Heading Towards the Thames – 22nd July 2019

We started our day by getting the boat filled up with groceries and commencing a few loads of washing.


We only had a short distance to go and seven locks to negotiate and all was going well until we scare upon this obstruction. There were four Canal and River Trust workers beavering away trying to cut this tree up and get it out of the canal.


We initially thought it was just a tree trimming exercise but we discovered as we got closer that the tree how fallen over. We had some strong winds last night so maybe this was a precipitating factor to its demise. We were only held up for five minutes which we very much appreciated.

Initially when we set off this morning it was quite cool and overcast which means Toque could be put up on the hatch cover so she can see more and be involved as we travelled along. It wasn’t long though before the sun was out and it heated up big time. The weather prediction for this week is for an extreme heatwave so our plan to cope with this is to cruise early in the morning.

As we have mentioned before, we do find more than the odd Brit a bit on the eccentric side but when you are on the canals you are exposed to a deeper level of oddity. Often, live aboard boaters have some land next to their moored up vessel and it seems that they find the need to decorate these areas with bizarre paraphernalia. This is meant to be a scarecrow of sorts but not sure what they were trying to scare away.


It was then onto a unique piece of the canal where you have a canal going over a rail line and then a road going over the top of the canal.

It is difficult to capture what it actually looks like as unfortunately we do not have a drone with us. This sequence does happen on another spot on the canals in the north that we have been on.


Whilst going down through the locks we came along the closed Ealing Insane Asylum which was initially opened in 1829. It mostly housed pauper lunatics but was revolutionary in that it was felt that work for the patients would help with their mental health. The asylum was totally self sufficient in all its food and services.


There was a portal from the canal directly into the asylum which has since been bricked up. This is where coal was delivered. From our investigations it was eventually closed down as an asylum in the 1970’s but the NHS still use some of the premises for other activities.

Whilst travelling through the locks today we thought some of you might be interested in a little more detail of what is involved when going down a lock. We find it easier going down a lock as it is calmer but in return for not having the water thundering in you have the fill to be very wary of the cill.

At the bottom of the six locks in a row was this gorgeous pub called The Fox. It was very tempting to go in and have some lunch but having just filled up the boat with fresh food, we did feel it unjustified to imbibe.


We have now completed 98 of the 100 locks of the Grand Union Canal from Braunston down to Brentford where we moored up for the night. The two locks that are left for us to do tomorrow are very easy as the first one is electric whilst the last one that goes down onto the Thames is manned.

Once we moored up we went for a walk down to Lock 100 which will take us onto the Thames tomorrow. The River was at high tide and very calm which we are hoping will be the same for us tomorrow when we go out at 8.00am. Directly across from the lock on the other side of the River is Kew Gardens but there wasn’t any vista that we could take a photo of as the river bank is lined with trees. So tomorrow our next adventure starts when we head onto the tidal Thames. The boat has been set up with the anchor readily available, old bow and stern ropes which we must have for the locks and our life vests. We use old ropes as the huge locks are very slimy and we have to secure the boat front and back whilst in the lock. All a little daunting for us but hopefully we will survive to post yet another blog.


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