Category Archives: National Trust

Next Time! 9th August

Windsor Racecourse Marina to the second big expensive house in Marlow

Last nights mooring

Approaching Bray Lock this morning the gates were open so we headed straight in. The jolly Lockies asked how long we were and quickly decided to close the gates behind us, we were being followed by a trip boat. I suspect they’d been expecting the larger boat and we’d got in between. We were soon up and they could drop the lock.

Bray Studios being demolished in parts

Last night we watched an episode of Tony Robinson on his walk along the Thames. He covered the stretch we are currently on and went to look at a Slipper Launch being worked on at Peter Freebody and Co.

Rolf’s house
Just look at those lines

Today we were going to see a lot of these beautifully crafted boats. They have such wonderful lines and the finish on their woodwork is more than mirror like. No wonder they take two years to make and cost around about £180,000. The bigger houses on the way into Maidenhead all seemed to have one moored up outside, including outside Rolf Harris’s house.

Maidenhead Railway Bridge

Under Maidenhead Railway Bridge, designed by Brunel with low rise arches that caused a stir at the time of it’s construction. However it’s stability is still good 180 years later.

Maidenhead Bridge

As we approached Boulter’s Lock there was another narrowboat ahead of us. We both waited for the gates to open and then we followed them in. The lock keeper enquired about NB Martha Gunn’s licence, the lady at the bow not knowing what sort it was. The licence wasn’t on show to the Lockie, but on the port side I could just make out the bottom of the V19 that had been trapped in a hopper window and then the rest of it had fallen backwards out of view.

Going round the islands towards Cliveden

After Maidenhead the river runs alongside a steep cliff, covered in trees. Soon we could see Cliveden House high up above. If the weather forecast wasn’t for strong winds tomorrow we’d have moored up and gone for a walk around the National Trust grounds. Over twenty years ago I spent a month painting new rooms and bathrooms in the stable block of this very posh hotel. This would be a perfect place for Tilly, we might never see her again. We possibly would have fitted on one of the islands in the middle of the Thames, perfect for keeping Tilly close. But the last place we want to be with 50mph gusts is around so many trees. Another Next Time!

Spring Cottage, where Queen Victoria used to have afternoon tea watching the boats

Nb Martha Gunn was a little bit slower than us and the chap at the helm had said they wouldn’t mind if we overtook. We decided to go a different way round the islands and see who got to the other end first, they just beat us. Along side the river is Spring Cottage which is part of the hotel. Here you can spend a night with a champagne cruise thrown in for just £2,055, if you want breakfast included add another £50.

Waiting our turn

Round the next bend Cookham Lock waited for us a boat coming down. On Self Service I was about to offer to press the buttons but crew from another boat who’d arrived above offered to do the honours and up we went. After the lock cut the river opens out, wide sweeping stretches of river.

Bourne End

Bourne End looked inviting in the sun with blue sky over head and this chap sat in a modest sized garden reading his book.

Enjoying the sunshine reading his book

On we continued still not as far as we wanted to reach today the wind on the wider stretches blustering away at us.

Marlow Lock

At Marlow Lock a boat was just finishing going up and a small inflatable with outboard motor was waiting on the lock pontoon to come down. The lock was on self service and they hadn’t spotted this for half an hour. The lock landing isn’t connected to dry land so they’d have had to drop someone off. I offered to do the buttons for them and dropped them down.

Marlow

A gongoozler asked if the locks were hard to operate, four buttons, that’s all, not hard. But the lock was being a little bit odd, the sluice close light flashing when it shouldn’t. It still worked, just took a while for it to acknowledge that the levels had equalised. So we were soon on our way again. We let NB Martha Gunn go ahead as they were hoping to reach Henley today, we were hoping to find a mooring in Marlow without too much tree cover.

A lovely steam boat only £1200 for two hours

A long line of cruisers sat on the moorings. Ahead were two gaps away from the masses, but these were surrounded by trees. Then at the end of the line with shorter greenery around it was an Oleanna sized hole. We pulled in, just enough depth and double pinned ourselves to this outside. Tilly was given shore leave for the rest of the day.

Thunderous rain shorlty after we moored

Time to try to use that courgette from Hampton Court Palace. I’d spotted a recipe for a beetroot, courgette and feta tart. Yesterday we’d picked up the other ingredients, so I started to slice everything up. Layering it out on the pastry I realised I had far too much of everything, twice as much courgette as required! Oh well, it can sit in the fridge until tomorrow.

Beetroot courgette and feta tart

The tart was very tasty.

Marlow at dusk. My camera did this blue all by itself

Property Game

Another smaller property. 2 bedrooms and a first floor conservatory.

This one may be hidden behind a wall but it’s rather pretty. Four bedrooms and well situated for the railway.

4 Locks, 11.26 miles, 3 locks shared, 3 pretty launches all in a row, 20 coats of varnish, 1 mooring on the Next time list, 1/2 courgette left, 1 beetroot left, 1 tasty tart, 1 mooring with lack of trees, 1 thunder storm, 3 wealthy neighbours.

Yesterdays Answer

£610,000 in Chertsey with 42ft of river frontage and a long lawn out the other side.

https://www.waterview.co.uk/property-for-sale/house-for-sale-in-laleham-reach-chertsey-kt16/5264

Sorry Debby, I’m sure if your house was in Chertsey it would be worth more than this.

Back To The Thames. 4th August

Byfleet Cruising Club to Hampton Court Palace, River Thames

The Basingstoke, we’ll see you next time

The fast people on the M25 didn’t relent all night, at least this meant it lulled us to sleep with it’s repetitiveness. A lady was sat out on her tug deck in front of us as we came to pull out, she gave me a few pointers of things to do whilst on the Thames, along with suggesting that I might want to dunk the bow rope as a dog had just relieved itself on it.

Back within the M25

We met boats at each of the locks on the Wey today, there seemed to be a constant stream of boats heading upstream. Maybe it’s because we’re on a river that people don’t look to see if anyone is coming when a lock is set against them, we had another couple turned in front of us today.

Coxes Lock

An elderly couple worked their cruiser up at Coxes Lock as plenty of gongoozlers watched on, one young chap helped the lady out with gates and paddles which she was very grateful for.

At Town Lock, the last we’d work ourselves, crew from an upstream boat appeared and helped with the gates. It was their first trip up the Wey in about ten years. The lady wondered why she’d been given a long handled windlass, give me a fulcrum and a lever,that is until she started to try to lift a bottom paddle with her normal windlass. I asked if they’d been told about the yellow posts, they had but didn’t see why. I explained that it was a very good method and it had worked well for us. Later on I found out that they like you to do it because the National Trust don’t board their top gates, so recesses can catch your bow and a lot of damage can be done to both boat and gates. She asked if we needed one gate or two, two please, them’s the rules!

Back up
and swap over

Her boat was eager and already turning the sharp bend to enter the lock, not having realised we were in the lock and in his way. He soon spotted us and reversed back to give us space.

Just a touch too white

We pulled in where we’d stopped on our first night opposite the very posh houses for a bite to eat and to let the Lock Keepers at Thames Lock have their break too. Then we waved our posh neighbours goodbye and cruised the half mile to the lock.

Ian at Thames Lock Cottage

Ian and a volunteer were seeing a cruiser into the bottom pound/chamber. Water was let down to give them enough depth to get over the cill. We’d not been on their list of boats for today, our licence still valid for a few more days. I handed back our windlass and we watched as the cruiser came up the lock. We weren’t the only ones, three benches face the lock and every space was occupied.

The last lock on the Wey

Ropes round bollards and the chaps let the water out into the lower pound for us, there’d be more than enough depth for us. We paused to top up with water in the bottom pound as the level was dropped for us down to River Thames level.

Bye bye

It felt like we’ve been on the Wey for at least a month, we’ve thoroughly enjoyed our time and would highly recommend it. We look forward to returning to hopefully do the Basingstoke earlier in a year when they have more water, plans are already being talked about.

Wide water again

From the narrow quiet river we came out to the wide Thames, masses of ways we could go, numerous boats of all shapes and sizes everywhere. Blimey it’s busy!

We headed down stream, first overtaking a paddle boarder, then being overtaken ourselves by a trip boat who then proceeded to wind in front of us. Plenty of traffic out and about, lots of people finishing off a Sunday cruise.

At Sunbury Locks the lock gates were open and waiting for us, several other boats were already with their bow and stern lines round bollards. Mick mentioned to the Lockie as we entered that we’d be needing a licence, he was told to tie up the stern loosely and go to the hut to settle up. A volunteer set the lock in motion all the time keeping an eye on our stern rope whilst Mick paid for a months licence.

A mini pirate galleon

On we pootled down stream keeping an eye out for moorings, not many available but we were hoping for a space further on. Molesey Lock was waiting for us again, several boats waiting patiently. Five boats in these locks is no where near a tight squeeze. Under the first bridge and a short distance on we saw a possible gap just where we’d hoped. Mick winded Oleanna and brought her round to the gap. It would be a tight squeeze but the chaps from the boats either side popped out to see if they could help. The one in front pulled forward a few feet and in we slid. We’re on a bit of a bend, so neither our bow or stern are into the side, but it will do us, just where we wanted.

Tilly for some reason had got herself into a Tilly Tizzy, shouting at the back doors as if we’d come through a tunnel. No chance of her going out in such a state, especially as she clambered so much to get out that she managed to give me quite a scratch. After a few minutes she calmed down, but the decision had been made, she’d be staying in today and having her flee treatment. Bast**ds!!!!

Property Game

Back on the Thames. A three bedroom chalet. How much is it on the market for? It has moorings both front and back!

6, maybe 7 locks, 10.72 miles, 2 rivers, 1 right, 4 days early, 31 days licence, 1 galleon, 1 last space, 1 Tilly Tizzy, 1 roast chicken.

Four In The Lock, And The Little One Said.. 2nd August

Papercourt Meadows to Pyrford Marina

Ornate roof for work boat

We woke with that sloaping feeling. The slight list we’d achieved when mooring yesterday had increased overnight, whether this was down to river levels changing we don’t know as things looked the same. Tilly was allowed out as we were in no rush to get anywhere today and we sat having breakfast thankfully our cereal staying in our bowls, but it is a touch unnerving sitting at an angle.

Time came to push off. Most times pushing the back out and engaging reverse does the job. However today Oleanna would move a touch but she always returned to where she’d started off, we seemed to have got behind a mound of silt that wasn’t going to let her free without a tussle. The barge pole was deployed, a push, then a bigger push, followed by an even bigger push, the stern was free and was pushed as far as the pole would reach out into the channel. A good blast of reverse got us clear and the bow out from where she’d settled and we could carry on downstream.

Waterway Routes back at the stern

Last night Mick had spent ages trying to get Memory Map working on the new tablet for the stern, all that was left to do this morning was decide which case it should go in, red or blue. Red won of course. It’s nice to be able to see where we’re going again on a bigger screen than that of a phone. We just need a longer lead for it as the power socket is on the opposite side to the old one.

Newark Priory

Not far to Newark Lock which sits close to the ruins of Newark Priory. There were plenty of people around the lock, as I walked up I could see why. There were four boats in the lock, two day boats and two short boats. The day boats were discussing that maybe the order to which they had entered the lock should be altered next time to afford a bit more space, the two longer boats were one in front of the other. This all suggested that it was a big group outing, maybe for someones birthday.

Four in the lock

As the day boats pulled out from the lock it then became apparent that the other boats had just happened upon them. ‘Hold back! We’ll stay here for a while, let them get ahead. Don’t want to be with them all day!’ The last boat to leave the lock a sea otter had quite a crew, ten on board in total. Quiet now returned to the river and we carried on down by ourselves.

Entering the flood lock, turf on either side

There was more time to look at Walsham Flood Gates today, the telephone bells having been noted on our way upstream. This is the last of the turf locks on the River Wey. Stone ends to the lock where the gates are positioned, in between there is just earth and vegetation which slopes away, we’ll come across a few more of these this summer.

Someone has vanished!

At Pryford Lock a boat was ascending and a group of young lads helped with the gates, they helped as we descended. It actually looked like they were set in for the day with a picnic blanket laid out alongside the lock.

A busy pub

The Anchor pub was heaving and the smell of chips was enticing but we held off, turning into Pryford Marina onto the service mooring.

I can see now

A fill up of diesel before we hit the Thames and an opportunity to wash the port side windows, Tilly appreciated her better view. Then we reversed back out onto the river and found a suitable mooring so that Tilly could have the remainder of the day out and about in the trees. Here is just far enough away from the M25, tomorrow we’ll end up mooring almost alongside it, for a time anyway. The afternoon was spent listening to the test match and I baked Mick a loaf of bread, it’s the first time I’ve had to knead bread in quite sometime.

2 locks, 2.1 miles, 1 left, 1 pole, 1 roof on a boat, 1 pair of specs, 2 personless shoes, 4 in a lock, 10 on one boat, 0 space to swing a cat, 83.66 litres, 4 clean windows, 8 hours shore leave, 0 rude woofers, 1 multi seeded loaf.

Down The Wey. 1st August

Dapdune Wharf to Papercourt Meadows

Earth, Wind, Fire and Water were the order of the day at Dapdune and young visitors arrived early for a day of fun. Around the site you could paddleboard, make mud pies, learn how to make a fire or partake in lots of fun activities all around the place. We opted to just look round the buildings we’d not seen yesterday.

The barge building shed has a great photo at one end of the structure that makes up a Wey Barge and the walls are decorated with Carpenters Porn. Planes of every size and use, drills and one of the biggest vices I’ve seen.

The paintwork was almost alive on the doors

Next the Gunpowder Store that last night was filled with paddle boards. Here we learnt that transporting gunpowder by water was the safest means and it continued until the 1920’s. The kegs of powder would be stored in this room until they set off for London. The paint on the doors was all bubbled and blistered, as though numerous fires had taken place in the room.

Knotty situation

The main display was about ropes, knots and pulleys. Here you could spend hours learning how to tie all manner of knots and then forget them for when they are most needed.

Set up for lunch in the cabin

Reliance was open to have a look around. The boarded over hold very low, necessitated bending over to reach the cabin at the stern. Here the cabin was laid out with a table set up flipped out from the cupboards, dishes on the long stove ready to cook a meal on. Panels which looked like doors made up the seat backs, these would hinge down and make up beds for the crew, far more space than on a narrowboat.

Look at those Frank

A wander around the island and a chance to taste our first Blackberries of the year, mine despite being picked easily was still face shrivellingly sour. Everywhere you looked there were games laid out. An orienteering course, archery and loads more and the site was filled with kids.

Mick had topped up the water before the Wharf had opened this morning so we were now good to go. Not far until we pulled in, a nearby B&Q called us on the hunt for a longer plank. They had none. but a nearby Argos provided Mick with a cheap tablet which he’s hoping to run Waterway Routes on at the stern as we cruise, replacing one that died a few months ago.

Approaching Stoke Lock we could see people milling about. The gates were open, but they proceeded to close them. A stripey person looked at us, turned away from the gate then did a Frank Matthews double take at us , then continued to walk down to the bottom gates. We could see that the lock was being emptied, Oh well! Good job we weren’t in a rush.

We pulled in and I walked down, normally I’d offer a helping hand, but everything was being taken care of, so instead I said Good morning to see what was said back. Nothing other than a ‘morning’. I took the opportunity to walk over the footbridge and take a photo of the lock cottage with the hire boat in front of it.

Plenty of crew taking it in turns to do things, one at a time

The lock emptied, the gates opened and they took their time. A jumper needed rearranging around someones middle then the boat was tied to tightly so couldn’t be undone. With at least five crew everything took time, a lot of it. I suggested that maybe we should have some lunch whilst we waited, there’d almost have been enough time.

Eventually they made their way up and the lock was now ours. I was just about to close a gate when I saw a boat following us, so we waited to be joined, a nice couple on a Sea Otter (a small aluminium narrowboat). We had a short pause for lunch before carrying on to Bowers Lock. Ahead we could see a boat had just entered the lock to go down, we tooted our horn, someone looked but the gates still closed. We tooted again, another look, maybe they didn’t know that they could share locks on this stretch. Oh well we’d be doing this one on our own too.

Filling Bowers Lock

At the moment there is work being done on the weir, there’s lots of noise. Due to this the lock landing is a temporary pontoon quite a distance away, so by the time I reached the lock they were halfway down. I asked how much further they planned on going today, they weren’t sure. One chap stayed and helped me close the very low bottom gates which was the bit I’d not been looking forward to as my back has just about sorted itself from when we came up this lock.

Triggs Lock

We passed them a while later, they’d almost pulled in at a mooring we’d tried to get into on our way up, glasses of wine were already being consumed, it was the last night of their holiday. We offered to share the next lock, but they must have settled for the evening.

How many paddles?

Triggs Lock has way more than it’s fare share of paddles on the bottom gates, three each. The top gates can be chained back and then the lock used as a sluice/weir when the river is in flood. I only got to wind the outer set of paddles today. Winding them back down could be done from land, but anyone a touch shorter than me would have difficulty in reaching with a long handled windlass.

Git Gaps a gogo

By the pub two cruisers were mooring up. The full length of mooring and they chose to take the easy option of tying to a bollard each, leaving only enough space for one narrowboat and two big git gaps! Good job we didn’t want to stop.

Papercourt Lock wasn’t quite so picturesque today the blue sky hiding by now behind clouds. From here I could see that there was only one boat moored up on the meadows below, so there should be somewhere for us to pull up too.

A meadow mooring

Standing at the bow keeping a watch out we tried one spot. No hard or straight edge here, would it be deep enough for us? The bow came in well, we pulled forward so that Mick didn’t have to jump off into nettles. Goose pooh hop scotch was needed as we tied up, we were on a slight list but this would do nicely. Tilly on the other hand wasn’t too sure, most probably due to the lack of trees.

What’s happenedto the trees?!

During the evening we’ve watched reports of the Toddbrook Reservoir that feeds the Peak Forest at Whaley Bridge. I so hope the spillway can be made safe to allow people to go home, the repair will take some time. Boaters have been told to take ‘every precaution’. I think we’d try to get as far away as possible, past Marple towards Poynton in a different valley.

4 locks, 7.23 miles, 1 full water tank, 0 rubbish, 1 clean pooh box, 1 lock stolen, 1 shared, 6 pairs of deaf ears, 2 very low lock beams, 6 paddles, 1 snake, 1 meadow mooring, 19.75 digits and 4 paws crossed for Whaley Bridge.

Dapdune 31st July

Guildford Willow Meadows to Dapdune Wharf

The Guildford Scholar

Having put off till tomorrow, due to the rain, we needed to go into town. There was the bank to visit, the new security measures being brought in for online banking had meant that I’d managed to lock myself out of my account! We also needed new vacuum bags to store things in under the bed. In the past we’ve had various types and gradually they have all failed, so this time we’ve gone for robust and protected ones with their own tote bags. We couldn’t remember off hand how big the storage area is under the bed and they don’t come in ‘about this by that and that’ sizes! So we will have to have a measure before we open any of the packaging up and I have a note of the different sized bags that are available.

Tying to a tree, always good practice!

A top up on food and we headed back to Oleanna, hopping over the ropes from a day boat, we know they are given spikes as yesterdays boaters gave up hammering them in to also use the trees!

Yumm

As we’d had a good breakfast today no lunch was required. We pushed off and made our way back into town, dropped down Millmead Lock with two swans who were quite impatient for the gates to open and then wound our way under all the roads.

Inviting themselves
Plenty of room for everyone

Our hope had been to get a mooring at Dapdune Wharf so that we could have a look around before carrying on our way. Coming round the last bend the wharf lay empty, not one boat moored there, just a mass of paddle boarders. Instructions were shouted to all the wobbly people and space was made for us to come into the side.

Dapdune wharf

The view one way was good, lots of people admiring me. But on the other side I wasn’t impressed! A high wall which gave tantalising views of people walking past and what looked like an interesting roof line. She said I wouldn’t like it, so instead of letting me out they went off and had a look round.

Paddleboarders

Dapdune Wharf was used for goods transshipment and latterly for barge building and maintenance. The site is now the National Trusts administrative offices for the navigation along with a visitor centre. After we’d had a cuppa watching the next batch of novice paddle boarders getting their confidence (or just getting wet!) we had our membership cards scanned and started to have a look round.

Reliance a Wey Barge

For over 150 years the Stevens family played an important role in the development of the navigation, first as Lock Keepers then onto management of a substantial transport business along the navigation. By 1902 the Stevens brothers gained full ownership of the navigation. The Edwards family was brought in and Wey Barges were built at Dapdune. The boats kept transporting goods into the 60’s and the navigation was finally handed over to the National Trust in 1964.

The Smithy

Here you can see the smithy, originally the nail store, given away by there not being a chimney. Repair sheds (now used to house the electric trip boats). A gunpowder store, building shed, a carpenters shed, a steam chest (where timber was steam so that it could be bent into shape for the hulls). And Reliance an original Wey Barge built in 1931-32 which is no longer water tight so sits on a frame above the graving dock.

Boys! They never grow up

There are displays with 3D maps and Mick spent quite a bit of time playing with a model that demonstrates how locks work. Well if the water pressure had been enough he wouldn’t have been able to level the two pounds and the lock meaning both ends of the lock could be opened at the same time!

Printed fabric and paper
Giant teapot

Around the site there were a few pieces of art from Farnham College of Art. A couple made from fabric and paper were vaguely interesting, one a sheet and some rope was just taking up space, but the best one was a giant cottage teapot on a trolley, the smithy had been filled with such teapots also. My photo makes the trolley look like it’s been made in miniature.

Medication, twice in one week

Still with a few more sheds to check out as they were closing, we decided to stay for the night. A nice mooring apart from the trains going over the bridge close by, they are so noisy! But as the sun vanished out of sight numerous bats swooped, ducked and dived past Oleanna enjoying a major feast. They were so busy Mick decided to close the hatch in case they decided to swoop in.

1 lock, 1.25 miles, 4 digits changed, 1 pointless phone call, 3 nights food, 2 big bags, 5 veg bags, 2 trip hazards, 1 Liza, 2 swans, 8 boards, 1 nervous lad blossoming into a smiley goon, 2 chilled medications, 1 resigned cat, 3 hyperactive bats at least, 01:15 the last noisy train tonight!

The mystery plant I believe is Dipsacus fullonum, more commonly known as a Teasle. Coming across one on the path made it very obvious. Thank you Debby for your suggestion.