Indigo Dreaming

The journeys of the Narrowboat Indigo Dream

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Archive for October 15th, 2012

Boat Blog: Autumn Odyssey Day 4

Posted by indigodream on 15 October, 2012

Rewind to Thursday 13th September

Bray Lock to Wargrave Marsh (opposite Platts Eyot)

Nice juxtaposition of bridges…

We had a much better day today – Lou and I woke up refreshed and feeling more spry . We’d had a quiet night on the moorings but were up early so that we could talk to the lock-keeper and settle up any mooring fees – luckily he was very relaxed about our mooring there – phew!

It was such a pretty day today – the landscape lush with colour, replete with history and overtopped by sculptured clouds pinned to an amazing sky which shaded gently from the palest turquoise at the horizon then rising to a colour so pure that it could only be called “sky” blue. Priceless!

We enjoyed the scenic stretch through Cliveden – the trees were still green – every shade imaginable; we wondered whether they’d be every shade of red by the time we came downstream in a few weeks’ time.

We stopped at Cookham Lock and made use of the facilities – there is a useful rubbish point here and the best water point on the river. The water pressure here is astounding – our tank normally takes 40 – 60 minutes to fill from empty; in Cookham it took 10 minutes! Knowing this, we decided to do one of our long-overdue jobs – sterilising the water tank with Milton. We poured 1l of Milton into the tank, filled it, ran the taps to fill the pipes then left everything to marinade for 15 minutes. We then emptied the water tank – this took an hour – as I mentioned, the refill took 10 minutes! We flushed the tank and pipes and refilled again – job done! This took a while so when another narrowboat came for water we stopped operations and let them fill while we were fiddling about.

I love the contrasts of the Thames – either every inch of bank is densely occupied by property…..

While Richard sorted the water tank, I took the dogs for a walk – Lou was desperate for a splosh – she doesn’t like swimming but she loves to paddle. I found a suitable spot just behind the rubbish point. It’s a bit of a scramble through the undergrowth but well worth it – Lou had a great time. She waded in up to her belly then tried to drink the river by submerging her face in the water and lapping from there. This has never been the best drinking technique but it seems to make sense to Lou. Ollie and Henry were less keen – they dipped their toes in the water but refused to go any further. If you follow the footpath over the weir towards Cookham, there are other good sploshing spots in the weir stream on the left – for Lou they have to have a gentle slope into shallow water and no big jumps to get out.

I haven’t taken any notes from the day – I think I was too busy enjoying the waterscape at Cookham, Marlow and Henley – easily our favourite settlements on the Thames.

We shared locks with a number of hire cruisers from “Le Boat” – they are wide and flat so assembling the ‘jigsaw’ of boats in the locks was tricky at times. We did share a couple of locks with a small private cruiser – the woman of the boat was complaining mightily because two of the locks were unmanned. She whinged and whined – it took an absolute age to get into the lock as all that she could do was hold the boat – her husband had to go up to operate the lock, then come back to drive the boat in. After one lock, Richard took over as lock-keeper and thing speeded up a bit 🙂 Obviously as narrowboaters we thought the lady of the boat was being totally ridiculous – self-operated locks with powered gates that just need the push of a button – bliss!

….or densely occupied by trees!

We were not sure where to moor for the night – we quite fancied Henley but we also fancied going a bit further. In the end we compromised – we went through Marsh Lock, just upstream of Henley, then scouted out some moorings on the left bank opposite Platts Eyot. There were no signs there, but it is marked as mooring in our Nicholsons, and there were a few even stretches of bank with deep enough water for a narrowboat. There were obvious signs of previous habitation in the form of the burnt black circles of camp fires on the bank. I had a wry thought that maybe this isolated spot played host to zombie druids but we decide to risk it! We tied up and enjoyed an evening on the most superb greyhound mooring that we’ve ever found. The bank was at an accessible height for Lou and we got the stern right in to the bank so it was an easy step off the back deck. There was a footpath leading away from the mooring in both directions – each end was gated/fenced so it was nicely secure. The place was deserted – no other boats came to moor and there were no walkers on the path. This meant that we could let the hounds off for a good rummage – not that they did very much or wandered very far – they’re all quite tired! But the principle of their having a bit of freedom was important 🙂

As far as we could make out, these moorings are perfectly isolated with no services nearby (though Henley town centre can’t be more than 2 miles away, but whether there’s a path to get there is anyone’s guess). But the lack of services wasn’t a problem – we had a good stock of food and beer on board, including the remains of a hot chicken for the dogs, what more do we need?

We had the quietest night – the mooring was dark and peaceful, though Lou needed to go out in the wee small hours and needed more painkillers. Nonetheless we slept well and had an exceptionally relaxed morning, but that’s for the next post…


I love the “Ovaltine” canvasses on this boat – she’s moored in Cliveden Reach – shame her name is covered…

The house here is a sensible height above the river – the only trouble is how to access the river frontage – this one has a hairpin path, another, which we didn’t manage to photograph, has a funicular-style rail – I’d love to see that in action!

Another boat flying a jubilee pennant – it never occurred to us to fly ours after the event – maybe we should!

Such a pretty day…

We were surrounded by such beauty today…

We’ve cruised under blue skies many times but there was some special quality about today – maybe it was the crispness of the autumn air…

I wonder what they’re filming?

Looking back towards Temple Island, just downstream of Henley…

What a fine view this manor house must have…

Is this the frame for a fine houseboat similar to “le bateau maman” that was moored downriver…?

Fancy trip boat…

The ‘stealth boat’ as featured in October’s Canalboat magazine!

View upstream from Henley towards Marsh lock….

Marsh Lock is beautifully maintained – the lock keepers take a great deal of pride in their surroundings. You can vote for the best kept lock at the moment but I don’t want to vote – I just can’t choose!

The ‘tunnel’ in the bank next to the riverside cottage leads to what used to be the UK’s most expensive property at £140 million in 2011 ( but that’s been well pipped by a mansion in London currently for sale at £300 million!

Perfect mooring…

View upstream from our perfect mooring…

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