THE HENLEY WHALERS - Annual Thames Long Row 2014
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Molly at Bell Weir

Saturday 18th and Sunday 19th October

2014 - Henley on Thames via Royal Windsor to Walton on Thames

Awating further contributions.

Molly Moored at Henley
Molly at Henley on Thames
The planned 09:30 start was achieved (a record?) and Molly headed downstream, bunting fluttering, toward Hambleden Lock.
Aston, often the limit of Molly’s downstream trips, was soon passed so for several of the crew (9 oars and helm) this was new territory. They enjoyed the green and rural scene; agricultural, moderately wooded and gently hilly, winding down past Medmenham (associated with the Hellfire club) to Hurley Lock.
Temple and Marlow Locks followed in quick succession.
Soon “the committee” was calling for lunch. Bourne End, just ahead, has nothing to offer close to the river. “The Bounty” at Cock Marsh was thought to be closed for the winter (phone calls had elicited only an answering machine). Just when it looked as if Cookham (half hour further) would be the first option, observant crew noticed people in the garden of “The Bounty”, and lights on inside. No vote required. “Starboard side hold water” came the call, and in two shakes of a fender Molly was secure alongside.
Lunch Break - The landlord’s greeting “Are you the Henley Whalers?” was a surprise. Had he very astutely read the shirt logos? “I phoned your home a few minutes ago. The lady said you’d be coming”. Ah; the benefits of good ground-crew!
A good range of drinks and food was enjoyed. That break must have been much needed; it lasted nearly an hour and a half.
Marlow Bridge
Marlow Bridge
After Lunch
After lunch
Cookham Lock Cut
Cookham Lock Cut
Cookham Lock
Cookham Lock

At last, the pressure of many miles ahead motivated Molly onward, but not before the “After Lunch” photo-call had been executed by a press-ganged bystander.
The rural scene resumed in Cookham Lock cut and escalated in Cliveden reach – Burnham Beeches is (are?) only a couple of miles east at this point. Suddenly one is aware of Maidenhead – houses and road traffic shatter the tranquillity. Great excitement at seeing Brunel’s famous railway bridge; the experience enhanced by two trains passing.
Maidenhead and Bray fall behind, then M4 traffic noisily intrudes till at last Dorney reach is reached. Unseen, the Olympic rowing lake lies just a few hundred yards to the north. No cheering throngs today, just the steady, hypnotic sound of Molly’s oars mingling with the birdsong.

Rest Break at Boveney Lock
Rest Break at Boveney
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Windsor Bridge
Windsor Bridge

Shortly after Boveney Lock, Windsor Race course is visible to starboard, but still no sight of the castle.
A “sharp” Z bend leads to the Windsor by-pass (A332) bridge, and at last, after the railway viaduct, that famous structure, the oldest and largest occupied castle in the world, comes into view.
A flurry of passenger boats, seemingly oblivious of a mere whaler, requires evasive action during the approach to Windsor bridge.
Tranquillity again in the final few strokes of the day.
A safe (pre-arranged) night mooring is found in a narrow cut just upstream of Romney Lock and Molly is undressed and put to bed.

Statistcs. Saturday - 20.8m, 7hrs 47min (09:32 – 17:19), Av 2.7mph inc lunch (12:18 - 13:46), Max 6.3mph. Av ht 80 ft

The advanced party prepare Molly whilst others conduct the car-shuffling manoeuvre, position trailer and transport for the evening.
Cast-off - 10:30. On schedule for the second consecutive day.
The Home Park, and Datchet Reach grant fine panoramas of the castle, then a long straight cut, with a sharp bend at the end, leads to Old Windsor Lock. Nobody on duty, and some lack of alacrity amongst other boat crews, two of which are barges being operated single-handed!
A mile downriver, friends who had survived being marooned by last winter’s floods, are waiting for Molly. They come out by canoe to take pictures, and kindly invite crew to rest at their riverside home.
A tea-and-cake break is enjoyed whilst the high water mark is noted, and the wintertime dilemmas of flooded “waste water” systems are explained.

Old Windsor Lock
Old Windsor Lock
Space for contributions
Waiting at Bell Weir Lock
Waiting at Bell Weir
Entering Bell Weir Lock
Entering Bell Weir Lock

Onward – Walton is still way downriver – and lunch must be found.
Bell Weir Lock – Unmanned; is this setting a pattern for the day? – And the single-handed barges. Seems to take forever.
The outskirts of Egham lie to Starboard. Staines bridge is ahead. Then Staines is to port.
Lunch - “The Swan” (on starboard) gets the vote, and lunch lasts almost as long as yesterday’s!

Entering Bell Weir Lock 2
Entering Bell Weir Lock 2
Entering Bell Weir Lock 3
Entering Bell Weir Lock 3

Entering Bell Weir Lock 4
Entering Bell Weir Lock 4

In Bell Weir Lock
In Bell Weir Lock

"To oars!" – Leafy suburbs are now visible on one side or the other, sometimes both, as Molly passes down via Penton Hook and Chertsey Locks – both unmanned.
Cows (not Cowes) wading alongside the bank at Chertsey meadows, pause to peer at Molly.
Shepperton Lock (unmanned) is the last of the day! The lock keeper departed as Molly arrived saying he had to go to Chertsey Lock. Avoidance tactic? Molly crew wait for, then help a disabled large motor cruiser – Maybe a case of “Eight oars good – two engines bad” – (Sorry, Orwell fans.)
The River Wey enters the Thames just below Shepperton Lock, adding significantly to the flow.
Ahead, the Desborough Cut, built to reduce flooding at the Shepperton bends, leads straight ahead and is selected as Molly’s quickest route “home”.
Emerging from the cut, and rounding a gentle bend to port, Walton-upon-Thames bridge appears ahead. Not quite the same grandeur and prestige of yesterday’s destination, but none-the-less welcome.
A slick change of helm, a sharp turn to port, “handles-over-heads” and Molly glides to a halt in the slipway at Walton Bridge Marine.
Arrival time 17:30. Beat the sunset by half an hour!

Statistcs. Sunday. Morning, 7.3m, 3hrs 9mins (10:28 – 13:37), Av 2.3mph inc cake-break, Max 6.0mph. Av ht 51 ft.
Lunch 13:37 - 14:59
After lunch - 7.1m, 2hrs 33mins (14:59 – 17:32), Av 2.8mh, Max 6.0mph. Av ht 23 ft

The morning cake-break, the long-ish lunch, and particularly five out of six locks being unmanned, had stretched the schedule by just one hour. – Not bad.

Space for contributions
Space for contributions
Click pictures for higher resolution
Walton Bridge (new)
Walton-On-Thames Bridge

Molly has now rowed from St. Johns Lock (Lechlade, the furthest upstream lock on the Thames) to within sight of the Woolwich Barrier.
Not quite source to sea, but near enough to satisfy all but the most extreme pedant.

Future Long Rows? - How about:-
1) River Wey. Godalming to Thames, then via Shepperton to Walton?
2) Thames, Woolwich to the sea - eg Southend, Sheerness or Rochester (Medway). Even add on Rochester to Tunbridge.

"...The long row was a great success ..." RB.
"...The weather was far better than advertised too - good result." BLV
"...It was very enjoyable and relaxed." ST.
"...And wasn’t it a dream in the sunshine../.!" IZM.
"Really enjoyed my first long row – even though I did only half of it! So a big thanks [RP & PW] and Molly - and [ST], for taking charge of the rope in the bow. It was a splendid day out, the weather was kind to us . .how better to spend a mid-October Saturday. Thanks again" CH.
"Great day Sunday, good rowing, an interesting stop in Wraysbury and what a good place to take the boat out, even a loo." L&TS

Other Long Rows 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010. 2009

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