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Naughty Cal

River Thames Advice

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We have taken the decision to change our planned holiday to Belgium next Easter for a break on the Thames instead, Covid restrictions allowing of course. We don't think that travelling to Europe will even be possible next year without a quarantine period afterwards.

 

Le Boat have been very good once again and have changed the booking again for us and given us extra credit to the account to the tune of an extra 10%. 

 

Unfortunately boat hire prices on the Thames are much more expensive than in Belgium so we have had to downgrade the boat from what we did have booked for Belgium. We will now be on Consul which is still a 4 berth flybridge cruiser but of a more traditional design that the Horizon we had booked previously.

 

consul.jpg.41ba206cd1a78e92ba017726adc7a8fe.jpg

 

eb1039-ex317.jpg.c7c1b907b781e6cf859e25485185cd50.jpg

 

We have a week booked starting the 2nd April which is Good Friday from the Benson base.

 

So my question is can anyone recommend places to visit for this cruise please?

 

 

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I'm surprised that you haven't asked on the YBW Thames forum??

 

I don't think your boat will get uder Osney bridge - which is a pity as there are several places to visit.

That said Oxford (away from the main shopping street is well worth spending a day (with or without Co-Vid). Choose your walking rout and you can miss nearly anyone....

 

Downstream there's a noisy pub beside Sandford lock.

Abingdon has a certain small charm along the river side and a Waitrose by the abbey gardens.

Good moorings, quiet out in the sticks  above the lock or more popular ones either side of the bridge.

 

Pleasant walks at Clifton Hampden including a grand bridge and church by a famous architect..

 

Moorings above and below Days lock where you can walk in to Dorchester

 

Poular pub / hotel a Shillingford - moor outside

 

Benson is full of hire boats... and the cafe alongside is very popular.

 

Wallingford town centre is nice and another Waitrose...

 

Goring has a long layby with free overnignt moorings with a choice of eateries. A friendly singing lockie (ask him for a tune...)

 

Mapledurham House (by the weir stream) is worth a visit

 

Pangbourne has a good run of moorings but methinks the well known chippy is not as good as it was

 

Then there's Reading; motor swiftly on...

 

That'll do for a start.

Find out whether you can get under Osney Bridge and come back here if you can (It's a lot quieter upstream, but very rural).

 

PS - Imoprtant -

EA have / about to subcontract the management of their moorings to a 'rather agressive car parking company' who are 'well known' for their process if you don't register at their moorings as soon as you arrive. Not a problem if you are aware. It may be that by next boating season, that they have acquire other non-EA moorings as well.  The Laissez fair (sp?)  attitide is changing for the worse, methinks.

Edited by OldGoat
Sperring
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5 minutes ago, OldGoat said:

Benson is full of hore boats..

 

Are those the sort that let people inside themselves for money?

 

;)

 

 

 

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4 minutes ago, TheBiscuits said:

 

Are those the sort that let people inside themselves for money?

 

;)

I couldn't possibly comment....

4 minutes ago, TheBiscuits said:

 

 

 

 

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No the boat doesn't go under Osney Bridge. In fact the limit of navigation for the hore boats from Benson is the lock before it.

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Christchurch meadow has visitor moorings and some good views of the dreaming spires, so long as you don't mind the rowing boats

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Are you going upstream? Le Boat do "one way hires" I believe, and going down from Benson will take you through Wallingford, as mentioned, Goring, Pangbourne, Henley, Marlow, and Windsor, all lovely, then you can wave as you bring the boat down to Penton Hook

Edited by Bacchus

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Just now, Bacchus said:

Are you going upstream? Le Boat do "one way hires" I believe, and going down from Benson will take you through Wallingford, as mentioned, Goring, Pangbourne, Henley, Marlow, and Windsor, all lovely, then you can wave as you bring the boat down to Penton Hook

The do one way hires but we are doing an out and back.

 

Not sure which way we are going yet!

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As the boat will not fit under Osney bridge, I would say don’t bother with Oxford.  Going upstream from Benson I would say turn at the visitor moorings in Abingdon.  Whilst we had a rather long enforced stay in Abingdon at the beginning of Oct due to red boards, I would (still) say that Abingdon is one of the best town on the Thames.

 

Downstream from Benson, Henley is a must stop, and if you have time go as far at the visitor moorings in Windsor.

 

Our rule is do not move on the Thames at weekends, if you must then Sunday is not too bad as they all go home Sunday afternoon..  Obviously you will not be able to do this so expect it to be very busy (particularly as it is Easter) and potentially stressful at locks, as the keeper tries to pack is an many disparate shaped boats into the lock as possible.

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Aa an addition - get a copy of Chris Cove-Smith's book "The River Thames Book" .

There are copies on Amazon for a fiver plus postage. Don't (necessarily) buy a new one as it's qiute old and go for a fiver or less.

The maps are clear and give a good indication of where some of the free moorings are / were and show the footpaths - if you like walking.

 

I don't know why some pan Oxenford, 'shopping' aside, being a premier University there are lots of colleges to explore - co-vid  allowing, Pitt Rivers and Natural history to see, mathematical museum and the Bate collection of musical instruments. All free.

In term time - ahh - Easter, that'll be in vacation time thus, expect closures, but still plenty to see..

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27 minutes ago, Loddon said:

If you go towards Oxford then The Isis Farmhouse just above Iffley lock 

https://www.theisisfarmhouse.co.uk

Is IMO the best pub on the Thames.

Should be open more days by the time you get there.

 

clearly have very poor taste

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1 hour ago, OldGoat said:

 

 

Poular pub / hotel a Shillingford - moor outside

 

 

Ha, that brought back memories. We stopped there in 2019. The restaurant and food were both like something from the 1950s. All it lacked was Mrs Overall doing the waiting. A real period piece, and not in a good way IMHO.

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1 hour ago, john6767 said:

Our rule is do not move on the Thames at weekends, if you must then Sunday is not too bad as they all go home Sunday afternoon..  Obviously you will not be able to do this so expect it to be very busy (particularly as it is Easter) and potentially stressful at locks, as the keeper tries to pack is an many disparate shaped boats into the lock as possible.

sounds interesting ..............   where can I hire or buy one of those?    :rolleyes:

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4 hours ago, Proper Charlie said:

Ha, that brought back memories. We stopped there in 2019. The restaurant and food were both like something from the 1950s. All it lacked was Mrs Overall doing the waiting. A real period piece, and not in a good way IMHO.

I have been there moored and stayed in Hotel without boat. It's not that bad. But was dated!

 

 

Naughty Cal there is plent of enjoyment just cruising and looking at the homes that back onto the Thames.....  

Edited by mark99

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Cliveden Reach is I think my favourite moorings - on the islands if you like. The NT will still come and collect the mooring fee, though ....

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4 hours ago, Proper Charlie said:

Ha, that brought back memories. We stopped there in 2019. The restaurant and food were both like something from the 1950s. All it lacked was Mrs Overall doing the waiting. A real period piece, and not in a good way IMHO.

Shillingford; I agree totally. We stopped there in 2018, couldn't believe how bad it was (had been there in 2013 & it was great then) in every way. For example they served my wife's "prawn cocktail" in a pint beer-glass, just a jar/tin of it poured in over some lettuce, and the waitress knocked over the glass as she put it down so it all spilled over the table. She just used the palm of her hand to scrape it all over the edge of the table back into the glass and then served it back in front of my wife. That was just the start of an evening of disasters worthy of Fawlty Towers; the management refused to apologise and the bartender was so embarrassed he gave us a refund and a bottle of Champagne.

 

Couldn't have stopped there this year, apart from 2 moorings nearest the bridge which were reserved for some floating clamping sheds, all the other moorings were now let out long-term.

5 minutes ago, Scholar Gypsy said:

Cliveden Reach is I think my favourite moorings - on the islands if you like. The NT will still come and collect the mooring fee, though ....

We moored there twice this year, one of our favourites too. Payment was online via their website.

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3 minutes ago, Keeping Up said:

 

We moored there twice this year, one of our favourites too. Payment was online via their website.

Gosh, that is progress. 

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The Cove Thames book is good, both for interesting info and detailed navigational maps, though too many adverts..

Dunno how far you plan to go, I have no experience of anything faster than a narrowboat. Finding a mooring on the Thames is likely to be difficult in season (we are out of season Thames boaters) and a bit stressful as the day goes on, so early starts and early finishes are better. I would head downstream and certainly aim to visit Henley, and maybe even Windsor, Henley is the nicer of the two even though Windsor has a posh school and a big house 😀

If you have time then maybe come back and go as far as Abingdon, as said, I would miss Oxford, the University stretch is rammed full of continuous moorers and the low bridge limits your options.  If you do try Oxford then a walk up the canal to the "bookbinders" is essential, a perfect melding of a English pub with a French restaurant.

 

.............Dave

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It all depends on what you want out of the holiday @Naughty Cal. If you want to spend time sitting by the boat (in the April showers...) mopping up a bottle or two of wine and burning some fray bentos pies on a disposable barbecue go upstream. If you want to spend some time enjoying a bit of life in some wonderful Thames-side towns/villages go down.

 

If Oxford City is a must (and it is one of my favourite cities in all the land), you could always moor in Reading and hop on a 23 minute train... last train home leaves around 2300. That way you get to do loads of fun towns and Oxford, not just loads of country stops and Oxford. Bikes allowed on most trains...  Depends what you want, but having spent the last thirty five years* up and down that ol' river in one way or another, I would say that down is probably more fun (c:

 

*scary now I come to think of it... studied Civ Eng at Kingston in the eighties, lived on Trowlock Island (row-boat/Bonwitco), moved to Henley for ten years (shetland 535, clinker ship's lifeboat conversion, home made marine ply boat called Duck, and, obviously, a floating 2cv), went up to Oxford Uni for a year (took the Shetland), got married and moved to Wargrave (NO boat, what does that tell me about marriage... didn't ski either...), separated, moved to Reading (house backed onto the K and A, Dejon 14 and a Viking 20), moved down to current place (many, many boats...arrived at current house in the viking). I am old Father Thames. Grandfather Thames now I suppose, and little Grandling is spending his formative months right here by the river 🙂)

1 hour ago, dmr said:

Finding a mooring on the Thames is likely to be difficult

 

Not in a rental? Just ram it into a tree...  (one of my many many was a 44' Buccaneer Bounty that spent two decades taking parties of stags and hens families in and out of Benson...)

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12 minutes ago, Bacchus said:

It all depends on what you want out of the holiday @Naughty Cal. If you want to spend time sitting by the boat (in the April showers...) mopping up a bottle or two of wine and burning some fray bentos pies on a disposable barbecue go upstream. If you want to spend some time enjoying a bit of life in some wonderful Thames-side towns/villages go down.

 

If Oxford City is a must (and it is one of my favourite cities in all the land), you could always moor in Reading and hop on a 23 minute train... last train home leaves around 2300. That way you get to do loads of fun towns and Oxford, not just loads of country stops and Oxford. Bikes allowed on most trains...  Depends what you want, but having spent the last thirty five years* up and down that ol' river in one way or another, I would say that down is probably more fun (c:

 

*scary now I come to think of it... studied Civ Eng at Kingston in the eighties, lived on Trowlock Island (row-boat/Bonwitco), moved to Henley for ten years (shetland 535, clinker ship's lifeboat conversion, home made marine ply boat called Duck, and, obviously, a floating 2cv), went up to Oxford Uni for a year (took the Shetland), got married and moved to Wargrave (NO boat, what does that tell me about marriage... didn't ski either...), separated, moved to Reading (house backed onto the K and A, Dejon 14 and a Viking 20), moved down to current place (many, many boats...arrived at current house in the viking). I am old Father Thames. Grandfather Thames now I suppose, and little Grandling is spending his formative months right here by the river 🙂)

 

Not in a rental? Just ram it into a tree...  (one of my many many was a 44' Buccaneer Bounty that spent two decades taking parties of stags and hens families in and out of Benson...)

I think that's a slight;y harsh description of the "upstream" Thames but am pleased that the grandfather of the Thames agrees with me (a mere narrowboat visitor). that downstream is best.I did not realise this holiday was planned for April, that should be ok,, though I reckon October/early November is the best time on the Thames.

We used to winter on the K&A and travel the system in summer, the nicest bit was doing Oxford to Reading in late October and if the weather was good doing a quick detour to Teddington.  Floods and virus means we are spending 18 months on the Rochdale, lovely lovely canal but the engine is hating it, it wants a good thrash on the Thames.

 

Oxford is good but Cambridge beats its hands down, that's a lovely boat trip.

 

..................Dave

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13 minutes ago, dmr said:

I think that's a slight;y harsh description of the "upstream" Thames

ah, yes, in retrospect perhaps that may have come across as a little harsh... (c: 

 

really I was just trying to make the point that there is more to do downstream of Benson apart from Oxford and, as somebody else mentioned, Abingdon which is a lovely place (I came within a whisker of living there before I settled in Henley), and also that you are allowed to leave the boat even if you are on a boating holiday. I had a lovely cruise up to Dorchester a couple of years ago when I had to get the train home every evening to feed the cat! River - great. Train journeys - terrific. Cat - fat, and sadly no longer with us )c:

 

And, yes, in the interested of fairness, other pies are available (c:

19 minutes ago, dmr said:

Oxford is good but Cambridge beats its hands down

 

:argue:

 

 

:hug:

 

 

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Mixed memories of Dorchester, a few years ago did a late dash to the K&A but flood water caught us and spent a scary time just down from Days lock with rapidly rising levels. Once we were happy that boat was secured we had quite a few walks into Dorchester. Its all a bit fenced off these days but still a favorite overnight stop when doing K&A to Oxford. Goring and Pangbourne are good places too. Spent the "hottest" day last year (or was it the year before?) on the VMs at Goring lock, good shade from trees but constant "splat" from dropping plums.

Never been to Lechlade, that's for next year if this damn virus goes away.

Only have 11 or 12 years experience of inland boating but the Thames has lost something in this time, I dd like the posh old blokes in blazers etc, as you say, too many estate agents drinking Fray Bentos 😀

 

................Dave

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10 hours ago, dmr said:

Mixed memories of Dorchester, a few years ago did a late dash to the K&A but flood water caught us and spent a scary time just down from Days lock with rapidly rising levels. Once we were happy that boat was secured we had quite a few walks into Dorchester. Its all a bit fenced off these days but still a favorite overnight stop when doing K&A to Oxford. Goring and Pangbourne are good places too. Spent the "hottest" day last year (or was it the year before?) on the VMs at Goring lock, good shade from trees but constant "splat" from dropping plums.

Never been to Lechlade, that's for next year if this damn virus goes away.

Only have 11 or 12 years experience of inland boating but the Thames has lost something in this time, I dd like the posh old blokes in blazers etc, as you say, too many estate agents drinking Fray Bentos 😀

 

................Dave

The lingerlongers have been allowed to spoil it. Should have been stopped years ago but after Kingston on Thames gave in to them what did you expect

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Thames in April?

 

There will be plenty of mooring spaces -  I'm surprised at all the fuss being made about the river and moorings being busy at that time of year.  Just keep your fingers crossed for good weather.

 

I would go upstream over the holiday weekend, then downstream maybe as far as Cookham/Cliveden.  IMHO the river begins to lose its charm downstream of Maidenhead.

 

 

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