Racing towards the Regatta

After a few days watching the world go by at Lower Shiplake, we were ready to cruise the 2 miles downstream to what is probably one of the most prestigious places to be seen on the Thames, Henley. First we had to cruise past a house featured on Grand Designs,

Definitely a des res

Then after we had passed through Marsh lock, we passed the Henley Rowing club, just one of many multi story carparks for rowing boats, no wonder the river is so busy, and this is just a tiny fraction of what we saw. We’re convinced they deliberately all go out for spin at exactly the same time of the day just to confuse the nervous narrowboats

Henley rowing club

We cruised around the Rod Eyot, (an Eyot being a small river island, commonly seen on (in?) the Thames.) Rod Eyot is populated with about 10 chalets, fancy living somewhere surrounded by water.

Rod Eyot and friends

And for £10 a night (£55 a week) we finally moored up on Marsh Meadows. One of the necessary flood planes, a few minutes walk into the town.

Marsh meadow mooring

Of course what Henley is world famous for now is the annual 5 day Henley Royal Regatta, HRR, which takes place at the end of June/beginning of July, but the race course is set up and used for several other regattas during June and July. We were able to stand on the bridge and see the end of the course and the start of the hospitality.

The fun starts here

Not only is the rowing highly competitive, but I think the social scene is too. And looking back upstream we could see boats and people as far as the eye could see. (We were moored beyond the treeline)

We thought it was time to do some entertaining of our own and Eric’s brother and his wife came to see us. We had a lovely lunch on board, sipping something chilled, as one does in this part of the world,

before we went for a stroll around the town.

The market place

And to see the bridge

Henley bridge

The river and rowing museum was closed the 2 days we stayed in Henley, but one of the riverside info boards showed this painting, an 17thC version of street view looking towards Henley Bridge, when the river was just as much a focal point for the towns economy, albeit in a much more laborious way. It shows the “Flash Lock” designed stem the flow of water downstream whilst the cargo barges queued up behind it, the resulting whoosh of water as it was opened sent the barges hurtling downstream ‘riding the wave’. It sounds quite fun, but it was physically a very hard and dangerous job, and many lost their lives working on the river.
Jan Siberechts (1627–c.1703), 1698

Henley on Thames from Wargrave Road

Nowadays the river is just as essential to the towns economy, just in a more gentle fashion