The other week, at a dinner, I volunteered for what sounded like it could be an interesting trip, taking 2 launches (small, motor driven boats) from Putney up to Wallingford. can’t be too hard, we though.
The deal was that some friends were coming down river over 3.5 days, coaching a couple of women’s 8s and they needed to get the launches back up river, whilst the rowing boats and crews were bussed back. Sounded a good idea, in the diary and ready to go.
Now I’ve started doing a little detailed planning and it’s a little more epic than I though. It’s 80miles, through 25 locks, with a speed limit of just under 5 miles an hour for the majority of the way. It looks like it’s 9.5 hours on Saturday to get to our desired stopping place (although we may have to stop short and camp) and at least 12 hours on Sunday. That’s a LOT of time to be sitting in a small boat.
Practically planning, food and clothes are easy. Bathroom breaks are easy – there’s public toilets at most of the locks. The difficulty is the electronics, or rather the phones. I had planned on tweeting and videoing and picturing my trip, but as the N95 battery lasts less than a day and I’m not guaranteed the ability to charge up the phone, it looks like I need to buy a spare or not bother, which is annoying.
Anyway, if you’re out and about the Thames over the weekend and see two launches being driven at the speed limit, give a wave. I’m not going to have time to stop, but I can always wave back.
Image from National Trail