Monday, 18 May 2015

Guildford via the Row Barge

The mooring last night was on a area of water meadows in an open and flat area which suggests it is prone to flooding.  It might also be a rather unpleasant location in high winds.  The navigation twists and curves across these meadows until it reaches Papercourt Lock.

Leaving last night’s mooring

At Papercourt lock there is an intriguing sign on the wall of the lock keeper’s cottage. “The lock that moved”.  From what I could establish, the lock was moved by the National Trust to improve water management.  Actually the adjacent cottage had previously been moved in 1922.  Rumour has it that the lock keeper and his family were required to live on a barge at the site during the period and during the night he “adjusted” the builders pegs to ensure the lock cottage was advantageously positioned.

Papercourt Lock Cottage

The navigation appeared to be rather shallow between Papercourt Lock and the Flood Lock at Worsfold Gates.  The area on either side of the route is water meadows, although trees beside the navigation sometimes obscure the view. After passing through Worsfold Gates you arrive back on a river.

Worsfold Flood Gates

There is a sharp turn to the left above the flood gates.  During periods of flooding the gates are shut and the excess water flows past the top gates into the surrounding water meadows. As the water level subsides sluices are opened to allow the excess water to re-enter the navigation in a controlled manner.

We noticed the vertical timber post and iron roller positioned on the corner.  Obviously it was there to manage the direction of the towrope used by the horse drawn barges.

It was almost 1pm when we moored outside the Row Barge for the usual Sunday roast .  A nice mooring beside the beer garden.

One of the locals had warned Jan at the previous lock (Stoke Lock) that the Row Barge was “A bit rough!”.  We donned out dirtiest boatie clothes and rolled up our sleeves to show out tats, before swagging inside to join the locals.   Who, apart from the barmaid, completely ignored us.

The roast beef was particularly good.  Jan accompanied it with a half of Thatchers Gold whilst I washed mine down with a pint of Amstel.  Still haven’t worked up the courage to try some of the warm and flat local stuff!

After lunch we cruised on down past Dapdune Wharf where there is a visitor centre.  However we didn’t stop as all the moorings were full.  Perhaps we’ll manage it on the way back!  I did take a quick snap of the large barge on the bank.

My guess is it is either a replica or a refurbished barge of the type originally used on the navigation.  It’s certainly bigger than anything seen on the Wey these days.

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