Monday 26th May – Bank Holiday Monday
It was raining before we got up and pretty much carried on all day. Meg’s early morning walk had to be on the lead as the sheep had come into the field overnight, then the poor girl was shut in for most of the day. She doesn’t like sitting outside in the rain. We had been a little bit concerned about the river levels as the yellow boards are out but realised it couldn’t be that bad when three swimmers came powering by – upstream!
In the second picture they are making their way towards the sandbank where we ran aground. Two of them were wearing green triathlon caps and they were so powerful we wondered whether they were training for the elite races over the summer. Two were wearing what could be wetsuits but may have been tri-suits and the third (out of the pictures, he was so far ahead) just his swimming trunks. Hard-core stuff! They swam across to where we ran aground yesterday and stood up for a rest – one was on the sandbank, 15 feet out from the bank, and the water was only just over his knees so it’s not surprising we had a problem!
We tootled off down to Hurley lock where we emptied a cassette, took on water and had our first sighting of parakeets. The Thames is very lovely around here but we didn’t take many photos because of the rain which was pretty relentless. This is the elegant footbridge above Temple Lock (I think) just visible in the murk;
a line of moored yogurt pots at Temple – wouldn’t you rather see narrowboats?
and the church at Bisham.
I (Debby) once played hockey at Bisham Abbey. It is now a major training centre for elite athletes but in the early 1970s, when they were creating the pitches, local teams were able to play there. In those distant days I played for Ranelagh, a Reading team. The pitch was much better than anything we ever played on in our local league! On through Marlow, where Izaak Walton was born and where the Compleat Angler pub (named after his famous book) is by the bridge;
On we went past big houses with green lawns but were rather surprised to see this in one garden – does he really need to water his lawn with the weather we have been having? I bet the water is from the mains, expensively treated and purified for drinking, rather than abstracted from the river ...
We hoped to be able to stop for lunch at the Bounty. Nicholson’s reckons it has extensive moorings, but there were a lot of cruisers and no apparent spaces (it is bank holiday after all) so no chance. Luckily we had got chatting in one of the locks to a couple on a narrowboat who have a mooring at Cookham and they told us about the field above Cookham which is a good mooring but doesn’t appear in Nicholson’s. We stopped there for lunch and didn’t get stung for a mooring fee either! Plenty of room for the dog to have a run about.
Still raining after lunch as we set off to the beautiful Cookham lock. On a canal we would probably have called it a day at lunchtime, but the yellow boards are up at least as far as Boveney and we don’t want to get stuck. The lock and the stretch below Cliveden towards Maidenhead must be some of the most beautiful spots on the Thames. We decided to keep going rather than try for one of the wild moorings so carried on to Boulters Lock past this chap on one of the island properties who didn’t seem to mind the rain! Very lifelike!
Dave lived round here as a young teenager and pointed out many spots where he used to fish, such as this island above Boulter’s lock where a local guy used to ferry the boys across in the morning and back at tea-time, and the landing stage above Maidenhead bridge.
We moored below the railway bridge, which used to be railed off years ago but which is now good moorings with grass and access to the Thames path. We were so pleased to stop mid-afternoon – it has rained all day and we got rather cold. This is the wonderful device that keeps Nicholson’s dry and helped us to keep going; it is basically a shallow aluminium box with a hinged plastic lid, made by a friend of the previous owners many years ago. It’s brilliant!
I took Meg out for a run down the Thames Path past Bray lock before we settled in for the evening. Wet and muddy but very worthwhile. I put the chimney up while I was still soaked and Dave lit the fire. We have a lot of wet things to be dried and the Mikuni has broken down so no radiators!
10 and a half miles, 5 locks.