Friday 5 May 2023

Tesco Reading

Today's Navigation - River Thames

We awoke to heavy rain - heavier than forecast which was suggesting a mixture of showers and sunny spells for much of the day. Indeed, this is what happened although some of the showers were, briefly, quite heavy. Late afternoon was pleasanter but still chillier than of late.

Our concerns about our overnight mooring were, firstly to make sure we were tied firmly, the ground felt a little soft for the pins, and secondly that we had sufficient water underneath us not to be trapped if the level fell. Unmooring entailed deploying the plank again and making a speedy dash back from the bank once all the ropes were released! Next, we had to turn around as we moored facing upstream. This was rather easier than last time. Sadly, we were rather busy during this operations and failed to make any photographic record of it!

There were a number of small islands along today's stretches and in some cases the signs telling boaters which side to use have fallen into disrepair. In one case we only had confirmation that we had taken the proper route when we reached the far end of the island! This sign is rather small but at least we were gong the other way.

Soon after setting off, Christine put on a load of washing, knowing that there is a water point at the first lock, Cleeve. Alas, when we arrived a large boat had already commandeered the tap and declared to us that they expected to be there for an hour and a half! There are no further public water points before the junction with the K & A so we may have to be careful with our supply.

Below Goring Lock (which follows soon after Cleeve) is one of several Thames bridges that looks at first as if it will struggle to carry pedestrians let along traffic!

Another island byway, this one guarded by a solemn look bird!

Whitchurch was the old lock today on Self Service. We took the opportunity to pause for some minutes at the end of the lower layby to sort out the washing (Well, Christine sorted and Mike held on to the boat!) 

Yet another delicate river bridge.

As we approached Mapledurham we spotted The African Queen, as promised. Presumably it had dropped off one set of passengers as was awaiting the next batch. We also used the elsan and rubbish disposal facility before proceeding itno the lock itself.

This lock, like most today, has a wide and impressive weir that was letting plenty of water though at the moment.

Approaching Tilehurst Station there is a long, high brick wall that we suppose is helping to retain the railway embankment - the tracks here are very close to the water. If you have not yet received our long awaited holiday postcard, it is possible because we posted it here.

And now the long run into Reading. It is interesting to contrast the attitude of Abingdon Council with that here in Reading. The signs are largely unreadable from a  boat (probably not a lot easier when  standing in front of them) There are few places where it is unambiguously clear that mooring for as night is possible and under what conditions. Of course, there has been a history of mooring abuse but the experience for the bona fide visitor is seriously impaired.

The went a short way down the bypass side of Fry's Island where we found a short edge with a couple of bollards. We could not work our whether we could stop here for lunch but a boater next along said that he had been here for six months without problem!

We did also learn from him that we could get water at Caversham Boat Services on the other side of the island. This entailed continuing down to the lower end of the island and doing a U turn to come back up the main channel.

After taking on water we opted to fill our fuel tank. After filling back on the Oxford canal we seem to have used much less diesel than we expected. However, we have done most of the river on quite low revs, often little more than tick over. We also have to turnoff the engine whilst each lock is emptying.

Another full 180 turn, we came under the splendid modern foot bridge and so down to Caversham Lock. 

A volunteer was on duty here who also warned us that the emergency services were conducting a training exercise in the water below the lock. Although they were just packing up we had to take care, especially as we were letting past a large cruiser that shared the lock with us. Hence we forgot to take a picture!

Very soon we reached the Tesco Mooring. When we first came here around ten years ago, there was almost always plenty of room to tie up to visit the supermarket which is just a few metres away. Since then the location has become 'difficult' with some boats being kept here almost permanently and often in poor condition. Whilst some action has been taken it seems not to have achieved what the local council (and no doubt its electors!) anticipated. However, we and another boat did find a space to tie up. The river walk alongside is well used by walkers. Again, we needed to turn against the flow in order to come alongside - one end is tied to a tree whilst the  other needed a pin. We may be able to take a photo when we leave tomorrow.

A little later, Mike went to Tesco to top up our stores - there is no obvious next place until Hungerford which may well be several days away. This is one of the Extra stores and it takes at least twice as long as usual to find everything - even after asking a couple of times, with staff having to look up the locations on a phone app!

14.1 Miles - 5 Locks

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