Monday 11th July; Oxford to near Newbridge on the Thames
Having dithered all week about whether we had time to go on the Upper Thames, we decided we would go for it. We made a trip to Sainsbury’s as supplies were running low, and on our way back, laden with bags (Dave especially), we passed Anapai, the ice-cream man’s film-star boat.
Before we left our mooring, I noticed that further along the hoarding at Jericho was more information about what will (maybe) eventually happen behind it.
Quite a lot of stuff going on, and we wondered how it would all fit in. With a new winding hole, that would probably mean the loss of some of the mooring spaces on the cut. And what was the last bullet point going to be I wonder? More mooring, that they’ve changed their minds about?
Shopping unpacked, we got the anchor out (and tied it on securely) and set off on our upper Thames adventure. A few years ago we went downstream, eventually to Brentford, after leaving Chuffed for the winter at Caen Hill marina on the K&A. But above Oxford, it remains a mystery to us. Before we went down Isis lock, Dave quickly got the mop out and swabbed down the front of the boat. The night before last we must have moored under a roost where the birds had been eating cherries – purple droppings, and cherry-stones on the roof! Unfortunately yesterday, thinking of other things, we hadn’t noticed what a mess they had made.
As we followed the Sheepwash channel from the lock to the Thames, we waved at the train passing over the channel.
To the left of the channel is one side of the long-abandoned railway swing bridge. On the right you can still see the section which used to be swung, now quietly rotting and rusting away.
We had just negotiated the winding section where the channel joins the main river and were surprised to see a kayak – nothing unusual there – but followed by two swimmers, calmly and strongly swimming behind. Not such a good picture as we were too busy asking about the trip as they passed. One man is swimming from Lechlade to London, and is joined by various friends along the way to keep him company.
It was extremely windy on the Thames and I was glad I’d taken my plants off the roof and put them in the well-deck. We had half-planned to moor up below Godstow lock to visit the ruins of the abbey, but the moorings looked so ropey that we didn’t. In fact it took us quite a while to ‘get our eye in’ for Thames moorings after two years away from rivers. At King’s Lock I carefully watched Juliette the lockie so I knew what to do when the locks are on self-service.
At Eynsham lock we emptied the cassettes, went up the the lock then had a quick sandwich while we took on water. In the afternoon, we had to keep taking our jumpers off in the sheltered sections of the river, where the sun was scorching, then out in the wind again it was cold so back on they went. The locks up here are beautifully kept. This is Pinkhill, which had a beautiful garden.
The Upper Thames is lovely, isn’t it?
We started looking for a mooring at Bablock Hythe, but there were either inconveniently placed plastic boats in the way, or the fields were full of sheep. Meg is not reliable with sheep, so we can’t risk mooring if they are around. We eventually found a lovely empty field where silage or hay had been taken and Meg ran about in joy as soon as we were moored.
We had sun all evening. Dave prepared and undercoated the pale grey parts of the rear decks.
6 locks 12 miles