Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Home Counties Cruise: Day 12

 The water meadows at Guildford really are lovely, even though the town and a fairly main road aren't far away.  We slept later than usual, and it was after 9am before we set off, heading for the end of the navigation at Godalming.  At the first lock, St Catherine's, a couple of National Trust staff armed with buckets and brushes, were cleaning what they called grafitti off fences and bridges.  It turned out to be marks made to point runners in a charity event, which are supposed to wash off in the rain; unfortunately, it seems they don't.

There's a railway bridge and a pipe bridge, where there's lots of work going on.  It seems they're installing a new pipe over the river, and there are floating pontoons carrying an office and a canteen.

There were two more locks up to Godalming.  At the final one, a day boat crew from Farncombe Boat House were under instruction -- and very good instruction it was too.  We shared the lock with them.  At the end of the navigation we turned and moored up.  At Godalming Wharf there's an old building, and Iona, a horse drawn trip boat.

We made a visit to the neighbouring Sainsbury's, which has been completely rebuilt since we were last here.  Then we had a visit from Katrina, a colleague of Adrian's when he worked in Godalming a long time ago, and her partner Stef.  As it was gone 12, we had a very relaxed lunch together, catching up.

It was 1.30pm when we set off again, retracing our steps downstream.  The locks are much more gentle going down, even though there are big paddles and they empty quickly.  There are some very very tight corners and sharp bends.  The tightest have poles with rolers, to help the horse rope go round the bend.  One just south of Guildford is so accute that you think you're going to meet yourself coming back.

We passed the spot where we'd moored on the water meadows; three boats were moored there, another was just stopping, and a fifth was just arriving.  At Millmead Lock in Guildford we had a big audience of parents and toddlers watching us go down.

At Bower's Lock, the exit is a right angle turn.  A bit further along there's a bridge, immediately followed by a turn of more than a right angle.  Half way round I thought it was easier coming downstream;  then the turned seemed to go on and on, and I realised it was just as difficult.  The next bit of towpath is alongside a very impressive drive, lined with railings, and with signs warning of guard dog patrols.  It leads to Sutton Place, an early Tudor house which is privately owned; it was once owned by Paul Getty.

Triggs Lock, our last of the day, was the 100th since we left Paddington.  Like all the locks on the River Wey, it has its name attractively engraved in the gates.

We continued to Worsfold Gates, on the flood locks normally left open.  We moored up just off the end of the lock landing.  The paddles of these seldom used locks are very simple: pull up and use a pin to keep the paddle raised.

We'd not been here long when staff from Farncombe Boat House arrived from the other direction with a boat they've just bought and plan to do up.  It's now moored just behind us.

Tomorrow is our last day on the Wey, and we'll be back on the Thames.

14 miles, 10 locks.  (145 miles, 100 locks)

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