Uxbridge to Slough and back to Langley Station, Bridge 7, Slough Arm.
11am to 5pm, 1 lock (Cowley). Stopped to fill with water and wash boat above Cowley Lock, but low water pressure and two more boats stopping meant I moved on to the new Packet Boat Marina to finish the job. It was only about 3 hours cruising, but the stops and the slow motoring past long lines of online moorings meant slow going. One of the most disappointing cruising days I've ever had!
Cowley Lock was yet again a parking lot for cars outside the lock cottage. They aren't supposed to do that, and British Waterways have confirmed this. Back in 2000 I came through this lock with friends - a couple and their four young children. A crop-haired granite-faced man had his car parked between the bollards and the doors were open, presenting a hazard to the kids and lock users. We had an altercation, but no fight.
Cowley today suffers still the same problem. The car is different - I think the driver may have been different - but the problem remains.
The long row of residential moorings below the lock makes for slow cruising. Many of the boats are almost as tatty as at Common Moor, but they are clearly more rooted in the bank and have a full right to be there. Oh, though, how tiresome it is to stay slow on the throttle. I suspect the resurgence of cargo carrying on this stretch may stretch the moorers' patience. I saw a professional tug go past at some lick, creating a considerable wake.
Washed the boat at Packet Boat Marina, before turning down the Slough Arm. It's almost five miles of near-straight cruising. I've been looking forward to reaching the end and seeing Slough for some time. But aside from the half-mile of High Line Yachting, where the late Virginia Currer had her base, there's little of note on this stretch, and even the end of the High Line section was a relief in that I could hit the throttle again.
The Slough Arm was built in the mid-Victorian era to serve brickmaking (it says here in Pearson's). And little seems to have happened since the demise of that industry. The water is now clear and moderately deep, and the banks are rich in plant life
But I have to say that if I'm ever asked to give the inland waterways an enema, Slough is where I'd stick the nozzle. After all that cruising, when I reached Slough the canal just petered out to an anti-climax. I suppose I went to Slough just to say 'been there', but there's really no 'there' there.
No mooring places, no community, not even another boat.
I barely turned the 60ft of Granny in the old basin but I think a full-lenth 70ftr would be a tight fit. And there's not even anywhere to tie up - just a couple of original rings wrongly placed. I certainly wasn't going to leave the boat there overnight, let alone for the week I'd planned. I returned halfway back an moored up close to Langley Station. It's certainly convenient for High Line Yachting, but little else.
Trevor Pavitt moors here. He's the fellow with the elegant Lady Elgar boat, who put together that splendid cruising blog recording his final long trip on the waterways last summer. He's coming off the canals soon, and lucky purchaser who buys his narrowboat. It looked lovely from what I saw of it. It's a Phil Speight paint job outside, and he doesn't paint rubbish. It's currently for sale, asking £60,000 from Virginia Currer, with an option of a residential mooring there for £190/month, and ten minutes from Langley train station. Residential moorings in commuting distance of London are rare, but this is no plum. For your money you'll get all the relevant mod cons, and you'll have facilities on your doorstep, but you'll have a thumping great broadbeam boat tied up on your outside. They moor them all breasted up on this stretch.