Wednesday, August 01, 2012

Grey skies to Wallingford.

Today was forecast to be showery, but they got that wrong! We started out with overcast skies, but by lunchtime a glimmer of sun had shown it’s face. It didn’t get much better than a glimmer, but at least it was dry and reasonably warm.

Meg is a lot brighter today, now that the effects of the anaesthetic have worn off. She’s also coping well with the dressing on her foot. She’s back to wanting to play ball and paddle in the river, neither of which can be recommended for another couple of days.

We left the Beale park moorings at 09:15, hoping to be first away and first to arrive at Goring Lock. But two other narrowboats pulled out ahead of us, a cruiser overtook us, and another cruiser pulled off the Goring mooring right in the middle of our little convoy.

Leaving Beale ParkSAM_1924 Beale Park
Morning Parade at a Sea Scout camp just upstream.SAM_1926 Sea Scout Camp
If it’s anything like the Scout camps I used to go on they’ll be having a whale of a time.

Either side of Goring and Cleeve Locks the river passes under bridges designed by Isambard Kingdom Brunel to carry the Great Western Railway. Both were built between 1838 and 1840.

Gatehampton Bridge to the south….SAM_1928 Gatehampton Br

…And Moulsford Bridge further north.SAM_1944 Moulsford Br
Both of these structures are listed under English Heritage’s schedule of designated buildings, and Moulsford has just recently had it’s status upgraded from Grade II to Grade II*. This is the second highest classification available.

Approaching Goring, up on the left bank, is The Grotto, an 18C house built for Viscount Fane, owner of the Basildon Estate.

The GrottoSAM_1930 The Grotto Converted to offices, it was up for sale in 2009 for £2.5m, but I guess it didn’t sell. The lower windows are boarded up and the terraced gardens are in need of a trim. Such a shame.

As we were overtaken by the motor cruiser Silver Waters, we were both rapidly overhauled by an “eight” from Pangbourne.

They’re shifting….SAM_1931 Overtaking
They came as a surprise to the cruiser skipper!

There wasn’t room for us in Goring Lock, so we had a half-hour wait while one batch went up and another lock-full came down.

Goring Lock and WeirSAM_1934 Goring

In the lockSAM_1935 Goring

There’s only a ten minute run to Cleeve Lock, so the same boats were lined up in there. All apart from one narrowboat. For some reason Cleeve is slightly smaller, and there wasn’t room!
In fact all the locks seem to be built to different sizes, although the larger ones tend to be downstream. The biggest is the tidal lock at Teddington, a massive 650 x 24¾ feet. This is nearly 12 times the area of the smallest, at Inglesham.

Salter’s MV Reading leaves Cleeve Lock ready for us as she heads for Reading.SAM_1937 Cleeve Lock

From Cleeve to Wallingford it’s a lock-free reach of 5½ miles, plenty of time for a brew and a sandwich.

We caught up with an enterprising flotilla of canoes, making use of the natural resource of a following wind.
SAM_1939 Sailing
Four boats were strapped together in a diamond, with another across the middle as a stabiliser.
SAM_1940 SailingThey were making reasonable headway with a following wind, but would have to resort to paddles after Moulsford as the river swings northerly.

I tried this once with a canoe, a broad-beamed two-seater kayak. I installed a mast step and using a 12 foot pole and an old bed sheet fitted a square rig. It was fine downwind, but impossible to sail off the beam. I should have fitted lee-boards like on the Humber keels, at least then I wouldn’t have gone sideways quite as fast….

Another shot of Moulsford Railway Bridge, showing the more recent addition closest to the camera.SAM_1947 Moulsford Br

We arrived at Wallingford and found a choice of mooring spots available, but opted for one on the right bank alongside the swimming pool. It will be quieter here later.

Moored in WallingfordSAM_1949 Moored at Wallingford

It’s got busier since, boats are breasted up across the water…

Locks 2, miles 8½

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