London Ring - Easter

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  • On the water:Association events

At the AGM, an inland waterways trip was proposed on the "London Ring". This takes in the canals around North London as well as the Thames between Brentford and St. Katharine's Dock by Tower Bridge. A varied and different view of the capital.

This would be over Easter weekend, probably starting and ending at Brentford. It's a purely motoring trip, so leave the mast at home.

Roly has offered to organise, in conjunction with Mark Kinnard who knows it well. I missed it last time it was done, but I'd like to give it a go this year.

Anyone else?

Rick Jones (Treasurer) 1994 Mac 19 "White Lightning", Isle of Wight


Hi everyone,  Yes  I plan to

Hi everyone, Yes I plan to do the London Ring this Easter with any others interested.

Mark Kinnard has said hed like to join in if possible but if not will certainly lend advice.

We generally set off from Willow Tree Marina on the west side of London , which is on the Paddlington arm of the Grand Union Canal and situated close to the M4 motorwaty so access is easy.

It is a full days trip from there , down about 8 locks into the Thames near Brentford and then along the river to Limehouse Basin. Hence it needs an early start on Friday morning to allow a stress free passage with time to enjoy a pinic stop over and to take iin the London sights along the way. Limehouse is in the heart of the old docklands and from there, next day we wind through all the backways of London, climbing 7 locks to Camden and through Regents park to Little Venice. Third day without locks but crossing an aqueduct over the M25 , gets us back to Willow Tree. So there is a potential day spare which could be spent either at the beginning , middle or end .

One possibility is that we use Friday to arrive, launch and potter up Northwards on the Grand Union hence allowing any stragglers to join and be ready to start towards the Thames on the Saturday . Alternatively if we can get off by mid morning Friday we can go to Limehouse and then next day do a day trip exploring further down the Thames or else explore the River Lea which goes past the Olympic Park .

Lastly , depending on peoples time schedules a Friday to Sunday trip could be arranged with optional extra day on Monday .

I have done this trip before , led by Mark and found it a fascinating way to visit London. I wisjh I could stay on my boat for a month in London ....the cheapest hotel out!

Cost is basically:-

1)a weeks inland waterways licence (which allows you to stay anywhere except marinas which are extra)

2) there probably will be a slipway / trailer storage fee at Willow tree

3) a lock key....not entirely essential if going as a group

also required are

a4) good bright torch and working nav lights to use when going through the two tunnels

5)no high projecting structures ....aerials etc (the Mac M mast support is OK ) ...but PLEASE LEAVE THE MAST BEHIND !

6)VHF...that works without your mast !

7)Loads of fenders ....ideally ones that can be slung sideways or a running board strapped across fenders

8)Large tent pegs and a mallett to knock them in

9)a horn (powered or gas ) to warn other craft on bends etc

10) Inland waterways boat safety certificate .....for short stays it is not required to have an inspection , but just to fill out a self declared application on the internet.....with this it is simplest if boats that have gas installations just decide to disengage them / leave gas behind so as to avoid the question.

totally optional....bicycles and bathtubs strapped to coach roof, pots of geraniums and BBQs out the back !

All interested in this trip please make an entry on this forum .

Ros wont be joining me on this trip since we are expecting our first grandchild that weekend . I am awaiting confirmation from other family as to they can come but if not I might have room for another couple with me . Its possible however that I shall have to make a quick trip across London at some point to visit the progeny !

Roly Simpson

Aranah , MOA Secretary

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Just like to confirm my

Just like to confirm my interest. Do we have any firmer times/days? I have plenty of time, so can arrive on the Thursday if people want an early Friday start.

It's only 4 weeks away, and I need to book my ferry from the Isle of Wight (trials of living overseas!). So I'd welcome some fixing of dates.

Do we have any takers other than me, Tenacity, Aranah, plus Mark?

Rick Jones (Treasurer) 1994 Mac 19 "White Lightning", Isle of Wight

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I'd prefer to make it a 4-day

I'd prefer to make it a 4-day trip to give plenty of time - Fri-Mon, arriving Thur, returning Tue. However, I appreciate some may want to head home on Monday.

How about doing the route clockwise? Day 1 to Little Venice, perhaps detour into Paddington Basin. Day 2 to Limehouse Basin. Day 3 on the Thames to Brentford (might have time to explore down-river a bit first). Day 4 Brentford to Willow Tree, could be back by lunch time giving time to pull out and head back for those that need to.

I think the Thames tide flow should be slightly more favourable that way round too. I don't really know whether the tidal current is enough to matter though.

Rick Jones (Treasurer) 1994 Mac 19 "White Lightning", Isle of Wight

Looking forward to crewing

Looking forward to crewing for Roly on the upcoming Thames ring rally.The PLA has released a new app for Thames River users which puts a lot of live info in one place. including current tide info as well as next high and low times for 12 locations along the tidal stretch. There's a Notices to Mariners section, an events calendar and visitors mooring info and more. Should prove useful for Easter.

Cheers John 'Sonny' 26M

Thanks for heat research John

Thanks for heat research John. I will do some more tomorrow

It may be that Mark Kinnard and his wife will join us depending on boat readiness. He knows the London ring well.

Otherwise just the three boats.


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I've booked my trip up from

I've booked my trip up from the IoW, and will be arriving on the Thursday, and returning on the Tuesday.

I would really like to do the trip clockwise as I suggested, so that we are in Little Venice (or Paddington Basin) on the Friday night. The reason is that Glenis can't make it for the start, as it's her grand-daughter's birthday on Good Friday. However, she could get the train to London in the evening, and it's an easy hop from Waterloo to Paddington on the Bakerloo line.

That PLA app looks useful - thanks for the tip John!

Rick Jones (Treasurer) 1994 Mac 19 "White Lightning", Isle of Wight

OK rick that's certainly

OK rick that's certainly possible. I had an idea people might have gone down to Greenwich on Saturday from ime house since I heard the were some classic boats going to be there but that might have been a bit busy on the water.

As mentioned before another side trip is the Lea river.

Interested hear any thoughts. I'm easy . We could look into any music events etc locally but I may need to go and adore a newborn grandson.

..due on 15th! In South London.

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It strikes me that Willow

It strikes me that Willow Tree to Limehouse is a long trip for one day, there wouldn't be much pause for breath. And there's so often a delay of some kind getting moving on the morning of the first day!

Paddington would seem to be a more relaxed stretch to kick off with.

Then coming down to Limehouse the following day it looks like you can take a detour via the Lea before reaching the basin, which could fit in well.

Rick Jones (Treasurer) 1994 Mac 19 "White Lightning", Isle of Wight

We will arrive (hopefully) at

We will arrive (hopefully) at Willow Tree (wherever that is) on the Thursday afternoon at some point and then do as we're told! Do we need to book anything? We'll do the boat safety thing and get a licence - anything else?

It is useful to have a lock

It is useful to have a lock winder and also to purchase a key from the office at willow Tree that gets you into facilities and some locks may need it.

Also buy 1 week canal licence..

Don't forget a bright torch for the tunnels .

I shall try to get the afternoon off to join you lot Thursday afternoon.


I assumed that some/most

I assumed that some/most people will arrive on Good Friday & slip the boat. There's a good pub, Right at Bulls Bridge, to eat & stay the night if required. Setting off from the pub/Willow Tree on Saturday morning down through 11 locks to Brentford tidal lock & up to Limehouse for an overnight stay is a long day. I usually then push on up to Camden for the Sunday market and stay there or Paddington Basin/Little Venice on Sunday night. This leaves an easy day back to Willow Tree to slip out & head home on Monday. I still might not make it, but have done this trip many times, you will be pleased to get the Thames/Brentford/Willow Tree leg done when you are fresh & keen!

Kind regards

Mark Kinnard - Carpe Diem - 26M

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Hi Mark

Hi Mark

It looks like we're all going to be there and in the water Thursday night, ready to set off on Friday. This gives us 4 days to make the trip which will be more relaxed.

I could see that Willow Tree to Limehouse is a long haul, so I was hoping to arrange it not to have to do all that in one day. Hence clockwise, with a last stop at Brentford, seemed to ft better.

Rick Jones (Treasurer) 1994 Mac 19 "White Lightning", Isle of Wight

I now look  to be able to

I now look to be able to set off Thursday pm from Southampton so should launch that evening . We should then have 4 clear days. I need to be back at work Tuesday pm so will plan to pul out and return Monday eve.

I dont mind which way we do it but look to Marks experience. I seem to recall that Brentford wasnt much so it would be nice to do that leg in one. Last time we did it we were delayed and didnt leave till at least 12 so had to rush down through the locks but I think if we set off early it would be leisurely with time for a picnic since it was v pleasant along the canal. Perhaps you are concerned Rick that it would be best to do the locks once you have your crew with you. ...and also she might enjoy more the Thames cruise.

So , on Thursday night we could go to the nice place around the corner.

Friday explore local canals a bit and then on around the North orf London to Little Venice. Saturday , via Camden to Limehouse and possible detour to Olympic site on River Lea . Sunday excursion down river towards Greenwich and back to Limehouse , Monday am to Brentford and Pm up through the locks. you think that would be too late for pulling out Mark?

Alternatively we use the extra day to arrive back at Willow tree on the Sunday eve then do a short day trip from there on the monday...

On a different point , I was looking at the boat licenciing section wrt boat safety requirement. It looks different than when I did it before. There used to be a form where you ticked that we did not have gas and it just allowed you to self declare .

Has anyone enquired further ? I wasnt expecting to actually have a boat safety inspection.

What do you do Mark ?


Roly is right, there is

Roly is right, there is nothing very nice at Brentford. Also the way you propose leaves the longest day & slipping the boat to the last day. When I have do this in the past, coming back from Camden to Willow tree is an easy last day & leaves you plenty of time to slip the boat & get away. Also the best day to visit Camden is Sunday.

I usually self cert regarding the boat safety, I do not have gas on my boat

Kind regards, Mark Kinnard

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Thanks for comments on

Thanks for comments on Brentford. The way I was thinking is that we'd come most of the way up the Thames on Sunday, then a short hop the last day to Willow Tree, again giving plenty of time. I wasn't planning on spending Sunday night at Limehouse. Is there nowhere to moor on the Thames, say around Chiswick or Kew?

Rick Jones (Treasurer) 1994 Mac 19 "White Lightning", Isle of Wight

I don't think there is

I don't think there is anywhere official on the tidal Thames, having said that I have moored once the tidal side of Brentford!

Hi Rick,

Hi Rick,

There is the Hurlingham Yacht Club, on the North side just upstream of Putney Bridge which, according to their website, welcomes visitors with prior notice. It may still be a way to go to reach Brentford lock, but not a bad stopover area although it may be a tad expensive. Their website is easily reached via Google.

Cheers, John Richardson 'Sonny' 26M

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Thanks for that suggestion

Thanks for that suggestion John. That led me to a useful map on the PLA web site:

If you un-check all the boxes in the panel on the right, then check just "Visitor moorings", you'll see only relevant markers.

There's quite a few, though some are midstream so no use for us. Hurlingham is there, then further upstream is Dove Pier - looks basic but two nearby pubs, then Chiswick Pier Trust with full facilities. Lastly is Kew Marine, though their web page doesn't say anything about visitors.

All suggest pre-booking, which I guess would be essential at Easter. Is there any need to pre-book on the canals? Could Little Venice or Limehouse be full?

Looks like there's a few options anyway.

Rick Jones (Treasurer) 1994 Mac 19 "White Lightning", Isle of Wight

Are thoughts are: are these

Are thoughts are: are these Thames-side moorings in the river or sheltered at all? What about tidal streams in the river?? Should we be working out which way it will be going during our days??!! What about being in Camden for the Sunday? Otherwise we know nothing!

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Info for Hammersmith &

Info for Hammersmith & Chiswick is on their web sites:

No web site for Dove Pier.

Low tide is mid-late morning, so tidal flow is up-river late morning until late afternoon.

Is Sunday Camden Market day? There's always a lot going on at Camden Lock every day from what I remember!

Rick Jones (Treasurer) 1994 Mac 19 "White Lightning", Isle of Wight

Thanks for that. We'll look

Thanks for that. We'll look them up. Dave currently favours anticlickwise but is persuadable! We don't know anyway

Hi guys. I'm sorry I've not

Hi guys. I'm sorry I've not really had time to look up tide times etc . I think the Limehouse to willow Tree is ok if we could start off early and have tide slack or in favour on the Thames but would be much slower progress with tide strongly against. Problem not ideal with strong tidal flow in our direction since would have to go at some speed to keep steerage.

Providing tide is suitable then we could go clockwise and even spend Friday night on local canals then onto little Venice Saturday stop in Camden Sunday am thence to Limehouse.

I had thought we might have gone anticlockwise on Friday am early in good time for Limehouse and then used the extra day to explore before going up past Camden on Sunday stopping the night at little Venice.

As I say .it depends a bit on tidal flow. I haven't however looked at John's suggestion yet so am very open.


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For tides see my earlier post

For tides see my earlier post, it favours up-river. Going down will be mostly against​ a spring tide.

Rick Jones (Treasurer) 1994 Mac 19 "White Lightning", Isle of Wight

Dear All

Dear All

Just to confirm, I will not be attending the Easter trip around the London Ring.

Kind regards

Mark Kinnard

I rang the Willowtree today

I rang the Willowtree today to ask about buying the licence etc. from them and she said we need to arrive before 1500 as there is another group of boats planning to launch that day and they have to "put the posts back in the river" ???!

Then I asked about the Boat Safety Certificate, I phoned the CanalRiverTrust and I can't find anyway of self-certificating??? Our boats do not meet the requirements to be exempt and I am puzzled as to why we haven't come across this before - my log book is stuffed with canal/river licences but no mention of any boat safety? I have a number for the boat safety people to ring tomorrow - unless anyone knows more??


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The Canal & River Trust web

The Canal & River Trust web page for licence info is here:

​The safety thing is a bit woolly. You only actually need a certificate if the boat is used for more than 56 days in a year. If not you don't need any forms, but the boat should comply with the rules, unless it's exempt. I.e. you can say you comply, and it's fine unless someone decides to inspect the boat and be picky. I think that's what Mark meant by "self-certification". There's a chart that will tell you if you're exempt or not here:

In summary, a boat's only exempt if it has no gas and no electrical system. Maybe an electric-start outboard and a couple of instruments don't count as an "electrical system" - I don't know. Just say your boat complies and hope for the best!

Rick Jones (Treasurer) 1994 Mac 19 "White Lightning", Isle of Wight

Yes  that's correct. They

Yes that's correct. They only require you to have the boat inspection certificate if more than 56 days in the year. Otherwise or short term licence you can do the boat declaration which seems to be a lot simpler than before. If you go to ghetto licencing section to useful downloads you can read the declaration which asks nothing about electrics, only whether log stored and that fuel tanks comply with regs.

After clicking short term licence you can selection apply for licence on line. This will require you to register first. Then as you go go rough ghetto application you select boat declaration.and check appropriate boxes. Simple. Even I did it!

PS you will need insurance document to hand and best to bring with you on the trip. ....I need to check includes inland waterways.


PS. Liz and dave.....Rick and I had a chat and it appears best all round to go anticlockwise (correction!) so to little Venice or Camden Friday night.

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Thanks Roly. I've just done

Thanks Roly. I've just done mine online now too, I hadn't realised the boat declaration was just part of the application - easy!

Rick Jones (Treasurer) 1994 Mac 19 "White Lightning", Isle of Wight



I've just been speaking to the Canal & River Trust because they have me registered but can't find my customer number and she tells me that the C&RT licence only applies to the canals and that one needs a separate licence to venture out onto the River Thames from the Environment Agency and they won't let you through the lock at Limehouse if you don't have one - and she mentioned the safety thing again, electrics etc.

Anyone know anything about this???!!!

Well she's not actually

Well she's not actually correct if you read rheir webite

Despite initially saying short term licence is for row boars etc it subsequently states that you only need safety inspection if more than 56 days.otherwise you can self declare but they have the right to board and chuck you off if they think your boat looks practice for a few days it's not going to happen. The application clearly asks whether you want canal and river or just's all clear when you do the application on line. Just get new password.


This was the information I

This was the information I had 3 to 4 years ago when I was based on the Thames.

You do need a license to use the Grand Union Canal. You can get a visitors license from Limehouse Basin Marina, 020 7308 9930 or from the lock-keeper at Thames Lock Brentford, 020 8560 1120.

They may ask you some questions about safety, waste disposal etc

You are supposed to wear a lifejacket while on the River but many don't. Official launches keep a fatherly eye on what is occurring and may give you a quick once over and 'loud hail' you.

You may need a windlass to operate the l canal locks; ask the licensing people where to get them them but I believe it to be the Canal and River Trust.

Thames VHF channel is 14 (between Teddington and Dagenham.

I am sure you know to keep to the right.

Loads of tributaries, drains etc empty into the Thames and create cross currents which can knock you off your nice straight course if you lose concentration.

Good Luck, all. Have a great time.Lots of local brews to enjoy including beers, Gins, etc. from canal side pubs.

I shall be on the Blue Danube this Easter.

Simon Armitage

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Simon said:

Simon said:

I shall be on the Blue Danube this Easter.

Waltzing off to Europe - whatever next? !!

Have fun :-)

Rick Jones (Treasurer) 1994 Mac 19 "White Lightning", Isle of Wight

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The tidal Thames (that's up

The tidal Thames (that's up to Teddington) is managed by the PLA, not the C&RT. The PLA site for leisure users is As far as I can see there's no requirement for a licence - only commercial vessels need to be licensed.

As Roly says, technically they can inspect any boat but in reality they're not going to spend time on that without good reason.

I did get a "canal and river" licence though, because there's the possibility of venturing onto the Lea in East London, which I presume requires the "river" part.

Rick Jones (Treasurer) 1994 Mac 19 "White Lightning", Isle of Wight

I've had a message from

I've had a message from willow Tree marina to say that we need to launch by 4pm and that they put up a post at 5pm when they leave.

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No problem, I should be there

No problem, I should be there by lunch time.

Rick Jones (Treasurer) 1994 Mac 19 "White Lightning", Isle of Wight

Yes - she said to me 3 o

Yes - she said to me 3 o'clock (see earlier) so 4 would be better. We should be able to be there by then - if we manage to get up in time!!