Monday, 22 September 2014

Home Counties Cruise: Day 17

With a very relaxed agenda for the day, we were in no rush to get going this morning.  We started a wash load before setting off, and pulled away from the deserted Hampton Court moorings at 9.15am.  At Thames Ditton Island, someone was moving house.  The removal van was parked on the opposite side of the river, and the guys were going back and forth in a boat loaded with household goods.

We stopped on the John Lewis moorings at Kingston, just managing to tuck in behind someone else.  This time we knew where Waitrose was, so there was no head scratching or frustrated wandering.  Having done a top up shop, we set off again, quickly arriving at Teddington Lock, where we had virtually the entire length of moorings to choose from.  I went to see the lock keeper to confirm the tide of our departure on the tidal Thames down to Brentford.  High water was at 1450, so he suggested we leave half an hour before.  While we waited, we both did some work, we had lunch, and then I walked down past the lock to find the obelisk which marks the river boundary between the Port of London and the Thames Conservancy (now the Environment Agency).  It could do with someone having a go at it with some weed killer.

Our departure from Teddington was a little later than planned as a couple of boats came up the lock.  The drop down was only about a foot and a half, and for the first part of the trip, around high water, there was no discernable flow in either direction.

We passed Eel Pie Island and Ham House, while the Star and Garter Home for Disable Servicemen is prominent on the hill ahead.

The conditions were ideal -- sunny, warm, and with very little wind.  Richmond was fairly busy on the waterside, as we passed under Richmond Bridge.

The Richmond half tide barrier was up, so we could go avoid having to use the lock alongside.

Soon the office blocks of Brentford came into view in the distance.  Then it was a matter of looking out for the entrance to the Grand Union Canal at Brentford.  Fortunately we knew what we were looking for -- a big silver sculpture.  It's just as well it's big, because the CRT sign isn't.

The turn in was a lot easier than I expected.  I'd thought the tide might take up sideways as we turned, but in fact there wasn't too much effect at all.  We were now on new waters again, as we've never done the GU between Brentford and Bull's Bridge.  The lock keeper at Thames Lock was waiting for us.

The rise at Thames Lock took us by surprise.  We must have gone up at least three inches, possibly four.  The next section is fairly twisty, and lined with large boats and houseboats.  Soon we arrived at the Gauging Locks.  A big black widebeam was already on the lock landing and took one lock, while Adrian went and pressed the buttons for the lock alongside.  Above the lock the visitor moorings were full, with quite a few boats breasted up.  So we moored alongside another boat.  Fortunately the side doors are on the outside, so we have a view.

Tomorrow we start heading up the Grand Union bound for base.

10 miles, 3 locks.  (213 miles, 130 locks)

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