Monday, May 25, 2009

More boats and through some posh bits.

Well, the weather man said thundery showers this afternoon. Still time yet, I suppose, but we’ve got away with it so far. Just a light, ½ hour shower this morning as we pulled over just below Abingdon Lock.

I had a quick trip into town for some essentials, then popped into Abingdon Boat Centre and treated the library to a Nicholson’s Guide, # 7, which covers the rivers Thames and Wey, and the Kennet and Avon and Basingstoke Canals. I can now retire my 30 year old, small scale cruising map, bought for our very first boat trip, from Godalming on the River Wey, out onto the Thames, and back again.
I like Nicholson’s Guides, the spiral bound A5 format makes them easy to handle, and the mapping is modified from OS 1:250,000 maps, which are old friends from my hillwalking days.
The boat centre also allows self declaration of diesel splits, so we moved down to their dock to fill up. Not cheap, but much as I expected.

Red-Crested Pochard and Cootlings near Abingdon Bridge.

The Red-Crested Pochard is unusual, in fact the RSPB reckon there's only 29 breeding pairs in the UK. This chap had better get active!

I’m pleased that we’ve not used any more fuel per hour than we would do on the canals, even though we’re cruising at 1000rpm rather than our habitual 800. And we’re covering the ground faster, averaging (including the locks) around 3mph, instead of the canal rate of around 2mph. So we’re actually more efficient on the wider, deeper water of the river. It doesn’t surprise me. The boat seems more responsive, and the engine is running sweetly, away from shallow water.

On the edge of Abingdon, a sign indicates where the now derelict Wilts and Berks Canal joined.

Leaving the town, the river enters Culham Reach, then Culham Cut, heading for the lock, takes off to the left.

Culham Reach
Culham Lock

It’s pretty posh around Clifton Hampden. The church sits on a little knoll above a cluster of thatched cottages.

Clifton Hampden Bridge.

Lots of “No Mooring” signs around here.

We arrived at Clifton Lock at lunchtime, so worked through it ourselves, in company with another narrowboat NB GWLADYS from Lechlade. They pulled over soon after, and we carried on to the picturesque Day’s Lock, with Wittenham Clumps rising behind.

Day’s lock
Passing to the south of the roman town of Dorchester, we did a sharp dogleg past another des-res at Shillingford, then spotted a suitable bankside spot for the night.

“Desirable Property with River Frontage” at Shillingford. If you look closely, you’ll see that the boathouse on the left even has a thatched roof!
Just before Shillingford is where the River Thame joins the main river.

River Thame
Above the confluence, the Thames can also be known as it’s more romantic alter-ego, the Isis. From here on, it’s most definitely the Thames.

While I’ve been writing, with the side hatch open and watching the passing boats with one eye, I couldn’t help noticing this recreation from the movie “Titanic”. They should really lose the coffee cups, though.

Winslett and DeCaprio?Locks 4, miles 12

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