We remained at Stonebridge Lock for two whole days and three nights and though, when we first arrived, we deemed the area unattractive with its dense urban build up on both sides of the river, we noticed the green bank of a large reservoir on our right and some kind of nature reserve to the left that could be promising. The former proved to be exactly what it looked like, a large drinking water tank with tall well manicured steep grassy sides, which were not designed for anything except to keep the water in.
‘Roots and Wings’ taking the lead
But on the left of our mooring, by chance en route to the local Tesco Extra for provisions, we walked through a nature park of delightful wetlands and meadow which we found full of wildlife and flowers. Being on a shopping expedition I had forgotten to carry my camera so we returned the following day armed with all the essentials.
A Cormorant drying himself
Little Egret from the hide
Rabbit in the grass
At one of the wet boggy pools a heron was grazing and at maximum zoom of fifty times I managed to take numerous shots of a Little Egret. But because he was so far away, through the telephoto lens, most of the pictures were spoilt either by wrong focus or simply that the camera, being without a tripod, had moved marginally as I pressed the trigger and missed the subject altogether. However the rabbits that we saw on our walk were quite tame and therefore quite unperturbed at posing for the camera.
The Norman Nave of Waltham Abbey
with Victorian eastern end lookalike
It was a popular mooring but turned out to be most pleasant even though the weather began to deteriorate a little towards the end of our stay. While we were there I was very sad to have missed my friend Maffi who apparently passed us by whilst we were out. He’d been on a grand voyage delivering a boat to the new marina on the River Stort and had me managed to meet, it would have been a great opportunity to ‘swing the lantern’ awhile.
Well done Maffi on your epic voyage
From Stonebridge Lock our two little ships sauntered the six miles up through Waltham Abbey Town Lock, mooring just above it and adjacent to the white water canoe run. We stayed here for three nights as well, taking in the town and its historical associations with King Harold II and the Battle of Hastings, while the nature on both sides continued to enrich us on our walks. However while we were there, I was unable to persuade Janis to join me for a meal of ‘Eels ‘n’ Mesh wiv Likker’ at the restaurant in the market place. But both of us did enjoy an evening out at the Town Hall for the local film show in the main room. It was ‘The Great Gatsby’ and was very reasonably priced at £9 for the two of us. I enjoyed the film too with Leonardo Di Caprio in the starring role. We were very nearly persuaded to see the movie while we were in London’s West End but then it would have cost us £50 each I expect, so we were lucky to see it here with a glass of red wine instead.
The acrobat at Waltham Common Lock
Our next stop on Thursday evening was just above Dobb’s Weir Lock and it was there the following day that Janis’ friend Nigel joined us and is crewing on ‘Roots and Wings’ until Sunday. Yesterday we entered the River Stort and are currently tied up at the visitor moorings (rare it would seem to be on the River Stort) and while I write this up, the two of them are walking back to collect Nigel’s car.
‘Roots and Wings’ winding her way behind us on the Stort
The mooring at Roydon
The weather continues to improve with ‘Blue skies up above and everyone in love’ and the legend of Wimbledon appears to be enduring. The winding narrowing waterway here is so beautiful with its lush, green overhanging trees that caress our faces softly as we pass and with meadows all shining vibrantly in the sunshine. Healthy looking crops are growing furiously and the Water Lily both white and yellow is appearing on the surface of the clear water accompanied by profuse collections of green silken weed beneath that continually lay in wait for us and clog our propellers no matter how careful we are to avoid them. The young families of Mallard, Coot, Moorhen and Swan like we Humans all seem to be benefitting enormously from the Sun’s welcome embrace.