Friday, 30 May 2008

The end before the end...

Between midday Sat 24th and 4pm Wed 28th the three of us covered 50 miles. EVERY single person that we met said that we were mad to be rowing against the flow - especially considering the current river conditions.

On the Wednesday we'd been up at 7.30am and managed to cover our planned 10 miles ahead of schedule. Our intention was to carry on rowing for a couple more hours and cover the 4 miles to Goring where we'd have approximately 29 miles left to Oxford and 3 days to do it in. Luck was not on our side however and as we went through Whitchurch Lock at Pangbourne the lock keeper changed his lock from a Yellow Warning to a Red Warning. Although the Environment Agency / Lock Keepers cannot legally stop you from using the locks in these conditions the advise is to stay off the river.

We'd managed to make it through three days of Yellow warnings which were extremely hard work but achievable. The three of us were adamant that we could make it but we knew that we had to call the owner of the boat to advise him of the strong stream conditions and get his blessing to take his pride and joy through these locks. Unfortunately, Tom was not happy for us to continue with it on red warnings so the decision was no longer in our hands. Two hours later and we were unloading Rosalind and and arranging our lift home.

It was an emotionally end to a truly tough 5 days. Although we didn't make it to Oxford we experienced physical and mental highs and lows and a lot of lessons were learnt none of which the three of us would have missed for the world. Perhaps Pangbourne is the best place to finish - afterall, it was here that Jerome K Jerome and his crew decided to throw in the towel on his famous trip.

Don't be fooled by the weather now. The Thames is very slow to react and is still rising and swelling from the heavy rain we had earlier in the week.

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For those of you that have a good knowledge of the river this is what the EA Floodline Recorded Information line is saying now;

"Red warning board notifying strong stream conditions at all locks between Clifton and Whitchurch (We'd need to navigate 6 of these locks) and Sonning and Marlow locks inclusive. Also red at Old Windsor and Chertsey Locks. All river users are advised from navigating the river in all vessels. Yellow waring boards are displayed at all other locks from Saint Johns to Teddington."

James, Doyle and Swaff


Paul A said...

Just read blog and viewed all the pics and video shots. Well done ! An excellent mini-adventure. I'm interested in the same trip but I will be goi with the stream, ha ha.

Paul A.

James said...

Cheers Paul,
I can well advise that you do it the other way. Are you a seasoned oursman or mere mortals like us? Take some good gloves, decent waterproofs and apply surgical spirits to toughen up your hands.
Good luck with your adventure.
James, Doyle, Swaff