Thursday, 31 August 2017

Back on Thames water.

The good weather disappeared as we made our way down two locks on the river Wey to Thames lock where we paid our transit fee to get back on the Thames. The Weybridge moorings were empty as we pulled in.

Gordon and Sue got quite wet working us through the locks, I was dry under my large umbrella watching from the stern, Dot was making pasties for us all.... mmmmm.... the aroma emanating from her galley was making me salivate, a little while later they were devoured with mugs of hot tea.

 I am registered online with Thames Visitor moorings  who administer the EA visitor moorings, a £5 fee was paid, we will stay at least two days (first 24 hours free).

Dot & Gordon take the ferry to Shepperton

For our last supper together we went to the Minnow but not sure if we didn't take to the surroundings or menu but we ended up  eating in the Old Crown opposite. 

Tuesday, 29 August 2017

Basingstoke Canal review

We have really enjoyed the Basingstoke canal, a shame that more boats don't make the trip, we have only seen three other visiting boats this week. I expect that is because there are 28 locks which have to be done in two days, you cant just turn up and get on it, a little planning has to be done ahead.
Paddle padlock

The Pyrford marina fleet on the river Wey have the choice of the BC or the Thames - a lot easier going on the Thames, any visiting boaters are probably one offs like us from further afield.

We were told water levels would be a problem this time of year and we might not get under a low bridge, today we cleared the bridge by 4", maybe because of the water shortage!

Water levels have not been a problem to FL at all or to the deeper draughted EHC on this trip.

Gordon waiting for the lock to be ready.

There is a fair bit of weed in the canal because of lack of boat movements, an occasional blast of reverse clears the prop enough for it to not be a problem. Having said that I have been down the weed hatch more times on this trip than the previous 5 years of cruising.

My favourite canal residence

There isn't as much litter floating in the canal even in the urban area's of Woking & Fleet - well done people of Surrey & Hampshire or perhaps it is  the canal society members or BC rangers that are clearing up after them.

Thats a realistic horse sculpture

The canals appearance is more akin to a river than a ditch, not much armco here, moorings are at dedicated areas with bollards but apart from the canal centre at Mytchett two 57' boats would fill most of them up.

A good place to watch Farnborough air show

Not an awful lot to see while cruising - both banks are heavily wooded for a a lot of its length, staccato gunfire was heard on a couple of occasions from the army areas around Pirbright.

The landlord of the Fox & Hounds at Fleet is very obliging and ran a hose pipe out to the boats so we could take on water. He came on board FL for a look around - maybe a boater for the future.

Towpath walkers were very friendly and engaging, the aloof southerner is just a myth.

BCS volunteers were clearing weed as we left.

Of course having a couple of great cruising buddies makes the difference on any trip and we were blessed to have Gordon & Dot's company all week.



Basingstoke added to  chronological brasses.

Did our good deed for today when an elderly gentleman asked if we had seen his canoe that some toe rags had stolen from the bottom of his garden. I didn't get his number, so when we found it abandoned at a lock I had to phone the local cops

Friday, 25 August 2017

End of the Basingstoke

Thought we would have another go at getting to the end of the navigable part of this canal only 4 miles further west.  Not many narrowboats make it to the end of the canal, this is shown by the surprised smiles of towpath walkers we speak to.

I'm sure a few of the people we spoke to on this canal were members of the Basingstoke Canal Society, the enthusiasm with which they welcomed us to their patch was really special.

Galleon Marine base.

The only slow down sign we have seen on the whole canal.

Ewn ha Cul 

Trip boat.

Electric lift bridge

Remains of Odiham castle.
End of navigable canal
We arrived at the end with no fanfare just a lovely deep wide winding hole to turn FL and face back the way we had come. 

Dot & Gordon wind EHC

The Mill House

We had an end of navigable canal celebratory lunch at the  Mill House in Odiham, a place thirty years ago we were guests of the then owners Tony & Tracey on it's opening night, it was called Blubeckers back then.

Greywall Tunnel
Since a section of the roof collapsed in 1932 the tunnel hasn't been open to powered craft, the tunnel is now an SSSI since a colony of Natterer's bats among others were found to of taken up residency. In fact, the whole of the Basingstoke is an SSSI apart from the bit through Woking.
The 5 miles of isolated canal the other end reaches to it's terminus and namesake Basingstoke.
Entrance is now sealed

At dusk we all walked down to the tunnel hoping to see the bats streaming out of the tunnel entrance, tonight they must of used the portal at the other end. We consoled ourselves with an ale and cups of tea in the nearby Fox & Goose.

A few bats were spotted in torch lights on the walk back to the boats.

Thursday, 24 August 2017

Basingstoke canal day 4

We left our mooring at Fleet 'the happiest, healthiest & wealthiest town in Britain' according to a recent Halifax quality of life survey. Plan was to get to the end of the navigation today but the canal had other ideas. 

More WW2 defences - tank traps.

 We were held up for a short while at embankment repairs to an earlier breach.

FL picked up a crayfish basket around her prop and the strong wire frame attached itself to the prop and rudder so well that I couldn't remove it all using the weed hatch. 

Gordon breasted FL with EHC to take FL to the slipway before Barleymow bridge, I donned the chest waders and got in with bolt cutters knives and hacksaw to remove the offending item.

When this picture was taken Gordon was grounded on the left, the boat on the right also went aground trying to get through and I couldn't move for the fouled prop.

Good moorings here at Winchfield Hurst, the Barley Mow pub beckoned so the boats were tied up and we went in search of well deserved refreshment.

Tuesday, 22 August 2017

Basingstoke canal day three

I wasn't best pleased when I got up this morning that the branches of an overhanging tree FL was moored under was the local squirrel populations pooping post. That sorted we set off, only one lock to be used today and no more until the return trip. 

First stop was the canal centre  where we had a nose around and a cuppa in the garden.

Passing over the A331

The boats had to be readied to get under a 5'10" bridge,  we measure 1/2" over this,  I summised with the low level of water we would get under ok but took the new expensive cratch cover off as a precaution. EHC is taller still and the cratch board had to come down.
Negotiating Wharf bridge

Ornate bridge

What about the ladies
We finished todays cruise off at Reading road wharf, hoisted the tv aerial to watch the semi final of the Rugby World Cup.... that would be the ladies.

Monday, 21 August 2017

The Basingstoke Canal day one and two

The Basingstoke canal are new waters for us, our pals on this trip have tried to cruise it twice before and failed. Third time lucky for them and a bit of an adventure for us.

Today we would be travelling through Woodham, Woking,  St Johns, Knaphill & West Hill all familiar places to us being ex locals of nearby Shepperton but we didn't even know this canal existed until we bought FL.

We had to be at lock number one (Woodham lock) to meet the lock keeper Carl at 09:30, he would provide us with our licences and more importantly unlock the paddles. Once we had gone through, the paddles would be locked. We will meet Carl again tomorrow as we have booked to go up Deepcut (Frimley) locks, he has the key.

The timed locking system helps with water conversation as this canal is notorious for water shortages. After paddles are locked Carl used wood shavings and the water flow to plug any leaks in the lock gates.

Basingstoke canal joins from the right at Woodham junction.

As we took the turn we were met by a blanket of weed.

Looking back to the M25

Lock one (Woodham bottom lock)

Carl & Gordon  sort the paperwork while Dot looks on.

Houseboats line the bank on this stretch

Gordon poles a route through

Today we only had problem with one lock where neither of the  bottom gates would open fully Ewn ha Cul got well and truly stuck between FL and the lockgate. We had to enlist the help of passers by to help haul the boat out again so we could go up the lock one at a time

Sue gets a little help

Sue uses more child labour.
We moored for the night at Brookwood Lye, only two visitor moorings here, with two boats already on them and no welcome to pull alongside from their captains FL got her nose on the pontoon and back line on a tree and Ewn ha Cul breasted up.

Gordon and I were straight down our weed hatches to remove the accumulated vegetation.

We were up at a reasonable hour and through the first of 17 locks by 09:45, three boats had gone up the flight before us, half way up we came to a halt as one of the crews had inadvertently drained a pound of water this allowed us a rest in the lock and have lunch while Carl sorted levels out.

Woods to both sides of the canal at Deepcut.

WW2 Pill box

After finishing the flight we pulled in at Frimley Green and treated ourselves to tea at a nearby Harvester.