For quite a few years we have had the ambition, when we retire, of travelling the canal system in a narrowboat for a matter of months. Well we've now bought the boat - Leo. Here is a picture of Leo on a trip at the end of October, seen just below St. Catherine's Lock near Guildford. The person with the hair is Thomas, not Ian!
And here is the lion who lives onboard!
We are getting ourselves organised to set off around the middle of April. We are having some work done on the boat, principally the installation of a 'double dinette' so that we have a dining table (big enough probably for 7 to dine in relative comfort) which converts also into a double bed so that we can accommodate visitors for weekends or longer stays as we travel about the country.
Our plans at present are to leave in mid April travelling down the Wey Navigation and the River Thames to Brentford. From here we plan to go a short way up the Grand Union Canal and then turn right at Bulls Bridge Junction on the Paddington Arm. Somewhere down here we hope to meet David and Victoria on their boat, Pas Mêche. They will have come from the East Anglian waterways via the river Nene at Peterborough and down the Grand Union. As a pair of boats we then intend to use the Regent's Canal to Limehouse Basin and wait for a calm day and suitable tide to venture out onto the tidal Thames. An adventurous trip follows up through the centre of London to reach the sanctuary of the non-tidal river above Teddington Lock.
We will then cruise up the Thames as far as Oxford, though a possible diversion may be to take in the Kennet and Avon to Bath/Bristol and back. From Oxford we will follow the Oxford Canal to the Midlands and then the Shropshire Union and Llangollen Branch to Llangollen. We may take in a diversion down to the Warwickshire Avon at Stratford too.
From the Shropshire Union plans are less firm though David and Victoria are aiming to be in Leeds by the beginning of July, while our itinerary may be longer. Ian has a wish to access the Lancaster Canal which entails a further foray onto tidal water at Preston to make the link.
We do intend to see people and places as we go, and when we are near friends we would welcome you coming on board for the day, weekend or longer.
So those are our plans at the moment, though these are developing as the day for departure gets nearer. Most recently the summit of the Grand Union has effectively been closed due to lack of rain feeding the reservoirs which in turn feed the canal. If this is not resolved then we may not be meeting David and Victoria in London but in the Midlands. So watch this space as our plans change.