Monday, 16 April 2012

Tackling the Tidal Thames for the first time

Well we've done it.  After all the nervous anticipation we ventured onto the tidal Thames at Teddington and motored down to Brentford on Sunday.  Leaving Kingston we managed the two or three miles to Teddington quicker than expected and arrived soon after 10.00 and were called into the lock by the lock keeper together with a river steamer.  He was kind enough to suggest we moored on the other side of the lock to avoid the steamer's fumes when its engines restarted and then he phoned the Brentford lock keeper to tell him we were on our way.

Down onto the tidal river around the time of high tide so the flow was negligible.  The river down here is pretty wide with yet more rowers but there seemed to be few other vessels.  We carried on fairly fast (well fast for a narrow boat - perhaps 6 or 7 mph) passing through Richmond and then passing the half tide weir below.  This closes as a weir apart from 2 hours either side of high tide when it is completely open.  Again timing is crucial.
Crossing the weir at Richmond
As we approached Brentford looking at the shore showed how fast the ebb tide was flowing out with us on it.  This was fine until we had to make the turn into the channel leading onto the Grand Union Canal opposite Kew Gardens.  Then you realise that you are being impelled downstream at quite a speed.  Fortunately Leo had plenty of spare power to fight the current and take us safely where we needed to go.

The lock keeper at Thames Lock at Brentford was as friendly and helpful as we have come to expect and welcomed us onto the canal raising us a modest foot from the tidal Thames to the bottom of the Grand Union Canal heading to Birmingham.  Above the Gauging Locks (where loads were measured for determining tolls) we moored for a welcome coffee and then lunch to recover from the tidal experience.  After lunch we explored a rather attractive part of Brentford (the Butts) and bought a Sunday paper.

Back on board we climbed a couple more locks to Hanwell aided by a couple of young girls with their Dutch grandfather and then moored for the night.

On Monday 16th we climbed the eight locks of the Hanwell flight with another boat "Flying Kipper" crewed by a father and his son.  We crossed the "Three Bridges" one of the final works of Isambard Kingdom Brunel.  Here a road crosses over the canal while the canal simultaneously crosses a railway.
"Three Bridges"
We then turned down the Slough Arm and are now moored for the night in an idyllic spot - peaceful and quiet with wonderfully clear water with water lilies beginning to grow up towards the water surface.

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