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  • Writer's picturepeterlangworthy

The road to Henley 22

A little slow on updating this summer's events I'm afraid but we made it to Henly again this year - just!!

This year Henley fell in it's normal late mid-July slot which meant school term time and complexity as we take our home away!

While I swanned up-river with my brother Andrew and good friend Stu, Emma and the girls had to spend Thursday night in a hotel before driving to Henley after school finished on Friday.

On the river though we had a plan, a mantra even! "Bray in a Day". That's 9 locks, 29 miles and around 5 hours of travel. Leaving Kingston Thursday morning after we'd packed the girls off to school we enjoyed the very best of weather!!

Here's us leaving Kingston and heading to our first lock at Molesey

Then a few hours later here's us coming past the Runneymede pleasure gardens.

All pretty uneventful although glorious!! We'd booked to moor at Bray Marina, on the outside quay. However when we arrived at around 16.00 full of excitement at having achieved our goal we soon realised that we weren't going to be able to get to the quay. Like Oakleigh Court the year before Annanetta just had too much draft!

Eventually we were able to secure a slot in the marina itself using the mooring that belongs to a Dunkirk Little ship Janthea who had already set off to the Henley Festival. Once settled a shower and a couple of drinks in the evening sun on the back deck were followed by a really great meal at the marina restaurant! Bray Restaurant - Mediterranevm thoroughly recommended!

On Friday Am we were away by about 9.00 as planned and although the weather was again glorious it would turn out to be a slightly less smooth day.

Our first lock was Bray Lock. The river was quiet and the lock gate open so we headed straight in. The river however had other plans as the silt across the lock entrance brought us to a slow halt. I wasn't too concerned as we'd experienced this at Boulters Lock last year. The secret is to give it some throttle and invariably you can push through. So that's what we did. However this time the silt was both stubborn and directive as it pushed us to the Port side and eventually into the lock wall, damaging the pulpit rail quite badly, although not too noticeably on casual inspection. Through some determination and persistence, we eventually nudged in.

Our Thursday's plain sailing had belied the fact that due to a lovely warm summer the Thames was at one of its lowest levels and Annanetta wasn't any less drafty! Would we get to Henley at all!!?

Our next lock was Boulter's Lock - only 26 mins and 2 miles away. Last year Boulter's had caused us some troubles with again silting up at the Lock gate entrance. We were feeling quite anxious. As it happened though we sailed straight in with no drama!

From Boulter's Lock we motored up what I believe is one of the most gorgeous reaches on the Thames as you glide past the Cliveden estate and then into Cookham Lock. Waiting at Cookham we picked up a tail. Phil Onslow had given Emma and I the 2 days RYA river course last year and now he was also heading to Henley. A little extra stress from having the teacher behind us didn't present any issues through the lock although we did go dead slow under the very low footbridge in the lock cut immediately afterwards!

Next Marlow! We slid onto the pontoons below the lock with Phil behind. However when we came to move off and into the lock we realised that there was a slit bank in our way and the quickest route was not going to work. With Phil and a number of other boats behind it was nerve wracking to be shuffling back and forth. Not least because no one could understand why we were phaffing about! But phaff we did and it eventually paid off and in we went - phew!

Through Marlow and a peak at Chris Evan's house.

Then through the gorgeous Temple lock

We then had some troubles at Hambleden Lock, the last one before Henley - but by now nothing was going to stop us and we weren't even perturbed by the failure of the gates and the long wait to get in or out!

Once out we were there, the majestic curve down to Temple Island and then the home straight into Henley! We'd made it! We'd arrived at Henley 22

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