The Lensbury, Teddington

We kept Albert on the The Lensbury moorings ahead of the October half-term school holidays. The location worked out well for us but the specific moorings we were allocated, the so-called steamer landing was required for a visiting trip boat on Saturday October 13th. Since we needed to move Albert along to another berth we decided to take her out for a short trip to Kingston.

Albert on the Lensbury Steamer Landing

The steamer moorings included water and electricity supply and we really very good except for one feature. Like many moorings there are trees around. Trees in autumn mean leaves, which is not usually a problem, but in this case they also meant bird droppings. Now bird droppings can be a nuisance but when they come from parakeets then they are trouble. A tree just a little away from the boat appeared to be a nesting site and the tree directly above the stern was a favourite roosting site. From what was deposited all over the stern in large clumps, their diet appeared to consist largely of berries.   

Albert under a tarpaulin 

The offending rose-ringed parakeets by their nest

As a result of the parakeet guano deposited on the roof, we put a tarpaulin over the worst effected area. On the Saturday I spent quite some time scrubbing. Luckily most of it came off cleanly but it did some did damage to a small area of the rear hatch. Albert attacked by aliens! 

Sailing on the Kingston reach

Rowing on the Kingston reach

The weather was bright and dry for our short trip to Kingston and back but the breeze was strong which was great for the sailors but not easy for mooring when we returned to The Lensbury. We had to go around failing to come in cleanly on our first attempt.

Turks steamer using the steamer landing 
(and being blown off-shore)

Teddington via the Tideway

We had booked our passage to Teddington on the single available tide just after midday, so we spent the morning preparing Albert - getting out our lifejackets, fitting the anchor and generally tidying up. As the song goes, what a difference a day makes! The sun was bright in a clear blue sky and the wind was calm. Just the day for trip along the Thames.
Message to dogs and their owners, Brentford Gauging Lock

We had the benefit of a volunteer keeper at the gauging lock and then met the only other boat going up to Teddington which turned out to be a Peter Nicholls Inspection Launch - Peggy May. It was their first time on the Tideway and they appeared happy they we could accompany them.

A narrowboat soon approached from Limehouse and went up the lock. We then dropped onto the river and proceeded upstream.

Brentford in the background


Richmond Half-Lock


Richmond Hill

Teddington Lock

It was a glorious cruise and we made Teddington Lock in just over an hour. The lock was set ready for us and we then sorted out our EA Licence. It was then time for us to travel across the river to the moorings at The Lensbury where we will keep Albert for a few days ahead of cruising with the family. They were there to greet us.


Last Saturday was meant to be a wet day and the forecast was right. The day started with fine mist as we made our way from Black Jacks Mill Lock towards Denham and Uxbridge, but it wasn't until we reached Cowley Peachey that the rain really started and then it just got heavier and heavier.

Denham Deep Lock
Another Albert at Uxbridge

Bull's Bridge and the Paddington Arm

We stopped off at High Line Yatching, close to the Slough Arm, for some fuel. Unfortunately the pump-out at the marina was not working. The long pound to the Norwood Top Lock (Hanwell Flight) was negotiated quite quickly and by 2:00 PM we had started to drop down the flight. The collection of safety locks on the top lock made filling the lock slow and then in a repeat of Friday a boater moored nearby pointed out the pound below the lock was low! 

The pound was down over a couple of feet but it was no where near as bad as at Hunton Bridge. We proceeded to fill the pound in the pouring rain and after about 15 minutes noticed a working boat coming out of Norwood Bottom Lock. It was a NB Ash a working boat delivering fuel and gas. Drawing a good 3 ft they quickly ran aground in the middle of the pound. They were therefore relieved to find we were filling the pound and after 10 minutes they were able to float back into the lock where they unfortunately discovered their prop was fouled by a large towelling robe. It was safe to say they were not in a good humour. Without a weed-hatch it took some time to remove but it did eventually come free with a lot of pulling with the boat-hook and they were eventually able to make the top lock.

NB Ash

Finally, after almost an hour, it was our turn to go down to the lower lock. As we approached  the bottom lock, which from the start had been set in our favour, we found the gates had been closed, the water dropped and a boat was blocking the entrance to the lock. The crew of the boat blocking the lock were in fact down the weed-hatch trying to free their prop! All we could do was wait but it was frustrating. I think in total it took us 90 mins to go through the two locks!

The Hanwell Flight of seven locks then followed. Not pleasant in the rain and passage was made more difficult by the crew of a  cruiser coming up the flight who proceeded to close a set of gates just as we reached a lock. They appeared to be group of students and were quite clearly complete novices. We also came across a single-handed boat whose crew had lost a windlass and was using an adjustable spanner. 

Brentford Mooring

Cold and wet we finally made Brentford Basin around 4:30 PM and claimed the last visitor mooring which was just under the remains of the warehouse canopy that extends over the cut. We both found out just how leaky our "waterproof" clothing was. 

Disappearing Cut

Today we had an early start (8:00) and left the mooring in Kings Langley with the aim of putting some miles and locks behind us so we could reach the Thames by the weekend. It was misty for the early part of the day and immediately we found one difference from yesterday - locks set in our favour. As we passed by The Grove golf course the sun was coming out and the players on the tee nearest the canal proffered a cheery wave. All was going well until just before the Hunton Bridge locks when a pedestrian warned us that "there was no water in the canal". As an optimist I am inclined to take this sort of statement with a pinch of salt, but in this case she was absolutely right. The pound between locks 72 and 73 was not just low but dry. It was clear that our morning's good  progress was at an end and we were were in for a serious delay.  It was also obvious that there was no point in just filling the pound using the usual method because we had no idea if their was underlying problem, of if raising paddles would cause more problems.

There was also no obvious cause for the water loss because all paddles and gates were in place. It was clear we were the first to arrive at the incident so I phoned up CRT for help. They sent Paul whose first reaction was a welcoming "oh no not again!". It appears the gates on Hunton Bridge Bottom lock are a known issue since both sets can sit awkwardly and there some underlying problems with the chamber of the bottom lock. Paul's best guess was one set of gates might have been left ajar.

The key to solving the problem was simply refilling it with water, but as Paul pointed out, it had to be done gently and slowly to avoid detritus flowing down the cut and jamming the gates and causing even more problems. The condition of the gates also had to be checked. All-in-all it took a couple of hours to get us back on track going south.

A full pound!
We finally go going around 11:00 and had a delightful cruise down through Cassiobury Park, Watford and Rickmansworth. The latter was very full of moored boats with no space for visitors from Batchworth to Stockers locks. We finally stopped for the night at Black Jack Mill Lock. Tomorrow we strike out for Brentford but it might rain in the afternoon. 

Kings Langley

A hard day locking today (Thursday) with most locks on the descent being empty. For most of the day we appeared to be the only boat on the move, despite the good weather.

Winkwell swing bridge and The Three Horseshoes

Just as we wondered what to do about lunch we reached Fishery Lock and discovered the Fishery Wharf Cafe. This former pop-up is based in a series of ramshackle buildings along the canal and is a quirky setting. We had a couple of delicious chicken wraps a soft drinks. They went down a treat as we sat out enjoying the sun. It appeared to be a popular lunch location for locals.

Fishery Wharf Cafe

Fishery Inn

 After lunch we continued working locks and finally decided, around 5 o'clock to call it a day at Kings Langley. We contemplated going on until six but were persuade to stop by the discovery of a good mooring and other boaters descriptions of mooring congestion around Watford.


Following Tuesday night at Pitstone we went up the Marsworth flight stopping for water at the junction the Aylesbury Arm. For the rest of the flight we were accompanied by another boat and then had the added help of the CRT volunteers. We made good time to the Tring summit and on to Cowroast.

Negotiating Marsworth Locks

Tring cutting

After Cowroast we started our descent to the Thames. We stopped off at the shopping/drop off moorings at Berkhamsted for provisions from Waitrose before moving down to a mooring near Raven's Lane Lock. The mooring was opposite the interesting property where the hire company Bridgewater Boats used to operate from.

Berkhamsted moorings

Also opposite, but a little harder to make out, was the Parish Church where Maggie's parents were married in 1945.
View of Berkhamsted Parish Church

We decided that our hard work locking needed rewarding so we went to the excellent Boat Inn for a drink - Oliver's Island bitter and Cornish Orchards cider - both went down a treat and the pub surroundings were very pleasant. Being a Fullers pub the menu was similar to that of the Grove Lock. It was well patronised.

Walking to Mentmore

We are part of a walking group of friends based around Milton Keynes that has a monthly walk. This month we arranged a walk based on the Grand Union to fit in with our travel plans. On Tuesday we moored Albert between Church Lock and Slapton but started (and finished) the walk at The Grove Lock inn. Albert served as a coffee stop for our friends.

Walking group and Albert

Lots of coffee mugs
(We used three cafetieres)

The route we planned walked along the towpath towards Slapton but left the canal near Bridgego Bridge otherwise known as the Great Train Robber bridge and climbed out of the valley to Mentmore before returning to Grove Lock via Ledburn.

The weather was kind, the company good and the food at the pub fine.

After the walk we moved on to Pitstone. The pound above Horton's Lock was shallow and we touched the bottom a couple of times but all-in-all it was a pleasant late afternoon trip.

Mooring up at Pitstone as the sun sets