New Ground – 7th August 2022

Before we start on the new adventures on the Thames river north-west of Oxford we will do a quick review of where we have been on the canals. The purple dot is where we left from back at the beginning of June. We headed up to Manchester and then due to water shortages we headed east to the Peak Forest canal and then made our way south towards Birmingham. We skirted the Brum and went south to Worcester and then onto the river Severn and further south to Sharpness which is just north of Bristol. It was then north again to Warwick and then down the Oxford Canal until a couple of kilometers short of Oxford city – red dot.

So, we have just spent our first full day on what we will call the Upper Thames. This is new territory for us as we have done London to Oxford only. From Oxford, we went onto the Oxford Canal. First noticeable difference is that it is not busy.

We were awoken this morning to what we originally thought were some ducks or swans having a squabble but instead it was about 50 swimmers who were doing a 10k swim.

A lock keeper had mentioned to us yesterday about the race but we assumed it might start a bit later. We sat on the back of the boat under thr brolly with our morning cuppa’s and cheered them on. Certainly a hardy lot.

Moored up on Pinkhill Lock which was our first for the day.

Cute and well kept lock keepers cottage.

Took this photo whilst at the lock but not until we looked at this in the afternoon, we realised that there was the additional 2007 flood mark written in red. The Thames has quite the history for flooding but it has been made somewhat less catastrophic by the installation of the Thames barriers south of London. A recent study has stated that the barriers will protect London until 2100 taking climate change into consideration but after that all bets are off. Hmm, one might hope that they doing some forward strategic planning.

Second lock of the day was unmanned so it was up to us to sort ourselves out.

Mooring on any part of the Thames is problematic and you need to be prepared to be inventive.

We could not resist going past this very pretty pub for a Sunday lunch. As is the tradition here in the UK, everyone heads out to the pub for a hot roast lunch but today was just too hot. We had a light burger on a bun and a cool drink.

Back on the river after lunch and there was a very noticeable difference in the width of the river. It was extremely narrow and quite difficult to negotiate in a long boat around some very tight bends. We were constantly on the horn warning people of our presence as to meet someone on a blind corner was not something we wanted to do.

It was also very busy with people on paddle boards with their dogs, swimmers, canoeists, punters, youghurt pots and other narrowboaters.

A pillbox on the Red stop line, a 300 mile long defence line created across southern England as a second line of defence in case of invasion in World War II. Here, the River Thames had been incorporated as a natural barrier. Somehow, it is doubtful this would have stopped the Germans.

After almost five hours of cruising in the hot weather we moored up about 12 miles further up the river than where we left from this morning. We managed to find a bit of embankment that we could put some pins in and settle down for the evening.

The weather for next week is not looking too kindly for us unless we can find shade each night. The level of the river is down almost a foot and they have been feeding water into it from a reservoir. Not sure how long that will last as the reservoirs are not bottomless.

Fraser did his usual run and returned to the boat for a swim but to get out of the river this time he had invented himself a small ladder.

As you can see, it worked perfectly.

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