A brilliant and eventful long row to Wallingford

10 intrepid rowers made the trip to Wallingford. A fag packet estimate of 33km, made after looking at google maps without glasses, was reduced to 24km the day before so everyone set off feeling like Christmas had come early!

Conditions were absolutely perfect – no wind, warm but not hot, a few clouds to add a bit of shade just when needed. Two of the touring boats, one sweep, one scull, set off at 9.20am after some time-honoured GGBC faffing about.

We headed into Goring Lock, followed by Cleve Lock in quick succession, and then the open river stretched ahead all the way to Wallingford. We had a warm welcome at Wallingford BC, parked up and ate our sandwiches, hit the bar (a few managing a pint!) – then it was round to Anne and Colin’s for coffee and cake.

It was interesting to see how tightly packed the inside of Wallingford Boathouse is. Goodness knows how they get their boats in and out! It was mind boggling.

As we set off on the way back, a call came in that Goring Lock was broken! Would be fixed in a couple of hours. No problem we thought.. by the time we get there all will be well. However, Anne’s orange cake kicked in and we flew back down the river in record (for the day) time. Both boats managed a 500m sprint with racing start down the regatta course and in front of the admiring gaze of diners at Don Giovanni’s, we gave ourselves a big cheer.

Then we rowed into Cleve lock. Had a chat with the lock keeper who said it was a boat park on the other side of the lock, as Goring Lock was still out of action with no sign of it being fixed any time soon. A wait of several hours was looking likely. Not something a bottom that has spent several hours on a rowing seat was looking forward to. So we reversed back out. Well done Krzysztof – first time coxing and he coxed the crew into and then back out of a lock.

A few minutes spent milling about contemplating our options now we had to abandon ship: where to park, should we trailer?, boat security, evening appointments looming. Then, with marvellous efficiency untypical of GGBC (but we are now claiming as our own), Gail and her husband Paul (a non rower) sorted out accommodation for the boats (big thanks to the sailing club), got the lock keepers number and gave us all lifts back to the boathouse.

The next day, we were a few long rowers down due to prior commitments, so 5 lovely club members who were looking for a fast early morning row, instead came with us to the sailing club and rowed the boats back through the now working lock.

All is well that ends well. Thank you all and hats off to Gail and Paul for organising our response to abandon ship, and those that helped retrieve the boats the next day. It was a memorable and eventful day (and a morning) on a glorious stretch of Thames.