Sunday, 15 June 2008

River Wey

Today we've been for a walk along part of the River Wey Navigation. We parked near The Anchor pub, by Pyrford Lock, and walked south.

There were quite a few boats on the move, and a surprisingly large proportion of them were Sea Otters.

We passed Pyrford Place, with its summer house dating back to the end of the seventeenth century. There's a small blue plaque on the building, which clearly isn't designed to be read from the towpath on the other side of the river. The only words we could make out were John Donne. It turns out that he lived here for four years from 1600 -- although not in the summer house, but in a large house further back from the river.

Walsham Gates are the last of the turf sided locks on the river. It's only used in times of flood, so both sets of gates are usually open.

The next lock is Newark lock, and we watched nb Jester II going up. Near the lock are the ruins of Newark Priory, which was a victim of Henry VIII.

Papercourt Lock has an intriguing National Trust sign reading "The lock that moved". But having whetted our appetite for a story, none was given. It seems, though, that the lock used to be where the weir now is, but needed a lot of looking after as there was no water management system. So a new lock was built and the weir put in the place of the old one. The lock keeper's cottage was also moved, and there's a story that after the builders had pegged out the site, the lockie went in the middle of the night to move the pegs around, to ensure he had a view up and down the river from the cottage.

There were two boats rising in Papercourt Lock when we arrived, and I immediately recognised one of them, Waimaru. It's a Ben Harp boat, owned by a couple who are friends of Bruce and Sheila on Sanity. I remembered reading on the Sanity blog about Waimaru's handover day, in April last year. We went over for a quick chat with (I assume!) John and Nev, (subjects covered: Ben Harp, Sanity, OwnerShips; all in about 30 seconds as the lock was full) before they set off south, in the company of yet another Sea Otter. It seems amazing that on a random Sunday walk, you can bump into people you know of, thanks to boating and the internet.

There was quite a queue of boats waiting to go up the lock, not helped by one of the bottom paddles being out of action. By the time we left there were seven boats in the queue, including a Challenger boat, a Guildford Boat House hire boat, and two from Farncombe Boat House.

We retraced our steps back to the next bridge, from where we walked into Ripley and had a ploughman's lunch at the Seven Stars. Then it was back along the towpath to Pyrford Lock, which was busy with gongoozlers. The Anchor was also heaving with people -- it's no wonder the building has been extended in all directions.

The distance of our walk was two and half miles in each direction.


Nb Yarwood said...

You have obviously had a great day out - nice post.
NB Caxton

Anonymous said...

My dad have a boat at Papercourt lock when I was 6 or 7 years old so I only have breif memories but i do remeber the weir at the bottom end of papercourt that used to slam you into the wall if you where not watching.

I also have memories of walking back from the anchor pub to the boat in the dark.

Thanks for posting.