Sat 6th Bedwyn - Hungerford
Ah, the vagaries of fate. I'd got back to the boat, had the engine running and was untying when one boat pulled oyt from a few spaces behind me, and chugged past. Fine, they look a bit grumpy but whatever... but then, through the bridge came a hire boat. I had time to leap out before them... but I didn't, knowing I'd be stuck behind two boats for the next few locks... and I was. I think they were slower than me, single handed, but any excuse to put the kettle on...
A short day of many locks, tying up again at Hungerford. Supermarket stocking up was a bit over-ambitious for the bag I'd taken, but they let me take a basket back to the boat too, returning it immediately, of course...
Sun 7th Hungerford to Woolhampton
The first lock after Hungerford, Dunmill Lock, is in a really lovely setting. Have I already said that? Probably.
Kintbury - I got shouted at by fish-torturers as I passed them at tickover. Tough.
Also around Kintbury I was joined by Hera, an immaculate 35' boat I was amazed to discover was about the same age as Tortoise. We generally shared locks side by side, although could have shared single locks too...
A pause at Newbury - I'd rung the chandlers ahead, and sorted out a long (15m!) front rope in anticipation of getting back down the Thames, and restocked on fuel.
Monkey Marsh lock is one of the two turf locks, and I did it solo - trickier for a single hander as a lot less access on the sides of the locks, but as ever, slow & steady works...
At Aldermaston lock there's a handy profile of the K&A - a very neat up & down affair, an efficient connection of two river catchment areas. Almost certainly copyright CRT unless they nicked it from the K&A trust ;-)
Mon 8th Woolhampton to Fobney
The facilities at Tyle Mill weren't actually that bad (although no recycling, again). However I suspect either the loo isn't getting the attention it deserves, or the cleaners couldn't resist leaving this gem on display:
Tues 9th Fobney Lock to Marlow
Through Fobney lock, hours before it closed with a sunk boat - apparently not a cill problem at all, or even the huge streams of water that pour through the gate paddles - solid streams of water half a metre square. Scary. I remember being glad of having a short boat on the way up, too.
After Fobney there's a lovely lush river stretch, leading to houses backing on the canal - one garden of which seems to be full of boat:
Also this handy sign, which I failed to photograph comprehensively there, or back:
After all that back on to the Thames, opening the throttle again ;-) The wide expanse of the Thames is an impressive change to narrow canals, and needs to be experienced to be believed. Tortoise is quite spritely for a canal boat, quite happily doing 5mph on the Thames, but still easily outpaced by daft cruisers, or in fact almost anything - speed often appears to be proportional to the number of glasses of booze being held by the crew...
I tried to moor at the Marlow park moorings - but they were full, or rather, weren't. Each plastic wedding cake of a cruiser had left a good 20' before the next. A full on rant about mooring should probably be witheld, but it is the same on canals - by boats not sharing rings, a gap of 15-20' is left between each boat. Although ring placing seems to vary, I normally stretch the ropes across three - centre, front & back. So if I could magic myself on to the bank, moving just one boat along would free up space for me. This applies to longer boats too, of course - selfish mooring screws us all up. Then again, the black looks I have seen when mooring a few feet from on occupied boat (on official moorings, not on rough banks) suggest it would be a struggle to get change. Sliding towards the lowest common denominator, like slowing for moored boats and closing gates...
So anyway, I paid a fiver for the priviledge of being tied to a tree a little further back. It did afford me a nice view in the evening (so flat without boats mucking it all up all the time). It was just leaves on the other side ;-)
Weds 10th Marlow to Chertsey
On the Cliveden reach, above Maidenhead, as predicted I passed Chertsey on their way back from Woking - good to see Sarah & Jim again, albeit briefly, and nearly meeting Rocky:
Approaching a lock (I've yet to work out which one) I passed a large plastic swan, like you do, and then shared the lock with them:
This was a charity effort by Scout leaders - they managed to get from Oxford to Richmond, in a pedalo 'bought from Amazon', the latter part of the journey with only one set of pedals working, as the other half had broken off ;-(
Yes, it's called 'Pokeswan Go'. Moving on.
Two locks were unstaffed today - Bell Weir and then Chertsey (I think) - so I took the boat in, donned by lifejacket (as Cpt Creiff would say) and had a go. It was actually nice to be able to take my time and make sure I was doing everything right - not that difficult in the end, although leaving Tortoise on relatively loose ropes and seeing it float around a bit (andnot twist too far across) was a bit odd.
Yes, that's a (OK, small) canal boat in a big lock, not a toy boat in a normal lock ;-)
Something it only really occurred to me this evening - how flat the Thames is on a still evening, if there's been no boats passing for a while. Wash from fast boats puts a lot of energy in the water, and those waves bounce off the banks and hang around for a while. It's a nice thing to see it calm - even if I'm the one mucking it up again ;-) I've put the pic to illustrate this at the top of the post ;-)
Two completely DIY big locks took their time, so rather than pushing on I found a mooring just after Chertsey lock, realising how close I was to the M3 a second or so too late, and largely not caring.
Thurs 11th Chertsey to Teddington
Another short hop... high tides were currently (no pun intended) early mornings, and anyway, I had to wait to get the solenoid. I was close enough to home to get back by Oyster Card for tea, though, which felt a little odd...
(more edits and pictures to come - possibly)