Saturday, 31 October 2015

A slow day through dismal Southall in the sunshine

 Water gushing our from the sluices at the first of eight locks today; it’s half past eight.

George successfully negotiating the roped-off area of very shallow water (caused by silt from the River Brent which enters the canal through the bridge on the left of the photo above) and approaches the now ready lock.
I’m at the helm rising in the lock, George has gone ahead and is setting the next couple for me.
The gates are huge and heavy yet a couple of the gates swing open again after they’ve been closed. 
I think this is looking back from lock 95 and the sun has made an appearance 
… and looking forward at the Hanwell Insane Asylum for paupers, the first purposely-built asylum in England and Wales. 
The hospital has had a variety of purposes since it was built in 1831 and remains an NHS medium secure psychiatric establishment today, hence these high fences. There are lots more interesting facts here.
The wall of the asylum and the lock flight have been designated a Scheduled Ancient Monument and look good in the sunshine.  
The water in the pound (water between locks) above was low and as I exited CRT must have started to pump water down the flight making the cruise between the locks such fun!!
Redundant sluice mechanisms would once have assisted the emptying and filling of locks using the side ponds
A lovely setting with the lock house; George has opened the gates and I’m good to go … or I thought I was

… no power, the prop is fouled! So my hero goes down the weed-hatch and removes a mixture of plastic bags.

With just two locks to do the volunteer lock keepers arrive - better late than never I suppose.  We stopped at the top to take on water and get rid of the rubbish.

Some of the locks have a fall/rise of over 7-feet and it took us 2.5 hours to climb 61-feet up the hill in just under one mile.

Is there a hierarchy of pigeons, the white ones appear to have the best places!

Loads of mooring spaces at Tesco Bull’s Bridge, not that we stopped here today

It was here that we saw the first boats moving other than ourselves
Fantastic blue sky as I look up through the silver birch trees - can you spot the cormorant?

We’ve been passed by several wide beam boats today too, some wider than us!
Couldn’t resist these autumn colours
Moored up for a couple of days at Cowley Peachy near Packet Boat Marina

From the top of the locks through Southall, Hayes and West Drayton it took us another three hours cruising the seven miles, having to ‘chuck-back’ (sharp reverse gear) to clear the prop of gathered leaves - to be expected of course during autumn.
When Still Rockin’ had been secured we sat and had a cuppa on the back deck with Molly and the solar panels catching the last of the sunshine.

All in all, a really good day!

Relaxed moorings for winter

James recently started a discussion on Facebook (Narrowboat Users Group) regarding the relaxing of mooring restrictions to 14 days from 1st November to 29th February.  I contacted Damian Kemp for clarification, this is his reply :-

“It does include all visitor moorings unless there is a sign on site saying otherwise.  I’ll include another line in next week’s Boaters’ Update to hopefully clarify for all”

50% of some visitor moorings have been designated winter moorings only during this time, so I’m assuming that boats can be moored on the ‘other’ part of the same visitor moorings for 14 days free of charge.  

Hopefully Boaters’ Update will clarify that.

Friday, 30 October 2015

I really don’t like this stretch!

 We left our mooring on the Grand Union Canal by Thames Lock yesterday morning (this stretch is actually the River Brent and is tidal)
 and travelled up the lock cut past all the big boats
 under Brentford High Street Bridge which at high tide can have too little air draught for Still Rockin’ which is the reason we moor by the lock until the tide is lower.

Brentford Gauging Lock was on self-service and I’m letting the water in the lock down so that George can bring Still Rockin’ in.

No need for zoom here, I was only about 5-feet away from the heron
 A glimpse of art deco buildings on the Great Western Road as we approach the bridge
 A hopper full of weed - better out than in!
 I understand the knots but not the orange and yellow ‘thing’ 
The River Brent enters the canal below Clitheroe’s Lock
We’ve been spoilt over the last four months on the Thames as all the locks are automatic and often manned (lock keeper) but here now is our first on the canal. Clitheroe Lock gates were open when we arrived so it was straight in.

 Back to the hard work then - it’s a bit of a shock to the system!
 Tree trunks at the weir into the River Brent
Gallows Bridge single span iron bridge is a grade II listed building cast at Horsley Iron Works near Birmingham in 1820. It is thought that the name came from a man who was found hanging in Boston Manor Woods in the 17th century.

Second and final lock of the day was Osterley, the bottom gates were closed and the top gates and all sluices open so those had to be all closed before I could let the water down.  This was the mess above the lock at the weir and as soon as I brought Still Rockin’ out there was a problem with a fouled propellor.  George opened the weed hatch and what a sight, it took a lot of pulling out, there was loads of it, it looked like a mattress cover and was very heavy.
We managed to get through the rubbish above the lock and just round the corner saw this hopper full of debris - again, better out than in.
As we came through Ontario Bridge this CRT hopper was coming towards us.  I joked with the helmsman that he’d brought his own transport to use at the end of his shift

… but he informed me that no, they had just taken this out of the canal a bit further up the Hanwell flight and reckoned it must have been stolen and then dumped.  He also said that another bike had been reported in the canal under Ontario Bridge but when he got there it was gone, you could see the ruts in the soft towpath where it had been dragged out. I wonder if it was stolen again!

We moored up just below the Hanwell Locks and as I write this post this morning we can hear the rain on the roof and the wind is blowing hard so we’ll stay here for today and I’ll get some housework done.

Tomorrow we shall set off early and start up the eight locks and sincerely hope that we don’t have the problem we had in November last year when we left the Thames.

Thursday, 29 October 2015

Tidal Thames on a good day!

 Yesterday afternoon half past two and we’re on our way 
 … into Teddington Lock 
… sharing the lock with this rather pretty dutch barge
and out onto the tidal Thames.
Following are photos of buildings we passed, some of them I know and some I don’t, but all impressive.
 Radnor House, Independent Day School
 Eel Pie Island - we go right here (not left as we did in the dark in November last year (click here for that post)
 Richmond Bridge
Soaking up the sunshine - it was certainly a lovely late October day
The sign points to the entrance at high tide - but still a bit of paddle!
The idiot in charge of moving these boats pulled out in front of us from our right and turned in what seemed to George to be a complete circle back to where he came from, so he pulled over to the left to pass them safely. Unbeknown to him the idiot decided to do the turn again in front of the bow out of George’s sight, fortunately I could see what was happening and George went into hard reverse to prevent what could have been a very nasty accident.  This picture was taken as they eventually passed us and he was arrogant enough to give us a ‘thank you’ sort of wave! Idiot!

The high tide caused some consternation and some amazement too as we passed through Richmond
 The little girl in the front was having the time of her life!
 Approaching Richmond Railway Bridge, Twickenham Bridge and Richmond Footbridge
 passing Richmond Lock, not needed today
 Nearly there!
The shiny metal structure is what we look out for when we’re leaving the Thames at Brentford.  Bearing in mind that the tide is ebbing (going out to sea) the current is still strong here as it’s less than an hour from high tide.
The dutch barge is crossing the stream, before beginning to turn, we have to go past the entrance to compensate for the force of the current which will push us broadside back downstream, we put on on all the power we have ...
 … still turning ...
 … nearly there ...
 … and we’re in!

We moored up on the wall as we left Thames Lock, although it’s only a short journey (1-hour 10-mins today) it completely wipes us out!