Category Archives: River Wey

2019 Round Up.

Checking our vital statistics for a years worth of cruising takes a while. We have a trip computer which records almost all our journeys, sometimes it counts locks twice, sometimes it doesn’t quite catch where we reached before we wind. Before we used this method of recording our journeys I would use canal plan to work out our distances. This method can also miss out parts of our journey but it does give me more statistics. You know how I like numbers! How many bridges, how many narrow locks and what distances we travelled on different types of waterways. So inputting a years worth of cruising takes some time.

Anyhow, here is our round up of the year.

The New Year was seen in at Crick. From here we decided to head to Sheffield to have the last snagging jobs done on Oleanna, we were fortunate that the route north was open with no winter stoppages in our way until we reached Yorkshire. Once in the top chamber at Foxton it was going to be downhill all the way to Keadby.

Going down at Foxton

Sadly our blog started to loose it’s photos, which is a great shame. It was a problem shared by many bloggers who were all doing their best to get things working again. Have to say we ended up jumping ship from blogger to wordpress, but posts still lacked their photos when moved. We hope gradually to rectify this by replacing the missing photos, I miss them when looking back. But this will be a long job.

Waiting at Cromwell

During January we cruised down stream on the River Trent, the weather was getting colder the further north we got. Our route was clear but at Keadby the lock off the river was being dredged, so our journey was held up a touch. Then with February came cold nights and the canal at Keadby froze over. So we waited at Cromwell for things to improve.

First go at Gluten free puff pastry for cruising sausage rolls

Daylight hours and tides meant we split our tidal journey at Torksey. The early morning start from Torksey was very cold, so I was very glad I’d knitted us both balaclavas, we remained cosy cheeked for our journey.

Cosy heads

Our journey up towards Sheffield meant we coincided with the bicentenary of the opening of the canal and a very unseasonably warm weekend. The chaps at Finesse replaced a leaking window, gave us a new one (our choice), sorted out our gas locker lid amongst other bits and bobs. It had been a good decision going to Sheffield, it saved them time coming out to us and it saved us money on the extras we’d asked for.

New galley window going in
200 years old

Next we headed for Goole, the lure of cheap diesel and a night away to see our friends Bridget and Storm on the otherside of the Humber was a bonus. We then hunkered down to sit out storms and rising river levels. Our original plan had been to go to York, but flooding put paid to that, so instead we went by train.

Bridget and Storm with their lovely house

Towards the end of March we decided to give a trip up the Ouse another go, the rivers were at better levels and we still haven’t taken Oleanna there. But first Bank Dole lock wouldn’t fill due to silt, then when we reached Selby the Lock onto the Ouse had a fault which would take too much time to mend for us to wait. This was a relief for Tilly as this was where she’d discovered the difference between grass and duck weed and ended up learning to swim a couple of years ago.

Mark came to meet us from York

At the beginning of April we headed to Leeds. From here we had a day trip to Derby Crown Court for the sentencing of our original boat builder (Stillwater) who had finally pleaded guilty for fraud. I also spent a more pleasurable day in London, having a meeting for Puss in Boots.

Derby Crown Court

With panto in mind we planned our cruising for the remainder of the year. The remainder of April we made our way up the Calder and Hebble and onto the Rochdale Canal.

Being a foot shorter it wasn’t as tight as it had been on Lillian

Our friend Frank joined us to do the stretch from Sowerby Bridge to Hebden Bridge, which included the deepest lock n the network, Tuel Lane. He’d not done this stretch back in 2014 when he and I walked from Manchester locking Lillian over the Pennines to get to the Tour de France.

Tuel Lane the deepest on the network
Frank

Once over the top we picked up a boat to share the locks down into Manchester. Clare and Graeme were over from New Zealand for a few months and proved to be very good company.

Mr Blue Sky and Oleanna

On the 1st of May, with the help of a Canal and River Trust volunteer our passage down into Manchester went well. The following day both boats headed down the Rochdale nine with an extra pair of hands from an old college friend of mine, Doug.

Nearly there!

During May we cruised down the Bridgewater and onto the Trent and Mersey Canal gradually heading southwards. A short detour up the Middlewich Branch to look at where the breach had been before we carried on southwards.

Climbing the Cheshire Locks

A pause in the Cheshire Locks meant we got to meet up with Tom and Jan who were over for a visit. For Micks birthday we moored at Barlaston and had a nosy at the wonderful hall on the hill, our plan still stands if any of our family are interested! https://oleanna.co.uk/2019/05/23/the-plan-20th-may/

Tom and Jan

We saw the end of May out mooring at Tixall Wide before rejoining the Trent and Mersey and heading onto Fradley Junction where we joined the Coventry Canal. With Atherstone Locks out of the way I spent time below working whilst we cruised familiar waters on the flat, it might have rained too!

Tixall Wide

A day trip to London from Rugby for us both, me to a seminar for Separate Doors 3 and Mick to catch up with his friend Siobhan who was over from Australia. Continuing down the North Oxford Canal to Braunston where we joined the Grand Union Canal to head to London.

Busy Braunston Locks

A visit to the Royal Ordnance Depot at Weedon meant I bought some lovely yarn to make a cardie for myself (it’s nearly finished!) and caught up with our friend Heather Bleasdale, who just so happened to be moored there as well.

Yummy yarn

Our route then up and down the Grand Union meant we managed to get to see both Mikron shows this year as well as teaming up with the cast and NB Tyseley to climb the locks up to the summit.

Sharing the locks with Tyseley

Tilly was left in charge for a couple of days whilst we headed to Scarborough to check on our house as we had a change of tenants. This meant we got to stay with Jaye and Duncan and catch up on the news from home.

I’d be in trouble if this photo wasn’t on the blog again!

We now pressed on down to London where we booked a mooring in Paddington Basin for a week in early July. This gave us the opportunity to catch with with friends and family before we headed back out west and down the Hanwell flight. I made the front cover of Canal Boat for July.

Mid July we locked out onto the Thames cruising the Tidal section to Teddington. From here we transited to the River Wey, brand new waters for us.

Up onto the Wey

With my final design for panto delivered to Chipping Norton from Guildford we could enjoy our cruising a bit more, despite the soaring temperatures which had us hiding under trees for a couple of days.

Finished!

On the 26th July we ticked off our third point on the compass, reaching Godalming the furthest south you can get on the connected network. On our way back to the Thames we met up with Adam from NB Briar Rose, both he and Tilly got wet that day.

Furthest South

The original plan had been to cruise the Basingstoke Canal whilst we were there, but sadly the levels were too low and the canal closed before we got there, so we spent a while longer on the Wey.

Hampton Court Palace

Onto the Thames where we managed to get a space outside Hampton Court for a couple of days and I discovered the joys of standing in line for some fresh veg. Gradually we made our way up the Thames. Waking early and getting going worked for us as mostly we managed to get moored where we wanted around lunchtime. Three years ago we did from Teddington to Oxford in a week but with a months licence we took our time.

Waterway Routes
No Problem XL

The further upstream we got the quieter the river got, less hustle and bustle. We met up with Paul and Christine (NB Waterway Routes), missed Carol and George (WB Still Rockin), finally got to have a proper conversation with Sue and Vic (WB No Problem XL) as we headed upstream.

Kelmscott Manor

As the rivers bends got tighter, the banks were harder to get up. A mooring by Kelmscott Manor required a rope from the post to help us get on and off the boat, but it was worth it to visit the house.

At the end of the navigable Thames

On the 26th August we winded at the furthest point we could reach on the Thames on Oleanna and started to head back eastwards. Tilly gave one of our moorings a double stamp of approval and stayed out well after dark!

Isis lock, Oxford

An incident with engine coolant nearly stopped us from reaching Oxford to see War Horse. But a nice man from RCR got us going again so we had a narrow lock fix and headed to the show catching up with Matt and Bill for a drink afterwards.

Lovely chaps

Then at the beginning of September we turned off the Thames onto the Kennet and Avon. For the last five years we’ve been meaning to head this way, but for one reason or another it hadn’t happened.

Gangplank land, the K&A

With tales of lack of mooring we kept to rising early hoping we’d get moorings. This mostly worked and wild moorings were very rarely needed, we did still have to use the gang plank every now and again. We only encountered one pound on our westward journey where even the longest plank wouldn’t have helped which meant we had to carry on up a flight with the clock ticking before locks were locked around us.

Over the summit

At Devizes we met an Instagram friend Frankie who’d been working on the flight over the summer. Despite following another boat down the flight we made good time with the help of the volunteers.

The photo of the year, Devizes

Onwards to Bath and Bristol. Here we moored with HMS GB in the background and met up with two of my old school friends for lunch. A big shame we couldn’t stay longer as there was more we wanted to do and see whilst there, we’ll just have to save up for next time as the mooring fees are quite pricey!

In good company
Old school friends

The section between Bath and Bradford upon Avon was our favourite, with the aqueducts and views along with the second deepest lock on the network.

Cornwall

Mick and Tilly got to enjoy it for a week longer than me whilst I headed off to Cornwall to eat gluten free pasties and start painting my panto set for a week.

Pasty

Once I was back we had two weeks to reach Oxford, but the weather had different ideas. What felt like the monsoon season started. There was rain on most days, luckily not the day we did Devizes. We managed to team up with two couples from Bristol on a hire boat, by the time they reached the top of the flight they could work uphill locks with their eyes closed, we left them to master downhill on their return journey.

Tilly enjoying the big trees

Our second low pound struck as we tried to leave Cobblers Lock, Oleanna was sat firmly on the ground and unable to leave the lock until a good flushing of water set her free. The rain actually did me a favour as whilst we sat in Newbury hoping for the Thames to drop I managed to get my model for A Regular Little Houdini finished.

A Regular Little Houdini

At the end of October I headed off to panto land leaving Mick and Tilly a short distance outside Reading, hoping they would be able to get up the Thames in the following week. Our friend Paul came and helped Mick out onto the Thames reaching Goring on their first day. Here Mick and Tilly got to met Carol and George (WB Still Rockin’) who’d been clinging onto the moorings there before heading downstream.

Photo courtesy of Carol WB Still Rockin

Paul returned later in the week and despite the engine overheating and having to deploy the anchor they succeeded in getting to Abingdon where Oleanna had her second visit from RCR. Mick battled on against quite a downstream flow and reached Sandford Lock before tying up. Here the levels rose and fell, the engineer came for a second visit and found lots of crud in our cooling system.

A calm paws on the Thames at Sandford

With the engine in better fettle, Mick nudged his way up towards Oxford and finally made a dash up Osney Lock and onto the canal despite that section still being on red boards. It turns out he’d chosen his moment well as the river has stayed on red boards since then.

Pantotastic

Once I left all the singing dancing and glitter behind and returned to narrowboat life we had to sit out high levels on the Oxford canal and on the River Cherwell. We loitered in Oxford, but as soon as it looked like things were improving we were on our way.

Lakes not meadows

We paused in Banbury for Christmas haircuts and shopping before pulling in for a few days at Cropredy Marina, from where we headed to London for a Sibling get together at my brothers.

Family

Onwards to the top of the Oxford Canal the day the locks reopened and down the other side continuing onwards to Radford Smelly for Christmas.

Christmas

In Warwick we met up with my family and then picked up crew Mike and Chris to help us up the Hatton and Lapworth flights.

Our final visitors of 2019

The last few locks were done on New Years Eve bring us up to the Birmingham level for the new year.

Narnia Lock our last for the year

Quite a busy year. So our vital statistics for 2019

According to Canalplan

Total distance is 1199 miles, ½ furlong and 886 locks . There are 119 moveable bridges of which 22 are usually left open; 139 small aqueducts or underbridges and 20 tunnels – a total of 8 miles 2 ¼ furlongs underground and 8 major aqueducts.

This is made up of 207 miles, 4 furlongs of narrow canals; 399 miles, 5¾ furlongs of broad canals; 102 miles, 5 ¼ furlongs of commercial waterways; 226 miles, 6 ¼ furlongs of small rivers; 212 miles, 5 furlongs of large rivers; 49 miles, 6 ¼ furlongs of tidal rivers; 150 narrow locks; 626 broad locks; 109 large locks; 1 lock on major waterways.

838.2 engine hours

That is 255 miles and 272 locks more than last year! But 246.4 hours less engine running, just goes to show it’s worth having solar panels.

1336.93 litres diesel, 9 (although we’ve got 2 empty now) gas bottles (used for central heating as well as cooking), 6 overnight guests, 6 packs Dreamies, 1 cover cat, 32 friends, 17 Mrs Tilly stamps of approval, 1 double stamp, 5 pairs socks, 3 pairs gloves, 1 baby blanket, 2 shows designed, 1 cover illustration, 5 lots gluten free puff pastry, 9 supermarket deliveries, 39 boxes of wine delivered, 12 bottles of wine delivered.

Thank you for sharing our year with us.

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.

Twice As Big As The One On EasyJet. 3rd August

Pyrford Marina to Byfleet Cruising Club

The voice of Houdini woke us this morning, we were breakfasted and cruising far earlier than normal. Not far to go by boat this morning, just over a mile which brought us very close to the M25 and it’s constant rumble. We pulled in just after the Byfleet Cruising Club moorings on what we thought were visitor moorings. Our pack of info from the National Trust had suggested here as a mooring, but it seems that we might have pulled in on space meant for the cruising club. One chap asked if we were staying long and if it would be okay if we got breasted up to, (which it was as) another tried to make them sound a touch more friendly by inviting us to use all their facilities. We made sure that they knew we’d been pointed to the mooring by the NT.

Far away plane

We walked up to the busy main road which crosses the canal and then very soon afterwards the M25. Here we caught a 436 bus to Tescos. The route took us around the houses before it reached the huge store, another couple of stops and we thought we’d reached our destination. However we still had quite a walk, it did mean that we had chance to watch people zooming along a race track and on skid pans in shiny cars at Mercededs Benz World. All a bit too fast for us.

We were at Brooklands. The worlds first purpose built motor racing circuit which opened it’s 2.75 mile track in 1907. It is also the site of one of Britain’s first airfields which also became Britain’s largest aircraft manufacturing centre by 1918. Here they produced military aircraft such as the Wellington and civil airliners like the Viscount and VC-10. The first British Grand Prix was held here in 1926.

Part of the race track

The race track banks up around the site, roads now cut their way through it, Tescos at one end and Brooklands Museum at the other. In 1987 a trust was set up and a 30 acre site was ear marked for the museum where the heritage of Brooklands could be celebrated. The finishing straight of the race track is on the site and the northern half of the runway was still used occasionally until 2003, in 2004 it was sold off and is now Mercedes Benz World.

Brooklands clubhouse

Brooklands hosts collections of racing cars, motorbikes, aeroplanes and the London Bus Museum. We’d been warned that there was far too much to do in just one day so we decided to concentrate on the planes and buses.

Concord

Mick’s Dad flew with the RAF during WW2 and then with BEA on civil airliners. Because of this we headed straight out to see the planes. The first production Concorde sits in central position, you can pay extra to go on board, but we decided just to look from the outside. Her total flying hours 1,282hrs 9 minutes lags somewhat behind Oleannas 2,540hrs. It would have been nice to look inside the narrow plane, but we had far more important planes to look at.

Stepping down from the Sultan of Oman s VC-10

There are plenty of volunteers on hand, they range from men who know everything about how a plane worked and tell you all about it (so much so we could most probably service a VC10 now), to ones who tell you how the planes were used, to ones interested in your own connections to the planes,

Us reluctantly having our photo taken, I’ve had to zoom in quite a long way!

to one who insisted on taking our photo in front of a Hawker Harrier (it was easier just to let him do it), to one who was far more interested in hearing about our life on a narrowboat than telling us anything about the cockpit we manged to get sat in.

Twice as big
Toilet and bidet with ten times more space

There are two VC-10’s, one without wings or a tail. A family were looking round in front of us ‘That toilet’s twice as big as the ones on EasyJet!’ They were most probably right, I’d hate to have heard what they had to say about the toilet on the Sultan of Oman’s plane, it was half the size of Oleanna! There were also double beds with seat belts and everything covered in chrome green velour.

Seat belts on your bed

These planes are really quite big when you take all the seats out of them. The smell of the fixtures and fittings along with years of cigarette smoke that worked it’s way in behind all the panels was quite evocative.

Viscount

Mick’s Dad flew Vicker’s Viscounts and Vanguards and here we got chance to go on board. The Viscount was most probably the first plane Mick ever went on with it’s big oval windows.

Plenty of controls

On the Vanguard a team of old chaps who had been ground engineers at Heathrow chatted away to Mick. These fellows had most probably known his Dad, Mick found an old photo on his phone of him in uniform, but it was badly lit so hard to see his face properly. This plane had been used for cargo, all the windows covered up, horses had been transported to the Olympics in Barcelona. Up front we could sit in the cockpit, Mick taking the Captains seat, was this a seat his Dad had actually sat in? We’ll have to check with those who hold Peter’s log book.

Mick sat in a seat his Dad almost certainly sat in

Unfortunately the chap who was going to tell us all about the flight deck was more interested in our life and gave us absolutely no information even though we kept trying, he was also a touch deaf. What will happen in such places when all the old chaps who volunteer have passed away?

The best design

There are new modern exhibitions in the Aircraft Factory where Mick managed to design a plane suitable to carry cargo using a runway of 1km.

The Stratosphere Chamber door rolled out of the way

There’s also a Stratosphere Chamber where Barnes Wallis carried out experiments to do with temperature and pressure. There are rooms laid out as if in the 20’s when the circuit and airfield were busy.

Horse Drawn

After a sit down and some lunch we looked around the London Bus Museum. Here the collection starts with a horse bus built around 1890 and the collection of rescued vehicles brings you almost up to date. The plaque saying that the Routemaster was the last vehicle designed for London Transport is a bit out of date as the Boris bus now drives round London.

The displays and information boards are huge, matching the size of the buses a shame a few of them are hidden behind the buses.

Winding the blind

You can wind a destination blind and go on board a couple of the latter buses where turnstiles would allow you to buy your own ticket. I don’t remember these, maybe they didn’t exist in York.

Conductor
Our tickets

The opportunity to ride on an RT was not to be missed, sadly we didn’t get the front seat, but it was still good. Mick used to get these to school in Ealing and the conductor today took our £1 coins and turned the handle on his ticket machine to produce our tickets. The amount of windows you could open are far better than on a Boris bus, but the suspension could have been better.

No 65
Twin Rover a bit early to have been one of Mick’s

A hunt round the displays and we found the Bus 65 time table, an often used route and a Child’s Twin Rover ticket. Mick and his mate Tony Silver used to get these when they’d saved up enough pocket money to spend a Saturday on the buses, going from one end of a route to the other and then getting on the next bus and seeing where that got them.

A quick look at some of the cars before we left and walked our way down where the runway had been towards Tescos. A few items were purchased before we caught the bus back to Oleanna.

Advert on a bus

Tilly had had a busy day keeping an eye on our new neighbour. What a composed fluffy ginger cat. For a while we wondered if it was alive, then eventually it did a considered slow blink.

What a stare
Slow blink

0 locks, 1.31 miles, 3 buses, 4 tickets, 6 planes, 2 cockpits, 1 seat sat in, 18,300 planes built, 1st Grand Prix, 5s twin rover, 65, 165, 2 jacket potatoes, 1 bored cat, 1 confupuss neighbour, M25 to rock us to sleep just 200ft away.

With the sound turned up!

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.

Dripping. 30th July

Guildford Big Willows Meadow

Ahh the smell of Willow

I’d had chance to explore this outside yesterday evening in the lovely sunshine. Fantastic willow trees with long sideways branches, brilliant for running along, I made sure that they were all mine.

Today the outside turned wet, then wetter still. It didn’t put off the people in the long zoomy boats or me. She and Tom were quite happy for me to be outside, out of the way, they were trying to put things away. She says they’ve got too much stuff again and need to get rid of things, I thought it best to keep out of arms reach just in case I was classed as stuff.

Rain never really bothers me, I quite like how it makes my fur glisten but today it played a trick on me. There I was wanting to gain some height for a better vantage point. I did my calculations and prepared my potential energy, converted it to kinetic energy leaping up. All had gone well and my landing position was looking suitable, no split second alterations of trajectory for landing. Paws set for landing only to discover the grab rail, named for it’s normal grabability, was the slipperiest thing in the world!

Instead of landing with grace, I all of a sudden, had to dig more kinetic energy out of my back legs and launch myself back onto dry land! ‘Tilly’s gone in!’ But I was out already! Tom opened the back door for me. My then chosen position on the sofa to dry off not a popular one. ‘Good job you’ve got lots of towels Tilly’ as I was She handled into the bathroom and unceremoniously rubbed down whilst trying to get back under the bathroom door. 

By the time I had stopped dripping everywhere it was someone elses turn. There was a knock on the slippy roof, it was Tom Adam. He wasn’t quite as soaked as I’d been but he’d made a good go of it, maybe he was too big to fall down the gap between Oleanna and this outside.

Me (just), Tom Adam, Tom and She

Tom Adam sometimes lives on a boat called NB Briar Rose and sometimes lives in a house, he also works for the BBC in that there busy London outside. I let them all sit around for ages chatting boats before I came through to say hello. How come he wasn’t told off for making the dinette soggy, wrapped in a towel and then dragged into the bathroom?!

Three new flavours, Yumm

Tom Adam was the reason I got on the cover of Canal Boat Magazine. Once he’d dried off too I was given lots of Pocket Pillows, three different flavours! Was this my fee for the cover? Or just a present? I don’t mind which, he can visit us again.

The rain stopped for a while so we all went outside to say goodbye, I made sure I showed him the best branches to climb should he and Tom Adrian tie up this outside in future. Really hope he got back to his car before it started to rain again. What a drippy day!

Yesterdays sunny opposite to today

0 locks, 0 miles, 1 tidy boat, 1 soggy moggy, 1 soaked sofa, 1 cat towel, 1 hour drying, 1 damp Adam, 2 hours drying, 3 cups of tea, 1 packet biscuits, 3 packets pocket pillows, 4 chin rubs, 1 nice Tom, 1 sprint up the willows, 1 sour dough pizza, 1 head mended, 2 pockets ( not edible) added to my cardigan.

All ready for the pockets