Cowley Lock

After last night’s (31/7) heavy rain today (1/8)was sunshine and showers and a stiff breeze that made hovering outside locks less than straightforward. We travelled down to Cowley Lock. At Cooper Mill Lock we caught up with another boat going south to Harefield. Their toddler daughter was enjoying being on deck, safely fenced in and wearing a life-jacket but she also wanted to have a go at steering. This made their progress rather slow but we shared the locks till they reached their destination.

Low Emmision Zone for Waterways?

Near Bridge 183 we found NB Arundel reversing back from the winding hole to the aggregates wharf (marked in Pearson). Later on, after we had moored up below Cowley Lock, we were able to watch Arundel negotiate the lock single-handed. By then she was loaded with 30 tonnes of aggregate which set her extremely low in the water as seen in some photographs of the old working boats.

NB Arundel at Cowley Lock

Arundel’s skipper used a set of long strings to select reverse to pull open the bottom gate and then close it behind him. We have previously only seen this technique used in old film footage. It was fascinating to watch and worthy of a round of applause. Within minutes he was on his way again.

In complete contrast we saw Land and Water’s modern wide beam barge Frays going north through the same lock. The barge totally filled the lock and two little boys watched in awe and wonder at the huge Tonka toy. Maggie watched in amazement as this skipper sprung up from the deck to the lock side in one mighty bound; she offered him a place in the British team for Beijing!

Wide beam barge Frays filling Cowley Lock

We had a delicious lunch at the Toll House Tea Room at Cowley Lock. They have an imaginative menu and a good selection of vegetarian dishes.