We left Guildford on Wednesday, turning and heading back north along the River Wey back the way we had come. Saturday morning found us starting out on the Basingstoke Canal. This canal is run by Hampshire and Surrey county councils so we had to purchase a licence. Also you have to book the locks. We were luck to pair with another boat with 3 on board which meant there were 3 of us ashore to work the locks. Saturday was 6 locks with 5 on Sunday, but yesterday was a really busy day with 17 lock in pouring rain! All to be completed by 3pm! These brought us through Deep Cut and we are now moored at Frimley Green. Unfortunately we can’t go much further as there is a low bridge and we won’t fit! So we have about 4 miles of canal to potter about in until Friday when the locks will be open again for our return trip. The scenery around had been lovely but the canal in places is full of weed and quite shallow despite saying they take boats of 3 ft draught and we are 2ft 6 inches. Also the lock opening times makes your journey very restricted, limiting where you can stop. Not sure that this canal comes with our recommendation. We did have a surprise visit on Sunday night. Alan, Karen, Hannah and Mathew came to see us for a cuppa on their way to get the eurostar. For those of you who don’t know Alan and Paul worked together in Safeway. It was good to have a natter and a catch up.
Wednesday, 21 May 2014
Well Saturday was a very eventful day. We were both up at 5.30! The alarm had been set for 6 but we didn’t need it. Locking out was interesting, we were the middle boat of 3 and the gates open to let the water out but the water in the lock was several feet higher than the river so in effect we were sat at the top of a water fall. My thought at the time was the lockkeepers do this all the time so we are fine! By 7.30 we were out on the Thames as heading east towards the Thames barrier. We passed the O2 and Greenwich on the way. We then turned to wait for the tide and the rest of the group to join us. There were 19 boats in total, but only 3 at a time could lock out at Limehouse. We then started up river back the way we had come. The river was fairly calm and I spent some time on the stern with Paul. A couple of times at the tiller as he needed to go below! However as we got closer into the centre of London there is so much river traffic that it started to get quite lumpy. There isn’t too much space on the stern so I decided I would be safer in the bow. Even so the water was washing through the cratch and at times coming over the bow. Although seeing Houses of Parliament, Westminster, Tower Bridge which we saw go up, etc from the river was amazing it was with some relief once we passed through towards Hammersmith and the river was calmer. We then cruised on through Chiswick and Kew on finally to Teddington and the lock which brought us to the end of the cruise and on to the non Tidal Thames. The trip was 36 miles in total which took about 9 hours.
Sunday saw us progress along the Thames through 2 more locks, a beautiful day so very busy with lots of cabin cruisers. The Thames locks are manned and very big. We then turned off on to the River Wey and as I write we are moored at Guildford.
Friday, 16 May 2014
We had a good trip back down the Lea retracing our steps. Wednesday saw us back at the junction where we had joined the Lea so once again on new waters. We moored at Bromley where there is a very useful canal side Tesco so we were able to stock up. Yesterday morning we got the bikes down and cycled to the Olympic Park. So glad we were on bikes as I hadn’t realised how vast an area it is. Much of it is a building site and not all paths were open, but we got around fine. Went as far as the veladrome, saw the stadium and the canal that wends its way through the park. The canal isn’t open for cruising which is a shame. Yesterday afternoon saw us cruising the last bit to Limehouse Basin. We are moored here now until tomorrow when we go out on to the tidal Thames. Watch this space!
Thursday, 8 May 2014
Well again we have a wet Thursday so at the moment it doesn’t look like we will be moving today. We arrived at Bishop Stortford on Saturday. Found the laundrette and later had a look round the town, buying some much needed supplies from Sainsbury’s. So on Sunday, 24 hours after arriving we were on our way back again! Tuesday found us back on the River Lea heading north so new scenery for us. We stopped to have lunch at Stanstead Abbots. Set off did 1 lock then met up with another boat to pair with for the final 3 locks up to Hertford. The locks were with us and with extra hands we made good progress. Yesterday we walked into Hertford, quite a pretty town. Had lunch in a pub where the TV was on. Forecast was for rain on Thursday. We had planned to stay put for the night but decided to move on so at the moment we are at Ware.
Friday, 2 May 2014
Well since Monday we have had several long cruising days, except for yesterday when it rained so we lit the fire and didn’t move on at all. We have made our way up the River Lea. At the start this was been quite wide with a defined tow path along one side, however as we progressed it has become narrower and more river like. On Wednesday we branched off on to the River Stort. Mooring opportunities are less now and on Wednesday we had to use the plank for the first time since we have been afloat. I managed to get ashore with a rope and for once it was me banging in the pegs with ‘helpful’ instruction from Paul! It must have been OK as we were there for 2 nights and managed to set off OK this morning. We now have just 4 locks to work tomorrow before we arrive as Bishops Stortford. Once there is will be off to the supermarket at the fridge is looking very bare at the moment.