Wednesday 19 June 2024

New Haw Lock to Boveney. River Wey. River Thames.

After pulling the pins at New Haw we dropped down the last four locks on the Wey...

Cox's Mill Lock

Town Lock

The final stretch of the Wey.

...gave the lock keeper his long handled windlass back and thanked him for having us, then set off through the big Weybridge junction onto the Thames. 

When we came the other way the Thames was not long off red boards; this time it was noticeably less like a four-year-old on Sunny Delight, and we calmly pootled round the junction - accidentally on purpose going the wiggly way round d’Oyly Carte Island - before going round Desborough Island and mooring at Shepperton Manor.

d'Oyly Carte Island.

Approaching Shepperton Manor.

Auntie Wendy invited us out for lunch, she was singing with her Show Choir at the Epsom Downs Beacon lighting that evening, to commemorate the 80th anniversary of the D-Day landings, so we knew we didn't have long . While we were eating a lady she was giving a lift to phoned and cancelled, that meant there was space in the car for us and she invited us along, we watched the rehearsal and the show, the whole evening was really moving. From Vera Lynn, through Les Mis to The Greatest Showman, Wendy’s Show Choir went through an amazing repertoire of poignant numbers that had the audience all welling up.

Auntie Wendy's fabulous Show Choir. She's the one with an arrow in her head.

After that there was a brass band followed by the lighting of the beacon which stands on the highest point at Epsom Downs overlooking the whole of London.

The City and Canary Wharf in the distance.

All very emotional, but God, it was cold!

June 2024 had failed to load properly and was in limp mode.

In the morning we carried on upstream and then went back down Desborough cut, under Walton bridge and through Sunbury Lock to Hampton Court Palace where we took our pick of the surprisingly empty moorings.

Walton Bridge.

Sunbury Weir.

Sunbury Lock.

Round the back of Tagg's Island.

Molesey Lock

Hampton Court Bridge

Hampton Court Palace from the river.

 We had a walk into Molesey for supplies, then later on we walked round Hampton Court - with a detour through the amazing wild flower garden...

Hampton Court's stunning wild-flower garden. Bushy Park to see the deer and check out the parkrun start for the next morning.

Bushy park is where - in 2004 - parkrun started. Thirteen people got together for a 5 kilometre timed run on a Saturday morning, and the rest, as they say, is a cliché. These days Bushy always has more runners than anywhere else; it has become a mecca for not only parkrun tourists, but for all parkrunners. That Saturday we were two among over 1500 others.

So many people!

The atmosphere was terrific and the organization was - as you’d imagine - fascinating to watch and super-slick.

Crazy numbers!

Dave recovering by the three - yes THREE! - finish funnels.

Back at the boat we set off straight away back up the river to Walton-on-Thames, where we really needed to find a mooring because we’d arranged for quite a few of Ann-Marie’s family to meet us there.

Leaving Hampton Court.

Back under the bridge

As we approached Walton there appeared to be more rowers than usual on the water and there was a big yellow buoy in the middle of the river. Just at that point we got a phone call from Mum asking us if we were aware that the Walton Regatta was on that weekend. We hadn’t been, but we certainly were now and over the following 30 minutes life aboard Legend became somewhat chaotic.
The two racing lanes were on the town side of the river with the navigation lane on the opposite side.
All well and good so far. We joined the rowers heading upstream for the start line in the navigation lane, trying really hard to keep our 17 tonne steel hulk away from their very expensive - but oh so fragile-looking - skinny little carbon fibre hollowed-out pencils, while in the racing lanes lots of strenuous exertions were going on as pairs and fours went zooming down the river every few minutes. 

Where it got really interesting was when we wanted - nay, needed - to get to the town side to moor up. With our eyes everywhere, we picked a moment when no-one appeared to be about to set off from the start line, and made a dash across the racing lanes to the opposite bank, ignoring the stripy-blazered umpire with the megaphone, and swung up in line with the moored boats just above the pub. Naturally there was no vacant space, so we pulled up alongside another narrowboat and knocked on the roof to ask if we could moor alongside. There was no-one home so we tied up and made a cup of tea to calm our frayed nerves. With hindsight the only thing we’d do differently would be to sound the horn before crossing over, but otherwise we didn’t make a bad job of it.

We left a note with Nb Coddiwomple and went down to the pub where we met Tina, Grant and Sarah, and later on Mum and Dad turned up as well. After a couple of drinks we all went back to Tina’s for a great family afternoon get together.

Dad, Mum, Tina, Grant, Ann-Marie and Sarah.

Later on, back at Legend, the owner of Nb Coddiwomple was back on board and asked us if we’d mind moving somewhere else now that the regatta was finished, so we turned round had a short - but very much calmer - cruise back down the river to the wharf outside Tina’s house.

In the morning, with the car about as close to a boat as it’s possible to get on the Thames, we started packing boxes with ornaments, maps, books and other stuff that we won’t need till we move.

Moving out of Legend begins.

With the car full we set off for Abingdon, where our new-to-us van was parked. With Ann-Marie in the van, Mel, the seller, then followed Dave to the glamping site at Sutton Courtney where it will be staying till we tax and insure it. 

Following our car across the fields to Steve and Annmarie's remote camp site, it dawned on Mel that maybe she was far too trusting, and this could all be an elaborate abduction plot.

It's been a while since we've had a fleet.

Steve and Annmarie had organized a barbecue for the afternoon and invited Colin and Julia over as well, so after Dave had run Mel back home we had a lovely Wallingford gang re-union. We tried out the wood fired hot tub and then sat round a camp fire till it was time for us to go home.

Two days later we pulled the pins and moved up to Weybridge...

A one night stop on the end of the Weybridge moorings

This visitor was rather a long way from home!

...then up Shepperton lock to moor outside the Thames Court pub.

The next day we had an early start and were up through Chertsey lock...
Heading for the tap at Chertsey Lock.

...and moored at Laleham by 9:30 to meet Wendy for a dog walk round Laleham park.

It was quite shallow there and we had to deploy the gangplank for the first time since the floods at Wallingford.

After a bit of car shuffling, Wendy came on board and we took her for a trip up to Staines where we got moored just above the bridge.

Dave ran Wendy back home and picked up a sink/cooker unit out of a trailer tent that she didn’t want. We’re sure Dave can adapt it to fit in the van.

The next day we were off again and up Bell weir, Old Windsor, Romney and Boveney locks...

Bell Weir Lock

...passing Runnymede, Windsor Castle, and boating through Windsor itself, which although busy, was nowhere near as chaotic as the first time we went through there.
The RAF Memorial peaking out above the trees at Runnymede.

French Brother's Trip Boats

Our first glimpse of Windsor Castle

Entering Windsor. Not as busy as last time.

Still plenty of river traffic though.

We tied up on the moorings at Boveney at the end of the Olympic rowing lake. It was really windy with super strong gusts, and Ann-Marie was very grateful for a helping hand from another boater to get Legend into the bank. In the afternoon we walked into Windsor, then got the bus back to Staines for the car. On the way home we stopped at Runnymede to have a look at the Wicker sculptures.

A few weeks ago we had a plan to get this far on this day. There’s been some early starts and some really full days, but it all worked out. We’re now moving away from Ann-Marie’s family so it’s going to be less of a social whirl for a bit. Not for very long though. Next up is a weekend with Anne & Andy and the Lawes
 and then a glorious six weeks of summer (if it ever arrives) with Steve and Annmarie followed by Ben and Megan’s wedding.

We'll use the time we're moored up to get Legend ready for sale and advertise it online, but for now there's a sign in the window.


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