Jump to content
Strawberry Orange Banana Lime Leaf Slate Sky Blueberry Grape Watermelon Chocolate Marble
Strawberry Orange Banana Lime Leaf Slate Sky Blueberry Grape Watermelon Chocolate Marble
Jennifer McM

April/May Thames cruising from Brentford, to Oxford

Featured Posts

We're near Rickmansworth at the moment, on our way to Brentford. We're looking to pick up a PLA Thames certificate for a month, cruising towards Oxford, eventually getting onto the Oxford Canal. 

The Thames is new to us, though we have done the Calder & Hebble, and the Aire & Calder last summer - we're hoping there's not much difference, except maybe bigger locks and challenges.

Am I right in saying the part of the Thames we'll be cruising is not tidal, therefore we don't need to dig out our anchor?

What's the chances of the Thames being in flood during April / May?

Does anyone have advice how mooring access and facilities work?

Do we need different keys, or other implements? (We got caught out with the 'spike' needed on the Aire and Calder).

What about red/green navigation lights, are they obligatory?

Any advice would really be appreciated. 

 

 

 

Edited by Jennifer McM

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Not sure that the Palestine Liberation Organization have much interest in the Thames! 

The Port of London Authority (PLA) control the tidal Thames, and to get to Oxford you will need to pass through the tidal section from Brentford to Teddington. You don't need any certificate or licence for this section. But you will need an Environment Agency licence for the non tidal Thames above Teddington. Or convert your CRT Licence to a Gold Licence which covers CRT and EA waterways.

 

Edited by David Mack
  • Haha 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

You will start off on the tidal Thames.  You don't need any licence from the PLA for the Brentford to Teddington tidal section.  When you get to Tedington you will buy an Environment Agency visitor licence for the non-tidal Thames.  You would want to have the anchor setup and available for all the Thames, tidal and non, there are some big weirs.

I would say the Thames is very different, it is the posh south east you know, and particularly the lower part has limited mooring, that in many case you will have to pay for.

You do not need any keys for locks or services, nor navigation lights, particularly assuming you will not be travelling in the dark.

Edited by john6767

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
4 minutes ago, David Mack said:

Not sure that the Palestine Liberation Organization have much interest in the Thames! 

The Port of London Authority (PLA) control the tidal Thames, and to get to Oxford you will need to pass through the tidal section from Brentford to Teddington. You don't need any certificate or licence for this section. But you will need an Environment Agency licence for the non tidal Thames above Teddington. Or convert your CRT Licence to a Gold Licence which covers CRT and EA waterways.

 

Thanks David, edited now.... off my head I thought it was an 'Organisation' not an 'Authority' :)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
11 minutes ago, David Mack said:

The Port of London Authority (PLA) control the tidal Thames, and to get to Oxford you will need to pass through the tidal section from Brentford to Teddington. You don't need any certificate or licence for this section. But you will need an Environment Agency licence for the non tidal Thames above Teddington. Or convert your CRT Licence to a Gold Licence which covers CRT and EA waterways.

 

Never thought about converting the licence, will have to take a look at that! Thanks David!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

      43

  • Report post
    9 minutes ago, Jennifer McM said:

    We're near Rickmansworth at the moment, on our way to Brentford. We're looking to pick up a PLO Thames certificate for a month, cruising towards Oxford, eventually getting onto the Oxford Canal. 

    Beaten to it - Get your licence at Teddington Lock. You can't convert your CaRT licence to a Gold part way through the calendar year

    9 minutes ago, Jennifer McM said:

    The Thames is new to us, though we have done the Calder & Hebble, and the Aire & Calder last summer - we're hoping there's not much difference, except maybe bigger locks and challenges.

    Am I right in saying the part of the Thames we'll be cruising is not tidal, therefore we don't need to dig out our anchor?

    The transit from Brentford to Teddington is part tidal and an anchor is sensible to have - it's a good precaution on the Upper Thames as well

    What's the chances of the Thames being in flood during April / May?

    Who knows in our current weather patterns usually its quiet.

    Does anyone have advice how mooring access and facilities work?

    'Work" is a big question as there are so many liveaboards taking advantage at the moment.... There are some EA free overnight moorings but you should register with 

    https://www.thamesvisitormoorings.co.uk/

    Do we need different keys, or other implements? (We got caught out with the 'spike' needed on the Aire and Calder).

    Nothing needed on the thames except a finger for the push button electric locks and a firm push for the proper ones

    What about red/green navigation lights, are they obligatory?

    Strictly speaking yes - but you won't be cruising at night ?? (it gets dark...)

    Now to see what everyone else has said while I typed this.

    Any advice would really be appreciated. 

     

     

     

     

  • Greenie 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
9 minutes ago, john6767 said:

You will start off on the tidal Thames.  You don't need any licence from the PLA for the Brentford to Teddington tidal section.  When you get to Tedington you will buy an Environment Agency visitor licence for the non-tidal Thames.  You would want to have the anchor setup and available for all the Thames, tidal and non, there are some big weirs.

I would say the Thames is very different, it is the posh south east you know, and particularly the lower part has limited mooring, that in many case you will have to pay for.

You do not need any keys for locks or services, nor navigation lights, particularly assuming you will not be travelling in the dark.

Thanks John, we'll dig out the anchor, and obviously research how to use it :)

We knew we'd have to pay for moorings, we have picked up that lockies are good at offering mooring advice.

No cruising at night.... :)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
6 minutes ago, OldGoat said:

 

Beaten to it - Get your licence at Teddington Lock. You can't convert your CaRT licence to a Gold part way through the calendar year

 

Thanks! Great advice! The website mooring link looks just the thing! 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 minute ago, Jennifer McM said:

Thanks John, we'll dig out the anchor, and obviously research how to use it :)

We knew we'd have to pay for moorings, we have picked up that lockies are good at offering mooring advice.

No cruising at night.... :)

Yes the lock keepers are usually very helpful.  As long as you plan ahead you will be fine for mooring,s and it shuold not be too busy at that time of year.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

To add -

TVM - see the site quoted above is a an useful guide to EA's official moorings. However, there are load of extra moorings not listed some of which who do not charge. For free mooring all I can say is -

if it's not at the end of someone's garden or festooned with NO Mooring signs and more importantly you can get the boat in - then you can moor. It's all very relaxed - but do apologise if you make a mistake!

Some paid moorings are:-

Hampton Court Palace (worth a visit)

Marlow

Medmenham

Henley

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
9 minutes ago, OldGoat said:

Get your licence at Teddington Lock. You can't convert your CaRT licence to a Gold part way through the calendar year

When did the rules change? You always used to be able to do it. Get a refund pro rata fom Jan 1st to date on current licence and buy a gold starting on Jan 1st. However ot only used to work on licences purchased in the previous year.

that was in BW days is this something that has been dropped by CART?

Edited by Loddon

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Just now, Loddon said:

When did the rules change? You always used to be able to do it. Get a refund from Jan 1st to date on current licence and buy a gold starting on Jan 1st. However ot only used to work on licences purchased in the previous year.

You should still be able to do that, but you would need to do that in advance if you wanted to do it, you would not be able to do that at Tedington.  If you just want a month on the Thames it will be much cheaper to just buy a visitor licence for the month.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
21 minutes ago, Loddon said:

When did the rules change? You always used to be able to do it. Get a refund pro rata fom Jan 1st to date on current licence and buy a gold starting on Jan 1st. However ot only used to work on licences purchased in the previous year.

that was in BW days is this something that has been dropped by CART?

Whoops - my bad, because I'm on the Thames - I can't swap my Thames registration part way through the year, but as the scheme is managed by CaRT it can do that for its customers. A bad deal for Thames boaters "we're" seeing if it can be changed, especially as CaRT take the most of the money. A very bad deal for us...

19 minutes ago, john6767 said:

You should still be able to do that, but you would need to do that in advance if you wanted to do it, you would not be able to do that at Tedington.  If you just want a month on the Thames it will be much cheaper to just buy a visitor licence for the month.

As above, apologies, but as you say probably not good value anyway.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It might be worth avoiding the Windsor area around the 19th of May, I suspect that the area will be very busy and you will struggle to moor

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
4 minutes ago, Jess-- said:

It might be worth avoiding the Windsor area around the 19th of May, I suspect that the area will be very busy and you will struggle to moor

Not necessarily. I seem to remember that a couple of miles of the south bank of the river below Windsor lock always seem to be completely free of moored boats.

  • Happy 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
10 minutes ago, Jess-- said:

It might be worth avoiding the Windsor area around the 19th of May, I suspect that the area will be very busy and you will struggle to moor

Certainly the town side will be choc-a-bloc and the Brocas (other side) is a rubbish mooring, unless you don't mid jumping up the bank to get off 

4 minutes ago, billS said:

Not necessarily. I seem to remember that a couple of miles of the south bank of the river below Windsor lock always seem to be completely free of moored boats.

Haha - there's are good reasons for that -

There are large rocks at strategic intervals in the river bed to deter you

If you do try to get your boat in a number of stout gentlemen in a Land Rover will immediately appear and "give you a bad time". I know 'cos I broke down there some years ago - They weren't understanding!

The Windsor side is part of Home Park and very private the Duke like to drive his carriages around - and probably still does... as well as the area being used for the Household to exercise their horses. 

Edited by OldGoat

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
17 minutes ago, Jess-- said:

It might be worth avoiding the Windsor area around the 19th of May, I suspect that the area will be very busy and you will struggle to moor

Well that's a good point! Thank you, never thought of THE wedding :)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
14 minutes ago, OldGoat said:

Certainly the town side will be choc-a-bloc and the Brocas (other side) is a rubbish mooring, unless you don't mid jumping up the bank to get off 

Haha - there's are good reasons for that -

There are large rocks at strategic intervals in the river bed to deter you

If you do try to get your boat in a number of stout gentlemen in a Land Rover will immediately appear and "give you a bad time". I know 'cos I broke down there some years ago - They weren't understanding!

The Windsor side is part of Home Park and very private the Duke like to drive his carriages around - and probably still does... as well as the area being used for the Household to exercise their horses. 

Well I expect 'the stout gentlemen' will be extremely sensitive about boats during this time. :)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Brentford to Oxford can be done comfortably in under a week, so I gather you'll be taking your time, even if including a side trip on the Wey and/or Basingstoke (separate licences needed for each of those) and going up to Lechlade and back. That makes a lot of sense, it's a beautiful river. You will realise what is meant by the "posh south east" as you motor past a big house with a vast manicured lawn running down to a big boathouse for the umpteenth time. And when you see the prices of everything!

Your timetable being so, be aware that most (all?) of those "Thames Visitor Moorings" are free for the first night then horribly expensive thereafter. So you probably need to keep shuffling along to another place each night. There are various other unofficial places to moor along the river where no-one is likely to notice or care that you're there; these tend to be out in the wild.

There's another big difference from other canals and even rivers, the sheer variety of traffic. There are some big trip boats, lots of plastic boats of all shapes and sizes, many of which are rather posh wedding cake type vessels, and lots of rowers and canoes, sometimes little sailing dinghies and even swimmers. You have to keep a good lookout and use your horn, especially when there's a rower coming towards you with no cox. Expect to be sharing the big locks with people in plastic boats, some of whom are rather inexperience day hirers.

  • Greenie 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Looks like its all been covered. Dont know if anyone has mentioned the bit you asked about locks? The Thames locks are generaly quite small, certainly smaller than the a and C and the river when not in flood is pretty and a doddle.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Now you've got me talking, here's some more information which might be useful:-

Get a copy of Chris Cove-Smith's "the River Thames Book". It's quite out of date but the River doesn't change that much. Amazon have used copies for a reasonable sum. All the main features are reasonably correct - even the 2006 version for a fiver is usable.

  • Fuel
  • Expensive except at better boating - Reading on the offside just before  Caversham Lock
  • Chris Iddon and his dog does a mobile fuel  service on his boat up and down the River at canal prices - do support him 'specially as both he a nd the dog are nice and canal folks should support each other.
  • Otherwise at Shepperton- Penton Hook- Windsor- Bray- Thames and Kennet- marinas, Abingdon by the bridge and I believe Oxford Cruisers - if could get them to answer the phone....
  • Rubbish, loos pupout / disposal  water - see CC-S's book above   
  • Shopping
  • Kingston - if you can moor,  Waitrose in the basement of John Lewis by the bridge and other main stores nearby.
  • Staines, small mooring upstream of the bridge Large-ish Sainsburys through the office estate, else moor below the bridge on the other side and walk
  • Marlow longish, but not unpleasant walk to a small Sainsburys Waitrose and probably others.
  • Reading Tesco superstore mooring outside, but best to leave someone on board as fearsome mooring restrictions - to deter liveaboards, may actually work. More in the town. If desperate speak nicely to the lockie (if on duty) and she might let you moor on the tail- (for Tesco)  or head- labyes for the town centre shops
  • Pangbourne lovely free overnight mooring below the lock, chis and fips (somebody said they were rubbish - used to be well recommended) on the way into the village  where there are some shops pubs, and a working men's club (unusual for the area....)
  • Wallingford - Waitrose! plus others
  • Abingdon - what do I say; large Waitrose (well it is the affluent south), through a lovely garden if you moor by the swimming pool and other shops in the town centre. Occasional market.
  • Oxford city centre Sainsburys, small Tesco. Posh market
  • After that further upstream nothing until you get to Lechlade where there isn't much. Nice Italian bakery.

That's information - now my sales pitch.

  • You must, must, must visit Oxford.
  • Spend a couple od days there
  • The East Street moorings are very quiet despite the A420 going over the bridge at the end. First night free, additional night £5
  • Two inexpensive genuine Chinese restaurants in Hythe Bridge Street
  •  Ashmloean Museum (art...)
  • Museum of Natural History behind which is the most amazing collection of 'collectors stuff' - the Pitt Rivers Museum
  • Bates musical instruments museum - shows the development of many types on instruments. If in a good mood and ask you'll get a guided tour. I'm not a museum buff but all of these deserve a visit.
  • Colleges - many of these are open for you to wander around the quad: many of them have chapels and art galleries (e.g. Exeter) open to view. Even if you're not 'churchy' it's well worth going to listen to Choral Evensong, because the music is great and the organs are another thing (Dobson organ in Merton college, can be made to sound like a Wurlitzer..) There's a service every day in one college or other.
  • Avoid the main drag / tourist drag and use the side streets to get around. The streets around  Merton is Morse" country - methinks they've kept the cobbles just as a film set.

Above Oxford the river is suddenly very rural and apparently isolated (the A41 runs nearby, but you can't see it). Very twisty in places; hard work to maintain any speed. Moor where you can as the sides are shallow

Kelmscott Manor is a place ignored by most boater, only open on Wednesdays and Saturdays. Home of William Morris. A must if you like his work

 

Enough: I must go and do some work...

15:30 I spent an hour researching and creating the above and the lint to the forum disappeared - so I'm relieved it has now come back!

I challenge Peter X's comment about horrible expensive All EA moorings are free for the first night and you get the next three days for £5 per night. I don't call that expensive. Indeed it used to be two days at £5 each was the limit, so that's an improvement especially as there lowds of free mooring anyway. Most marinas charge £15 or more per night. EA Thames region has had its funds cut and are beginning to collect funds where it can.

I didn't get as far as lock operation:-

All locks are (in theory) staffed 09:00 to 05:00 April and 09:00 to  18:00 in May.

Those below Oxford  area are all electrically operated From King's to Lechlade they are manual with large balance beams and handwheel  gate sluices (paddles). A dream to operate - especially as the gates are large.

When there's no lockie or relief or volunteer on duty you have to operate them yourself

There are two sorts of electric lock gear control panels, those with rectangular control boxes and those with curved tops. Both operate slightly differently. There are clear instructions on the lock pedestals. If you don't follow the instructions on the curve topped units (usually holding the "sluices up" button instead of just pressing it), then the system goes into panic mode, throws its toys out of it's pram, sulks and you have to call out to get the unit to be released. Folks get impatient, do not realise that the sluices rise in three slow steps to avoid sinking boats with the inrush of water and think they can make it go faster. This applies to both the head and bottom gates.

Culham Lock is a complete pain as it takes 20 minutes to fill.....

Pausing now to read my messages...

 

 

 

Edited by OldGoat
  • Greenie 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
57 minutes ago, Peter X said:

Brentford to Oxford can be done comfortably in under a week, so I gather you'll be taking your time, even if including a side trip on the Wey and/or Basingstoke (separate licences needed for each of those) and going up to Lechlade and back. That makes a lot of sense, it's a beautiful river. You will realise what is meant by the "posh south east" as you motor past a big house with a vast manicured lawn running down to a big boathouse for the umpteenth time. And when you see the prices of everything!

Your timetable being so, be aware that most (all?) of those "Thames Visitor Moorings" are free for the first night then horribly expensive thereafter. So you probably need to keep shuffling along to another place each night. There are various other unofficial places to moor along the river where no-one is likely to notice or care that you're there; these tend to be out in the wild.

There's another big difference from other canals and even rivers, the sheer variety of traffic. There are some big trip boats, lots of plastic boats of all shapes and sizes, many of which are rather posh wedding cake type vessels, and lots of rowers and canoes, sometimes little sailing dinghies and even swimmers. You have to keep a good lookout and use your horn, especially when there's a rower coming towards you with no cox. Expect to be sharing the big locks with people in plastic boats, some of whom are rather inexperience day hirers.

Brilliant information! Thanks a ton Peter. We've thought about taking our time on the Thames, which seems like a perfect time of the year, early Spring, and before schools break up. Didn't realise about the licenses needed on the Wey and the Basingstoke, this is something to think about.

It'll be good to see how the 'other half' lives, I might have to get a new wardrobe for the trip :giggles:

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, mrsmelly said:

Looks like its all been covered. Dont know if anyone has mentioned the bit you asked about locks? The Thames locks are generaly quite small, certainly smaller than the a and C and the river when not in flood is pretty and a doddle.

Thanks for replying, you've reassured me, hope it's a doddle B)

  • Greenie 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
38 minutes ago, OldGoat said:

Now you've got me talking, here's some more information which might be useful:-

Get a copy of Chris Cove-Smith's "the River Thames Book". It's quite out of date but the River doesn't change that much. Amazon have used copies for a reasonable sum. All the main features are reasonably correct - even the 2006 version for a fiver is usable.

  • Fuel
  • Expensive except at better boating - Reading on the offside just before  Caversham Lock
  • Chris Iddon and his dog does a mobile fuel  service on his boat up and down the River at canal prices - do support him 'specially as both he a nd the dog are nice and canal folks should support each other.
  • Otherwise at Shepperton- Penton Hook- Windsor- Bray- Thames and Kennet- marinas, Abingdon by the bridge and I believe Oxford Cruisers - if could get them to answer the phone....
  • Rubbish, loos pupout / disposal  water - see CC-S's book above   
  • Shopping
  • Kingston - if you can moor,  Waitrose in the basement of John Lewis by the bridge and other main stores nearby.
  • Staines, small mooring upstream of the bridge Large-ish Sainsburys through the office estate, else moor below the bridge on the other side and walk
  • Marlow longish, but not unpleasant walk to a small Sainsburys Waitrose and probably others.
  • Reading Tesco superstore mooring outside, but best to leave someone on board as fearsome mooring restrictions - to deter liveaboards, may actually work. More in the town. If desperate speak nicely to the lockie (if on duty) and she might let you moor on the tail- (for Tesco)  or head- labyes for the town centre shops
  • Pangbourne lovely free overnight mooring below the lock, chis and fips (somebody said they were rubbish - used to be well recommended) on the way into the village  where there are some shops pubs, and a working men's club (unusual for the area....)
  • Wallingford - Waitrose! plus others
  • Abingdon - what do I say; large Waitrose (well it is the affluent south), through a lovely garden if you moor by the swimming pool and other shops in the town centre. Occasional market.
  • Oxford city centre Sainsburys, small Tesco. Posh market
  • After that further upstream nothing until you get to Lechlade where there isn't much. Nice Italian bakery.

That's information - now my sales pitch.

  • You must, must, must visit Oxford.
  • Spend a couple od days there
  • The East Street moorings are very quiet despite the A420 going over the bridge at the end. First night free, additional night £5
  • Two inexpensive genuine Chinese restaurants in Hythe Bridge Street
  •  Ashmloean Museum (art...)
  • Museum of Natural History behind which is the most amazing collection of 'collectors stuff' - the Pitt Rivers Museum
  • Bates musical instruments museum - shows the development of many types on instruments. If in a good mood and ask you'll get a guided tour. I'm not a museum buff but all of these deserve a visit.
  • Colleges - many of these are open for you to wander around the quad: many of them have chapels and art galleries (e.g. Exeter) open to view. Even if you're not 'churchy' it's well worth going to listen to Choral Evensong, because the music is great and the organs are another thing (Dobson organ in Merton college, can be made to sound like a Wurlitzer..) There's a service every day in one college or other.
  • Avoid the main drag / tourist drag and use the side streets to get around. The streets around  Merton is Morse" country - methinks they've kept the cobbles just as a film set.

Above Oxford the river is suddenly very rural and apparently isolated (the A41 runs nearby, but you can't see it). Very twisty in places; hard work to maintain any speed. Moor where you can as the sides are shallow

Kelmscott Manor is a place ignored by most boater, only open on Wednesdays and Saturdays. Home of William Morris. A must if you like his work

 

Enough: I must go and do some work...

 

 

Wow, thank you! I'll be printing your info off, and keeping it close. Sadly Chris Cove-Smith's "the River Thames Book" is not in digital form. Travel books in digital form don't work too well. We'll be calling into a chandlers in Cowley to pick up bits and bobs, hopefully they'll have a copy,  we don't have a postal address at the minute. Looks like we've a lot of research to do - it all sounds brilliant! Thanks v much for your help and time :)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
56 minutes ago, OldGoat said:

15:30 I spent an hour researching and creating the above and the lint to the forum disappeared - so I'm relieved it has now come back!

I challenge Peter X's comment about horrible expensive All EA moorings are free for the first night and you get the next three days for £5 per night. I don't call that expensive. Indeed it used to be two days at £5 each was the limit, so that's an improvement especially as there lowds of free mooring anyway. Most marinas charge £15 or more per night. EA Thames region has had its funds cut and are beginning to collect funds where it can.

I didn't get as far as lock operation:-

All locks are (in theory) staffed 09:00 to 05:00 April and 09:00 to  18:00 in May.

Those below Oxford  area are all electrically operated From King's to Lechlade they are manual with large balance beams and handwheel  gate sluices (paddles). A dream to operate - especially as the gates are large.

When there's no lockie or relief or volunteer on duty you have to operate them yourself

There are two sorts of electric lock gear control panels, those with rectangular control boxes and those with curved tops. Both operate slightly differently. There are clear instructions on the lock pedestals. If you don't follow the instructions on the curve topped units (usually holding the "sluices up" button instead of just pressing it), then the system goes into panic mode, throws its toys out of it's pram, sulks and you have to call out to get the unit to be released. Folks get impatient, do not realise that the sluices rise in three slow steps to avoid sinking boats with the inrush of water and think they can make it go faster. This applies to both the head and bottom gates.

Culham Lock is a complete pain as it takes 20 minutes to fill.....

Pausing now to read my messages...

 

 

 

Thanks again, the locks sounds similar to the ones on the Aire/Hebble, some have chains hanging down to tie your boat to, hopefully to stop is bouncing around too much. To work those locks, we needed a CRT key, do the Thames locks need a special key?

Edited by Jennifer McM

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×