Monday, 29 April 2013

I am, as usual, in trouble.

Only moved about a mile today, Dapdune Wharf is only a twenty four hour mooring so we are now moored by the water meadows just out of town.

There are some very strange boaters around here, this chap stands on the old town wharf, poised permanently in the act of throwing a line to a barge that never arrives.
When we got to the meadows the sun was shining, the birds were singing and we got out the canvas chairs and enjoyed a bit of warmth.
My name has been mud for the last week, the Snooker World Championship has been on the telly, we only have satellite tv and the Wey is lined with trees so my dear lady has only had intermittent glimpses of her favourite sport. It is of course my fault for not considering this when I planned the trip. But here we have a signal so we may stay for a day or two.
Did I say planned the trip? Nothing is ever planned on Armadillo, a rough outline is suggested and then things just happen, occasionally the same things as suggested.

Watch this space.............

Sunday, 28 April 2013


Frosty, misty morning at Send.
Once you leave here and get through Worsfold Gates,

which are another set of flood gates, the river really starts to meander,

in places the bends are so tight that rollers were required to enable the horse drawn barges to negotiate them.

Remains of a Wey barge? Anyone fancy a challenging restoration project?

We stopped for the day at Dapdune Wharf, there was just space for us. It was the main centre for the building of the Wey barges. Reliance, the last barge built here, in 1932, has been restored and is now on permanent display on the old graving dock.

 The wharf buildings have a variety of displays telling the story of the navigation.

This is the old boat building shed, not exactly Harland and Wolff.
We walked up into Guildford, all the usual shopping centres with the same chain stores.

To be fair there are still some fine buildings in the town, the Guild Hall with its projecting clock is prominent on the High Street as are

the alms houses known as Abbot's Hospital, founded in 1619 by George Abbot, Archbishop of Canterbury.
They stand next door to

The Three Pigeons, now a really upmarket gastro pub. I remember it in the 1960's, when I worked in Guildford, as a real spit and sawdust boozer.

Proof that summer is on its way, a game of cricket at the local cricket club. The sound of leather on willow, our national game is alive and well.

Watch this space.........

Saturday, 27 April 2013

At Send, on the Wey. (Sorry, that one was too good to miss)

Having enjoyed a couple of days at Pyrford we set off yesterday to explore a little more of the Wey.

We were soon passing the splendidly eccentric summer house of Pyrford Place, a mansion frequently visited by Elizabeth the First. Unfortunately this is all that remains.

No longer in use as a lock, it is now used as flood control gates.

The weir associated with the gates still has some of its sluices hand operated, the paddle gear bearing its date of manufacture.

I had dismissed the other, electrically operated, gear as of no interest as it was clearly modern.

Then I noticed the date on the makers plaque, 1931, so that is over eighty years old. Ransome and Rapier are better known as manufacturers of traction engines and cranes so it came as a surprise to find their name attached to a weir.

At Newark Lock we had a different view of the priory, originally an Augustinian house, founded at the end of the 12thC. and closed by Henry VIII and then used by the locals as a quarry for building stone. Local legend has it that Thomas Cromwell, Henry's chancellor, supervised its destruction by cannon fire from nearby Pyrford. Sounds unlikely, but never let facts get in the way of a good legend.

The lock gates are built of quite light scantlings so they ask boaters to take extra care with securing boats in the locks and to use lines at front and back. We're getting it weighed off now.

Papercourt Lock by wash, it certainly provides a bit of fun as you come under the bridge

and into the lock.
We eventually stopped at Cartbridge, by The New Inn. Substantial portions of well prepared food and proper beer.

Served in a proper straight glass and without an inch of foam on the top. Spot on.

Watch this space............

Thursday, 25 April 2013

Ripley, believe it or not.

Having another idle day at Pyrford. Our only aim was a walk up to Ripley, a village hanging on just outside the London conurbation. Very Surrey in the different types of building,

 tile hung,
half timbered.
There is no decent local building stone so all these rely on timber framing with either some kind of cladding or locally produced brick infill.

The most imposing building is The Talbot Inn. There has been an inn here since the 15thC. but the present building dates from the 18thC. when it was a staging post on the London to Portsmouth road. It is claimed that Lord Nelson was a frequent guest as he posted between the two towns.

You can tell that the old Pompey road ran through here, these are the other two pubs on the main road.

The church is built of other local materials, mostly knapped flint but with some areas of

a conglomerate or puddingstone of some sort, from the colour it is obviously high in iron oxide. Carstone?
I've just spent half an hour going round in circles on t'net and I'm still no wiser. They say a little knowledge is a dangerous thing, that must make me lethal.

This is called The Manor Cottage, definitely a bit of Dutch influence there, although if you peer round the back there is a lot of timber framing.

We walked back via Ripley Common, passing another mighty Victorian mill, Just look at the detail in that brickwork, stunning. Built in 1862 when an earlier mill on the site burnt down, it went out of use in the 1920's and is now a, you guessed, a des. res. Seems to be undergoing a refit at the moment.

This is part of the gardens of one of the neighbouring properties, I checked my pockets for change but still can't afford a house here.
We shall therefore continue boating,

Watch this space..........

Wednesday, 24 April 2013

A mill, a ruin and a blob.

I have made a promise, no more awful "Wey" puns.
Still at Pyrford as we fancied a walk today. We set off up the towpath as far as Papercourt Lock and then did a loop up to Pyrford village.

This was Newark Mill which stood just below Newark Lock from the 17thC. until December 1966 when it was destroyed by fire, in less than an hour according to contemporary sources. It is believed that a mill had stood on the site since Saxon times.

A short way (I resisted the temptation) up the lane towards Pyrford, on a now dry side arm of the river, are the remains of a quite sophisticated eel trap. Originally built in 1818 it is thought to have been partially rebuilt in 1909. Unfortunately it is on private land and I could not get close enough to see how it worked.

Also on private land stand the crow haunted ruins of Newark priory, they look benign in the light of a fine spring day but tonight, under the cold light of the full moon, as the bats flitter among the cold stones.........

St. Nicholas' church sands on a prominent hill above the flood plain of the Wey, it is a complete Norman church with medieval wall paintings.

Closed due to electrical works.

But that is indubitably a Norman arch.
We also passed several intriguing old houses but, as is the way in Surrey, they were all enclosed by high walls or thick hedges.

We are baffled, we saw a couple of what can only be described as "blobs" of this, both on dead willow stumps. At first we took it to be some kind of fungus but on touching it, it had the consistency of uncooked meringue. If it's cuckoo spit I don't want to be around when the adult frog-hopper emerges. Mind you, Pyrford is mentioned in H.G. Wells' "War of the Worlds" as the landing site of one of the Martian invasion cylinders, so it could be something the government doesn't want us to know about. Just adding a bit of conspiracy theory to liven things up.

I do know that yesterday was St. George's day which is traditionally the day you pick these to make dandelion wine. They are actually mildly diuretic so, if you wish to avoid getting up several times in the night, limit your intake. Personally I'd stick to a nice pinot grigio or my favourite, Portugese vinho verde.

Watch this space.............

Tuesday, 23 April 2013

Wey to go.

This morning we set off on our trip up the Wey, the first lock we came to is Weybridge Town Lock and it is a blinder. As you approach the lock from downstream you have no idea what awaits you as a bridge obscures any sight of the lock.

Whoever is going to work the lock has to dismount by the old roller, once used to guide the horse lines, and then dodge the traffic across a main road, once the lock is set they have to recross the road to let the steerer know they can get into the lock.

 Now you don't want to go through this bit of the bridge

and you definitely don't want this bit of the bridge, so you aim for

a hole in the wall, which involves a nearly 180 degree turn around the two bollards and into the bridge 'ole and into the lock.

They had been wielding the paintbrush,

does that also apply to these lines?

Next up is Coxes Lock, right next to the eponymous mill.

This also provides a rather interesting by-wash which considerably enlivens the entry into the lock.
By now we were starting to realise that the locks were not the monsters we had been led to believe, not as docile as the G.U. locks but no more unfriendly than many on the K&A.

Egyptian geese? They are certainly an improvement on the usual Canada geese that infest the waterways.

After passing under the M25, isn't it elegant? You are right of course, it's hideous. But back on subject,

just beyond the motorway is the junction with the Basingstoke, theoretically open, but only on Saturdays and Sundays and they now have a landslip cutting it short at Dogmersfield, maybe, perhaps, it is one to do of course.
We have stopped at Pyrford, by The Anchor, not bad moorings. Up until now the scenery has been London suburbia but it is definitely improving.

Watch this space..........