Wednesday August 15

Three days boating in one! We went upstream to Inglesham to the Thames Head.

Limit of Thames Navigation, Inglesham

Although we had a morning shower the weather was bright and sunny. Because of the very strong stream we turned with some difficulty at the Head. Albert visited a few overhanging willows and we had three attempts before we got it right.

Father Thames at St John's Lock Lechlade

The downstream journey was very rapid. It was not a problem on most of the tight bends except where fallen or leaning trees were on the "boating line". The break-back on the engine exhaust came into operation several times as the stern went under low trees. Some trees showed evidence of several impacts. In hindsight it would have been better to have used our short exhaust. On the way upstream there is much more time and space to make adjustments. It was tricky going through Radcot bridge with the high flow but the judicious use of high power meant we went through straight. After the warnings from the lock keepers at Radcot Lock it was a relief to go through without a problem.

Sharing a lock with a dinghy (making its way to the River Wey)

The weather forecast was for relatively low winds and sunny periods but as the day progressed the wind became very strong and on one of the many 180 degree bends above Rushey Lock Albert visited the bank. Trying to push a 20 ton boat out of a muddy curving bank in a high crosswind was not easy! Lots of poling, pulling and use of engine. We think a following narrowboat failed to make the same bends. They didn't appear at the next lock. It was clear that the high winds were because some heavy storms were coming. The storms chased us downstream for a while until we got caught in a really heavy downpour. So much for the forecast!

It was immediately clear from the river conditions that levels which had been falling were now rising. Water was already running off the rain-soaked fields. We heard from the lock keepers upstream that conditions were becoming difficult at Northmoor Lock and they were likely to open more staunches and go to red board conditions the next morning.

That convinced us to press on in the pouring rain. It appears that lots of water was coming down the River Windrush. Getting through Northmoor was difficult. The draw from the weir which is next to the lock meant some difficult steering and lots of power to avoid getting swept sideways onto the protecting weir structures. This convinced us that the safe option, to avoid getting stuck with red boards, was to leave the Thames as soon as possible. We pressed on to Duke's Cut and we finally made a mooring near Kiddlington at 7.00 pm. So a three day upstream journey took us one day going downstream! That is why this is posted late.

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