Yes, we have made it onto the Wey Navigations, and its certainly the furthest south we have ever boated.
Coxs Mill Wey Navigations
Friday morning saw us awoken by shouting from a passing boat, followed by a rapping on the roof. I emerged resplendent in my PJ's (it was 8.30am) to see a narrowboat hovering in mid stream asking if we were open? They were existing customers who had been following the blog and were hoping to catch us. They restocked on jams and suitably enthused the rapper, who came from the boat in front of us bought another three jars! When I say rapper I don't mean a hoodie wearing member of the gold tooth "down wiv the kids" brigade - you know where I am coming from...
This way to the Wey
With the till troubled we set off through Shepperton Lock and then hung a hard right into the Wey Navigations. You are faced with three options and the correct choice it the least promising - basically a small gap in the trees with a faded national Trust sign. They say that the path to heaven is the narrow one.
We arrived at the wrong time really. The lock keeper of Thames Lock has his lunch from 12.30 till 2.00pm, so we hooked onto the landing jetty and settled down for a wait. Thames Lock is an oddity and kind of sets the scene for the whole navigation. The Wey navigation is arguably the oldest navigation in the country, authorised in 1651 and is now owned by the National Trust, so things are done a bit differently. When built Thames Lock discharged onto the tidal river but, with the building of Shepperton Lock, the water over the bottom cill fell to less than 2ft. So rather than build a new lock an extra gate was built a water gate ashort way downstream and this is used to raise a short pound by 2 ft, which allows deeper drafted craft to enter.
Because the Wey is NT owned there is another fee to be paid, and for anything over 40ft its £80 for a week. Once a gain the butty proved a challenge and it was decided to class it as an unpowered craft (which includes canoes) and that added a further £12 to the bill. As NT members we has a 10% reduction but we still ended up paying over £80, in addition to the £120 we paid for the Thames for a month. Hey ho, its the Wey Navigations we really wanted to see so we raided the WildSide purse and pain the man his due.
We spent the next three hours plodding up the first five miles with the butty breasted up, but we only saw one boat moving. The breasted up approach is great for control but the navigation is both narrow and surprisingly fast flowing which almost brought us to a standstill in the bridges.
Woodham Junction - Basingstoke Canal
A few miles upstream we came to Woodham Junction where the Basingstoke Canal leaves on its journey west. We would love to have explored it but we just don't have the time, so it remains a reason to return!
In the end we crawled onto the moorings beside the Anchor Pub at Pryeford and wilted in the heat.
MSC steam tug
Saturday saw us rejoin the plod up the Wey navigation, this time with the butty in line astern which helped a lot with the speed. Just as well because the flow through Walsham Flood Gates would probably have defeated is in the previous configuration.
If yesterday was hot today approached unbearable. The sun shone relentlessly and the thermometer hovered near 30C. It really wasn't weather to be boating, but we moved upstream another seven miles to just above Bowers Lock where there was a bit of road noise, but was in deep shade.
A trip to Saunsburys was deemed necessary so we followed Helen's Google maps instructions for a mile only to discover it has misdirected us and the supermarket was a mile away - in the other direction. So we dragged ourselves into the store, made our purchases and slumped under an air con unit and ate Magnums till we had cooled a bit.
Tomorrow is forecast even hotter so I doubt we will get much past Guildford.