Monday, July 23, 2012

Shillingford and Beale Park

No apologies for not posting last night. I had a choice; sit inside tapping away or sit out in the sunshine with a few beers and a barbeque. No contest, really.

Yesterday we were off at not long after 09:00, trying to get some miles in before it got busy. George and Carol had already passed by the time we got going, we were a little later because I got lost on my morning run and was out for nearly 2½ hours!

Just down from our overnight we swung left onto Culham Cut, leaving the natural course for just under a mile to bypass the shallows at Sutton Pools. Culham Lock is at the end of the cut, and the river course can be followed with care back to Sutton Courtenay by turning right just above.

Culham Cut, quite a bit narrower than the natural courseSAM_1716 Culham Cut

Below Culham Lock there’s a 2 mile river section before another cut, this time a little shorter and heading for Clifton Lock. We caught up with Rock’n’Roll here, waiting for the lock.

Following R‘n’R out of Clifton LockSAM_1722 Clifton Lock

The next crossing is at the village of Clifton Hampden, where the late 19thC bridge is designed to look older.

Clifton Hampden Bridge, Norman in stlye
SAM_1728 Clifton Hampden Br

The ornate bell tower of the church of St Michael and All Angels rises above the bridge. Dating from the late 12thC, the church has had additions in the 13thC and 14thC.

This hire boat’s a long way from home!SAM_1727 Long way from home

Big aaaarr…..SAM_1725 Piggy-back

Burcot is the next village, sitting on the north bank as the river curves around to Day’s Lock. There are some fine houses with gardens running down to the water.

BurcotSAM_1735 Burcot

This one’s for sale. You know what they say, if you have to ask the price you can’t afford it!SAM_1739 Burcot

The flat countryside is starting to give way to rising ground as Day’s Lock is reached. Whittenham Stumps is the highest lump on the Sinodun Hills, with it’s distinctive crown of trees.

Day’s Lock with the Stumps on the left.SAM_1746 Days Lock

This was the last lock today, less than 2 miles on we pulled over just past the sharp bends at Shillingford.

Shillingford.SAM_1753 Shillingford

We moored just around the right hand bend here. There’s a red marker buoy way out across the left side of the channel, which you should keep to the left of going downstream. Most boats can get away with cutting the corner a bit, but not a large Dutch barge.

This chap was stuck for the best part of 1½ hours, with a couple of boats trying to drag him off. Carol has some good pics of the operation here.

Hard agroundSAM_1756 Dutch Barge stuck

We had a very pleasant evening sat out watching the world go by.

Red Kite keeping an eye on things…SAM_1762 Red Kite

…and a pair of GrebesSAM_1767 Grebe

Today was already getting warm when we got away at around 10:00. I’d just pulled my pins and turned around to face downstream when I spotted a hire cruiser come round the corner, on the wrong side of the buoy. Of course, he ran onto the sandbank. I hung on to see if he could extricate himself, but with no movement obvious I came up and took a line, snatching him off. My good deed for the day.

Drama over we set off, under Shillingford Bridge.

Shillingford BridgeSAM_1773 Shillingford Bridge

This well proportioned stone bridge was built in 1827, replacing an earlier crossing with a timber deck. This earlier bridge had lasted for 60 years, but was described in early 1827 as “ruinous" and "in part taken down". Before the 18th C bridge the crossing was made by ferry.

There’s nothing more picturesque than the Thames locks, and Benson, our first today, is no exception.

Looking back at Benson Lock and weirSAM_1777 Benson Lock
Spectacular on a sunny day…

We needed to do a bit of shopping, so pulled in just below Wallingford Bridge to pop up into the town. Wallingford deserves more than just a “pop into”, and we’ll do it justice with an overnight stop on the way back. But for today we were off again at 1 o’clock.

The locals were enjoying the sunny day….. but I‘m not sure it was that warm!

Cooling offSAM_1779 Wallingford

The river is running north to south here, heading for the break between the Chilterns to the east and the Berkshire Downs to the east. But there’s still a few miles of water meadows to enjoy.

Moulsford Railway BridgeSAM_1790 Moulsford Railway Br
SAM_1787 Moulsford Railway BrThis bridge was designed and built by Isambard Kingdom Brunel in 1839, to carry the Great Western Railway. Inside 50 years the success of the railway required doubling the width, so, in 1892, a second bridge was constructed on the upstream side. Girders and brick arches connect the two.

The top picture shows Brunel’s original span.

Heading towards Cleeve Lock, with extensive water meadows on the west and the hills starting to rise to the east.SAM_1794 Towards Goring

We topped up water tanks above Cleeve, then dropped down onto the short ½ mile reach to Goring Lock.

Leaving Cleeve LockSAM_1799 Cleeve Lock
The hills are starting to make their presence known as we approach GoringSAM_1800 Goring Gap

The boat coming out of the lock is the hotel boat Louisa. She looks very smart. A relaxing way to enjoy the river.

Hotel boat LouisaSAM_1802 Hotel Boat Louisa

We had three narrowboats and a wide cruiser (the one in the picture above Louisa apparently heading towards the weir) in the lock, and lost the narrowboat on the 24 hour moorings below.

Goring LockSAM_1804 Goring Lock
SAM_1806  Goring Lock

Wooded slopes crowd in on both sides as the river cuts through the Gap, wonderful scenery.

Goring GapSAM_1808 Goring Gap

Whitchurch HillSAM_1810 Whitchurch Hill

We moored a little further on, at Beale Park. We’re tucked in behind one of the small islands.

I love this boat’s name…..SAM_1811 Good Name
I’ve heard the definition of a boat is “a hole in the water you throw money into….”

Locks 6, miles 20½ (two days)


Alf said...

"Whittenham Stumps"
When I used to hail from that area, we knew them as Whittenham Clumps !

Adam said...

Judging by Carol's photos, the hire boat you rescued was the one based at a pub on the upper reaches (can't remember exactly where). We kept coming across it on our Thames trip last year -- much to our frustration, because it's just too wide to fit alongside a narrowboat in some of the smaller locks at the top end of the river!

Geoff and Mags said...

Hi Alf. Yes you're right, a bit of a typo there! Clumps it is! Meg and I set out to walk there from Shillingford, but she's got a sore paw so gave up after a mile or so. Might have a walk up from Day's on the way back.
Hi Adam
The boat is called Jazel, or something similar, and as you say, comes from up river, The Trout at Lechlade. The two guys on board have a lot to learn, at Goring they went the wrong way and headed for the weir!