It was Phoenix’ first birthday today and we gave her a squeaky toy to mark the occasion. We also received an email from C&RT that Fobney Lock (the second one on our journey today!) was out of action. Coupled with the fact that the torrential rain we had last night had already raised the flow and the level of the water, this was not good news.
To combine a good walk with a fact finding expedition Bob, Doug, James and Phoenix took a walk to Fobney Lock to see what was going on.
On the way we passed County Lock (the first lock out of Reading) where the river was running pretty fast. The lock is on the far left and the weir is adjacent to it.
On reaching Fobney Lock we spoke with the C&RT guys who were there and they said they would let us through on an “assisted passage” at 3 o’ clock that afternoon. Evidently there was a problem with the bottom gates not sealing properly. The photo shows the immediate approach to the lock. The landing stage was under water (you can just see the mooring bollards) and the mill race was emptying huge quantities of water right in front of the lock entrance – a very challenging prospect for the afternoon!
We walked back to the boats and prepared for our trip to Fobney starting with a very slow battle against the flow of water through the Oracle shopping centre in Reading.
We finally got to County Lock and, amid the swirling waters of the adjacent weir, we somehow managed to get both boats in without incident.
Our next stage was fighting against the rapidly increasing flow of the River Kennet as we left Reading.
Entering Fobney lock was all we expected it to be – hair raising! June said she’d never entered locks as fast as we did in the last two in her life! Anyway, the C&RT guys were true to their word and they were there for us 3 o’ clock with the gates open and again, ‘Autumn Myst’ and ‘Chance’, by some miracle, remained undamaged.
Once above Fobney we felt much safer although there were a few more river sections for us to negotiate. Doug had some time out and took Phoenix for a walk along the bank while the boats struggled valiantly against the current.
The afternoon was a mixture of sunshine and clouds but thankfully the rain held off. We enjoyed the turf sided Garston Lock in the the sunshine.
At 5 ;30 we got to Sheffield Lock and mooring just above it on the very nice moorings there.
After a quick rub down (ourselves and boats) we joined Bob and June on ‘Autumn Myst’ for a well deserved G and T before walking into Theale for a very nice meal at The Bull.
Thank you Bob and June for a tiring but fun-filled and exiting day!