Friday, 22 April 2011

Thames is magnificent, but very busy today

(posted by Alan)

Last night we finally got down to thinking about our options for the rest of the journey.  Although we were sure we had probably caught up enough of the time lost over Alan's eye problems, there remained the thorny question about one particular stretch of the Thames which although only just over 5 miles long always places heavy constraints on the journey into London.

The short length from Teddington lock on the Thames to Thames Lock, Brentford, the entry lock to the Grand Union Canal, is tidal, and there are at best only two short windows in any day where the tides are right for an easy passage.  Unfortunately this weekend those times fall badly, either meaning a ridiculously early start from Teddington, or risking arrival and trying to find moorings in Brentford after dark.  We decided in the end to delay to Sunday morning, when we reckon we will not have to go through Teddington until around 07:40 a.m., and which should see us locking in to Brentford without having to request a lock-keeper to work out of hours, (it's often hard to contact them).

Sometimes the smaller buildings are just as attractive.
So the pressure was now off to do huge mileages each day.  As the day progressed it quickly became obvious we had made the right decision.  Boats were out in "Bank Holiday" numbers, and we were often in long queues at locks, albeit that we generally got into the next available 'slot'.

Cath was fascinated by the use of boat rollers to bypass the lock at Bray.
It has been another stunning day weather- wise, and it really has shown the magni- ficence of this stretch of the Thames at it's very best.  There really are all sorts of craft, with a lot of them just being human powered.

Chalice looking rather small in a big lock.
In fact narrow boats look very dwarfed by many of the fibreglass boats on the Thames, as this are generally far wider, and massively taller.

Classic view.
Of course this stretch of the Thames contains some very famous landmarks.  It seems "Lizzie" was at home at Windsor today, but I doubt she reads the blog, and no invite for tea was received.

Does this really fit under all the required bridges ?
While we waited at a lock for this trip boat, the impression was rather of a house being taken through the lock

Swan by David

Of course as well as boats of just about every conceivable type, size and condition, there is a near constant display of animal life.

"Wyvern Shipping" Hire Boat
Last time we came around this way we saw a hire boat from our local fleet back home, and were surprised to do so again.  I think you have to be fairly well heeled to afford the length of hire this would require.

Chalice in the distance, as we return after our walk.
We were aware that Charlie the dog had been aboard far too long, so with no need to make more miles started looking for moorings at Chertsey.  We found an ideal spot, and once tied up, Cath and I took Charlie back up a large riverside meadow.  Charlie, a rescue dog, initially seemed to be a Spaniel who doesn't actually like water, but he is starting to get the hang of it, and took a few more tentative cooling off swims.  Our attempts at a pub were less successful, as you could not get access to the main garden without passing through the "no dogs inside" bar.  So we were limited to benches out the front.  Good beer and cider, but noisy road.

Cliveden Deep to Chertsey
Miles: 20.1, Locks: 8

Total Miles: 251.3, Total Locks: 123

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