The Teddington to Brentford trip is tidal and therefore one to be taken with some added precautions, but having passed this way several times before with and without the butty on the side, its not one which holds any real terrors.
You don't often see me with a life jacket
For a start the first half as far as Richmond is only semi tidal. The section above Richmond goes up and down with the tide, but it never fully drains because a movable weir is dropped into place and holds back a minimum level of water. When this happens the Richmond Lock becomes available, but if you wait till then you will miss your window of opportunity to bet in at Brentford or Limehouse. Has any reader actually used this lock?
We were let out about 20 minutes before high water, so for the first mile of the trip we punched a small flood tide and then speeded up as we reached slack water at the top of the tide. It was at this point we passed a handful of boats heading upstream, including the always spectacular Gloriana, the Queens Barge. Then the tide tuned and we were given a boost, lifting our speed to over 4.00mph and we slid past Eel Pie Island and the edge of Kew Gardens.
Gloriana on the tideway
The only moment of nervousness comes when switching sides of the river to get into the mouth of the River Brent which doubles as the Grand Union Canal for a few miles. By the time you get here the ebb tide is in full swing and zipping past the mouth of the river and being so slow we really don't want to get swept downstream. The target is the gap between the entrance to Brentford Dock (Marina) and the wavy sculpture on the downstream point. We tend to come in hugging the Brentford Dock side, pushing the bows into the still water of the Brent and letting the current swing the stern round. Others will warn you against this practice on account of the shallows which lie beneath the upstream point. They prefer to drop downstream and come back on the far side in the deepest water.
Safety at Thames Lock
If you have left Teddington at high water I really cant see how you will run out of water on the upstream side. If you look at low tide there is a bit of a shallow silt bank, but if you got anywhere near touching it there would be inadequate water to get you into Thames Lock. Anyway, we made our turn and its always a moment of relief when we see "Welcome to Thames Lock" up ahead.
Brentford Gauging Locks
The two locks into Brentford Basin are manned for a couple of hours either side of high water and the lock keepers at both ends will not let you out till it's safe, and they are watching for your arrival at the far end. We had a small reception party comprising boat crews I met a few years ago on a BCN Explorer Cruise and who were hading upstream the next morning.
Listed Toll House
Last time we were here the Brentford 14 day visitor moorings were rammed but this time the ones up near the covered docks were empty, moorings which have water at each site and, if you have a token, electrical hook up.
Brentford, like other tidal termini, has a slightly unusual atmosphere. Sure its all built up here and has all the hustle and bustle of a cosmopolitain city away from the water, but down on the moorings is is surprisingly tranquil and puts me in mind of Kidby. The similarity even extends to a nearby metal railway bridge which trains clank over every now and then.
Covered wharf at the end of the visitor moorings
With time of our hands we decided to play tourist and catch the train to London with the aim of visiting the London Canal Museum at Battlebridge Basin. On our way we passed the Brentford Locks Toll House which is a small museum open on Friday mornings, and also when the lock keepers are on duty. As it happened a boat was just arriving so we spent 15 mins having a look round the display.