Friday, August 01, 2014

Dull and cool, but busy on the water.

With the forecasted Atlantic low moving in from the west, the weather has turned overcast and considerably cooler today. But it’s not put off the boaters; it’s been pretty busy out on the river today.

We pulled pins above Sonning Lock at around 09:30, moving around the corner and into the lock.

The flower bedecked lockside doesn’t look half so good in gloomy weather.IMG_0783

I don’t think the sign applies to cormorants…IMG_0784

The valley is wider here, so the river has the opportunity to spread across the valley floor, forming several small islands or aits (ayts). Some are navigable either side, most are not so care in selecting the right channel is needed.

Shiplake Lock is 2½ miles down from Sonning, and sports full sanitary facilities, and these were our first port of call. There was a short queue, but we were soon filled and emptied and in the lock.

We were joined by two men in a boat, a father and son who are travelling the Thames in a camping boat.

In Shiplake Lock, with two men in a boat.IMG_0789
They're over from Atlanta, Georgia. They couldn't find a third crew member, but did have a dog, albeit a toy stuffed one, called Montmorency. But this was left at the airport. So it's just two men... And they decided to do the trip downstream because it’s easier going.

IMG_0791Shiplake railway bridge carries a single-track branch line through Shiplake to Henley.

The original timber span was replaced replaced by this one in 1897. Wrought iron plates and riveted girders are supported on concrete-filled cast iron columns. Unusually for Victorian engineering, although functional it's in no way aesthetically pleasing.

We were looking for somewhere to moor by this time, and the east bank opposite Lower Shiplake looked promising, so we pulled in.

Moored near Wargrave Marsh
There was only one other boat on this stretch when we arrived, since then boats have filled every nook and cranny between the vegetation. And there’s been a fairly constant stream of vessels of all shapes and sizes passing this afternoon.

Not sure what we’re doing tomorrow; it’s free for 24 hours here, but £5 a night afterwards, so we’ll move on. But how far depends on the weather.

Locks 2, miles 4

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