Friday, 29 August 2014

Lechlade - Head of the Navigable Thames Aug 2014

Our Summer Cruise 2014

Days 65 and 66

Having got up to Lechlade on the Saturday - and then checking the weather forecast -  we realised that Bank Holiday Monday would be a very wet day! So there was the Sunday to have a wander around. Would set back on the Tuesday.
Our son had driven up from Staines to join us, so the two of us walked up the remaining length of the Thames to Inglesham.
[I had intended to take the boat up there and was advised against this by another boater due to the silting.]

Moored facing upstream on the meadow at Lechlade
The large herd of heifers - they took a liking to my orange pin markers by trying to eat them! We were told they were also partial to flowers - so needed to move the flower troughs off the roof into the front hold!
A view of Lechlade's Parish Church, St.Lawrence. The impressive spire can be seen from the river at quite distance 
Having walked up to the start of the Thames and Severn Canal at Inglesham, we were disappointed not to be able to take a closer look. The reason is due to the heavy engineering work presently being done by the Cotswold Canal Trust.
The famous 'roundhouse' lock keeper's house dates from around 1789 when the canal was opened - it was abandoned in 1933

A further walk took us to the amazing church of St.John the Baptist, built in 1205 on the site of an Anglo-Saxon church - it sits just above the flood meadows of the Thames 

This beautiful stone carving of the Mother and Infant Child is Anglo-Saxon and therefore predates the Norman conquest of 1066

My camera does little justice to the painted walls - some 600 years old. William Morris did much to preserve these amazing examples of decorative church art

Traditional wooden church box pews!
Old Father Thames - commissioned in 1854, was at the source of the Thames at Trewsbury Mead. It was moved to St.John's Lock at Lechlade in 1974

Thursday, 28 August 2014

Winding up the Windy Upper Thames Aug 2014

Our Summer Cruise 2014

Day 63 To Radcot Bridge 16 miles 5 river locks
Day 64 To Lechlade Meadow 7 miles 3 river locks

Our trip up the Upper Thames provided the unique experience that is characteristic of this section - like the Warwickshire Avon in places with wider, straight, open lengths - contrasted with encroaching, winding, bendy sections - more jungle that Oxfordshire.
There were more 'S' bends than the Wyrley Curley and Mississippi combined!

We broke the journey on a rural mooring below Radcot Bridge opposite a caravan holiday site. There were quite a few caravan/camping sites dotted along the river.

We were passed by the occasional cruiser - on the whole the river was empty of moving boats

Some of the bends had these marker buoys  to avoid the silt banks

The large water treatment works at Farmoor Reservoir

The Thames locks were all well kept and tidy - here at Northmoor Lock?

A rare sight - the rymers and paddles to control the weir flow

Old and New!

A bit of a squeeze through Newbridge Bridge - new as in the 14th century - built by the monks on the orders of King John to provide a north-south link from the wool farms of the south to the Cotswolds

A solid structure that needs lining up when navigating - happily the river flow was at summer levels so a straightforward passage

A Bank Holiday KikiFest planned - it was a private party!

A narrow, overgrown section

We passed this swimmer just above Shifford Lock

Bridges across the Upper Thames are few and far - here an example of a wooded footbridge crosses the Thames footpath

An example of the many World War II pill boxes that were dotted along the northern bank - a second line of defence for the threatened 1939 Hitler invasion [the first line was the Kennett and Avon Canal some 30 miles further south of the Thames]

The sweet smelling yet rampant Himalayan Balsam has taken a hold here

A couple of the higher locks were unmanned - see the wonderful 'Self service' sign. Being canal boaters we are used to this and actually enjoyed getting off the boat to work the lock

The Upper Thames locks have easy to use, counter balanced wheel operated paddle gear - here the red lever indicates the paddle is partially open. The large, broad beam gates swung easily and there was a pole supplied to open and close the off side without going round - luxury itself!

Another tight squeeze at Radcot Bridge - the oldest surviving bridge on the Thames from the early 1200's

First mate holds the bow rope as we lock up ourselves - we decided to wear our life jackets all along the river?!

Passing a semi-permanently moored barge, well appointed MV Orca

Our arrival at the navigable head of the River Thames (at least for a 60 footer) as the final stretch up to Inglesham we were told was silted up. These meadow moorings were very pleasant and a cost us £4 per night.  Lechlade Town is over the river bridge

Monday, 25 August 2014

Onto to Upper River Thames Aug 2014

Our Summer Cruise 2014

Day 62 Thrupp to Above Eynsham
             8 miles, 5 locks and 1 lift bridge

Today, starting in warm sunshine we headed south to the River Thames and our mini adventure on the nation's favourite river.

Leaving Thrupp - too early for an ice-cream

Attractive cottages in front the canal here inn Thrupp - mooring places become free in the morning though fill very quickly!

Getting the anchors sorted out ready for the river

Chris holds the flimsy string to close the lift bridge as we approach Duke's Lock

Getting stuck with a bottom gate not fully open - eventually I cleared a load of silt/gravel behind it and opening it a couple more inches, squeezed through

The rather low Duke's Bridge

Strange though effective ground paddle gear

Out onto a windy and colder Duke's Cut

Heading upstream on the Upper River Thames

Summer holiday activity

Being overtaken at full throttle!

Two men in a boat!

Sharing Eynsham Lock

Moored in a field above Eynsham - an open and windy spot

Sunday, 24 August 2014

Travelling to Thrupp Aug 2014

Our Summer Cruise

Day 61 - 7.5 miles and 5 locks

After a pump out at Heyford Wharf (where we met Andy who lives on nb Nutwood, we were at Bollington Wharf at the same time 9 years ago) and the purchase of a new tipcat, we headed further south.
The canal is very rural and wanders along reedy banks. Passed the busy and quite crowded Enslow before doing the River Cherwell section.
Arriving at Thrupp at the beginning of the bank moorings, we got in on a bend, not chancing a better visitor mooring further down.

A narrow bendy section with full vegetation

This pound was down somewhat - though there seemed enough depth for our 2'9" skeg

The river level at Baker's Lock down onto the R.Cherwell section

Leaving Baker's Lock - with the towpath bridge over the River entering on the right

On the River Cherwell

Sitting above Shipton Weir Lock whilst Chris sorts it out

This is another of the larger width locks to give enough water for lock depth lower down

Entering Thrupp with an interesting garden

An embankment protection gate

New tipcat fitted giving some extra protection for the rudder