I can’t believe we're doing so well with the weather. It was a clear, cool night but we had bright sunshine right from the start this morning. And the cooler night made for easier sleeping, for the first time in days I‘ve not left the rear slide open when we went to bed.
It was close to 10:00 by the time we got going this morning, returning from our morning perambulation Meg and I were confronted by a boat surrounded by cows – some with calves. The ones that were unencumbered by offspring moved out of the way as we approached, but there was one cantankerous old biddy who stood her ground. Meg doesn’t do cows, anything larger than a sheep is a no-no, so she took to the water, unfortunately through a very muddy wallow where the cows went in to drink, and promptly got stuck up to her belly in a mixture of mud, manure and bovine pee.
This did give me a chance to persuade the old lady to clear the immediate vicinity, Meg squidged and squelched herself back terra firma and we made a break for safety before they all came back.
Unfortunately for Meg, this meant a bucket-bath before she could be allowed back on board, the mop bucket was deployed and each end was done in turn. She’s not fond of the operation, but generally accepts it as inevitable.
All this excitement put us back a bit, but not too much. We hadn’t really got a destination in mind, we thought we’d see how we went.
Out of Day’s Lock just after 10:00.
After the early excitement the day was a bit of an anti-climax, no dramas just steady cruising downstream.
The confluence of the River Thame, coming in past Dorchester
Nicholson’s Guide reckons that this is navigable by small craft up to Dorchester Bridge, but you’d probably need a machete this time of year…
The river does a couple of sharp bends approaching Shillingford, shallows on the inside of the curves marked by bouys.
We moored here with George and Carol when they still had NB Rock'n'Roll a couple of years ago, enjoying a barbie while watching the red kites overhead. No chance now, new drainage pipes have changed the bank completely, leaving just a short, maybe 30’, length suitable for boats.
No mooring no more…
Beyond Shillingford Bridge the crew of EA inspection launch Colne were tackling an errant straw bale.
Benson Lock was done on our own, it’s very quiet.
Wallingford moorings were pretty full, I guess everyone’s decided to stay put today!
A ferry used to cross the river between Moulsford and South Stoke, but is no more. The popular pub and eatery on the Moulsford side has the imaginative name The Beetle and Wedge and I dismissed it as one of those silly names given to designer pubs, like the Slug and Lettuce, or Pig and Porcupine. But I was mistaken.
Beetle and Wedge, Moulsford
Once the area was a valuable source of timber for the towns downstream. A beetle was a heavy maul or mallet, used to drive a wedge into the end of logs to split them before floating them off down the river.
Having said it’s quiet a convoy of boats come towards us, having recently come up Cleeves.
Arriving at Cleeves Lock at 12:30, there were two boats filling with water and the lock on DIY. I took Meg for a comfort break and to check out the mooring situation below the lock, by the time I’d returned the crew of the hire boat were setting the lock up, and we managed to fit all three boats in.
Self-service at Cleeves.
The solo boater at the front drew the short straw, he was nearest the controls!
We were going to close up, but by a lucky happenstance two boats arrived heading upstream. Result!
We moored on the right below the lock, the sound of the weir is a gentle susurration in the background, noisier but not intrusive are the trains heading to and from the Goring Gap.
Now that’s a big boat. He neatly filled the lock.
View from the side hatch
Locks 3, miles 10.