It was another mile-munching, lock-crunching week aboard TCW, as we took on Central London and emerged unscathed on to the very beautiful and picturesque River Stort, where we are presently moored.
Our journey across Central London, after a comfortable and remarkably quiet night in Paddington Basin, saw us glide through Islington and Regents Park, past the zoo and mosque and pitch up as Battlebridge Basin at King’s Cross. This is a private marina,that occasionally offers visitor moorings. It was a great spot and they all made us very welcome and invited us back. The whole King’s Cross area is undergoing a huge transformation, and the canal running through it has been tidied up considerably. Further on, we were expecting the usual level of craziness around the three Camden Locks, but they were manned by volunteer lockies and they soon had us through.
|Pat relaxes in Paddington Basin|
|Little Venice, approaching the Maida Vale tunnel|
|The new "Gongoozler" terracing at King's Cross|
While in Battlebridge we met up again with Paul 1, as he shall be known. Paul is my best pal John’s brother and a good friend of TCW. He works at Somerset House on the The Strand at The Courtauld Gallery, so last Friday we met him for a look around. This was after I ventured East into Brick Lane to check out the only ukulele shop in London, “the Duke Of Uke”.
|Paul 1 gives Pat a potted history of Somerset House in The Strand|
|Leaving Battlebridge Basin|
Saturday was a long day. With Paul 1 on board, we cruised on, through Islington Tunnel, through East London and on to Limehouse. It was the weekend of two huge cycling events in London and “Boris” bikes were much in evidence on the towpath. It was slow progress and the gates were very heavy so I think we were all pleased to see Limehouse Basin, where you can either get on to the tidal Thames, or do as we did and swing north again up the Limehouse Cut, The Limehouse Basin is certainly an impressive spot and quite a hidden gem, about a 10-minute walk from Canary Wharf, where we went for a Waitrose/Wetherspoons fix and moored there for the night.
|"Boris" bikes and graffiti. Two common sites in East London at the weekend|
|Limehouse Basin. One of London's hidden gems|
(The Docklands Light Railway is running over the bridge on the right of the shot)
|In case we needed reminding|
It was all change on Sunday morning. Paul 1 had left and Paul 2 (Thompson) and his wife Sharon joined us. Our intention was to cruise up to the Olympic park and spend some time there – maybe overnight if possible.
The media had announced the previous week that the park would be opening to the public so we thought it would be fun to explore the site by boat. The reality is that you are confronted with a view of the main Olympic Stadium through a 12-foot high wire fence, razor-tipped, running down the length of the site, with no access. The waterways that encircle the site are navigable (or so we were told by a local boater) but the entrances were blocked by booms and “No Entry” boards. Evidently the whole site, including the water, is still under the control of the Legacy company. Overall, it was all a bit disappointing.
|A desirable Tudor "Des Res", close to Victoria Park in Hackney|
|No entry into the Olympic Park. You can just see the main stadium in the background|
Still, never mind, the weather looked OK for most of Sunday, so we pushed on, chugging through Clapton, Edmonton and Tottenham, before arriving at Enfield Lock, where we moored for the night.
It was another marathon day on Monday. The forecast was for rain in the afternoon, and by the time it started to hammer down, we were beyond Broxbourne and almost on the Stort.
|Paul 2 (Thompson) passes the house he grew up in, near Enfield|
|The very tranquil River Stort. That's Pat scouting ahead|
Since then it has been glorious, though a bit wet and cloudy this morning. The Stort is a real gem: quiet and very windy. There seems plenty of water in it and there are more mooring opportunities than we expected. Paul 2 and Sharon left us at Roydon on Monday evening, having down 25 miles and 26 locks in two days, and since then we have gone up through Harlow, Sawbridgeworth to Bishop’s Stortford, before winding and returning to Sawbridgeworth, where Paul 2 lives and where had a “spiffing” meal with them both last night.
Tomorrow we set off again, and hopefully, weather permitting, should be in Hertford on Sunday or Monday.