Down the tidal Thames and into London

Last Thursday we donned our life jackets and left Teddington at sparrows fart heading down the Thames on the ebbing tide. We were aiming for Brentford and then up the Grand Union to meet my daughter Ellie at Bull’s Bridge. It’s been a long held ambition of hers to go through London on a boat and this was the perfect opportunity to make her dream come true.


Cap’n Gordon wearing his serious hat and life jacket for the trip down the Thames


Narrowboat convoy heading towards Richmond


Through Richmond Bridge


On a normal high tide the river nearly reaches the buildings at Richmond – I dread to think what it’d be like in flood conditions

The trip from Teddington to Brentford only takes around an hour so we were through Thames Lock and on The Grand Union before 8am.



Bottom end of the Grand Union at Brentford

We reckoned the trip up to Bull’s Bridge would be pretty straightforward. Four boats heading up so the locks would be shared and we would get there and be moored up in time for Ellie arriving on the 12.45 train. We were wrong! We stopped for water at Brentford Services and were overtaken by another boat who proceeded to take our place as the fourth boat, leaving us to slog up the flight on our own with every lock being set against us. Just the luck of the draw I guess although it did make me growl for a while.

Half way up you come across this rather forbidding wall. I was wondering if it was a prison but according to a helpful sign it used to be an Asylum, although it is now occupied by Ealing Hospital. The bricked up arch is the last indication of the arm the boatmen used to deliver supplies. I was fascinated by the rectangular blocked up holes in the wall. Yet another helpful sign informed me that  firemen can punch out the wooden boards and access canal water in the event of a large hospital fire.

EalingAsylumJust past this, while working our way through ‘Asylum’ Lock, we came across this little coot. He was unable to stop himself being sucked towards the filling lock. Gordon came to the rescue, fished him out before disaster struck and returned him to his distressed parents. He didn’t look too well but lets hope he made a full recovery.


BackWithTheFamilyEllie duly arrived at Paddington Station on time at 12.45. We were hoping to have been moored up by then but were still a a good hour off. We didn’t want to tell her to meet us at Bull’s Bridge just in case we weren’t able to get a mooring there so she had to settle herself down in the station to wait for further instructions. An hour and a  half later we got there and managed to squeeze into a mooring. A very hot and bothered daughter was  eventually able to make her way to the boat ready for the next day’s adventure.


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2 Responses to Down the tidal Thames and into London

  1. Sue Ellery says:

    Gord looking very groovy there in his shades. When do I get a go in the boat then, eh? Must be my turn soon…

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