Wednesday, July 30, 2014

A steady trip to Reading, and a bit of lock rage…

Our first lock today was at Goring, and it was on DIY when we arrived. In the chamber was a small timber launch, the owner having just emptied the lock and opened the gates. For some reason known only to himself he’d chosen to tie up on the opposite side to the control consoles making a lot of walking around necessary.
Two narrowboats were ready to come in, and the first made the mistake of nosing gently into the lock before the launch was out. In fact, before the guy had even got back on. A shouting match ensued, each arguing correct locking procedure. I didn’t get involved, just let them get on with it. Finally the launch-driver reboarded and chugged off, still muttering, the second boat came in and I worked them up. The whole procedure took twice as long as it should have done, and raised one guy’s blood pressure to a dangerous level…
I didn’t take any photos, that would have rubbed salt into an already raw wound.

Egyptian Goose…

…and goslings

Goring Lock and weir.IMG_0721

Ignoring the shouting match across the lock, I took a picture of the weirIMG_0722

Our turn, dropping down Goring Lock.
We were joined by a plastic cruiser and the unusual wide-beam Valhalla. A very odd design.

We had 4 miles of beautiful river to enjoy before Whitchurch Lock, passing between the Chilterns on one side and the Berkshire Downs on the other. The river found this natural gap through the high ground millennia ago, more recently man has poked a railway and main road through there too. You don’t see much of the later transport arteries though, just the odd buzz of a train passing.

Below Goring.IMG_0727

Gatehampton Railway Bridge is a substantial structure, build by Brunel for the Great Western Railway in 1838, the same time and the same builder as the Moulsford bridge we passed under yesterday.

Passing Beale ParkIMG_0733

We shared Whitchurch Lock with two launches, one that we’d followed from Goring and another that we’d caught up with. This lock is smaller than Goring, the wide-beam Valhalla was forced to wait.

Whitchurch LockIMG_0737

Whitchurch Bridge is undergoing extensive repairs.IMG_0739
The bridge is still in private hands, tolls collected go towards maintenance and replacement. It’s been replaced twice, but this current work should see it last a few more years. The Whitchurch Bridge Company has a statutory duty under an Act of Parliament to maintain the structure “such that at all times passage was provided for travellers, cattle and carriages”.
During the current repairs, lasting a year and due to finish in the autumn, a temporary footbridge has been erected alongside.

The bridge connects Pangbourne in Berkshire with Whitchurch in Oxfordshire, and there are good moorings on the meadow on the Pangbourne side.

Just below the bridge, in a field on the Oxfordshire side, I spotted what I thought at first was herd of deer. Closer inspection revealed…

…Llamas (or alpacas, how do you tell them apart?)!IMG_0743
There must have been a hundred of them in the field, their interest was captured by a quad bike arriving, probably the chuck wagon.

Mapledurham Lock was our last for today, very pretty with the long weir and sluice gates alongside.IMG_0749

Another three miles saw us heading out of the rural and into the suburban as the outskirts of Reading are reached. Though suburban implies housing estates and suchlike, and this approach is lined by very nice houses on the north bank…IMG_0755
We moored along here, pretty much where we had a blogger’s gathering two years ago, almost to the day.There are a few boats here, but sadly no-one we know. Missing you George and Carol, Anne and Chas, Del and Al.

Looking from where I’m sitting typing…IMG_0757

Tomorrow we go down through the town to stop and shop at Tesco, near the junction with the Kennet and Avon Canal. Then on a bit further before looking for somewhere to moor.

Hi Alf. Spotted that little bit of bank you're talking about, and was tempted but the £4 a night sign put me off. On the way back, though...

Locks 3, miles 9½


Carol said...

Hi you two, Lamas are bigger than Alpacas but if they’re all the same size in a field I’d find it difficult to tell which they were! Sorry we’re not there yet - at Reading that is! We are on our way and really do hope you will still be there! We do miss you. `love to you both. Carol and George

Adam said...

Walhalla really is an extraordinary boat. Might be worth buying a back issue!!

Geoff and Mags said...

Hi Carol, George
I think we might miss you this time. We'll have to be turning back to head for Oxford by the middle of next week, I don't think you'll be here by then. We'll catch up later.

Adam, yes, I'll keep a look out for the October 2012 Canal Boat mag. I don't know about BUYING one!