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Tours 2000, The Basingstoke Canal

1- Harefield Marina to Brookwood, via Grand Union Canal, River Thames, River Wey and Basingstoke Canal

We left Harefield Marina at 10.35 on Friday 14th April. Bulls Bridge junction was passed at 14.00. Just before Norwood Top Lock Peter came bowling along the towpath on his bike, the poor sod had ridden straight from school! Peter dumped his bags and exchanged them for a windlass and went on lock wheeling all the way into Brentford Basin. Peter is beginning to look like a potential John Fleming replacement. We got there at 16.45. That night we went out to the excellent as usual Italian Restaurant.

The next day (15th April) we woke up in Brentford Basin, finding the mighty River Brent trying to flood the place. Later a BW Locky opened up paddles of Gauging Lock to take off the head. Ian Scott turned up with Sophie to introduce her to narrowboats, they went down with us early to Thames Lock, quite a flow on Brent and restricted headroom on Brentford Bridge. Locked out of Brentford Thames Lock at 11.00am (2 hours before HW at Teddington) Barge Nelly let us out first as he said he would soon overtake us. Not much happening with flood (6.75m London Bridge). Funny boilings noted just above Isleworth! We managed to stave off barge Nelly until just after Richmond  Bridge. Entered small lock at Teddington (Barge Lock being worked on) at 12.15.Teddington Locky not interested in seeing official EA license, probably thought just another of these dammed slugs on Gold license! Strong stream red boards up at Teddington. 
We had lunch and decided to brave the fresh at 14.30, seeing as another narrowboat had gone on. Other narrowboat (Manitou) stopped at Kingston, by John Lewis. Went at steady pace (2000rpm), which was just enough to get us safely through Kingston Bridge (centre span being worked on, barge and pontoons holding back fresh, outer two spans also not available) By Ravens Ait things really slowed down, but we still plodded on at the same pace. Moorings at Hampton Court were under water and Turk's trip boat took THREE goes at turning round. Waiting layby below Molsey was just under water. Went through Molsey Lock in freezing, driving fine rain and gave up at16.30. Locky let us moor on electric charge point. nb Bluebell went through at about 17.30. Went to pub to warm up. Mikuni now behaving it's self, we have had it on all the time. On way back from pub we noticed nb Manitou (40ft Springer) moored on lock waiting area below. We have phoned Thames Lock River Wey, obviously shut above at the moment, but it was open this morning! Levels have been fluctuating here, above Molsey, but is generally down 6inches from when we arrived (i.e. now not going over boat rollers!)

16th April we were woken up at about 2.00am by the pseudo Mississippi paddle wheel trip boat returning down stream. It had some serious hydraulic bowthrusters that kept on swirling the loosely moored Earnest about. We emerged late at 9.30 as Manitou passed us. The level was unchanged, but it was a sunny morning so we eventually pushed off at 10.40. Rivers in flood always seem better the sun! It seemed slightly better than yesterday up to Sunbury, but there were many rowers who were not expecting to see any boats moving. One lady cox actually APOLOGISED! for causing us to take avoiding action, such that it was. Were very nearly forced onto the layby below Sunbury Lock, by the weir current. The lock keeper opened up the gates at the last minute and we got in with unapparent air of professionalism. The Sunbury Locky was a bit more foreboding and handed Neil a red card advising skippers to moor up at the nearest opportunity, which we were advised was the Anglers Inn at Walton. We of course ploughed on (at 12.10), still sticking to the 2000rpm limit, meaning that plenty more power was available for emergencies. We passed Manitou moored at the Anglers. We swung right round the outside of the bend to get through Walton Bridge. It was going so much here that we wanted to be well out of the way off any unseen craft coming downstream. 
This was defiantly the worse spot and Earnest nearly ground to a halt, but we still did not increase the revs. As we were going into the weir pool cauldron at Shepperton Lock, to get to the Wey, we took the Desborough Cut. We got wrong side of the river in plenty of time as we could see nothing was coming down Desborough Cut. This was just as well as one of the "pink" trip boats came flying out of the old course! Desborough Cut was warned as being the worst spot, but it was only marginally so. I clocked us "speeding" past the red triangle markers at 1.2 knots! We crept round the corner to see the horrifying whirlpool, which lay between us and the Wey at this point. Neil thought sod it and floored the throttle and went straight at the middle of the whirlpool. There were a few funny boilings and shakings, but we kept a fairly straight path. The next thing we had to do was make a hasty throttle back and correction as the outer Wey Thames Stop Lock loomed on the horizon. We moored up just inside the outer gate, the main moorings here were under afoot of water. This was at 13.40.The lock keeper was off duty till 14.00 for lunch. 
Above the lock all seemed tranquil, with not that much going over the weir. A narrowboat was moored above facing upwards. Neil soon recognised this as a Heron Boat Builders boat "Heron". Upon closer stern examination Neil could see this as an R&D shelled Heron boat, the fuel cut off flap in the rear cants was a give away! Neil had a fairly long talk with the pleasant owners, who were amazed that Neil could identify their Heron boat as an R&D shelled one! At 14.00 the Locky came back on duty saying that he was just about to open up the River Wey section to Town Lock. After a late lunch we sauntered of at 15.10. Linda and the kids had walked on ahead so that Neil could do the "Horrifying" approach to Town Lock, under the furthest right arch of the bridge. 
This proved to be a doddle, there did not seem to be much pull by the current. Neil had set himself up to "lever" "Earnest" round the large post, but it was not necessary. It was still a nice afternoon and we had a very pleasant poodle along the River Wey Navigation. At Woodham Junction there was some confusion as a narrowboat who was coming the other way signalled that he was turning into the Basingstoke. In fact he was turning round. We were of course arriving a day late, but Mary at the Basingstoke Canal Authority had said that if we arrived for Monday morning start we would be sharing. We had thought that this winding narrowboat was to be our partner. We finally moored AFLOAT! on the non towpath side with the bow nearly in the lock! This was at 17.00. Finally at 19.00 we heard the approach of another boat. This turned out to be Nancy Larcombe in Nancy Bell with butty Towed Haul! At this moment the welcoming plink of raindrops was heard on the roof!

Monday17th April we locked up Woodham with Nancy Bell and Towed Haul (could not talk much to said famous occupant's as Towed Haul has nasty gunwale scraping edges!) .We started at 9.00 after an early morning strimming wake up call from the Ranger. Neil managed to find out that Nancy Bell was in fact an early Colecraft, with a very distinctive canoe shaped bow. The Lacombe's were only going to the Canal Festival at Woking, so at the top of the Woodham Flight of 6 locks we said goodbye. The new Woodham back pump was going. The Woking pound seemed much improved from our last visit in1992. The new weed cutter boat was moored in this pound. The face of Woking has changed since our last visit, with the new Peacock Shopping Centre dominating the canal bank. St John's Flight were easy to work with much water about. We ploughed on through the flight of 5 locks as well as the Brookwood Three locks and moored some 3ft from the bank at the bottom of Deep cut Flight. Actually had to get the gang plank bit of scenic roof furniture dirty! Deep Cut Bottom Lock was left unlocked, but we were told by the ranger to not go on. That night we stopped at 14.50. That evening we walked back down the road to Brookwood. The Maya fish and chip shop was open, but the Indian was closed on Monday. Eventually we ended up in the Brookwood Hotel. This was a large pub / hotel by the station. It looked a bit run down and was smoky by the bar. But the staff were friendly, the beer was good and the food of excellent quality, served with a bit of panache on large plates. When we got back to the boat it started raining, which continued most of the night! 

Technical Info

As is now the norm, the images are laid out in order from Harefield to end of Basingstoke. Obviously Earnest is pointing the wrong way on some!

This was constructed using the dummy's way (Front Page 2000!)

Again the new format since 1999 consists solely of images grabbed from mini DV digital video filmed on Neil's Panasonic NV-DX110 camcorder, by Miro DV 300 digital editing card
(When WILL Neil get around to editing those videos?!)

CD of the Tour = copy of JR's "Supernatural" by Santana. Even Wendy like's it! This was extensively used during the construction of these pages to get my naff index finger into "swing"!

While onboard we we exclusively powered by 1664!

Only TV watched onboard was last in series Randall and Hopkirk and remake of Railway Children.

Only thing listened to on wireless was weather reports! (By Linda)

Pets:  Mandy the Whippet now has to be carried on an of the boat at most times. I think she had a stroke.

SCSI the parrot is VERY slowly coming on in the speech department. Made a small breakthrough, she will say "Slow down!" but only very quietly. The follow up phrase being tried by Wendy "Clumsy hire boat!" seems a no hoper. She can now do several types of mobile phones. She was particularly hateful towards Linda on this tour as she seems to have found her sea legs (or should that be sea claws!)

Uxbridge Lock. "Earnest" shares with friendly Irish bloke in Springer who is "continuously cruising!?". He was to moor opposite Harefield Marina, where he won't have the "Benefit" of paying 1200 / year mooring fees! Grand Union Canal.

"The Shovel" Harvester pub at Cowley Lock. Grand Union Canal.

"Earnest" shares Cowley Lock with the idiots that came flying out of Slough Arm, right in front of us without even a beep, yet alone a lookout! Just as well we allow for such happenings! Grand Union Canal.

"Earnest" passes WLMCC Easter jolly above 3 Bridges, Norwood Green, on the way back. The narrowboat with the tent is "Sorrel" who we have seen out many times. Grand Union Canal.

3 Bridges, Norwood Green. Grand Union Canal.

Hanwell Top Lock, (As opposed to Norwood Top Lock!) Grand Union Canal.

The old St Bernard's loony asylum laundry beside Hanwell Flight. Grand Union Canal.

Hanwell Flight. Grand Union Canal.

Hanwell Flight. Grand Union Canal.

Hanwell Flight. Grand Union Canal.

Hanwell Flight. Grand Union Canal.

Hanwell Flight. Grand Union Canal.

Lock cottage at bottom of Hanwell Flight. Grand Union Canal.

The newly re-gated Osterley Lock. This has hollow tin beams and pseudo wood steel composite gates. Grand Union Canal.

Entering CLITHEROES Lock on the way back. (Did you spot this Gavin?) Grand Union Canal.

The Piccadilly Line Railway Bridge. Grand Union Canal.

Gallows Towpath turnover bridge. Grand Union Canal.

Brentford Basin. Gaze at these last to be filmed shots, for in a matter of weeks the warehousing will be flattened. Grand Union Canal.

Brentford Basin. Grand Union Canal.

Brentford Basin. Demolition kit ready for the big flattening. Grand Union Canal.

Brentford Basin. Grand Union Canal.

Brentford Basin. Grand Union Canal.

Brentford Basin. Gauging Locks. Grand Union Canal.

Brentford Basin. Gauging Locks. Grand Union Canal.

Brentford Basin. Gauging Locks. These now both sport new (since our last visit) steel composite gates. Grand Union Canal.

Teddington Weir on the way back. (Not very impressive by Trent standard's!) River Thames.

Teddington Weir on the way back. River Thames.

Teddington Small Lock. River Thames.

Teddington Lockys Office (Where for the first time we did not have to "fib" about the length of our craft!, or even have to go in there to be fleeced of 60!) River Thames.

Teddington Locks, Barge Lock to right. River Thames.

"Earnest" moored with "Freya" waiting to go back up Thames to Braunston. River Thames.

The tranquil scene at Thames Lock. (You can not see the "whirlpool" round the corner! River Wey Navigation.

Thames Lock. River Wey Navigation.

Thames Lock. River Wey Navigation.

Nice tug seen on River Section of River Wey. (Ian Clarke knows someone that knows the bloke who owns it, apparently it goes to the Thames Vintage Boat Club Jollys!!) River Wey Navigation.

The River Wey flows in from the left, Navigation continues under brick arch. Nasty dog leg against current. River Wey Navigation.

Navigation Arch of bridge leading to Weybridge Town Lock. River Wey Navigation.

Weybridge Town Lock. (Wot nasty current?) River Wey Navigation.

Coxes Mill. Very large Mill Pool avaliable above for member's of MPBC. River Wey Navigation.

"Earnest" waiting with "Nancy Bell" and "Towed Haul" below Lock No1 Woodham. Basingstoke Canal.

The last of the classic barge house boats in the Woodham Flight. Basingstoke Canal.

Woodham Flight. Basingstoke Canal.

The top of the Woodham Flight. Basingstoke Canal.

The top of the Woodham Flight. Basingstoke Canal.

Back pumping at top of the Woodham Flight. Basingstoke Canal.

Monument Bridge, start of Woking Town. Basingstoke Canal.

Outskirts of Woking Town, Chertsey Road Bridge in distance. Basingstoke Canal.

New Peacocks Shopping Centre in Woking. (One for the TNC Town Centre Manager member's!) (Corr!...look at all that retail space) Basingstoke Canal.

The new Basingstoke Canal Authorities Bonner Weed cutter seems to be doing the trick. Woking Town Pound. Basingstoke Canal.

"The Bridge Barn" and moorings, soon to be the scene of the Woking Waterways Festival. When we passed this way in1992 they were just opening it. Basingstoke Canal.

"The Bridge Barn" and moorings. Basingstoke Canal.

The nameless 58ft tug that we went down most of Deep Cut Flight with. Powered by unstoppable Gardner 3LW! (We have still got the hole in our diesel tank, on the cant by the filler recess to prove it!) It was steered by committee, no one seemed to know where neutral was on the speed wheel! Basingstoke Canal.

"Nancy Bell" banished to the Town moorings in the Woking pound. Basingstoke Canal.

"Nancy Bell" note distinctive early Colecraft "Canoe" bow. Basingstoke Canal.

We get stuck (serious plastic sack round prop) in the Woking Waterways Festival on the way back. Basingstoke Canal.

The Woking Waterways Festival. Basingstoke Canal.

St John's Flight. (Oh alright all you purists!, it should be the Goldsworth Locks!) Basingstoke Canal.

St John's Flight. Basingstoke Canal.

St John's Flight. Basingstoke Canal.

St John's Flight. Basingstoke Canal. No, Linda's hands have not gone that colour!, she is wearing her Marigold's because it is either a) A "signal" for me to do the washing up, b) Her hands are cold, or c) To get a grip on these stiff paddles (she should have used my long throw "Hatton" windlass!

St John's Flight. Basingstoke Canal.

St John's Flight. Basingstoke Canal. A lot of gates sport new Ekki balance beams, and many have been re planked.

St John's Flight. Basingstoke Canal.

St John's Flight. Basingstoke Canal.

Top of the St John's Flight. Kiln Bridge. Basingstoke Canal.

Leaving Kiln Bridge on the way up. Decent moorings non towpath side. But beware of the drain , in 1992 we nearly flooded "Beatty's" cruiser stern! (you can just see it, and that shows how far the pound was down then!) Basingstoke Canal.

Brookwood Locks.  Basingstoke Canal.

SHCS members bringing "The John Pinkerton" trip boat down for the festival. Brookwood Locks.  Basingstoke Canal.

"The John Pinkerton". Brookwood Locks.  Basingstoke Canal.

The tour continues...

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