Wednesday, 11 August 2010

Cookham Lock

Slowly does it..

Waiting for the gates
Steering ourselves gently into the lock was no problem. Just took things nice and slow. Didn't ram Narrowboat 'Midama', or the gates. The lock keeper pressed a few buttons, and before we knew it, we were four feet three inches lower.

Gates Open. Engine On. And off we go!

Round the bend from the lock was unknown territory to us. There wasn't a footpath we'd been able to explore. But, judging from google maps, it was all pretty wide, and there would be plenty of places to turn ourselves around, should we feel the need to bottle it.

The Cliveden islands were a great dissapointment. From people's descriptions of them, we thought they would be a utopianesque place. But they were muddy strips of land, hardly deserving of the title "Island". They were also packed with boats, smoky barbeques, and anglers. Don't get me wrong, we're not snobs. They were all friendly people. Waving away, and having a good time. Which is great if you like a party atmosphere with your mooring. But it wasn't really a place to sit back and admire the tranquility of nature, and revel in the history of the spot.

Queen Elizabeth the first, is alleged to have hidden in one of the chalk hermit caves while being pursued by Queen Mary. The song 'Rule Brittania' was first sung at the Cliveden ampitheatre in 1870. All we saw was a bankful of overgrown willow trees. We'll definitely be going back to explore some more. But the first visit was sadly underwhelming.

The journey back to Bourne End, was thankfully uneventful. Against a headwind, and a bit of current we were noticably slower, but nothing to be worried about. Sheena didn't ram Cookham bridge, which she's particularly chuffed with.

Found all the moorings taken when we arrived back at the jetty. But we hovered about in mid stream for a few minutes, and then glided ourselves in nicely. Didn't have to deploy the emergency anchor. Nobody fell overboard. And at no stage were we stressed out. So, our first 'there be dragons' round the unknown bend boating experience went really well. And to put the cherry on top of the day, after we tied up, the nice people from 'Heyland Marine Services' came over and gave us some blackberries.

Me trying to look professional
There is the great house of Cliveden on the hillside, and the curving stretch of river below – where all one not-to-be-forgotten night, I lay in a punt listening to the nightingales, and reckoned all about as holy ground, and had no envy of the lords and ladies in the great house above. ~ Stanley Spencer
Cliveden Woods still wore their dainty dress of spring, and rose up, from the water's edge, in one long harmony of blended shades of fairy green.
In it's unbroken loveliness this is, perhaps, the sweetest stretch of all the river,
and lingeringly we slowly drew our little boat away from it's deep peace
~ Jerome K Jerome
Jim Shead's Waterways Maps

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