Thursday, 23 April 2015

Wey down south

We had a lovely few days on the River Thames. From Sonning we travelled to Henley-on-Thames. At times on the river we felt rather small.

At Henley there are nice moorings by the park although it does cost £10 per night. You can moor for free 10-3 but outside of these times it's £10. At 20 past 3 the park ranger came for the money or you can buy a ticket from the car park machine. Once I had killed all the moths released when Dave prised open his wallet we enjoyed our stay in Henley. 

We headed downstream the following day and although conditions were a lot better than our last visit to this part of the river in 2012 (when there were red boards and we got flooded) it was really windy and we had to have two goes at getting on the lock landing at Hambleden Lock. 

That night we stayed at beautiful Marlow. There are free moorings (much to David's delight) right next to the ones that are even more expensive than Henley. This was our view for the evening:

We set off the next morning and came unstuck at Marlow lock where the "lock mooring" is a trick as you can't actually reach the shore to do the lock. Most of the locks on the River Thames are becoming increasingly 'self-service' so this must cause a bit of head scratching.

Luckily another boat turned up at the right time to help out.

We made it all the way to Windsor and moored on Eton College's Brocas field (another paying mooring but only £6 a night this time). The Queen was in residence at Windsor Castle so we moored in sight of the castle so she could a good view of Middlewich Duck. 

We spent a day exploring the Queen's weekend home in glorious weather. I was a bit dissappointed she didn't invite us for afternoon tea.

We continued to enjoy our nicest mooring so far and realised this is probably the closest we will ever sleep to the Queen!

We then left Windsor and shared enourmous locks with other boats 

We moored at Laleham, enjoying running down the Thames path, and continued the following day through Chertsey

River Wey

We then made the journey onto the River Wey at Shepperton turning into Thames Lock. The ascent in Thames Lock was more eventful than we would have liked. You pass through a set of lower gates and moor up to wait for the lock keeper's instructions. Depending on the level of the River Thames the lock keeper may have to let water down through the main lock into this 'holding pen' to allow you over the cil.

Water was let through and we were waved into the main Thames Lock. I was on the front deck and suddenly the boat made a huge crashing noise, stopped dead and I lurched forward almost falling over. There was not enough water in the lock so we had hit the bottom cill instead of floating over it.  The lock keeper was very apologetic and went to let more water down from the Wey so we could clear the cill. I went inside later on to pick up everything that had fallen over. No fatalities this time.

Until you get used to it the River Wey seems a little daunting after having had the luxury of lock keepers and electric locks on the Thames. There are vicious bywashes at locks and the paddles were sometimes too stiff for me to handle on my own. The lock keeper gave us an extra long Wey Handle to be able to do the stiff paddles. 

We moored at The Anchor in Pyrford, then Send, and Guildford before turning at Godalming. It is a great River and we have spent a few days exploring Dave's old haunts from his youth with him having grown up near Woking. 

Broadford bridge is very low bridge but we just managed to squeeze under. 

At Godalming we met Buddy who works pulling the trip boat

The Wey is pretty twisty in places and if you day dream when going round these tight bends you might need to be handy with the long pole!

Our favourite mooring near Guildford was on Shalford Meadows, just upstream of Millmead lock. The other recommended mooring is the National Trust's Dapdune Wharf and we were advised not to stop anywhere in town as the Guildford drinkers like to mess with with moored boats!

Having retraced our steps back down the Wey we have joined the Basingstoke Canal at Woodham Junction. You have to book passage up the locks on the Basingstoke and luckily we have been booked in with a good boat partner for Pas Meche in NB Mad Hatter. We will update you on our Basingstoke adventures in a few days time!


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