#17 River Thames downstream – East. September 2015

Tuesday 1st September 2015      Black Bart is Leaving the Oxford Canal, via Isis Lock

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& the Sheepwash Channel, diving under the railway crossings & swishing round towards Osney as We join the narrow-ish (only for a short while) waters of the River Thames. Known in the past (& still by some) as the River Isis all the way from it’s source in the Cotswolds through Oxford and onto Dorchester, where her waters met those of the Thame.

Bart & crew make pleasant progress, enjoying just a little of this grand 210 mile old river. Just a ‘tittle’ nine miles to be (nearly) exact. Bart passes under Osney bridge, soon descending the first (Osney) of four Big lock chambers (lock keepers aplenty) for this day’s travellings. Before we continu-aise, the crew of Black Bart are relieved of a fair few pounds for the right to journey on & enjoy this Fantastic River. The non-tidal River Thames is under control of the environment agency, not the canal & river trust. Yet. So our annual licence does not currently cover Bart for travel on this inland waterway. Iffley & Sandford locks soon follow.

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After finally leaving Oxford & its southern reaches behind we begin to pass swathe after swathe of abundantly varied green shades of countryside. Yes this is the River Thames. A Big Wide river (most of the time), but completely different to that dark city water most of us probably picture in our minds when we think of Old Father Thames.

After swimming under Nuneham Railway Bridge Bart passes ‘Swift Ditch’, heading off to our left. The river takes us in a more easterly direction, preparing to skirt the edge of our destination for the day.

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Swift Ditch is the historical route of the river. Originally diverted by Abingdon Abbey Monks, then Swift Ditch became the main navigation again in the 17th century, including having one of the earliest pound locks in the country. Construction of Abingdon lock in 1790 forced Swift Ditch to become a distant cousin to the Old Father again. We are soon upon, then descending the waters of Abingdon lock, pushing Bart out at the (it’s) bottom. Not too smelly. Free moorings are available & expansive. Not as busy as when last we visited, four years previous. Perfect. Lovely wide grass covered (doggy friendly) play area all the way along this generous mooring zone.

Wednesday 2nd September      Birthday Wishes are being extended to a brother of Skip. HAPPY BIRTHDAY. There you go. That’s Splendid. Congratulations !!!!!

The crew are off to (re)check Abingdon out. FYI we two (Not the three) (even – Not the four (that includes our Bart)) visited here in the year 2011AD during a two week (only ever) narrowboat hire holiday. This historical delight is a gem on the lower (non-tidal) Thames. Not quite the blazing sunshine of that lovely visit, but lovely to be here again. The moorings are pretty darn good here & free for up to five days. We shall not take full advantage of this fact. Others are strongly advised to try harder than we do. Repairs are successfully carried out on the lower zips of the cratch cover, both sides. Stitchings are a breaking down. Well they were. They is all good now. Splendid job.

Thursday 3rd September      Bart is not messing about today. We is hauled out of our bunks at silly o’clock. We make gentle progress through Abingdon bridge, passing moor moored boats. a good mix of narrowboats in their many guises/styles, cruisers (skip has another name for those), dutch barges, etc.. etc..  You get the drift ??   Almost forgot to say – We also passed the (no more) junction with the Wilts & Berks Canal. There are moves afoot to re-invent this canal & junction it with the river South of town.  ‘Sharp’ bend to the left feeds Bart along Culham Cut to our first (Culham) lock. The river’s path was slightly further South originally, passing by Sutton Courtenay. Lock keeper not arrived yet. We moor ready to stretch our hose to the strangely positioned water (what else ??) tap. Lock boss arrives just before hose is out. “Can’t connect a hose to the tap”. Not allowed. Have to get water later. If & when we is allowed to. Clifton Cut leads all of us (Bart included) to Clifton lock (bet your shocked about that). Bypassing the original route of the river which wibberly-wobbled itself off to & via Long Wittenham. The river proper rejoins us (& visa versa) just below the lock. Six miles of river have taken Black Bart to Clifton Hampden. less than two miles from that railway bridge of (feels like) days ago.

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Dorchester (in Dorset) is not far away as Bart plummets Day’s lock & runs for Shillingford onto RAF Benson (well, near it) & their friendly lock. Wallingford is a blurr (Park Life) as Bart steams on by ( except to slow down (of course) for a cruiser messing about in front, before the bridge). We spy the open air swimming pool we enjoyed muchly like four years ago. Try it if your there one day. It’s lovely. Specially on a hot sunny day. The River Thames does wander about a bit. Most of the rivers (there have been a few) travelled this year seem to do that at times. The Thames certainly does it. Cleve lock (water refill successful) shortly followed by Goring (lock)

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& we have moor free moorings. This 65′ long boat house just isn’t quite long enough. Sigh. Oh Well.

Well actually, we/Bart only have/has one free mooring between us. The rest (also free ones/twos/etc.. etc..) are taken by other varied types of craft. You know the drill. Bart nicks the last (first in our direction) spot. ideal for a little-un. Our heads is/are still a spinning. Bart has cruised 20 miles today. Most in a day’s cruise for a fair olde while. After a brief moment(s) of recovery the crew of three are off. Bart is tucked up, safe & sound. Goring is investigated. Seems like a nice place. Back to, and over the river into Streatley. PH The Bull provides a very reasonably priced point or two of Streatley Best. Hadn’t thought about partaking of the foodies, but when Steak & Kidney Pudding (& beef stew) is/are on the specials board. Well guess what? We did not have foodies. (Actually, Skip lied. We did have foodies really). Very tasty. Back to Bart for an evening (& night) listening to the very large weir rumbling away (and the other two not quite so humongous weirs), only a few metres behind & other side from us. We are quite close to the lock you know. Where theirs a lock theres a (way) weir. Know it goes sum-ting like that anyway. Good Night. Sleep Tight all you occasional pop-in, pop-out readers. Good Night I (we) (the crew of Bart) say.

Friday 4th September      Bart’s trying the same old stupid o’clock thing again. crew are not to easily fooled this morning. Manage to drag our (high) heels a little. Finally gave in, slipping lines an hour later than yesterday. An ‘er on from leaving Goring have passed Beale Park & is saying hello & quickly soon after, a thanky-sir to Mr. Whitchurch lock keeper. NOT. He/She wasn’t even there. Skippet had to take charge. Did Fantastic as usual.

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Good speed is continued (for Bart, anyway) to Mapledurham lock. Orders for sausage & bacon rolls are placed with the very well positioned tea room. Our lock entry is aborted, after allowing the tourist boat ‘African Queen’ to pass Bart, entering the lock first. She is fatter (some say wider) & longer than thought, so the following-in Bart aborts lock entry, reverses back to re-moor & wait for the next train (as they might say at the railway station). Skip is a little annoyed.

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Elevenses (Oh!! that’s early lunch actually) (apparently) makes tings a tittle better. This ‘ere lock was the scene of a boating ‘near incident’ four years hence. We were witnesses. May even have become ‘victims’. But impact(s) was/were narrowly averted. In the nick of time, is likely. That tittle story may be for another day. The River Thames now starts taking Black Bart to see some lovely miniature islands. First we see Poplar Island, Appletree Eyot & St. Mary’s Island. Bart plays & has fun trying to chase soo rowing boats near Caversham. No oars-men/women were hurt in the making of today’s short movie. Old Father Thames takes us past the remnants of Reading festival. Loads to sort out & clear up there.

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Caversham (strangely, not Reading) Lock is shortly before the very silent junction with the K&A. We took that turning whilst enjoying our last hire narrowboat holiday. Onto the Bruce tunnel we travelled then, before having to wind ‘Golden Sunrise’ & eventually return her to her home near Eynesham on the River Isis. Today, we maintain our course. Any attempts by friend or foe will not force us to waiver in our intent.

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Interesting paddle steamer passes.     Yes that is a full size telephone box behind a very small deck chair.

Bart shows signs of a waiver. Requests to stop for the night. Possible moorings prior to Sonning lock do not materialise, so the lock is dealt with forthwith. More land is spotted central-ish to our water companion of these past (and some future) days. Bart swims round Buck Ait, Hallsmead Ait & Philmore’s Island. Getting dizzy now. Shiplake lock steadies the ship (Bart), then land (real terra firm) is spotted. We pull-over (getting cold yu’no) & manage to unclip the fore & aft lines. We is safe for the dark ‘ers me Hearties !!  There be some impressive brickwork constructions way, across these dark waters. But all is quiet for now. Goodbye

Saturday 5th September     A more leisurely commencement of the day is had by the crew. Even water is supplied for purposes of a wash. The aroma in the air was moving to the more pungent variety. Does tend to keep ‘guests’ away though. A late morning departure is organised after (only) slightly early elevenses. Handbook Eyot & Ferry Eyot are swam round & Marsh lock is soon upon us. No match for Bart & experienced crew. Onto Henley-on-Thames we ‘sail’.

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Round more jots of land (unknown) & enjoying the vibrant waterfront that is likely recognised by many a traveller. A busy port indeed. Bart rounds the headland at the point of Bridge & St. Mary the Virgin. Through the marauding canoeist’s & mad holiday cruisers Bart slinks away, making for quieter waters after Temple Island has been taken.

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Hambleden lock becomes Magpie Island, becomes Black Boy Island, becomes Hurley lock then Temple lock. And the weirs just keep on flowing & a rumbling on. Marlow looks like a lovely place, from where we’re sitting.

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Unfortunately, attempts to find mooring position after Marlow lock fail so on we go. A repeat of yesterday, a look-out is searching for a safe cove to ‘put-in’. Gibraltar Island is not as safe as you might (incorrectly) think. Nutty sailors whipping about, no care in the world, even with 24 tonnes of narrowboat approaching. Bourne End Reach is taken slowly, carefully, with all the crew’s alert eyes, watching. The Bounty does not help either. On we go, passing the Dragon boats quickly, before they have a chance to react. Finally the safety of Cookham lock is found. We await Steamboat ‘Streatley’ to pull into the lock.

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She choo-chooed by earlier today, heading upstream, but has returned to join us, if only briefly. We watch the steam rising as our lock companion elegantly choo’s away, going ahead of us. Bart is cruising Cliveden Reach, rounding Bavin’s Gulls (more strange islands). Boulder’s lock, followed by Maidenhead & Bray are not far away. Decision made, Bart Winds in the wide dark waters, carefully creeping into a very cosy, bushy bank. Bow & centre ropes tied to trees. Stern rope no required tonight. Bart’s not going anywhere. Protected little cove this. (Some time later) (and after delish scrambled egg on toast) (Yummy) it is now past midnight & Skip must bid you farewell & ciao for now. A little Italian there for you, late reader of Bart & crew’s Blog. A sizeable craft of unknown origins has just cruised by. Not sure why. Soo late. We are into the early hours of the next day, that shall remain nameless, for now at least. I don’t think they saw us. Hopefully. Goodnight

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Sunday 6th September    No soft boiled eggs with soldiers (cut toast you know) this morning. Just not quite a ‘proper’ Sunday. As our Bart is ‘pointing’ the wrong way, we depart our wooded ‘island’ enclave, slipping Bart’s lines from them lovely, helpful trees. We join the back of a tittle convoy heading upstream from Boulter’s lock (behind us) to Cookham lock.

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We pass chuggen quietly under the shadow of the grand building that be known local like as ‘Cliveden’, climbing the Cooked-ham water chamber, with the rest of Bart’s convoy. Intended moorings near PH The Ferry are too busy to squeeze our rather Lovely & Long narrowboat into. Certain boaters unwilling to move their craft along to provide a Bart length. OH well. Sumwot annoying. Swear, cuss !!!  We don’t have such language on Black Bart. Mostly. Some could be termed as selfish. Anyway, we creep slowly on, spotting a Bart length at Bourne End Reach. Very helpful (already moored) narrowboater takes our lines assisting our landing. Loads of geese (filthy creatures) poop is cleared as much is sensibly possible. Our lovely little pooch (you may have met her) has an interesting, tasteful habit of munching this ‘stuff’ on sum occasions. PH Spade Oak (Fab) is conveniently close so our one&only (very talented) carrier pigeon is sent to South coast visitors, who be enroute to Bart via North London & greek overnight stop-overs. Pigdon (our faithful pigeon) (silly name, but he seems to like it) has impressed, as almost always, with our coasties arriving almost on time. Drinks & chats followed by top-hole foodies all goes down very well. Yummy Yummies in our Tummies. Delish greek custard desert is enjoyed by all back on our tittle narrowboat. A Wonderful day it truly has been. Me thinks these lovely people may be our favourites (as that old chappie Brucy would likely say).

Monday 7th September      An even slower (than ‘normal’) start is had by Black Bart & crew of three. Bart finally leaves the river bank early afternoon (disgraceful), turning (winding) round & heading downstream again, jumping down the well traversed chamber of ham that is not parma. After we swim (all together like) back past Cliveden again & going all fizzy dizzy round Bavin’s Gulls, Bart is winding before re-coving in our new favourite, delightful woodland homestead. Well that was a short one wasn’t it, hay, reader, or is it ‘readers’ now. Not sure if we have multiplied into plural, (as might be identified by some persons), yet. Mayhaps one day. Bart has a slightly rusting (bits) top bottom, if that is not too confusing mate. The olde sterny slidy hatchy needs some talc. No not talc. TLC you silly computer. These computer things, they just think they be soo clever don’t they, when, actually they are not. Told them didn’t it. Olde Hatchy is rubbed down nice & smooth & rust buster (hopefully) is poored on. Crew is done for the day now. Off to our bunks we go.

Tuesday 8th September      The new homestead is still holding Bart. old Mr. Sun is not out, again. We is staying put today. olde sternie hatchy is lightly sanded (that is a technical term for those of you (three I think we are up to now) that is not understanding) before the ‘Bounty’ Red paint is pulled out of storage. First coat is applied. Sum ‘ers later number two is coated. Lovely colour. Same as forward locker hatchie & other lovely local details in of the area some might recognise as ‘the bow’. The central rear bulls-eye & adjacent diamond pattern had previously been receiving treatment rubbing, rust treatment, localised filling & rubbing down. They are both better now you’ll be pleased to know. The magic blue tape is found & alternate red diamonds are masked & ‘Bounty’ Red coats applied. May need a tittle prep & then final coat. Cream diamonds to follow red. Black diamonds to follow cream & red. Green diamonds to follow black, cream & red. Sum-ting like that anyway. Evening ‘ers pass & those bunks are a calling again. Wish they’d shut up. Such a low, woeful droning noise. You are the weakest link, Goodbye.

Wednesday 9th September        A reasonably early (for Bart’s crew) slippage of lines & Boulter’s lock drops us very slowly & calmly to the next level of our current waterway companion. We have new lock companions on their first hire boat (not of the narrow variety) ‘oliday.

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The banks of the grand old River Thames are the setting for a vast array of large & on occasion, humongous dwellings. We are obviously passing many haunts of the ‘haves’. Not the ‘have-nots’. We round the many islands of Maidenhead, quickly swishing through the (almost sharp) bend, missing old banana Bray island, dodging the weir (there is usually one, two or three of them near every lock) before the chamber is flushed lowering Bart & friends are yet another five foot (nearly) closer to sea level. The M4 noisily jumps across the dark Thames waters before Monkey island and then Queen’s Ait are both left behind by the lock convoy of few. A fair distance later (over a mile, even) Black Bart is negotiating an even sharper bend, rounding Dorney lake & skirting the northern reaches of Bush Ait. A familiar boat appears through the mists of the Thames.

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NB Yarwood (Bart’s) neighbour for last winter is there, moored on the North bank. Nobody seems to be at home. We consider pulling over. Mooring is free & space enough for Bart, but we want to progress onto Windsor. We understand there be quite a Famous Lady who duth live round about here somewhere (over the rainbow). Boveney lock appears & the waters are escaping to allow us to be a lowering, just a tittle further. Skip can almost see the sea, but not quite yet. Mr. L. Keeper informs the (slow) water tappet is just round the corner, and there already be a narrowboat filling with another waiting. As we depart the scene, Lock shouts “There be a tap by the public slipway after Windsor Race Course”. “Thanky sir” we all cry. While crew await Bart’s having a sip of the old H2O & a yellow Duck appears. After a short delay, the slipway proves it’s worth & Mr. Duck is swimming away, onto Windsor. After a water delay we follow this strange looking fellow.

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Before we can catchup with old ducky, a very famous castle comes into view, and (hopefully) ideal moorings too. Skip winds Bart and approaches a straight length of Bank just the right length. Not unusual (said Tom) but we are now in the shallows. Mad!!  We are on the River Thames. Our new London (hire) boaty friends have already landed so lines are taken to assist. Bart likes making a spectacle of her/him-self. Change of tack. Bart leaves, winds & re-approaches. Lines are re-taken. Not the best situation, but Bart has arrived. High (for Bart) bank, just a little too far away as we have landed in/on the wet muddy stuff below. Crew manage to escape & lines are secured. Mr. P. Lank is re-instated to full duties again. He needs to be negotiated with care, during both ascent & descent to/from Bart’s Bow/gas locker roof. Roxy has some fun chasing her ball before reduced crew of two are off for a jaunt of olde Windsor Town. Splendid place. Especially that Fantastic Castle. Boaty friends arrive later for drinks. A Splendid evening is had by all, Roxy included. Yes, she did behave herself this time. She is ‘Such’ a Good Girl. Roxy that is.

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Thursday 10th September      A Beautiful Sunny day greets us all as we peak from behind our sleepy lids, with squinting eyes. A relaxed slow (unusual it has to be said) (& recorded in the log too) start to today. elevenses on the green terrace (The Brocas) (Eton college land you know). More boaty friendies chitty-chat. More tea/coffee. The day is just cruising on by. We are getting carried away here. Bart reminds us some progress needs to made on Old Father Thames today. Our hire buddies also need to remove those mooring pins & return to their hire base at Datchet. We all make haste. Bart, not so easy to escape terra firma with the awkward gap, height & good old Mr. P.Lank. All sorted without incident.

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We cruise under Windsor Bridge to & through (that rhymes) & down Romney lock. Soon after, we are travelling past ‘The Crowns Estate’ then waiving goodbye to our waterway companions, as they return their hire boat to it’s home. Bart Leaves our monarch’s lovely homestead behind as we cruise under Albert Bridge, dodging a couple of weirs to traverse New Cut, which bypasses a very curvy wurvy section  of old now unnavigable river. We track Ham Island (created by the cut) onto Old Windsor lock. Our descend is smoothly controlled by the lock keeper as usual, before we finally moor just half a mile on, after second attempt, where we have sufficient depth. Yippee !!  Not sure how many Bells of Ouzeley there are, but not to worry.

Friday 11th September      The end of the working week has arrived, for most people. For some unfortunates it has not. For Black Bart & crew it is neither of these. It is another type of day. It is a Bart World 2015 day.

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After leaving those bells behind we pass Magna Carta Island & Runnymede, moving onto & down Bell Weir lock before blasting across the M25, dodging all those fast moving vehicles. Holm & Church Islands lead onto Staines where we are unable to find a free mooring position. Won’t be restocking the larder as hoped. Bart cruises on, through these curvy wurvy wide waters, moving on by Truss’s Island to reach Penton Hook lock. Laleham Abbey (haven’t listed all the other many Abbey’s that Bart has waved to over previous days & weeks) leads onto M3 then Chertsey lock. Shortly before Lower Shepperton Bart pulls in for the night. Local accommodation is saute. 

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Saturday 12th September      Hello there, who ever you are. Just so you know, Bart cruises into Shepperton lock after passing by Pharaoh’s Island. As we swim out of the lock a wide open junction with the River Wey Navigation is there to behold. Bart is too deep in the water for this waterway flowing to here from Guildford & Godalming. Shortly after this junction, we turn left, flowing by Shepperton & Lower Halliard, taking a very wibberly, wobberly & original path of the River Thames, in preference to the more direct route along Desborough Cut.

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As Bart dives in (not quite literally) at the end to said cut we are dodging the inevitable mass of rowers. A typical occurrence during river cruises. Then of course, the more awkward sailing dinghies. Bart moves over as close to the bank as feels comfortable, but they keep skitting across in front of us, then tacking, sometimes, only just in time. The helms person’s rotating hand wheel (accelerator) is constantly manipulated, with the forward, neutral & reverse pull/push handle being called upon repeatedly as we try playing dodgems with these fellow boaters & their small, light, nippy craft. Unlike our Bart’s opposites. Large/long, heavy, lumbering. After successfully avoiding being involved in any maritime incidents, again, we attempt mooring by Walton Bridge for lader-ing. No, can’t get in. Unpleasant lumps down there. Not good. We move on. Moorings at Walton Wharf are out of use due to a regatta taking place this afternoon. Oh Well!!  We continue on to & through Sunbury lock, making our way by Piatt’s Eyot & Garrick’s Ait to Hampton. Bit boring for you poor reader. Even more boring for Bart & crew, three moor attempts to land at Hampton (at least close enough to the bank to allow safe transfer of any goods successfully bartered for) fail. Didn’t think this grand old river would be so shallow in so many places. Taggs & Ash Islands swim from fore to aft as Bart cruises onwards downstream. We reach Moseley lock, dropping (slowly) over 6′. Most of these Big Thames locks ascend/descend less. We Make our way past Hampton Court & the similarly named Palace (strange) on tuther side of river. No need to say, but mooring gaps too short for Black Bart. She be our narrowboat. She also be our home. A Lovely home indeed.

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Bart makes hay, chuggen on by Thames Ditton Island, Surbiton & it’s tittle Raven’s Ait before…..  HOORAY !!!!  A GAP. Big enough for our Bart. And crew of course.

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Moorings shortly before Kingston Bridge. Great moorings. Great position. Great tittle Hamlet this place we’ve heard locals calling Kingston upon Thames. Never ‘ered of it. Anyway, it is quite lovely. tasteful mix of new & some fantastic olde buildings.

Unfortunately pics were not available at time of going to print

Your loss. We’ve seen the place. You now have to go there also.


Teddington locks dating back to the early nineteenth century are only one mile & another half downstream from Bart’s current location of moordem. Skip phones the locks keeper(s) at Teddington to enquire aboat Black Bart’s desire to pass through one of their splendid large locks tomorrow. Enquiries are made on Bart’s behalf as to when high tide occurs on Sunday/tomorrow. We are now talking aboat a Tidal river you know. This will influence when we, our narrowboat & her beating heart (that be olde Lister) can progress through Teddington locks & hopefully safely make passage through Twickenham & Richmond onto a place far far far away sum call Brentford. We thinks it might be in a distant land called Essex. A long distance connection is made to this far far far away city’s locks to also discuss our intended passage. Tomorrow might be interesting for novices like Black Bart & crew. Particularly with prospect that things might be sumwot busy as Brentford Thames Locks were closed today, so could be a fair few craft jostling for opportunity to travel during that tight window only available for a while at high tide. High tide is at 4.05pm. A slightly nervous night’s ‘rest’  is predicted.


Sunday 13th September      Good morning to one & all. Could be a long day. Teddington lock keeper advised Bart to arrive midday-ish to be as close to front of the ‘queue’ as possible. It is first come first served. Bart is slower than most other narrowboats (& wide beams) and that 3′ water draft can be cause for concern on occasion. Checks are carried out. Don’t want any issues, especially during a tidal cruise. Anchor (Borrowed. Thank you you know who) is re-attached to the forward anchor eye. Bow shackle moused to eye. Lines slipped, we cruise slowly, leaving Kingston upon Thames at 11.30am, avoiding canoeists & sailors alike, Enjoying our relaxed part of today’s passage. Bart is joining the back of the Teddington queue at 1200 hours. Sir !!  This queue is not as big as expected. We need to be ready for 3.30pm. Bart sends crew down to locks to chat with lock keepers. Three of these very important peoples on duty today. 24 hour cover here. 365 days of the year. Many lock keepers assigned to these locks on a rotation basis. Three locks. One small ‘Skiff’ lock. One Big ‘Launch‘ lock (c:1857 / c:1810 timber) & One Very Long, BIG ‘Barge’ lock (c:1904). Only 650′ (ft) long. ENORMOUS!!

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Constructed in to accommodate ten wide Thames barges at one time. Quite a sight. Makes our Bart look tiny.

Monty Python’s Fish-Slapping Dance was filmed here in 1971.

We relax for a while. Mentally preparing ourselves. The clock (and our watches) tick tock, on by. Suddenly, boats are coming the other way, past Bart. Obviously just travelled from Brentford, cruising upstream with the tide. Just come through the locks. Time for the madness. NB Water Witch in front of Bart is readying for the fun. Lister is turned over to warm up. Bart’s crew put on life jackets. Roxy included. She loves her bright orange safety kit. Bedlam. Boats are turning up, coming downstream from places we passed yesterday. Lines slipped we make a ‘run’ for the moving lock queue. The ‘launch’ lock is the first to be filled with boats. Bart manages to make the first load. We be central position at the rear. We can lead from the back. Second to last in. One more boat & gates closed behind us.

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Only a few short minutes & lower gates open, narrowboats & wide beams making a break for it. The ‘Barge’ lock next door has been flushed, with two tourist monsters coming through just at the same time. Makes the situation more fun.

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As Bart cruises out of Teddington ‘launch’ lock we thank our lock keeper (as always). We are soon overtaken by the boats either side of Bart in the lock. We are used to that. Long, slow bend to starboard takes us through Twickenham & Eel Pie Island soon slips by. We are likely chuggen along at between 4 & 5 mph. Top hole Bart.

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The convoy soon stretches out, with Bart hanging onto their coat tails, just. Canoeists slow down the second half of our convoy.

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After the rowers have slipped behind, Bart takes advantage, slowly creeping by two older, small narrowboats. Some of the others are well ahead now. Glover’s Ait & central floating metal mini-islands with moored boats lead us into the next big bend, to port this time.

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Open water nutters (sorry!! swimmers) are traversing the eastern section of the channel & a few tourist hired rowing boats are milling about. One being sumwot closer than we’d like to our sub-convoy’s intended path/route. Bart & companions avoid this blissfully unaware rower & his companion. We swing by Richmond’s splendid, busy waterfront. The tide is very high today. washing over some of the banks & waterside paths.

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Our sub-convoy pass under Richmond Bridge, immediately swimming by Richmond Ait(s) (three little-uns), onto (under actually) Railway bridge & Twickenham Bridge. These are soon followed by the sluices at Richmond lock.

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Due to the high tide the lock is not required for our convoy’s cruise. We carry on straight under the sluice control bridge/gantry structure. Feels slightly strange cruising straight past a lock like this. Only felt OK as others had been through before us. Skips not sure he would have been so keen if out there on thy own, so to speak.

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Bart bears to starboard keeping East of Isleworth Ait. Sharp-ish starboard (right) again we leave the fairly large Ait behind.

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Bart is now on the home ‘straight’. One more mile. We can see boats ahead of us, ‘turning’ off the main channel & disappearing, hopefully ‘up’ to Brentford. We are following Water Witch still, both passing the junction, turning to cut across the channel, attempting to enter the confluence of the River Brent which will lead us to the Grand Union Canal. Our next waterway companion. Back to now. As Bart turns, crossing the channel, we are struggling. Being pushed sideways. Bart is angling across the river sumwot wonky like. Skip is getting concerned. Full throttle (not much with olde Lister). We are not moving forward. The wall past the entrance to the River Brent is creeping towards us. Finally, we slowly, very slowly it seems, start moving forward. Trying not to up the revs too much as we get too much vibration through Bart doing that. Sighs of relief. Black Bart makes a successful transition from Tidal River Thames to Tidal River Brent. Brentford Thames locks welcome us to safety.

P1090840  P1090846

P1090845

See you (all) at the next blog post – The Grand Union Canal, which includes the lower reaches of the River Brent.


Black Bart has cruised from Oxford to Brentford, swimming 100 miles (including five miles tidal) of the Fantastic River Thames descending 34 Big locks. A Wonderful experience.

One thought on “#17 River Thames downstream – East. September 2015

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