Brentford to Uxbridge
On Friday morning we awoke to grey skies again, warm enough but dull and rain didn’t seem too far away. Our next destination was going to be somewhere near Uxbridge with a bit of luck so we got going at eight and reversed back to the service area where we filled the water tank before setting off on the beginning of our journey north. We knew that we would need to pass through at least ten locks and that would include the seven of the Hanwell flight. The flight is manned by volunteers and we had been given their phone number when we had reached Brentford on Sunday. The lock nearest to Brentford was no problem but the next, Osterley lock was terrible. Compounding the heavily silted waterway which was thick with litter, the lock chamber was full of all sorts of crap including a car wheel with tyre, three leather footballs and countless plastic bottles. Both gates had to be opened by Sue to allow Caxton to enter because both were blocked by the detritus behind them. Once we had risen to the upper level, we had to swap places because the top gates were almost impossible to shift. Eventually we escaped the clutches of this horrible lock and Sue made the call to the volunteer lock keepers to ask them for assistance through the Hanwell locks. We could see someone with the tell-tale trademark blue sweatshirt and red life jacket of a CaRT lock keeper as we approached the bottom of the flight. There are three lockies here and they have been volunteering for the last six years, we were very grateful for their help through this series of closely spaced deep locks. We were the only boat working through the locks but with our helpers it was a straightforward ascent. Eventually we left Norwood Top lock and started on the long pound between there and Cowley lock. The waterway below the Hanwell flight had been shallow and silted up as well as being troubled with a lot of litter. The canal above the flight was deeper and clearer but much of it covered in a carpet of green weed. Apparently this weed is causing trouble all over the London area, however we weren’t inconvenienced by it as we made our journey.
Since we embarked on this trip at the beginning of May we haven’t been travelling every day and when we have moved, we haven’t travelled for more than a couple of hours or so. Today was always going to be different because we had no intention of mooring anywhere south of the junction with the Slough arm of the canal. Admittedly we haven’t been this way before and we had made our decision based on hearsay, something that we usually try to avoid. There are many tales of boaters having trouble in certain locations which are very often just a case of the same story being repeated over and over. The story changing slightly with each iteration, giving the impression that the area concerned is really problematic. We decided that we would rather commit to a five and a half hour trip and take no risk of mooring in an undesirable spot. As we made our journey we saw nothing that suggested that we were being over cautious; the whole stretch, including the Bull’s bridge area, seemed a bit grim and uninviting.
At half past two we reached the moorings opposite Packet Boat marina which looked to be just the sort of area that we were looking for so we pulled up and hammered the pins in and then had a well needed late lunch.