Wednesday, 17 June 2015

We are now coming to the end of our (almost) three weeks on the River Wey.  We have had a brilliant time, probably made better because if we had managed to book into the moorings in Little Venice on the dates that we wanted, we most likely wouldn't have come onto this navigation.  The River Wey is owned by the National Trust and so we had to buy an extra licence to come onto the waterway.  However I have to say it was money well spent.  The River Wey is beautiful, giving the impression of being remote from civilisation and very rural, whilst in reality being in close proximity to much more urban areas.

We cruised the length of the navigation to Godalmining, a very quaint town, where we moored for a couple of nights before returning to Guildford.  Also an interesting town to explore.  One of the women from the horse drawn boat trip at Godalming recognised the origin of the name Jeanie Deans from the Little Grey Men.  One of only a small handful of people to recognise the reference.

Horse drawn boat trip at Godalming

Guildford had lovely moorings, but the members of the rowing club start early and it was not unusual to be woken by the sound of rowers and canoeists, early in the morning.  I was amazed by the number of people out on the water in small boats for the whole time we were at that end of the navigation.

Heading from Guildford back towards Thames Lock there is some really beautiful countryside.  We have found some lovely walks for the dogs, but strangely, to us, most of the public footpaths are enclosed within fences and really well populated.  We are used to much more open fields, where the dogs can have a good run, and far fewer people.

Newark Abbey, which is on an island in the river

The locks on this navigation are 13 foot wide, so slightly narrower than double locks on the canal system. 

Boats need to be secured at both ends in these locks

There are a couple of very low bridges.  Needed to take chimney and exhaust down to pass under!
Mooring has been varied on the Wey.  We had good moorings in Guildford and Godalming, however often, it has been a problem to get into the side, which means we have to use the gangplank.  This is ok though as the dogs are very proficient at walking up and down it, even though they could most likely easily jump the gap.  They are a bit lazy at times.

One mooring was a bit problematic as it turned out to be in the middle of a cow field.  The cows were not there when we stopped but appeared later on.  They were not problematic to us, but the dogs were a bit freaked out.  Plus they then had a great time eating cow poo.

This was the view directly outside our boat at one mooring

We are currently moored up near Walsham flood lock, a very attractive mooring, that in my opinion is the best mooring on this navigation.

Mooring near Walshsam flood lock

This evening we were sitting out on the towpath having a glass of wine/ pint of beer and this deer appeared only metres from us.  Fortunately the dogs did not spot it and it was happily grazing for some time before getting spooked and running off.  Not sure what type of deer it is though.

The dogs as ever are having a brilliant time!

We are now heading back to the River Thames and then onwards to Little Venice at the junction the  Paddington Arm with the Regent's canal.

Wednesday, 3 June 2015

After several eventful days we are now on a very peaceful mooring along the River Wey close to Ripley.  There is a chicken curry cooking on the stove and the sun is shining, what more could anyone ask for.

Tonight's mooring on the River Wey, Ripley

Tonight's mooring on the River Wey, Ripley

After our evening with friends we decided to stay on at |Cassiobury Park and spent a couple more nights there, visiting the funfair, without the dogs and finding walks with the dogs.  Graham has long been hankering for a particular type of Dutch barge called a Tjalk, having fallen into conversation with a guy who has recently brought one over from Holland he was invited for a look round.  He was somewhat disconcerted to discover that there is limited headroom inside and that he had to literally crawl on his hands and knees to reach some of the areas.  Might have to rethink that idea then!

Faery house discovered by Graham when walking the dogs.  I think maybe the Little Grey Men may have lived here!

You can still have a garden when you live on a boat!

Not often you see divers in the canal!!

Lovely mooring just north of Uxbridge
 We stayed In Brentford for two days prior to setting out on the Thames on Monday.  Very good visitor moorings, but somewhat spoiled as sadly some mindless cretin sprayed graffiti on the side of several boats ours included.  The incident was reported to the Metropolitan Police, who were excellent with their response.  Although obviously very little can be done.  Fortunately Graham managed to remove it all.  Took some photographs but won't be posting them as it is not something I wish to dwell on.

We left Brentford via Thames Lock at 1300 on a chilly and windy Monday.  My first impressions of the Royal River is that you can keep it.  However think this may be partly due to weather conditions so will have to suspend judgement for now.

A selection of pictures from the Thames

Turned onto the River Wey about 5:30 Monday so a long day.  We were given a warm friendly welcome by the National Trust guys at the lock.  So far enjoying ourselves although it is somewhat frustrating that the locks are 13 foot wide.  So need to open both gates to enter and exit, but can't share locks with another boat.  Not that we've seen many other boats so far.  The plan is to cruise to the end to Godalming and then take our time coming back.

Coxes Mill on the River Wey

Pair of Egyptian Geese with nine goslings opposite last nights mooring at Coxes Mill

Sunday, 24 May 2015

In the 10 days since my last post we have travelled a fairly long distance in canal terms but a very short distance in motorway terms, roughly 28 miles I think.  However that has included about 75 locks, which believe me is hard work!

Today we are having a day off and are moored up alongside Cassiobury Park, which is the outskirts of London, a short distance from Watford.  Had a good evening last night meeting old friends that we hadn't seen for a long time.  A very pleasant evening was passed in the Harvester at Croxley, which is in easy walking distance from the mooring.  As the said friends live in London we shall be seeing more of them over the next little while.

On Friday 15th May we diverted off the mainline and wandered down the Aylesbury Arm.  A very rural and picturesque canal.  Stopping the first night at Wilstone, we had a meal in the Half Moon.  Unfortunately they did not start serving food until 6:00 and as we arrived at about 4:00 rather too much alcohol was consumed while waiting to eat. The following morning we continued on to Aylesbury and the very pleasant moorings situated right next to the town centre.  We had heard mixed reviews but we had a good stay and would definitely recommend the moorings.

Turning onto the Aylesbury Arm at Marsworth Junction

The top lock on the Aylesbury Arm is a staircase.

Truly tried to wander into the garden of this cottage

Mooring in Aylesbury

Truly supervising lock operations

There was plenty of water around on the Aylesbury Arm

After spending the weekend in Aylesbury we made our way back to the main line and the delights of Marsworth Flight.  Midflight I found a family of geese, parents and eight  goslings sitting patiently in the lock waiting for a free ride up.  They had obviously done this before paddling around while the lock filled and then as the gates opened floating happily out and off up the canal.

Having negotiated Marsworth flight we took in the Wendover Arm where we stayed overnight.  This canal is currently under restoration and is only navigable for 1.5 miles.
Heygates flour mill along the Wendover Arm

An early afternoon arrival at Berkhampstead allowed the opportunity for some retail therapy along the small but busy high street and I bought a hat from the market, much to Graham's disgust.  He has no understanding of the importance of hats (or shoes and bags).  Poor Jake got attacked by a goose on his morning walk along the towpath at Berkhampstead.  One of the white farmyard types.  In particular he did not like it trying to peck his tail as he went past.

Pair of working boats breasted up to pass through the locks

Totem pole canalside at Berkhampstead

Leaving Hemel Hempstead we got a lucky break and paired up with another narrowboat to do the locks together.  This makes life a lot easier.  We had travelled with this boat earlier this year coming down Buckby flight so knew that we would get on together.  As we were all continuing the following day we did the next stage together.  They have now moved further on than us but we may see them further on as we have similar trips planned.
In spite of being so close to London the canal continues to be rural

Ornamented bridge

Approaching the lock

Thursday, 14 May 2015

After a slow start to the year it feels as though we are finally underway.  This year we are heading south along the Grand Union Canal to London and the River Thames.  Hopefully taking in several arms and rivers along the way.

At the moment we are having a day off from cruising due to the horrible weather forecast.  It is raining, cold and windy.  However not all bad as we are sitting in front of a small but cosy fire and have just eaten a good lunch of home made soup made chicken soup made from leftover roast chicken.

Today's weather is in contrast to the glorious day we had yesterday, which should have been a shorts day if I had bothered to change.  Yesterday was a good day which included a late breakfast in the Swan hotel, the Wetherspoon's in Leighton Buzzard.  A fairly long day though with several locks, all doubles so mainly heavy paddles and big heavy gates.  Some are very picturesque though.

Soulbury Locks showing the Three Locks pub, handily placed lockside

Jeanie Deans in Soulberry middle lock

Church Lock with what used to be Buckinghamshire's smallest Chapel (now a private house) adjacent

Due to the forecast we had a longer day yesterday than originally planned and found a good mooring with a pleasant view over the Dunstable Downs where we are staying for today.

View from the mooring

At different perspective of today's view
Travelling by canal is always interesting and varied with widely differing countryside and outlooks often in relatively short distances.  Wolverton is a case in point.  We stayed here for a couple of days as Graham had an appointment in London and the railway station was close at hand.  The moorings are outside a new development of flats and apartments and on the face of it not an ideal place to stay.  However it was surprisingly quiet and peaceful.

Suprisingly quiet mooring at Wolverton

However a matter of two miles to the north of Wolverton in the pretty rural village of Cosgrove the idyllic looking moorings are busy with boats and lots of towpath traffic.

Aquaduct taking the Grand Union Canal over the River Great Ouse at Cosgrove

View from the aquaduct, where we took the dogs for a lovely walk

Another view from the aquaduct

Wide beam boats are commonplace on the Grand Union 
Milton Keynes in particular is surprising for the very rural and picturesque aspect of the canal!

The suprisingly rural aspect of the canal through Milton Keynes

This moored boat looked more suited to the seaside than Milton Keynes

Passing through Milton Keynes

As ever it is good to spot all the wildlife and too see all the various waterfowl chicks!

The dogs are of course continuing to enjoy life afloat.

Truly adopting her favourite position.

Jake being Jake!

Weather permitting tomorrow we will continue and head down the Aylesbury Arm to spend the weekend in Aylesbury.