After renewing our acquaintance with Corrie, the miller at Mapledurham, we set off for the final leg of our trip up to Wallingford. We reached Cleve lock around one o’clock and decided to moor up for lunch, using an isolated pile just above the lock, with the mud weight to hold the stern in place.
Unlike Sally, who his happy to swim in the river at any opportunity, I am not so keen. However it was so warm that after lunch even I decided to go for a swim.
After a cooling swim we hauled up the mud weight, untied from the pile and continued up river.
As we approached Wallingford, we were delighted to see our friend Robert and some of his family calling and waving from the river bank. It was around mid-afternoon when we passed under Wallingford bridge and it became apparent that we were going to struggle to find anywhere to moor. All the town moorings on both sides of the river were full and it was unlikely that anyone would be moving on at that time of day. We carried on slowly, hoping to find a space amongst the trees that now line the banks above the town. All the convenient spots were already taken, so having turned around we went back to a place where we thought we might fit if we cleared some of the over-hanging willows.
We managed to get the bow close enough to tie to a tree and then started clearing branches so we could bring in the stern. At one stage it must have looked as if we were trying to camouflage Daybreak, so covered was she in willow branches and leaves. We eventually managed to get the stern in close enough to tie up to another tree and were then able to get the gangplank down. Local walkers on the towpath, passing us as we cleared branches, had been both very interested in the history of Daybreak, and happy that they could again have at least a glimpse of the river as they walked alongside it! After Sally and Ali had enjoyed more canoeing and swimming, and Mike had returned to Marlow to pick up the car, we all walked into town. Saying goodbye to our cruising friends who were heading back home, Sally and I enjoyed reacquainting ourselves with lovely Wallingford.
The next morning we awoke to discover that the river had dropped overnight and we were aground. After a bit of a struggle we managed to get off the mud and into deeper water.
When we reached Reading we stopped off to do some shopping at the supermarket located conveniently close to the river. Reading was full of young people making their way to the Reading Festival. We also met up with Mark, the artist who has a studio aboard the old wooden Humber keel, Laurel.
We said hello to Mark, who was busy using his small boat to provide a hair braiding service to people attending the festival.
Continuing up through Reading we came to another keel, Hope, which is owned by our friend Matt. He had been working very hard since our last visit and she was looking very smart. He had also done a lot of work below decks.
After stopping to catch up with Matt we continued up river as far as Mapledurham where we planned to moor up for the night. After we arrived Sally and Ali decided they would like to collect some blackberries, but they also wanted to have a swim in the river. They somehow managed to combine both activities.
Whilst moored at Marlow we were able to get the mainsail raised to ensure it was dry before we stowed it and put the sail covers on. We then lowered the mast ready for the next leg of our trip up river. We were able to leave one side of the well deck clear to accommodate the family and friends who were joining us for the trip up to Henley. We had glorious sunny weather for the trip.
At Medmenham we came across Evangeline, the keel that we had last seen on our trip up to Yorkshire in 2015. We had heard that she had been sold and had come down to the Thames. Whilst we were moored in Marlow, the uncle of Nick, the new owner, had seen us and suggested that we stop alongside to say hello.
We tied up alongside and introduced ourselves to Nick and his father and heard the story of the trip down from the Humber, which was very eventful from the sound of it. Having survived the voyage down the east coast and reached the upper Thames, they then had the misfortune to hit something that punched a hole in the bottom causing her to sink. She was raised with the help of cranes and is now in the process of being refitted.
We then continued on to Henley where we found a mooring on the meadows some way out of the town. Most of our guests disembarked here to visit Henley before returning home.
,Having moored at the islands at Cliveden we were then joined by family and friends for my birthday weekend. This included making full use of the canoes that we had collected along the way. Our grand daughter enjoyed having her own paddle and very quickly picked up how to use it.
After a wonderful weekend and when friends, family and two canoes had been ferried back to the ‘mainland’, it was time to head off again. We cruised up through Cookham lock and onto the long Bourne End reach. Our next planned stop was Marlow, where we were going to pick up friends Ali and Mike who were to spend a few days cruising with us. When we arrived in Marlow there was no room on the town moorings, so we had to carry on up river until we found a place to stop. It was a long walk back to Marlow, so we launched the inflatable and used this to travel into town. We decided to raise the mast in order that I could raise the sail to do a proper stow and put the sail covers on.
While in Marlow, Sally and Ali spotted a suitable space on the town moorings and while they made sure no one else moored there, I brought Daybreak down. Having the mast up made it easier to fit into the tight space available.