Wednesday, July 02, 2008

day 4 - first impressions of the Wey -good for pandas

Entering the Wey is a bit unusual. To get into the first lock they have to raise the short pound beneath it if the Thames is low, otherwise you’d be grounded on the way in. Anyway, that’s what they did and we were soon in and paid our licence and we were lent the unusually long handled Wey windlass. We thought this might mean the lock gears were heavy to use, but that proved not to be the case, although most of the locks so far only had gate paddles and the currents in them were pretty fierce.

You can’t hurry down the Wey even if you wanted to. There just isn’t enough depth or width to cope with the water the boat displaces so you proceed at about two miles an hour for much of the time. Not that that is a bad thing, because the surroundings are lush and pretty. I was quite surprised to find that most boats there (and there are quite a lot) were narrowboats. I had expected more plastic cruisers.

Rules are and customs are different here. You have to switch off engines in locks and leave gates open when you leave. People don’t seem to throw ropes, they use boat hooks to grab them off the boat to tie up in the lock.

There are some superb water side properties. This is Surrey after all. I particularly liked this old mill converted into (expensive) apartments. Another interesting feature was the occasional pair of flood gates with which they shut the navigation if the river is too high.

The feel of the navigation changes all the time. At one time it felt like the middle levels, another time like the broads, and then like the Nene. I don’t know if giant pandas have ever visited Send, but they should because for quite a distance the river bank is thick with huge clumps of bamboo.

We were planning to stop at the Anchor at Pyrford, and we did for lunch, but then chose to press on to Send so that we could reach Godalming tomorrow night. The Anchor is one of those pubs that has become a good eatery but is not really a pub any more. All very nice but not a place to sit and natter to the locals.

The New Inn at Send where we moored for the night was a different matter. They do serve a lot of food, but the staff were very chatty and we had a very sociable evening talking to them and another boating couple we had shared locks with all day. The moorings by the pub were nice too.

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