Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Home Counties Cruise: Day 11

We had a very nice evening with Alison and Nigel at The Anchor at Pyrford, hearing about their boating exploits getting to Gloucester (where we haven't yet been).  It was great to see them and catch up.

This morning was very misty as we left our mooring by the pub and headed for the lock.

The next lock is Walsham Flood Gates, only used in times of flood, so we could sail straight through.  It's the last remaining turf sided lock on the Wey, and is really very pretty.

We recognised Newark Lock because of the ruins of the priory nearby.  We've walked quite a lot of the Wey, as it's close to home, so we've probably done this section on foot.

Papercourt Lock comes next, and has a large weir alongside.  There are warnings of a strong flow, but today it wasn't too bad.  After rain, it must be a different story, though.

I'd been speaking to a man who appeared at the lock, and was interested in why we opened the paddle only on one side.  He said he was with a hotel boat, and they'd been told to open the paddles on both sides of the lock evenly.  After leaving the lock, the hotel boat arrived, and it was obvious why that would work:  it was Tranquil Rose, which is a widebeam.

By trial and error, we've come up with a way of working the locks which is gentle on us and the boat.  The National Trust (which owns the Wey) suggests using ropes and the bow and the stern, but that's not really very practical when there's only two of us.  The paddles are very fierce, though, and make a very strong pull towards the front of the lock.  So we put the boat at the very back of the lock, rope up the stern on the yellow bollard right by the balance beam, and have the centre line round a bollard and back to the steerer.  By opening the paddle on the same side as the boat, and doing it slowly, things stay pretty calm.

We stopped for water at Cartbridge Wharf, and as we realised that we'd got nothing for lunch (having failed to put the bread machine on), I walked into Send to find the shop.  That part of Send has very little to recommend it.  By the time I got back another boat had arrived wanting water, and as we appeared to be almost full we set off again.

Worsfold Flood Gates are next, and are also pretty, and left open.  At Broad Oak Bridge there are two very sharp turns.  At the first one we met a boat coming the other way.  At the second, I wondered whether we'd actually get round in one, as the corner is more than a right angle, there's a weir drawing you over, and there's immediately a bridge with a central support.  We did get round, though.  By now the sun was out, and the river looked lovely with the sunshine through the trees.

We stopped for lunch just above Bower's Lock, which was surprisingly quiet given that the A3 is very close to this section.  I've driven up that part of the A3 thousands of times, and didn't even know that lock or the next one were there.  What was very familiar, though (although it looks completely different from the water) is Stoke Mill, home to the Surrey Ad.

Soon we were going under the A3, and into Guildford proper.  Dapdune Wharf is a National Trust centre, but it's closed on all the days we're here.

Next comes a part of the towpath we're very familiar with -- past old converted mills, under the bridges which make up Guildford's gyratory system, plus more pleasant older ones, and past the church on side and Debenhams cafe on the other.

Millmead lock was the last of the day.  It's actually on the Godalming Navigations rather than the Wey.  Above it, Guildford Boat House is closed and looks very sad.  We carried on round the corner and moored up at the water meadows at 3pm.  Since we've been here, two day boats from Farncombe Boat House have been past, both at high speed.  One of them set off from only a hundred yards away, so those little boats must have fantastic accelleration.

10 miles, 7 locks.  (131 miles, 90 locks)

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