Friday 28 August 2020


 Today's Navigation - River Thames

We were now on a timetable as it was arranged to meet with Andrew at Lechlade so that he could cruise back downstream with us tomorrow morning and then walk back to Lechlade along the Thames Path.

As a result we were off just after 8, with - at the time - good weather. The flow on the river did not seem to be significant but as soon as we cast off it pulled the boat away from the bank. The above photo was taken just after Mike untied the bow rope, walked back to the stern and took the stern rope and pin aboard.

We made good speed up to Newbridge where we had to choose which arch to use - unlike other rivers the navigable channel is not marked on the bridge itself.

Just after passing the bridge we caught up with a wide beam that had overnighted on the moorings close by. Unfortunately it was finding the depth, width and bendiness quite a challenge - we later learned that the owner (who had a couple of friends with him) had never ventured above Reading before and normally lives aboard between there and London. (It kindly allowed to go ahead of it at the first lock which was rather decent of them)

There a few landmarks on this stretch of the river but a few footbridges give some sense of progress. This one is on the cut above Shifford Lock but they all look remarkably similar in design and construction.

Former defensive pill boxes were constructed regularly along the river bank and most of them near here still remain. They do not seem to have found new uses but are probably too expensive to remove! Our imaginations ran riot about what sort of Captain Mainwaring was responsible for ensuring that suitable Home Guards were sent across many fields (seldom any seemed near any roads) to defend against an imagined enemy.

Tadpole Bridge carries a road but has only the single arch. We have not discovered how it gained its name but have seen that it was constricted in the late 18C and is probably the only bridge constructed at this crossing.

Above Radcot Lock we paused to use the elsan disposal point. As we pulled away the weather was still pleasant but . . . 

Just before Radcot Bridge we passed these striking teepees, a different form of holiday location.

The bridge is well signed as being narrow - mainly for the benefit of wide boats but longer boats also have to take into account the tight bend just above. (Actually this photo was taken whilst steering hard left!)

At the next lock we took on water (this was one of the few locks we found staffed) but as we prepared to set off once more, rain arrived. This soon turned into a very heavy and prolonged shower so that we were glad when we finally found a place to moor (not marked on any of our maps but already had two boats moored nearby) We were able to bring the boat right into the side and the bank was just the height to step ashore.

A rather warm and sunny spell persuaded us to set off again. All of the locks now have offices/huts for lock keepers as the typical lock houses have generally been sold off. The gardens are usually still well kept but it is obvious that this has been quite a challenge during the lockdown restrictions.

Before long we could see rather striking clouds gathering which then turned into thunder clouds and torrential rain. With nowhere at all to moor there was no alternative but perseverance (and eventually a change into dry clothes)

Just above Buscot Lock there is a building that was originally a water works but now seems to be a store for the group of moorings.

St John's Lock is the last lock on the river and, despite a Self Service sign on display, did have the keeper on hand to assist us through. When we failed to obtain a licence at Eynsham yesterday we were advised that we would be able to do so at St John's. However, when Christine said to the keeper that we did not have a licence is reply was that very few people do! It seems that Covid regulations make it too difficult to resume issuing visitor licences at the locks. Question is, will kit be the same on the way back down?

We arrived at Lechlade and pleased to find plenty of room on the moorings close to the Hapenny Bridge. As we were tying up a couple of these planes arrived on their final approach into RAF Fairford. Se later found a local newspaper report three days ago that a group of B52's had unexpectedly been redeployed to this airfield. W\as this one of them?

No sooner had we sat down and followed up a voicemail message and Andrew arrived - he had spotted us from the bridge before receiving Christine's text to let him know where were moored! Later we walked into the own for a few items from the local convenience shop.

16.7 Miles - 6 Locks

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