An interesting lock chat on our way to Henley Royal Regatta.

We are heading to Henley for a few days to spend a couple of days at the Henley Royal Regatta.

We left Caversham and headed downstream and as we approached Sonning lock, we came up behind one of the many “Le Boat” hire boats that are on the river at this time of year.   She had a two man crew on board.   The lock was ready for us to enter as we approached so we felt this was going to be a quick trip to Henley.   We entered the lock  and the helmsman was obviously a bit wary of our 32 tonnes of steel being behind him in the lock (how dare he even think that I could be a danger to him!) 🙂

Soon after leaving the lock we negotiated Sonning bridge

Sonning Bridge
Sonning Bridge

As we were approaching Shiplake College, the hire boat pulled to the port side of the channel and indicated that he wanted us to pass him, which we duly did.   We asked him if he was continuing on to Shiplake lock.   He replied that he was and we told him we would hold the lock for him (saving water!).   Having negotiated Shiplake lock, we proceeded on to Marsh Lock, where we had to wait for some rowing skiffs to leave the lock before we could enter.

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Waiting at Marsh Lock
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Skiffs and a dinghy leaving the lock

We soon entered and again waited for the hire boat.   Whilst the lock was being worked, I casually asked the crew of the hire boat where they were going to today.   “Benson” he replied.    I smiled and said “ha ha…where are you really going to today?”.   “Benson” he replied.   You can imagine his face when I told him that he was going the wrong way (and had been for the past two hours!).

Then came the reply “You are joking aren’t you?”.   Answer “No”.   He told me that he was sure he was heading in the direction of Oxford.    I explained that he was heading in the direction of London.   I then proceeded to tell him in my most sympathetic manner possible that he needed to turn round and head back the other way.   His put his head in his hands when I added that there was now nine locks between where we were and Benson Waterfront.   He then went to tell the helmsman the news and he was equally distraught!

We left the lock and watched as they turned around and headed back into the lock for what I am sure they would feel would be along journey back to Benson.

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Le Boat turning around at Marsh Lock
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Heading back!

We then headed to the public moorings in Henley where we had pre-arranged a timed departure (to coincide with our arrival) by our friends Mick and Jan on their widebeam “The Afterglow”.   They had been at Henley for a few days and had a nice spot where we could also get satellite reception.  We had helped them move their car downstream earlier in the day and it all worked like a dream.

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WB “The Afterglow” leaving the mooring

So now we are alongside at Henley, “dressed to the nines” and looking forward to an exciting couple of days or spectating at the Regatta.   Only problem is that as I write this blog it is absolutely pouring with rain!

Happy Days!

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“Dressed to the nines” for Henley Regatta

Whitchurch Bridge amazing community art project

On our recent trip downstream from Dorchester, we had learned that there was a community art project on show on the Whitchurch Bridge, which crosses the river Thames at Pangbourne and connects Pangbourne in Berkshire and Whitchurch-on-Thames in Oxfordshire.   The bridge is a toll bridge, created by of Act of Parliament in 1792.

We moored on Pangbourne Meadow and had a light lunch before walking back to the bridge.  Pangbourne meadow was busy with lots of canoeists cleaning, working on, carrying and using their canoes.

There was an amazing display of craft on the bridge, all with a river Thames theme and I have simply posted some photographs below which you might like to browse.

Congratulations to all those involved for their hard work and the great result they achieved!

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Dorchester back to Caversham, a dog rescue and a beautiful Tjalke!

We managed to pull ourselves away from our beautiful mooring at Dorchester on Thames and began our journey back towards Caversham we have an appointment we need to keep next week.

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Peaceful mooring at Dorchester on Thames

We had arranged to meet our friends, Sue and David at the restaurant Rossini at The Leatherne Bottle just upstream of Cleeve lock, with a view to returning to the restaurant for dinner later in the day. We got permission from the restaurant for their car to be left in the car park and headed off up to Wallingford for lunch.

As we left the mooring, the skies were grey but we were pleased to see a couple of narrowboats heading the other way, the surroundings making them look more majestic in some way.P1020512

We were soon headed under the beautiful Moulsford railway bridge , built by Isambard Kingdom Brunel in the 1830’s.P1020460

When arrived at Wallingford we found Town Wharf moorings to be full.   We tried to get on boat to move to one end of the large space but when we realised that his handling ability was limited, we decided to turn around, go back under the bridge and find a bank side mooring somewhere downstream of the bridge.

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A bank side mooring downstream of the bridge

Wallingford is a quintessential English market town and today was Country market day so we headed into town and had a nice lunch.The ladies shopped and the men returned to the boat to savour the views.

 

At Wallingford, you are very close to RAF Benson so the helicopter traffic can be quite busy at times but we’ve never found it to be too intrusive.   We were flown over by this Chinook as we were relaxing.P1020423

We were ready to leave the mooring so I went onto the bank to remove the springs and warps when I heard a splash.  I looked up to see a lady and three children in a state of panic as their black labrador had fallen into the river.  The bank was about 5 feet high and he was struggling to try to get himself out.    I am not a fan of boat hooks generally as I have seen a few accidents as a result of them being used inappropriately.  However, I have also recovered a couple of my hats and caps and a fender or two using a hook so fortunately, I had bought one for Steel Away just the week before.    The dog was fitted with a harness collar so I was able to locate the hook inside his harness and hoist him up out of the water, much to the relief of his family.     He thanked me by shaking himself off and soaking me in the process!    The lady thanked me numerous times, the dog was happy again so we all departed feeling good.

We moved on downstream and took up the mooring at the Leatherne Bottle, where we enjoyed a superb meal.  Sue & David left for home and we returned to the boat for a night-cap in beautiful surroundings.

The following morning, we headed back to Caversham and on the way, just upstream of Cleeve lock, we passed a beautiful Dutch Tjalke, named Hiljo, who was almost at the end of her journey from Friesland, Holland to Lechlade.   Her owners, Martin & Sarah, should be very proud of her and themselves.   She is a beautiful boat.

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The beautiful Tjalke, Hiljo

We enjoyed a pleasant cruise from Cleeve Lock to Caversham

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A slow trip to Dorchester

We left Dreadnought Reach in brilliant sunshine and soon cleared through Caversham lock on our way towards Dorchester-on-Thames for a visit to the Abbey.   Once we had passed through Mapledurham lock, we passed a small farm with lots of Alpaca’s in the field.P1020348

Mapledurham lock and weir

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As we continued on, we approached Whitchurch Lock and as it was on self-service, we moored on the lay-by and got the lock ready for ourselves.   We made an uneventful passage through the lock.   Whitchurch is a very pretty, traditional Thames lock complete with lock office and lock keepers house alongside.   It was originally built as a wooden pound lock by the Thames Navigation Commissioners in 1787.   The Lock House is the only surviving one of its type – the arched window design is the same as when the house was built in 1829.

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Whitchurch Lock

We were soon passing under Gatehampton Railway Bridge, one of Isambard Kingdom Brunel’s masterpieces carrying the Great Western Railway across the Thames.   It was built in 1838 (at the same time as Moulsford Railway Bridge a little further upstream).P1020365

We were soon navigating the Goring Gap and shortly afterwards arrived at Goring where we moored alongside and spent a very pleasant three night stay to facilitate a visit from our daughter and her husband.   The mooring here is free for 24 hours and then £5 per night with the maximum stay allowed being 3 days.   It is necessary to log your arrival with http://www.ThamesVisitorMoorings.co.uk.   It is a very pleasant mooring just east of the lock.   We also paid a visit to the late George Michael’s house in the village, which is still something of a shrine.    We ate at the John Barleycorn and won’t be going back again!

We were joined at the mooring by Karanja, a Piper 49M and her lovely owners, Verne and Roy.   We enjoyed a long wine and chat session in the evening before heading off the following morning.

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Steel Away and Karanja, alonside at Goring

We left our mooring and passed through Goring lock whereupon we entered the shortest reach on the Thames – the river between Goring lock and Cleeve lock is just over half a mile long and this is the shortest distance between locks on the river.

We motored on and soon we were passing under the second Isambard Kingdom Brunel bridge on our trip – Moulsford Railway Bridge.  This is another masterpiece.   It is constructed from red brick with Bath stone quoins as four elliptical skew arches of 62 feet (19 m) span and a headway height of 21 feet 8 inches (6.60 m).    The bricklayers must have been very talented!

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Moulsford Railway Bridge

We then arrived at Wallingford, where we moored alongside at Town Wharf.   The mooring here is £5 per night and although the sign states that the maximum stay is 24hrs, we were informed by the mooring superintendant that we were welcome to stay for three nights, which we were pleased to do.   Wallingford is a nice town with antique shops, shops, pubs, a Waitrose supermarket and some nice walks for which you can get a leaflet from the Tourist Information Office in the Market Place.

From Wallingford we headed on to Benson Lock, which again is a pretty location and of ample size.   We were soon through the lock and heading towards Shillingford, passing Benson waterfront on the way.

As we approached Shillingford, Ange was at the helm and with a little encouragement, decided that it was time for her to be at the helm as we negotiated a bridge.   She continued at the helm and made a perfect passage through the arch.

We soon arrived at Dorchester-on-Thames where we were able to find a very peaceful mooring just west of the junction of the river Thame and the Thames.  We visited the village and Abbey before returning to the boat where we enjoyed a BBQ in beautiful surroundings and hot, sunny weather!

Another beautiful day so…..

We woke up to another beautiful morning on Wednesday so decided that we would take a trip in the direction of Mapledurham and take the opportunity to “play” with the boat, see how she handles in close quarters and generally get to know a bit more about her characteristics.

Before we left we were visited by our resident heron apparently looking for his breakfast.Heron

Soon after leaving the marina we passed through Caversham Lock where the lock keeper was busy re-painting his white health and safety lines.  During the course of our chat with him he told us that the river was considerably busy this week than last and no doubt it would be even busier as Easter approaches.

We were soon passing under Caversham bridge

and then on towards Tilehurst.

The lock keeper at Caversham had advised us that the next lock (Mapledurham) was unattended and that he was going to lunch at 1pm so we decided to turn around just before Mapledurham and head back to Caversham.

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We duly arrived at Caversham Lock just before the keeper’s lunch break and passed straight through.

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In the lock cut approaching Caversham Lock
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Leaving Caversham Lock

We had time to play with the throttle in the lock and confirmed that we experience a fairly powerful prop kick when entering forward gear, resulting in the stern moving to port quite a lot whilst operating in the restricted water of the lock.   Valuable information for preventing scratches to the hull in the coming months!   We played some more in the wider river and the kick was still present but much less noticeable.

We returned to the marina and spent some time cleaning the boat before relaxing on the stern deck and witnessing this beautiful sunset.

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