Monday 8 August. 15 miles, 13 locks.
An early start today as the Teddington lock keeper only lets you onto the Tidal Thames 20min before high tide. This has you running with the outgoing tide for the majority of the trip. High tide today is 0650. The drop from Non-tidal to Tidal is only a couple of feet. Two boats set off and as the others had done it before we followed. Very pleasant conditions with the sun low in the sky. We pass some rather nice houses but not as elaborate as those around Henley.There is also a variety of boats from lovely old timers in pristine condition through to the rust heaps people choose to live in and the odd sunken boat. As we pass Richmond we pass under the raised sluice gates which are open for 2 hours each side of high tide. The rest of the time they are lowered to keep a constant depth of water upstream and then boats have to use a normal lock to get through. Below this point there are no further locks. After travelling for an hour 15 it is time to turn up the Brent river, There are about 4 channels in the same area and even the boat we were following had difficulty in identifying the correct one. It was quite obvious once you were in there. Through a lock and back onto the canal system. Took on water then headed north with 12 DIY, double locks to start the climb back to the Midlands. Very heavy gates and winding gear so Diana had a good workout and with me having to assist on some. When we got to the Hanwell flight there was a notice to say if you wanted help then ring the volunteers. Did this and they were helping someone else at the time but would get to us soon. We set off up and occasionally saw a volunteer but they were busy with other problems of water management so in the end we went right through basically unassisted. We had intended to stop for lunch half way up but with all the water shortage issues and three boats behind us we kept going. Stopped for lunch about 1400. We got away later heading up the Grand Union Canal until reaching the Slough Junction where we stopped for the night. Went to a local pub for tea. I think I identified all the characters from "Last of the Summer Wine" in there. The day started Southwest of Heathrow then crossed both approaches before we ended up to the North. It was morning rush time as we went down the Thames with a continuous line of large aircraft on the approach.
Interesting point: When we left the Thames were were just 4 miles upstream from the Hammersmith bridge where I had walked along the river when visiting Richard back in 2003 also we were about 3 miles direct to where he and Mel lived. Guess I can say I have been to London in my boat and that there is very little of the Thames I havent seen when you also consider I had done the tourist boat trip to the Thames Flood Barrier back in 1990.