Saturday, 31 July 2010

A Quiet Day With Cath's Father & His Wife

(Posted by Alan)

Brentford to Widewater near (Harefield)

On two successive trips on the tidal Thames we have tried to take Cath's father and his wife for a trip, but each time he has been busy, (or so he claimed, anyway!).

With hindsight we now realise this would not have been a very clever idea, as neither is young - in fact Dot became 85 yesterday. We found the two and a half hours, much of it crashing through waves physically exhausting, and realise it would have been very difficult for them.

Anyway we had agreed to take them out for the day today - they could get to Brentford on public transport, and if we could deliver them to Uxbridge station, getting home would be quite straightforward too.

They couldn't get to us particularly early, but we should have time, including a lunch stop,

Now, I have to say, if you wanted to show off the Grand Union, you would not by choice start at Brentford. This has to be the most litter strewn bit of the entire cut, locks are filled with floating debris, and the prospect of large plastic bag tangled on the propeller is ever present.

Jim and Dot at Hanwell, (shame there is nowhere else for the bikes!)

Also you probably would not choose a route that fairly early on includes a flight of 8 double locks, which is what you get with Hanwell and "Norwood Top" combined. Furthermore these locks were unusually busy, many of the intermediate pounds missing a foot or more of water, and a few boats reversed locks on us that they probably should not have done. I think our guests may have been initially perplexed about an arrangement that took maybe an hour and a half for only a mile travelled!

Locking up through Hanwell - the threatening clouds never did deliver much rain.

One of the few remaining parts of the old asylum buildings, viewed from a lock. They have always had a kind of menace for me, since I first encountered them in the 1970s.

The next part of the plan didn't work too well, a suggestion to have a pub lunch. The canal guides indicate three possible canal-side pubs each at a different bridge separated by around half a mile. The first was deserted, and looked uninviting. The second proudly announced outside that it did food, but when Cath enquired, it did not. The final one looked far more promising, but was in the middle of a refit, and not doing food at the moment. The guide showed few more options, and the next pub along apparently has strippers - we decided not to inflict them on a couple in their 70s and 80s.

So a change of plan saw us stop at the supermarket at Bulls Bridge, and buy what was needed for a lunch on board.

By now we were into a fairly long lock-less section, so hopefully our guests got a better idea that canals is not all being static in locks.

We eventually arrived at Uxbridge, by which time I think we had worn them out. Cath ensured they were safely on a train, before returning to the boat.

We were by a noisy road, and a noisy pub, so decided to push forward for a few more locks starting with Uxbridge lock itself.

We moored at one of our regular quiet overnight mooring spots, just above Widewater near Denham.

I just wish the boat we shared Denham deep lock with, and who then followed very slowly behind us, had told us their intentions. Having set up Widewater lock for two boats, and waited very patiently for them, they instead turned into the marina entrance, just before the lock.

Oh well, that's boating for you!

Brentford to Widewater (near Harefield)
Miles: 14.0, Locks: 14

Total Miles: 153.6, Total Locks: 139


Simon said...

Yup - I've yet to find a satisfactory post Hanwell flight pub going up, really (there's the Fox when coming down. I'm sure the one that claims to do food but doesn't was exactly the same two years ago, they said at that point they'd just taken it over and hadn't sorted it out yet, whatever that means...

On the upside I've been out walking/cycling and met a woman who voluntarily cleans up what she can along there 'because it needs to be done'. I tend to end up filling a rubbish sack every time I work a friend's boat up or down, it is a bit prone to acquiring rubbish (partly, to be fair, to the river coming in & out). If more people pick up litter and less drop it, it would be lovely...

Alan said...

Thanks for comments, Simon.

Nice to hear some people are trying to tidy that stretch up a bit, but to be honest, they have their work cut out.

Stopping before Hanwell would have been too soon for a meal, whereas Cowley was really too far. I'm not convinced there is anything in between that is up to much.

Anonymous said...

It look like Cath's father and wife were happy sitting with the bicycles!
Good to know you were able to have that day.
Is there more blog to follow.......?
Been watching patienly for the rest of your trip! lol