Saturday, 29 August 2015

The end of the London Canals for us

Wednesday 26th August 2015
Kensal Green to The Canal Museum, Battlebridge Basin
5 miles, 4 locks

What can one say about today?  Wet does not really cover it - full waterproofs were the order of the day.  We moved down to the 4 hour moorings outside Sainsburys and made the most of being able to take the trolleys to the boats and had a good stock up.  We did notice that one boat on these 4 hour moorings that was there at lunch time yesterday was still there nearly 24 hours later!!

We slipped out of Kensal Green at midday for what should have been a three hour run that took us nearer four due to very inclement weather and delays at the three locks in Camden.

A mooring I really would not want - under the A40!

Just after we saw this rubbish floating on the endless duck weed, (or should that be pennywort?)

When we came upon this mural made from rubbish by Stowe Youth Club and artist Kevin Herlihy. A much better use for rubbish than round a boat propeller.

We diverted down to Paddington Basin, just to have a look.  The wind was terrible so winding (turning round) was a real struggle.  They are aerating the water in the basin, so it is weed free.  Had we wanted to stop we would have been out of luck as it was full.

A very short tunnel at Maida Vale today.

This is the towpath near London Zoo - it is usually full of bicycles, but was deserted today.  Far too wet.

Sorry about the rain drops on the lens - unavoidable I am afraid.  We did see a couple of people in the zoo, but I doubt if they saw much as I think all the animals were, quite sensibly, inside keeping dry.  We did see a few birds in the Snowdon aviary, but even that seemed to be very quiet.

The last time I came here was when Boatwif and I arrived at the Zoo by waterbus with two of our granddaughters.

It was still pouring when we arrived at Camden, so we naively thought it might be quiet - wrong!

The first lock is actually two double locks, so in theory four boats could go down together - today there was just the two of us in one lock and one narrowboat in the other.  Just look at all the gongoozlers!  Not put off by the rain.

The other narrowboat emerged just before us and as we were exiting, what comes towards us -  a widebeam! We held off whilst the other narrowboat shuffled round.

We did not have the time or inclination to stop in the market.  Apart from the weather it is, sadly not a safe place to stop.

These gongoozlers were certainly not put off by torrential rain!

The crew of the boat ahead of us were very inexperienced.  The boat belongs to a young lady who has had it for a few months, but today was the first time she had been out in it.  What a day to choose!  A real baptism of fire - torrential rain and Camden Locks!  She did very well.  It all took a while and whilst we were waiting for the second lock Boatwif and Chris had to hug the sides to let this trip boat manoeuvre round them.

These offices overlook the locks - would you ever get any work done if you worked there?  I don't think I would!

This says it all about the weather and every bit of kit was essential!

One day this will be Canalside apartments within 123 cast iron columns.  I would love to come back when they are done.

What was this we wondered?

We had booked to stay at the Canal Museum for the night - we were moored just before 4pm, breasted up on nb Cleddau and what happened?  The rain stopped and the sun came out!!

Our bonus for the day was the arrival of Ron and Cathy - the friends who had to cancel due to ill health when we were in Windsor.  They arrived at almost the exact time we arrived wet and dripping everywhere. They waited patiently whilst we dis-robed and hung all the wet stuff up, plus clearing away the chaos in what is usually a fairly tidy saloon!  Thankfully they are the sort of friends who just go with the flow and wait until we were sorted.  We then enjoyed a social few hours that included supper. It was good to see you both - thank you for coming out in such dreadful weather.

As Monty went out last thing there were still people hard at work in these offices - a city that never sleeps?  I am so glad we have left that life behind.

And finally - that boat moored under the A40 will be of interest to one of our friends!

Thursday 27th August 2015
Battlebridge Basin to Limehouse
5.25 miles, 9 locks

Thankfully we stayed dry today - a great relief after yesterday as the clothes were still drying out. However the day did not get off to a good start.  Just after we turned out of Battlebridge Basin we had to go through Islington tunnel - no big deal as it is not that long (960 yards) and is dead straight. The instructions as you enter inform you not to enter if there is a boat coming towards you. Cleddau was in the lead and in she went as the way looked clear and we followed.  About half way through we heard shouts from Cleddau and could see a vague shape ahead.  What on earth was going on?  Cleddau pulled right over and stopped, so we followed suit.  Along came a narrowboat with no lights!  The lady boater was waving a tiny and dim mobile phone torch!  She was very lucky she did not meet a wide beam. When Chris enlightened her on the rules of tunnel use (ie you need a headlight) - the answer was 'I am getting it fixed'!  Believe that and you will believe anything!

We emerged unscathed

This is (to me) a rather alarming looking canoe launch!

Now how on earth did they get graffiti up there?

An alternative life style and at full volume!  Grumpy old folks alert - why do people think the whole world wants to listen to their music whilst they boat, walk or drive a car?

Our first volunteer lock keeper for ages!  A welcome sight indeed.

I do love this lovely horse outside a park.

Most of the locks we did today had steps down to allow the lock worker on the non tow path side an easy way to get back on board after shutting the bottom gates.  These were at the last lock and are in great condition and very easy to use

Sadly they were not all so good - the top step on this flight had a two foot drop - too much for me unless I sat on my bottom!  I chose to walk across the gate and get picked up on the towpath side.  I actually think they are quite dangerous and should be boarded off - if you just went to go down expecting a normal step drop you could end up going down head first.

 The last lock of the day into Limehouse Basin which is near to Canary Wharf.

Cleddau makes the turn

We really were not sure what to expect, but for me it was nothing as grand as this with two easy moorings.  We had been warned that we might be moored four deep!  Mooring is free for one night and £25 a night thereafter.  It sounds a lot, but where else could you stay in Central London without paying fortune?

Views from the side hatch. I wonder how much one of the penthouse apartments cost?

Once we were safely moored we went exploring - first to see what the lock and the big tidal Thames looked like.  As luck would have it the lock was opening for a small narrow boat

The gates are seriously big!

Apparently this boat is a regular and the skipper very experienced, but I have to say I would not fancy the tidal Thames with no cratch cover and I certainly would not want to be sitting in the bow!

Out he went turning left and then crossing the river to the other side.  We did not find out where he was going, but apparently it was not too far.

This was the first obstacle he met - a barge towing rubbish containers - it was huge and we hoped we would not meet one when it was our turn.

Next came the ribs - full of passengers and twisting and turning all over the place.  The advice from the lock keepers was to keep going if they try to 'bully' us as, apparently, they are liable to do.  At the end of the day they know we are steel and will win!

On our journey down Narrow Street (well being on a narrow boat it is one that demands to be explored) we came across this pub - The Grapes.  A pub with an interesting past and present.  Charles Dickens is a past patron and The Grapes appears, scarcely disguised, in the opening chapter of 'Our Mutual Friend'; "A tavern of dropiscal appearance... long settled down into a state of hale infirmity.  It had outlasted many a sprucer public house, indeed the whole house impended over the water but seemed to have got into the condition of a faint-hearted diver, who has paused so long on the brink that he will never got in at all".  If you want to know more look HERE.

Today it is part owned by Sir Ian McKellan and Evgeny Lebedv (who I had never heard of until I googled him just now!).  The menu looks good and the bar menu is well priced for London.  I wish we had gone in, so we will have to come back again and eat here one day.  

I did not expect to find allotments in Central London

One of our tasks whilst out was to buy a Times for us and a Telegraph for the Cleddau crew.  The Times we found in a local store on Narrow Street, but they did not have a Telegraph.  Our walk took us to Limehouse Station where we found the quaintest newsagent we have ever seen.  
I guess this is the window used at night, so quite secure
 The other side is open in the day and from here you can see that the entire shop is tucked under a railway arch.
 Did they have a Telegraph - yes, just one, but that was all we wanted!

Very close to Limehouse is this restaurateur - The Narrows which is part of the Jamie Oliver group. We did google the menu, but did not fancy the food or the prices!  To be fair for central London they could have been worse.

They certainly seemed to have some happy customers enjoying a game of giant Jenga.

Then it was back to the boat to try and get some sleep before tomorrow and our 'big adventure'.


  1. We used to own Camden Road Service Station and Chalk Farm Service Station. Camden lock and market was always overflowing with tourists whatever the weather, even if it was snowing it was packed.
    Glad you enjoyed it.

  2. How lovely to hear from you all - I hope you are all well? We have visited Camden several times on land, but this was our first time by narrow boat - I would like to do it again one day in the dry!!