of Desborough Island and then joining back to the rest of the Thames we made our way down stream. As we pulled into Sunbury Lock I said to the lock keeper that we’d be needing a transit licence, a small rib was following us into the lock so we were to pull in on the lock landing below and return for our licence.

Hampton Lock and the first hollyhocks we’ve seen in flower

The EA no longer do transit licences so we had to buy a 24 hour licence. The lockie took pity on us and reduced Oleanna’s size so that she fitted into the next category below, still £50.50 for a day! A week had been £79. My inner Yorkshire voice shouted ‘OW MUCH!!!!’

Onwards down stream, the river wider and thankfully quieter than yesterday. Contrasting neighbours opposite each other at one point.

Knitting whilst passing the Palace

We shared Hampton Lock with a couple of cruisers and a small rib, everyone would be faster than us leaving so we waved them on. Today I was a little bit behind on last weeks pair of socks so my knitting was out on the stern keeping me busy. Only a few rounds to knit before the cuff, the casting off had to wait until we were moored up.

Willing for there to be a gap big enough for us

Approaching Teddington the moorings looked chocka block. Was everyone just staying one night? Not everyone could be waiting for the tide down to Brentford! Several gaps not big enough for us, then one that looked hopeful. A chap from another narrowboat waved from his hatch and then came out to catch a rope, the pull from the weir making it a little hard to pull into the made to measure mooring. He had just been to see the Lock Keeper we should make our way up to the lock at around 16:55. He had a similar story to us about when he’d called them a week or so ago to check what time he’d be needing to leave, he’d been told 11am. We reckoned the Lock Keeper had been looking at that days tides not those of the 24th of June.

Cranes and pontoon at the locks

A late lunch then we walked down to chat to the keeper ourselves. There were cranes and pontoons in front of the Launch lock, this is the lock we’ve been through the most at Teddington, it’s almost big enough to take nine Oleannas. We’d not be using that lock today as there is a £4.5 million refurbishment taking place, funded by Defra. So instead every boat is going through the Barge Lock. The full lock measures 198.12m long by 7.54m wide, big enough to take 33 Oleannas. However there is an extra set of gates a third of the way down the lock, these were in operation today, a small cruiser heading through.

A wise precaution before cruising the tide

We pottered away the time waiting for the tide. I wound some yarn for my 26th pair of socks. The boats about us were preparing themselves for the tide. I suggested Mick should check the weed hatch, he lifted the cover and found cloth and weed wrapped round the prop shaft, it hadn’t felt like there was anything there, but best to be clear before heading out onto the tide.

There seemed to be quite a few narrowboats going. One chap seemed quite nervous asking if anyone had done it before. Well we had several times but not in this direction, however we would know where to turn in. We were let out from our mooring to go ahead of the surrounding boats, third into the lock, another three following in behind.

We nudged up as far as we could behind a long hire boat, passed our ropes around the bollards. As I looked behind us I could see the last boat on our side had pulled in. The lady at the bow was just passing her rope around a bollard and the chap at the back was trying to do the same, except the boat was moving out. Oh blimey he suddenly vanished behind his boat, a leg into the air. I shouted ‘Man Over Board’ and pointed. Only for the Lock Keeper to take it as a joke, he then suggested it was someone jumping off the bridge behind the lock! Very thankfully the chap had been clinging on tight and managed to haul himself up out of the water, only his bottom half wet. Have to say I was very surprised that the Keeper had just joked about the whole thing and not even gone to check if anything was happening!

Richmond Hill ahead

Quite a high tide, we didn’t drop much, maybe just a foot before the bottom gates were opened. Six narrowboats came out of the lock, several cruisers below having to manoeuvre themselves out of the way. Fourth in line we followed on slowly. The boat ahead had said his engine wasn’t that powerful so he wouldn’t be going that fast, he was right. Oleanna was just about tick over, she really wanted to go faster and so did we. We waited for some rowing boats to be clear before making the move, another rowing boat quite close behind us. You should always keep an eye open behind you as boats can appear from nowhere.

That felt better, we’d need to be a distance away from each other by the time we reached Brentford anyway to make the turn.

£2 million minus £1

The view is always different going in the opposite direction. An house for sale on Eel Pie Island £1 short of £2 million! This afternoon the sun shone on the buildings high above the river on Richmond Hill as we rounded the bend towards Richmond.

Time to paddle

Here you could see how high the tide was , lapping it’s way up the streets, some people having to paddle to walk the bank of the river.

The line of narrow boats was causing a bit of a stir on the river. A chap with some rowing boats asked if there was a festival or something going on, he was used to seeing maybe a couple of narrowboats, but not six!

Richmond Weir

Around Richmond half tide lock and round to the east side of Isleworth Alt. I tried to see if I could see the moorings behind as a friend of a friend had been interested in buying a boat there recently. We also passed Isleworth Drawdock where you can hire a section of the river that dries out at low tide. There may be a problem with our bowthruster, possibly weed from the Basingstoke Canal in the tube. Mick had considered stopping here, but it can wait a while the fuse has been changed and another is on order.

Just as I was getting ready to take the compulsory photo of the lion on Sion House Mick requested a photo of a plane flying overhead coming in to land at Heathrow. Oh blimey, both things requiring a photo and limited time to take them. I only just got the old BEA livery in a photo, the lion still isn’t wagging it’s tail! There were several cranes outside Sion House with lights, something was being filmed.

Waterway Routes, it’s handy knowing exactly where you are

We checked our maps, we were soon to turn in at Brentford. The lead boat could be seen making the turn, the hire boat following soon after. Rowing boats were heading up stream, Mick made the turn earlier so as to avoid them, the tide now dropping and taking us with it, the gap between boats just enough.

Boats turning in towards Brentford

The C&RT Lock Keeper was waiting and waved the first two boats into the lock, we were to wait, the second chamber not in use. We trod water below the lock and were soon joined by the next two boats and then the final one made the turn in.

Only room for two boats at Thames Lock

Above Thames Lock is also tidal water, so the difference in height when we arrived wasn’t great, the paddles required lifting before the gates could be opened for us to go through. On up to the Gauging Lock where a C&RT volunteer was waiting for us. He asked how many more boats were coming, two more, he’d wait and pen them up.

A good mural we’ve not spotted before

We pulled in to the services, our yellow water tank on the right side to be emptied, it didn’t take too long before we were ready to push off again. Our next job was to find a mooring. Of course by now we were the last boat of the six. The first two had carried on up to below Hanwell, but there were still four boats looking for spaces. Room right by the railway bridge wasn’t appealing, we moved onwards and found a space just big enough for us round the bend. Here we had to play woofer shit hopscotch and deploy our big buoy fenders. It was way past cat curfew, so Tilly had to make do with fresh air coming through the hatch.

Tomorrow we’ll be up early early, the aim to get up the Hanwell flight before the temperature rises and hopefully find a mooring where Tilly can go out.

5 locks, 17.1 miles, 2 lefts, £50.50, 1 late lunch, 6 narrowboats, 4 first timers, 1 lovely passage, 1 space left, 0 shore leave, 1 very warm evening, 2 many bright lights, pair 26 cast on.

2 thoughts on “Is There A Festival Going On? 24th June

  1. Marilyn McDonald

    We have only done that bit of the Thames going from Brentford to Teddington and I was nervous being out on the big wide river at first… It looks lovely in both directions, doesn’t it?
    When we came down to Brentford, the blanket weed was a nightmare: 5 trips down the weedhatch and our friend Barry hauled the boat for about half a mile . I hope you don’t have that hassle!
    Cheers, Marilyn, formerly nb Waka Huia.

    1. Pip Post author

      Hi Marilyn
      The amount of rubbish and weed so far this year has been surprisingly little, especially on the River Brent


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