Thursday, May 21, 2009

On the Limit at Lechlade

Another bright, breezy day. A drop of rain first thing soon cleared, and the day has improved as it went on, leading to a fine sunny evening.

I had a walk back this morning to Rushey Lock, and spotted this topiary on the lawn in front of the lock house. I don’t know how I missed it yesterday when we came through the lock.

Frog or toad?
The weir here is still manually operated. Paddles are drawn up by hand to open more of the sluices as required.

Rushey Weir. The tops of the paddles are the row of poles sticking up.
Some spares, not fitted.

Our first lock of the day was Radcott, another one with fine gardens and more bush sculpture.

Radcot Lock

The artwork is by volunteers from the local boat club.

The river is pretty remote, the flood plain and meadows mostly empty, apart from the odd field with livestock.

What you looking at?
Then there are the outposts of civilisation, usually at bridges or ferries.

Radcot Bridge. More reminiscent of a canal bridge…
The Thames would have been a major line of defence in the event of an invasion of the south coast during WWII. Blockhouses were built at regular intervals to deny an enemy use of the river.

WWII Blockhouse
And more modern hardware
Still winding extravagantly, the river rises up Grafton and Buscot Locks, and finally arrives at St John’s, the last lock on the river.

Approaching St John’s Lock

It is here that Old Father Thames looks out with disdain at passing boaters. He probably preferred his original home.
We moored on the bank a little before Ha’penny Bridge.

Moored at Lechlade
Ha’penny Bridge, the Toll House on the right. The toll used to be a halfpenny, hence the name.
Meg and I took a walk on up the river. My old map shows the navigable limit just past the bridge, but there were cruisers and the odd narrowboat moored a good ½ mile further upstream. We walked past the confluence of the River Coln, where the Thames and Severn Canal also arrived at the river. On this junction is the Roundhouse, one of several on the canal, built to accommodate the lock-keepers. This is accepted as being the limit of navigation for most powered craft.

The Roundhouse and 3 way junction. Thames to the left, Coln to the right, Thames and Severn Canal up the middle. The canal is part of a restoration project.
Following the river another few hundred yards, we came across a field of cows with calves. We turned back here, Meg doesn’t do cows, unless absolutely necessary!

While we were out we met a couple walking 3 dogs, one called Brian. If he hadn't recently been clipped, you would have been struggling to tell them apart!

Bookends. Meg and Brian
They're both as daft as each other!

Turned into the village on the way back, for a quick visit to the shops.

It looks an interesting spot
. The poet Shelley lived here, and there’s some interesting architecture. It’s a pity we can’t linger. We’re on day 3 of a 15 day permit, 12 days to cover the 134 miles back downstream to London.

Locks 4, miles 9


Paul (from Waterway Routes) said...

The right of navigation on the Thames is all the way to Cricklade - but you'd need a canoe to get there. I’ve cruised a little beyond where the road comes close to the canal at Inglesham Village, and could probably have gone further if I’d tried.

The Cotswold Canals restoration is featured in the Waterway Routes DVD at

Geoff and Mags said...

Thanks, Paul, for the clarification.
I'm surprised there are no signs advising of the practical limit for powered craft, or are there, further up towards Cricklade?
And you've got a free plug..... ;-)