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Boat Blog: River Wey (4)

Posted by indigodream on 6 September, 2010

Friday 27th August

Guildford to Godalming and back

Assembling the crew at Dapdune Wharf - Wyn and Rhodri on the roof and Chris on the back deck....

We had a day at home yesterday, again filled with good intentions, none of which were achieved. Never mind, I did cook a fine roast dinner to welcome cousin Denise and family back from France. It’s such a cliché – cooking them roast beef to celebrate their return to England!

We had a great evening – it was a balm to spend time with them. We were delighted that they’re changed their holiday plans so that they could spend the day cruising with us on Friday.

We got to the boat late on Friday morning having had a very relaxed morning at home. There was no rush – the last of the rain was still persisting first thing so we sat and drank coffee until it stopped! We took two cars and arranged for a day’s parking at the Dapdune Wharf site – it’s free but you need a permit from the National Trust office. So, we welcomed old hands Denise, Wyn and Rhodri on board along with Denise’s dad, Chris. They’ve all cruised with us before so we could relax and set off upstream towards Godalming. Millmead Lock wasn’t quite as busy today and there weren’t any rowing boats about – hurrah!

We had a great cruise to Godalming – the river is seriously scenic and although there were a few hire boats around, it wasn’t that busy considering there was a bank holiday looming. The highlight for Richard was seeing a kingfisher snatching a fish from the clear water – sadly I was washing up and missed it!

Godalming is the very emphatic end of the navigation – the river straitens to a shallow stream. I wondered that the navigation ever went any further, but of course it didn’t – the Wey and Arun Junction Canal branched off a couple of miles north of Godalming. There’s just a stub evident from the current navigation – the Wey and Arun canal has largely been built over through Shalford. But this belies the activity going on further down – the Wey and Arun Canal Trust are working hard to restore the waterway and have enough water in the Loxwood section (Surrey/Sussex border) to run boat trips, or you can hire a day boat – we’ll have to investigate!

The junction with the old Wey and Arun navigation - part of it is in water and working...

We turned at the ‘walled’ bend in Godalming (makes sense when you see it) and reversed onto what we assumed were visitor mooring. We had a little exploration – Godalming is an unassuming town, quite attractive with a range of small high street stores as well as a pet superstore, Homebase and Waitrose within easy reach of the river. There is an ancient church and lovely riverside park – a nice place for an hour’s mooch. It might be good to spend a night here sometime and explore the local pubs.

But it was practical for us to get back to Guildford – the cars were there and we’d all be travelling home to spend the night before Denise and family drove back to Wales and we took the train back to Guildford on Saturday morning to resume our cruising.

Once again we whizzed back much quickly on the downstream flow. There was a bit of to-ing and fro-ing at Farncombe boathouse with the new hirers taking their boats out and receiving instructions. One boat which travelled downstream with us was crewed by a family group of women and their kids. They adopted Uncle Chris and he was more than happy to oblige, helping them at every lock and giving advice like a pro! Just as well, you have to rope up and turn off your engines in the Wey locks – unfortunately this boat turned their engine off before they were in the lock and used the time honoured “crashing into the lock gate” method to stop their boat! We administered some advice – it’s only a few weeks since a boat took out a lock-gate causing an extensive stoppage.

Uncle Chris will dine out for months on the story of Millmead Lock. Being mindful of the weir stream, we carefully manoeuvred Indigo Dream onto the lock moorings; Wyn and Richard went off to set the lock leaving the front tied and me holding the back (no bollard) with Uncle Chris’s assistance. The hire boat with the lovely ladies turned awkwardly past Guildford Boathouse behind us and headed at speed for the moored hire boats – Chris dropped Indigo Dream’s rope immediately and virtually ran back the towpath to help his favourite ladies (leaving me to hold her against the stream all on my own!). It made his day and, with his assistance, they managed to moor up safely. They didn’t come down the lock with us though – they were looking for a mooring convenient for ‘The Boat’ – a fine canalside pub just above the boathouse. They’d have been better off mooring on the meadows upstream of the bend – it’s a stunning spot.

We moored up at Dapdune Wharf just after 6pm-ish and set off for home. We stopped for supper at The Prince of Wales, yet another fine Fuller’s pub in Westcott  just outside Dorking. The trip home via the rural A25 is very scenic so we’ve seen Surrey at it leafy best today.


The family hard at work at Millmead Lock....

Wouldn't this make a great painting....

Boats moored on the stub leading to the Wey and Arun...

There's a cute mooring tucked in behind that rickety footbridge

Rhodri hard at work...

Rhodri enjoyed his time at the helm - he was pretty good too...

I can't actually remember where exactly this is, but it's a great view...

We liked this boat name - nice signwriting too....


Dramatic sky, wonderful vista

Are you having a good day Wyn?

This lad was planning to jump into the river directly in front of indigo Dream - we shouted at him and asked him not to - his parents were in a canoe on the other side of the river.....

The dynamic duo! Lynx is so dark it's almost impossible to get the light settings right...

Lou posing on the towpath...

The 'meadow' moorings above Guildford - what a scenic spot

I took quite a fancy to this house just upstream of Guildford - on the towpath side though so no mooring...

I'm not a big fan of stuff ont he roof but this colourful display of lamps was very attractive...

Chirs and Denise - big cheesy grins were the order of the day....

Uncle Chris jumped ship to help this boat-load of lovely ladies!

7 Responses to “Boat Blog: River Wey (4)”

  1. s/v Eolian said

    For those of us not part of the Narrowboating community, I wonder if you could post a description of the central activity of narrowboating: locking?

    For example, how do you go about closing the lock gates? One is on each side of the canal – how do you access the lock gate on the other side from the one you are temporarily moored to?

    And what, pray tell, are “paddles”? And the “Key” (sounds vaguely mysterious – like something out of Harry Potter)?

    Help, please…

    s/v Eolian

  2. indigodream said

    Of course, Bob, we’ll do a special post next week with photos to demonstrate.

    Of course, there’s nothing like seeing the real thing so if you’re ever in England I hope you’ll visit and see them for yourself!

  3. s/v Eolian said

    I am looking forward to it.

    And if we do make it to England again, it will be for the express purpose of becoming one of those annoying “hire boaters” on the canals!


  4. indigodream said

    Some hire boaters are virgins, that soon changes on a good boating holiday :-). I have to say that a very large percentage of hire boaters are experienced and expert, often better then many private boaters. Get practising! Mind you we find sailers show great skills once they stop hankering for a wheel and learn to get rough with that bit of old stick at the back that we call a tiller!


  5. s/v Eolian said

    Oh, we’ll be virgins for certain… But all of our boats save our current one have been tiller steered, so it’s not the stick at the stern that worries me. It is steering something so long and skinny with nothing up front under the water to speak of… I imagine it to be a little like driving a grocery cart on ice. The maneuvers you pull off are amazing.


  6. Simon Marshall (empire queen) said

    Hi i’ve uploaded pics including a couple of Indigo dream. You can see them here

    Thanks for leading the way on our tideway cruise.

    Simon Pauline and Claude

    NB Empire Queen

  7. indigodream said

    Thanks Empire Queen – the photos are fab – it’s almost impossible to take a bad photo on the tideway – it’s such an adventure!

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