Bablock Hythe

The forecast heat plume from Spain arrived this morning, but so did the wind. Whilst having breakfast we made an assessment as to whether to move or stay put. We decided on moving, we would however have to keep the power on when the gusts blew, or we would end up being blown into the bank on some of the sharp bends we needed to navigate. The first Lock of the day was Rushey Lock, just around the corner from our overnight mooring. It was set on self service, no Lock keeper doing all the hard work. This has been the case at quite a few Locks on our return journey, perhaps they have all gone on holiday. We settled into the cruise, and the breeze kept us cool in the bright sun. We passed through Newbridge, with its New Bridge, although it looks like an old bridge now, the town has not been renamed.

Approaching New Bridge

Once through the narrow arch, we had no more sharp bends to navigate, as the river now took a straighter course. The final lock of the day was Northmoor. Despite the appearance of human occupation, no lock keeper in sight.

Northmoor Lock Cottage
Lock keepers office

We had intended aiming for Farmoor Reservoir, but as we approached Bablock Hythe we saw the field moorings empty, and decided to have a pub lunch at the Ferryman P.H. instead. We pulled in and secured the boat. After lunch the furry crew had a large field to play in, whilst the the human crew relaxed on deck chairs beneath a sun shade.

Mooring at Bablock Hythe

Tomorrow we should reach Oxford or beyond, we have one week left on our river license, so plenty of time to reach Reading, if we want to stop for a day or two.

Totals 9 Miles 3 Locks

Running total 242 Miles 288 Locks 9 Tunnels

.

Rushey Lock (in the rough)

Yesterday we had a day of rest from cruising, opting instead to take four legs for a walk, across the fields to St. John’s Lock. A short distance from the Lock is The Trout Inn, with a very extensive menu, and all freshly cooked local produce. Top of the specials board was grilled trout with lemon butter, so this is what I had. After lunch we dropped four legs back at the boat, then popped into Lechlade to have a look at the town. We found two antique shops to wander round, my favourite being The Old Ironmongers. We escaped without spending any money, although it would have been very easy to do so.

This morning after breakfast, we set off from our mooring spot, to just beyond Ha’penny Bridge where we winded the boat. We were initially aiming for Radcot, five miles and three Locks away. Sadly, the spot we had seen on our way to Lechlade, and recorded in the guide book as a good potential mooring, was found to be too shallow, when we tried getting into the bank. We carried on, passing through a further Lock, and found the mooring we had used when the thunderstorms had been forecast, earlier in the week. This time we have it to ourselves.

Mooring Rushey Lock

Tomorrow we are planning to get close to Oxford, where we will pass the point at which we joined the Thames. We are heading for Reading, where our intention is to join the Kennet and Avon Canal. There is a small hiccup to this plan, as there is currently a significant stoppage on the Canal near to Caen Hill. The Canal and River Trust are reporting a major pump failure, so we are hoping to receive an update via the automated notices, before committing to that route.

Totals 7 Miles 4 Locks

Running total 233 Locks 285 Locks 9 Tunnels

Rushey Lock (in the rough)

When we departed our overnight mooring spot, we had in mind where would aim for about ten miles away. We settled into a pleasant cruise, and as on the River Avon, we were able to set the throttle to about 1200 rpm, and the boat virtually steered itself in the deep water. The guide books tell you to keep a watch for rowers and canoes at various stages, but what they don’t tell you about, and we saw several, were swimmers. It is actually quite easy to miss, a small head bobbing about in the water. Some wore small orange floats, which made them easy to see. We had three Locks to navigate today, and all were manned by Lock keepers. All the Locks are very well maintained, including the garden areas, and each has a delightful Lock cottage on site. The Lock keepers live on site, and one stated he would have to carried out, rather than give it upon retirement. We passed a huge holiday home park at Bablock Hythe, where the very posh caravans on the river frontage, also have a mooring jetty each. I hate to think how much they cost. At the second Lock of the day, we needed to top up with water. It was also lunchtime, so a good opportunity to do both. Unbeknown to us we had stopped at the fastest water tap on the Thames, indeed probably the country. The tank was refilled in five minutes.

The fastest water tap we have ever used

Lunch was therefore prepared and eaten, in an equally short time. After Shifford Lock we entered a stretch of the Thames with some very tight S bends. Whereas travelling in a straight line was easy, pushing 20 tons around the tight bends, was like pushing a brick through the water. This tight stretch only lasted for a mile, then the river opened up once more. At Tadpole bridge, there was a mooring we were looking for, but sadly it was occupied by a hire boat. We could have squeezed in under a willow tree, but with thunderstorms forecast, we didn’t fancy that. The next Lock was Rushey Lock, and the lady Lock keeper informed us that there was an excellent mooring spot just around the next bend. There was, and it was occupied by two cruisers. However the gap between the two, was big enough for us. Not long after we arrived, both cruisers departed. It was nothing we said, they just had to get back to their home mooring.

Mooring above Rushey Lock

We were not alone for long, within five minutes another narrow boat tucked in behind us. We are safely away from any trees, just in case the storm does hit, and four legs has nice grassy field to play in.

View from the well deck

Whether we move tomorrow is very much dependant on the weather. We are forecast a night of thunderstorms, and the rain may continue until midday. We shall just have to wait and see.

Totals 10 Miles 3 Locks

Running total 219 Miles 277 Locks 9 Tunnels