The Outward Trip

Due to the times of the tides we locked out at Brentford at 06.30.

We boated through West London as first light came.

There was reasonable daylight by the time we passed Lots Road Power Station and the entrance to Chelsea Creek.

Bridge works at Battersea Bridge which has been closed to traffic since an errant rubbish barge took a chunk out of one of the cast iron arches.

Familiar landmarks:
The Houses of Parliament

The London Eye

The Oxo Tower

Approaching the "Wobbly" Millennium Bridge.

The Globe Theatre

HMS Belfast is moored near Tower Bridge.
Not the last warship we encountered on this trip!

Approaching Tower Bridge

With this much headroom to spare they wouldn't open the bridge for us.

Martin, Helen and 'Tunji

The Barge Roads at Southwark

A former entrance to the Surrey Commercial Docks, now rebranded as "Surrey Quays"

The traditional sailors' landmark of St Anne's Church, Limehouse is almost hidden by recent development.

Earnest has passed the Limehouse entrance, crossed the river and is returning slowly upstream...

... and approaches the entrance.

Fulbourne follows Earnest's route, heading straight for Canary Wharf, before we too turn.

On the approach we pass these unusual "end-of-garden" moorings.

Joining Earnest in the lock.

The bottom gates shut behind us.

'Tunji holds the bow rope as the lock starts to fill.

As the lock nears full, the lock keeper simply opens the radial sector gates a little to speed the filling.

Neil and Ian on Earnest

A pair of coal boats in Limehouse Basin.

Entering Limehouse Cut.

'Tunji, Helen and Martin consider a new canalside development...

... and there is housing for the ducks too.

Earnest follows us up the Limehouse Cut.

Joining the non-tidal Lee Navigation. The tidal channel is out of site to the right of the towpath.

Earnest follows, Bow Locks behind, Limehouse Cut to the right.

Passing Three Mills

As soon as we have passed under the Bow Flyover we turn right into St Thomas' Creek, part of the maze of channels of the lower Lee, known as the Bow Back Rivers.
There is a map of the Bow Back Rivers on Mike Stevens' London Waterways Pages here.

City Mill Lock is one of two disused locks down to the tidal Waterworks River. Under an agreement with British Waterways it has recently been regated by the developer of the adjacent apartments. While the building work is under way the contractor's portacabins span the lock chamber. It is hoped that the lock will be brought back into use as part of the major developments in this areas for the London 2012 Olympic Games.

It doesn't look as if these will ever again find themselves afloat.

Continuing along the City Mill River as 'Tunji warms his hands on the chimney. Earnest follows.

There is minimal clearance under the Northern Outfall Sewer.

We passed Carpenters Road Lock, the other disused route to the Waterworks River, then continue onto the Old River Lea.

We passed the entrance to the truncated remains of the Pudding Mill River. Earnest tried to venture up, but grounded about half a length in.


Rejoining the Lee Navigation.

The gantry signs are for the adjacent Blackwall Tunnel Approach.

The loop completed.
Approaching the end of St Thomas' Creek again...

...and looking up our earlier route.

Floating skips.
But what are they used for?

Earnest and Fulbourne tie up above Bow Locks awaiting the arrival of the rest of the convoy.

Bow Locks with Bow Creek in the background. The incoming tide has yet to reach this far up.

The other boats have arrived and the three smallest boats wait in the lock for the tide to come in.

Meanwhile the other four boats wait against the towpath.

As the exit the lock the boats turn hard to the left to avoid the mudbank directly in front of the entrance.

Earnest and Lotus enter Bow Creek. The level has risen further and there is not the same need to avoid the mudbank.

Galatea and Fulbourne leaving Bow Lock

Approaching the A13 Barking Road Bridge.

The Docklands Light Railway passes overhead with the Millennium Dome behind, and the river turns 180 to the left.

Back at the A13 again (in the background) the river turns 180 to the right again.

Approaching the Thames at Leamouth...

... with lighthouse and lightship.

To our right is Canary Wharf...

... and straight ahead, with the sun low in the sky, is the Millennium Dome.

Proceeding down Bugsby's Reach, Lotus to our right, four other boats in our convoy can just be made out ahead.

Approaching the Thames Barrier our designated span is clearly indicated.

Thames Barrier

After the Barrier we were escorted by the Harbourmaster's launch (extreme left of picture) across the fairway to the north side of the river. The Woolwich Ferry Pier is in the background.

The Woolwich Ferry is held to allow the convoy to pass.
The light is failing and it is getting too dark to take decent photographs. So I have no pictures of the former Harland and Wolff shipyard (now occupied by apartments) where Fulbourne was built.

Round the corner and we enter the King George V entrance lock, which is already occupied by HMS Grafton, a Type 23 Destroyer.

We then continued in the dark through the Royal Albert Dock, alongside London City Airport, and Royal Victoria Dock to moor at the northwest corner of the docks.

The Return Trip

Arriving by DLR I changed trains at Canning Town Station, which overlooks Bow Creek. In a few hours time the tide will have come in and we will be boating up here.

The boats moored at Royal Victoria Dock

Preparing for departure

Lotus is away

Looking east from our mooring, the Dome looks tantalisingly close. Strange to think that we shall travel some five miles before we pass (from left to right) between it and the buildings in front.

The Sharp End leads as we approach the footbridge outside the Excel exhibition centre

The Sharp End in front of Excel

We turn into Pontoon Dock

Pontoon Dock Station on the recently opened Airport branch of the Docklands Light Railway

The Sharp End and Earnest in Pontoon Dock

Gnasher 2 emerges from Pontoon Dock back into the Royal Victoria Dock

Approaching the Connaught swing bridges leading into the Royal Albert Dock

Taking off at London City Airport

At the east end of the Albert Dock these unusual buildings on the north side are part of the University of East London


Passing through into King George V Dock, with the lock to river under the bridge to left of centre

Diamond Lady heads for the lock

Meanwhile as we have some time in hand before we are due to lock out into the Thames we head west up the King George V Dock, with London City Airport to the right

Looking across the airport to the University buildings

Our trip is curtailed as, apparently due to the grey misty weather conditions our presence is upsetting the airport radar systems. Here we turn across the KGV Dock

Concrete segments for the tunnels which will carry the DLR under the Thames to Woolwich are stacked up alongside the dock. Spoil from the tunnelling will be brought out by barge from here

Approaching the entrance lock again

We ar actually in the lock at this point, but we are only going to use the two sets of gates neareset the river, to form a (relatively) small lock

Most of the other boats are already moored up as we arrive

The gates shut behind us

The Sharp End and Earnest...

... and the rest of the convoy

Diamond Lady and Galatea lead the way onto the river

Lotus, Earnest and The Sharp End follow

Gnasher 2 and Diamond Lady in front of the flats which now occupy the site of the Harland and Wolff shipyard where Fulbourne was built in 1937

Liz with one of Fulbourne's antique mugs

Approaching the Woolwich Ferry



The James Newman has left the south ferry pier ready to cross the river

Meanwhile the John Burns waits on the north pier for us to pass

Diamond Lady and the John Burns

The James Newman passes behind us

Commercial activity... Tate and Lyle's Silvertown refinery

Approaching the Thames Barrier

Earnest, with Lotus, Gnasher 2 and Diamond Lady behind

Approaching the Dome

Passing between the north bank and a number of moored boats...

...including these tugs

The site of the long-closed original upriver entrance to the Royal Victoria Dock. The return trip started below the buildings in the background

Loading scrap

The convoy enters Bow Creek

Low-cost housing created from old shipping containers

Canning Town DLR Station from Bow Creek. The opposite view to that at the start of this report

Approaching the Barking Road bridges

The convoy inn Bow Creek

Arriving at Bow Locks more or less at high tide

While other boats lock through, Galatea decides to continue up the tidal section towards Three Mills, and we decide to follow

Galatea turning at Three Mills

We don't have time to carry on up the Channelsea River

As we return down Bow Creek Lotus heads north up the parallel non-tidal Lee Navigation

And The Sharp End turns left to head along the Limehouse Cut

Galatea and Fulbourne entering Bow Lock

The tide is higher than the Lee Navigation, so we lock down using the outer flood gates. Martin steering, Liz on the gunwale, Helen and Tim on the cross planks

Although there is little level difference and no turbulence we use ropes in the lock. Tim, Helen, Henry and 'Tunji

Liz looks back as Martin steers out of the lock and onto the Lee Navigation

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