Monday, 1 September 2014

Positioning trip: Day 1

Considering that I didn't get a great deal of sleep yesterday, last night's shift went surprisingly well.  I got away from work at around 7.30 this morning, and got the tube and then train to Langley.  Back at High Line I prepared the boat for the off, and then went to return the dongle which opens the gates, and retrieve our deposit.  High Line is officially shut on Mondays, but I'd seen John yesterday, who said he'd be in the office this morning.  We'd recommend High Line; the moorings are online, but the Slough Arm isn't exactly busy, it's very secure and there are plenty of people about as so many boats are residential, and everyone was friendly.  What's more, it's very reasonably priced.

I got under way at around 9.15, in a heavy drizzle.  The boat was facing towards Slough, so naturally I was going to complete the Arm.  The first thing I noticed was the rather nice triangular mile posts, with the distance to the basin on one side, and the junction on the other.

The arm passes areas of housing, some of it brand new, and areas of light industry.  The basin itself is nothing to write home about.  I remember hearing years ago (and I can't remember who said it, or where I heard it) that the problem with the end of the Slough Arm is that when you get there, there's no there there.  The Pearson Guide is also correct when it says the canal just peters out.  The basin isn't even much of a basin.  There's just a builder's merchant, and a winding hole.

I turned around and began heading back the way I'd come.  At times the drizzle turned to heavy rain, but at least it was relatively warm rain.  When I got to High Line, I counted the moored boats -- or at least I counted how many boat lengths of moorings they have.  Actual boat numbers are more tricky, because quite a lot are breasted up, and there are also quite a lot of wide beams.  Anyway, there are fifty boat lengths of moorings, and we had been at number thirty away from the office (and therefore twenty away from the gate leading to the railway station).

As I passed all the moored boats a cormorant was fishing in the canal.  It followed me along, occasionally bobbing up beside the boat before diving under the water again.

The length from High Line to the basin has recently been dredged; the more heavily used bit from High Line to the junction hasn't, and I could immediately tell that the going was more difficult.  Even so, I was soon passing under the M25.  Then there are three aqueducts in quick succession, over Colne Brook, the River Colne, and Fray's River.  They're all similar with this area's typical bridge design; this is the one over Colne Brook.

By Bridge 1 there's an obelisk.  I can't read what it says on it, but Pearson suggests it's somethimg to do with coal tax.  I'll have to ask Neil from Herbie, because I'm sure he'll know.

As the arm is so straight you can see a long way, and when I was still some distance from the junction I saw a boat go past, heading south.  A moment later, the boat went past again, in reverse, before turning into the Arm.  I guess they'd just overshot and had to have another go.  When the boat passed me, I saw it was Paws 4 Thought, one of the Top Notch boats that was shown at Crick, and the one we put in the 20 boats feature.  Most of the saloon was given over over to a large, two storey guinea pig cage, so it rather sticks in the memory.

Having already been under Bridge 1, I was wondering what the final bridge would be called.  Naturally, it's Bridge 0.

Cowley Peachey Junction is a little unusual in my experience, in that the junction bridge goes over the main line rather than the arm (this might even have been why P4T missed the turn).  I'm struggling to think of another junction where this is the case.  There's also another of the mile posts, indicating that you're 0 miles from the junction.

I made the turn south, then continued just a couple of hundred yards and moored outside the Yiewsley Tesco.  It's a rather odd building.  There's a car park on the ground level, while facing the canal are smart looking flats.  But the back of the building is a huge Tesco.  The entrance to the car park is literally ten steps from the stern.  There are also newish flats on the other side of the canal.

It was only around 12 noon, but I was feeling very tired, and I'd got very wet, so having had to go to all the effort of banging pins in to moor, I decided I'd be staying put.  I've made a couple of visits to Tesco, I've checked and topped up the batteries, and I've made arrangements to get some diesel from a fuel boat in the morning.  I think it'll be an early night tonight, because I'm really beginning to flag!

6 miles, 0 locks.


Geoff and Mags said...

Hi Adam
I can beat Neil to it on this one, I think.
Duty was liable on all coal shipped into the London area, payable to the London Corporation. The markers were installed on all transport routes that could be used, so that shippers couldn't avoid the tax by claiming ignorance.

Adam said...

Geoff, that's it. There's also one near Stocker's Lock, apparently, which I failed to spot on the way down last month. I'll look closer on the way back.

Halfie said...

On the Coventry Canal between Nuneaton and Bedworth is the former Griff Arm leading off to the west. Bridge 18 on the main line, just south of the former Griff Arm is a turnover bridge, but the towpath on the main line continues on the same side. The turnover bridge enabled horses to cross to the towpath the other side, leading to the arm. The short length of "extra" towpath is now overgrown. A bit esoteric, perhaps, but I think this might qualify as a junction bridge over the main line, not the branch.