Sunday, 29 April 2012

Marooned at Wallingford

Well after a hard day fighting the current from Reading we reached Wallingford yesterday evening.  The locks are all now displaying red boards warning of a “Strong Stream” which means we have to sit tight until the river calms down.  It is now a fair torrent rather than a placid river.  Our present concern is that we have 18 inches for the river to rise before it tops the bank where we are moored and then another couple of feet before our boats float out of the river and onto the towpath.  We are considering if we should take additional precautions against this happening.  And the rain has just started again.  So much for a drought in the South East.

As we’ve travelled we have seen some interesting wildlife. 

Here are some Canada Goslings

And here are some “Loddon Lillies” which are apparently quite rare but seem pretty common on islands in the Thames near Sonning where the river Loddon flows into the Thames presumably because people cannot pick them there.

As mentioned before we have had to fight the flow of water from the weirs in order to get into the locks and this picture gives an idea of what is involved, though the actual experience is much more exciting than the picture suggests.
Marsh Lock, Henley on Thames
So now we are stuck and we’re not sure how long it will be before we can move on.  Fortunately Wallingford is a pretty town with all necessary facilities so we could certainly have been stuck in a worse place for a few days.  Today we had the pleasure of welcoming our friend Miriam to Leo and then went for a couple of damp but pleasant walks in the Chilterns with lunch at the William IV at Hailey which itself did not have electricity because of damage to power lines.  Even driving was a problem with many trees down across the road.  We had to stop and clear one in order to pass.

Finally here is a picture of David and Victoria paddling on the riverside by some mooring stanchions.  This is certainly not meant to be under water.

 Please may we now have a few days dry weather to enable us to continue.


  1. I think they call it a baptism of fire! Wallingford is a nice place to be - a good Waitrose and some nice shops and a launderette. The Wey is closed (apart from the canalised sections). The picture of Victoria and David looks like it is on the opposite bank from the town - I've not seen it that high before. Hope all goes well.

  2. Exciting stuff! I hadn't thought narrow boating involved white water, but first the Thames through London and now this...

    This comment grew in the writing... Excuse my verbosity please.

    What precautions are you planning? Chafe is likely to be the biggest risk so you'll be putting chafe guards on your warps (We've been learning about chafe, tidal range, currents etc with Lillie. Lillie's anchor warp now goes through reinforced plastic hose over the fairleads, and is backed up by chain anyway). If levels look like rising much more getting some chain to double up your upstream line would be wise. Or even a chain loop over the bollards and where it might rub on concrete or steel onto a rope.

    Lillie's mooring at Southend is quite exposed, so everything is doubled up (except the main chain) - expecially shackles and chafe points. Don't forget to mouse any shackles!

    If both banks are built up as in the photos, I guess the river could rise I guess putting your anchor out sideways would hold the boat off the tow-path, if you can get it out and set; tricky without a powerful tender, though something might be contrived with a quant catapult! Or 8' 4"x4" posts lashed vertically might keep you in the main river, but the leverage would be tremendous; you'd probably have to bolt them in place. Or dig in the quant pole to the bank to hold you off.

    I guess you'll be rigging up personal safety lines from boat to shore; in our experience of NZ river crossings, once fast flowing water gets over knee deep things get tricky - much more so in the Thames where there's deep water and you probably don't have a good run out. I've made safety harnesses for use on Lillie with rope & Krabs, though didn't think such things could have a use on canals...


  3. Ian and Helen - looks interesting - my friend Richard on Indigo Blue to a picture of you which is now here


  4. I was scrolling down enjoying your whole post with beautiful photography. I think having canal boat journey is a great way to spend some beautiful moments with our friends, family and worker etc. which make us experience as like adventure and fun.

    Shyla@ River thames canal boat hire


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