Monday was the day when we set out to get to Berkhamsted to moor-up Albert for a few days while I took a trip to Scotland. The weather was a bit brighter than on Sunday but we appeared to have lost the long periods sunshine of earlier days.

Until Apsley we were accompanied by NB Tacet. Although Tacet was single-handed, being accompanied in locks made life easier for both boats. As we progressed north we passed Robin & Laura and NB Miss Matty on their way to Little Venice. Maggie had a good chat lockside about future boating plans.

I photographed the back of the old Ovaltine factory site (now flats), primarily because Maggie's mother Mollie, remembers it so well from the 1940s that she always asks about it when we pass this way. Unfortunately, you cannot see the conserved art-deco facade from the canal, only from the railway. I also photographed the lovely display of pansies at Lock 70 near Kings Langley.

Pretty display of pansies, Kings Langley

Former site of the Ovaltine factory from the canal

After a brief lunch stop at Boxmoor we made our way towards Winkwell (and its automated swing bridge). Before we passed under the railway bridge we passed the Yarwoods Royalty class narrowboat Victoria going south, presumably to the Little Venice Cavalcade, which is at the weekend. She looked very smart with brand new paint. The cabin sides were very much as shown on page 50 of Edward Paget-Tomlinson's Colours of the Cut, but she now has a conventional exhaust not a funnel as shown in the book. Judging from her Historic Narrowboats web site entry as recently as September 2009 she had a completely different colour scheme. No wonder I got proud smiles from the steerer when I photographed her. She does look terrific and a credit to whoever painted her.

Fore-end of Victoria approaching Albert near Winkwell

Flamboyant signwriting on NB Victoria

As we approached Top Side Lock (56) near Berkhamsted a heron began fishing in the lock as we operated it; confirming our view in an earlier post that they are becoming more bold.

Heron at Top Side Lock, Berkhamsted

We finally moored up near Castle Wharf in Berkhamsted after passing through 22 locks in about 9 miles. We plan to move Albert back to Yardley Gobion over the weekend.

The Grove, Watford

We woke on Sunday to our first rain since we started this sector of journey at Oxford. It stayed damp for for most of the morning but it wasn't unpleasant unlike the rain, hail and wind on the Oxford Canal.

Denholm Deep lock was its usual challenge, with just us going through, but we managed to take Albert through without incident. An "unofficial" sponsored bike ride was going on along the towpath from Uxbridge to Widewater lock. It was in aid of an asthma charity. It appears that a group of friends get together every year, on the same day as the London Marathon, for a bike ride in memory of one of their friends (a father) who died from asthma. There was a wide range of ages taking part with some very young bike riders taking part - good for them.

Another Glass Box, near Copper Mill Lock

At Springwell we passed Comet, Roger Alsop's boat. Roger recently carried out Albert's Boat Safety Certificate. We stopped for a chat. We needed to work out where to moor Albert whilst I take a short trip to Scotland on behalf of my professional institution (IAgrE). Roger helpfully suggested some locations in Berkhamsted. Roger's company is curently busy working along the Regents Canal near London Zoo.

NB Comet near Springwell Lock

We stopped at Tesco, Rickmansworth for supplies. By then we had warm sunshine again. There is an interesting model canal by Batchworth Lock where some years ago NB Roger was on the bank awaiting restoration.

Little Union Canal, Rickmansworth

Restored wooden working boat Roger at Rickmansworth

I couldn't resist photographing the Ark just above Batchworth Lock. It has been there for years, we certainly remember seeing it in 1997. However, it still looks a neat and interesting boat.

The Ark, Rikmansworth

Just below Cassiobridge lock we met NB Victoria who made the immediate connection with Albert and thought we should cruise together.

NB Victoria

Despite the changeable weather there were lots of people in Cassiobury Park. At the ever popular Ironbridge lock around thirty people gathered to watch Albert lock through.

Locking through Ironbridge Lock, Watford with an audience

We finally called it a long day when we reached The Grove (Bridge 164). It was again dull and misty by then and not particularly pleasant. Despite the high water levels, mooring up was a challenge but after some manoeuvring we managed to get Albert reasonably close to the bank.


After an evening in Teddington babysitting we slept onboard Albert. The morning was again sunny but this time the wind was from the south. The warmest weather of the year was predicted.

Canoeists having fun in part of Brentford Basin

GSK Headquarters at Brentford uses canal water for process cooling

As we left the basin the crew of NB Baron, the ex-FMC Steamer that yesterday had supplied us with Calor gas and coal, asked if we were going up the flight and could they join us. We were delighted. Firstly to share locks, and secondly to share with an historic boat that is still working commercially.

NB Baron making deliveries in Brentford Basin

Baron supplies coal,diesel and pump outs along the southern Grand Union and Regents Canals, mostly south of Denham. Baron is operated by PJ Wakeham & Son. She is sometimes moored up at Denhem Deep Lock. They had overnighted in the basin at Brentford and were working their way down to Camden.

Baron south of Hanwell

We had a great time sharing locks. Baron is powered by a three-cylinder Bolinder driving a three foot propeller. She has plenty of power but needs some draught. The section below Hanwell is not well dredged and she had some difficulties being relatively heavily laden. As a result she picked up rubbish around the prop.

Baron's three-cylinder Bolinder

Baron's pump out system

Baron's signwriting

Baron's cabin with traditional ribbon plates
(and traditional dust)

We worked up the Hanwell flight quite efficiently although we had to pause just below the first lock whilst Baron made an unscheduled diesel delivery to a boat that was very low on fuel.

Sharing a lock with Baron

The section to Cowley is characterised by long straights and with little or no boat traffic it can be, in fact, quite boring. Still one shouldn't complain too much since the weather was great.

A pair of contrasting fore-ends

Moored up just below Cowley lock and went to Malt Shovel. Good ale (Brains) and cider (Aspall) and good menu.


We took the morning tide down to Brentford. Andy Foster and Emily joined us on the trip. Again the weather was glorious. The river flows were a lot lower than when we visited Richmond nearly two weeks ago.

Andy Foster steering near Richmond

Approaching Thames Lock, Brentford

We moored up on the visitor moorings at Brentford. BW closed their "front of desk" at Brentford at the start of the month. As a result I had to ring up a central BW number to find out if the winter mooring regulations were still in operation (as local signs indicated) - they didn't know. Also, it appears you can only buy tokens for the excellent facilities (pump out, showers, and laundry) at the local cafe not at the BW office adjacent. And this is the location of a major BW office. Not exactly a "customer focus".


On Thursday we left Walton and picked up our daughter Lucy and granddaughter Amelia at Shepperton for our trip down to Teddington. It was Ameila's first trip on the boat. We were a little worried about the noise of the engine upsetting Amelia but we need not have bothered. She was perfectly relaxed.

Lucy and Amelia enjoying the trip

On our trip around Desborough Island a kingfisher got very close to us and perched on branches as we passed by. The glorious sunshine continued. We got to Molesey Lock at lunch time so we went through on self-service. It was very slow, I suspect the opening of the sluices was restricted on safety grounds.

We moored up at Hampton Court. What a spot!

Hampton Court Mooring

Lucy's friend Laura and her daughter, Amelia's friend Charlotte, joined us for the trip down to Teddington. Both babies enjoyed a rest on our bed watching the reflection of the rippling water on the ceiling.

Babies on board

When we arrived at Teddington Lock, Emily brought along her pet house rabbit Zeus to meet us. He caused some interest with passers-by who at first assumed it was a small dog.

Rabbit on board


We had a relatively short trip on Wednesday down to Walton, again in bright sunshine. We moored up on the visitor moorings by The Anglers and paid a surprise visit to our daughter Emily who manages the Pizza Express restaurant in Walton.

We had a great visit particularly since our other daughter Lucy and granddaughter Amelia joined us for dinner on the boat.

Emily, Amelia, Lucy and Maggie on board


It was a bright but fresh day. We left Marlow around nine.

Passing through Marlow

Cookham reach was quiet with just the odd dog walker on the towpath and very little river traffic. At Cookham Lock we went through with two GRP cruisers and, for the first time since Oxford, we had to switch off our engine in a lock.

Cliveden from the River

We had good views of Cliveden from the reach below and moored up for lunch at Dorney just behind the Eton College boat houses on the new rowing course. This will be the site for the 2012 Olympic rowing competitions. Today it was a very windy spot with a north-westerly blowing directly down the course. It would be a challenge.

After lunch we went through Boveney Lock using self-service - our first on this trip. We have used Thames Locks without lock keepers before, but only manually operated. This requires some effort since the hydraulics need to be actuated by a large hand wheel wheel. Sandford Lock, just below Oxford, which we went through in 2004 we found to be very hard work - not to say exhausting. Now that power is left on, going through on self-service is a doddle. The next lock, Romney, was also unattended with the lock keeper altering sluices on the weir. As a result we went through our second lock on self-service.

Windsor Castle from the river

Going past the Royal Estates we noticed that they had increased the No Mooring signage.It is now a serious crime (under Section 128 of the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act 2005), not just a civil offence to moor up near Windsor Castle. Maggie did think the Crown Estate signs were a little grubby and that The Queen should put on her Marigolds and get them spic and span.

Signage along the river by the Royal Park at Windsor

Dutch Barges at Old Windsor

We moored up on the National Trust moorings near Magna Carta Island at Runnymede. We have moored up here twice before with our first boat Bertie. Two Egyptian geese passed by. We saw some in 2007 on the River Wey.

A pair of Egyptian geese at Runymede

According to the NT Warden who took our fees there are kingfishers nesting near here. We shall have to keep a look out for them.


Today the weather was not quite as warm and sunny as over the weekend, but it was another delightful day on the water. We had a good trip down to Henley in sunshine. Saw another kingfisher on the reach to Shiplake. Only three so far this trip - we wonder if the wet winter has caused them problems with their nests.


We moored up at Henley just below the Leander Club and went for lunch in Maison Blanc. Before that we just had to recreate the photo of the Parkin's family trip on a hire boat in 1963.

Moored up at Henley - 2010 version

Temple Island at the start of the Royal Regatta Course

After lunch we left for Marlow. We passed Henley Business School (aka Greenlands) where my dad studied back in the late 1950s. Maggie's picture caught a Leander sculler overtaking us as we passed Greenlands.

Greenlands, Henley

We moored up in Marlow just above the bridge at Higginson Park. Later in the evening we were joined by the 1927 Dutch barge (Luxemotor) Esme and the new barge Voyager. The latter is a new boat for sale by the New & Used Boat Company.

Albert dwarfed by Esme at Marlow


We left Wallingford to clear blue contrail-free skies (again) and passed the new Oxford University Boat Club.

Oxford University Boat Club

There were many crews out on the river, most being coached from specially built high-speed launches. On the Wallingford reach we were overtaken by a sculler. She came quite close. A pair of eights from Wallingford Rowing Club came past going upstream at racing speed. Very impressive power and bladework.

Sculler overtaking Albert near Wallingford

Eights at full-power

Brunel's Moulsford Railway bridge

The Glass Box summer house at Goring

We moored up for lunch at Mapledurham. The river had started to get busy and in the afternoon we shared our first lock since going onto the Thames at Oxford. The river banks at Pangbourne, Purley and Reading were thronged with people taking advantage of the warm bright sunshine.

Lunch break at Mapledurham

We moored up for the night just above Sonning Lock at walked around the village. The Bull Inn by the church looked very pleasant with lots of diners eating outside.