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Boat Blog: Autumn Odyssey Day 6

Posted by indigodream on 27 October, 2012

Rewind to Saturday 13th September

Goring to Sandford

A veteran of the jubilee pageant (see the pennant) – Ska’la’vagr – a Shetland Yoal – a traditional design that harks back to the Viking raiders. There’s more information here

I hate writing the blog in retrospect – especially when my notes from the day just say “Abingdon full”!

However, I’d really be having trouble with my memory if I’d forgotten that this was the day that Henry Beanz would rejoin his pack and we would take back our lovely big scaredy wuss jellyboy Ty…

Sarah, Andy and the pack (Ty, Archie, Herbie and Eddie) arrived in Goring late morning – giving us a few leisurely hours of pottering around and making use of the rubbish disposal facilities at the lock. We took the extended pack for a bobble around our little circular walk – needless to say, the 7 greyhounds were an extra visitor attraction in this already popular town!

We set off upstream just after midday – as always, we had many destinations in mind – the prime being Abingdon. We had a brief stop there a few years ago and have always intended to go back for a longer visit.

We weren’t in any hurry though, so we went through Goring Lock and filled up with water at the tap immediately above the lock. We were surprised by the number of rowers going through the lock – there was a charity event on – a massive sponsored row from Oxford to Molesey – a total of 80 miles – quite a feat, even if rowing downstream!

I remember that the next stretch of river is lovely – Sarah has been to the pub/hotel “The Leatherne Bottle” just upstream of Goring and confirmed that it is a good pub. It has a good stretch of mooring so we’ll have to stop there some time.

However, as my notes stated, Abingdon was full! The moorings on both sides of the bridge were jam-packed, with some boats brested up. We cruised upstream, turned around below the lock and cruised back down again (in case we’d missed a 60′ gap!), then we passed upstream again. A kindly narrowboater shouted across and invited us to brest up to him – we seriously considered it – he had a cruiser stern so it would have been easy for Lou to get off. But we did have 7 greyhounds on board and it was virtually guaranteed that I’d need to traipse across his stern in the wee small hours, so we declined.

The further upriver you cruise, the tighter the meanders – nice to see the landscape from all angles!

We decided to go up through the lock – we commented about the congestion in Abingdon – the lock-keeper told us that it was a lot of residential moorers. Apparently the moorings belong to the council (rather than the EA) and they’re not enforcing the 5 day mooring limit. We were disappointed but it was still early so we carried on upstream to Sandford lock.

We had telephoned the Sandford lock-keeper  to check whether there were any moorings there. The lockie confirmed that the moorings below the lock were free, though I favoured the meadow moorings above the lock as there would be less of a jump for Lou. We tied up below Sandford Lock – Richard, Sarah and the hounds did a recce of the meadow mooring above – but apparently there wasn’t enough room for us. I was worried about the jump up for Lou, but the only other option would be to move up to Oxford, but we’ve not been impressed by the river moorings there, so we stayed put.

The Sandford lock moorings have very good dog-walking – there’s lots of sploshing places (for Lou) and the island is relatively enclosed; the meadow above is even better so the more trustworthy hounds could have a good off-lead rummage.

The pub in Sandford is not dog-friendly, but the hounds seemed happy to settle down to snooze, so we went off to find some dinner. The Kings Arms pub is part of the “Chef and Brewer” chain so it offers a reliable menu with huge portions – we particularly liked the quirky “”mini” plates e.g. platter containing five types of mini-pie or four types of mini-burger! We ate enormously and rolled back to the boat full of contentment.

There are some handsome bridges across the upper Thames…

We had a rapturous welcome – luckily the hounds were keen for a last bobble – this gave me a chance to convert the sofa into a bed and get some dog beds organised. The hounds were delighted when they saw the new bed in the lounge area – all apart from Lou, that is, she likes it when it’s a sofa and she doesn’t like having to move into the galley when we have guests to stay.

Cue another disturbed night – it took a long while for the 7 hounds to arrange themselves satisfactorily. Ollie soon escaped the chaos to take his usual spot on the floor at the end of our bed; gigolo Archie moved in between us on our bed; Lou was in the galley (on a 6″ thick layer of dog beds and sheepskins); the other four arranged themselves on and around Sarah and Andy’s bed. I’d love to say that all was peaceful once they settled, but Lou had her usual night hungers, then she was in pain and needed some tramadol – the whisper silent opening of the fridge door prompted a general hound commotion every time!

Ah well, who needs sleep anyway – at least Archie had sensibly decided to lie between me and Richard so he wasn’t disturbed when I had to get up for Lou 🙂


“80 blistering miles” as it says on this rower’s T-shirt – I admired their stamina (as I sipped my latte, munch my bacon sarnie and pushed the throttle)…

Wallingford Bridge – it’s an attractive spot under the blue skies – we’ll always have a ‘special relationship’ with the town having been stuck in floods here in May…

The Thames is so scenic…

The Boat House pub in Wallingford – that terrace was well under water in May – we often have better cruising weather in September!

We took a fancy to this place – Shillingford Court – the half of the house to the right of the photo is for sale at a cool £1.25 million – and it’s under offer!

We saw a few swimmers during the holiday – we think they’re mad – I have to resist the urge to ask them whether they believe that ducks get out of the water in order to go to the toilet!
The white swimming caps do make them more visible – they’d be hard to spot otherwise…

Some of the locks have fierce gate paddles…

This looks like a tree and its roots that have broken off from the bank at some point – must have been quite a storm that took it down…

The river becomes increasingly rural and isolated upstream – so beautiful…

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