Yesterday we left Windsor early and headed off down towards Shepperton where the Thames joins the Wey.
As it was before 9am, the first few locks were unmanned and there was time to take a look around while waiting for them to fill and empty. While being totally different sizes, the locks on this section of the Thames are all incredibly well groomed. I must admit I find this a little dull. The same flower beds at each lock provided by the same garden centre. I think I prefer the wilder CRT locks, even if the grass is a little long on occasion.
Travelling on The Thames is a bit like motorway driving but with better scenery. Everyone seems to be in a bit of a rush and there are more grumpy people in evidence. We managed to meet two lots of them at the same lock. We got shouted at when we tried to join a boat in a lock thinking he’d just gone in. Turns out that he was leaving – oops! Serves him right for having a boat where the front is the same shape as the back. On exiting the same lock there was a cruiser coming upstream to enter the lock. He was positioned right in the middle of the rather narrow (by Thames standards) channel. When we moved to try to pass him on the correct side he moved the same way. We’re not that maneuverable so when we changed direction to avoid him we didn’t leave him a lot of room. He expressed his displeasure and we smiled benignly not wanting to get into a shouting match. This left both Gordon and I feeling more than a little growly! So much so that we decided against making a planned stop at Runnymede. One for the way back to Reading I think.
We did see some more lovely boats along the way.
Our equilibrium was restored when we turned off onto The Wey Navigation. It’s managed by the National Trust and you have to buy a separate licence to navigate it costing a rather hefty £75 for a week.
The very helpful lock keeper divested us of our money, gave us some paperwork, and saw us through the first lock.
Straight away we could feel the difference between the two waterways. While the Thames is all rush, The Wey is incredibly relaxed. Not many boats moving at all and nobody seeming to be in much of a hurry.