The morning was said to be fine so we set off for a walk up the tow path to see what we could see.
We walked up to the Brookwood Locks and found this very fat grey wagtail. There must be plenty of food around for this one.
There was no working going on at Lock 12 where the stoppage is supposed to be, but as we walked on up the flight we were passed by a Basingstoke Canal Authority van with a couple in it. There was not enough room in the van for items to drain the lock etc so it makes me wonder if they will have the job done for 0900 on Wednesday. Before we left the boat we called the Canal people and told them that we had decided to turn round as we had run out of time. They called back straight away and offered us a repayment of 50% as it was their fault. We have there for got here and hopefully back for £20!
We walked on up the towpath until we came to the next flight of locks, the Deepcut or Frimley Locks. Just before the first one at Pirbright Bridge was this well preserved pill box from WWII. It is a prefabricated concrete one that just slotted together.
At each of the openings there was this design which I assume was to try to prevent ricochets entering the pill box. Also at the base of the apperture was the triangular shape and slots. Again I assume that this was to take the seating of a machine gun tripod mounting. Just near here is Pirbright Camp which is an Army Training Centre. 3000 acres of heathland was bought by the war office in 1875. It became the base for the Brigade of Guards and had firing ranges. We heard plenty of firing going on and we wondered if we had missed some major item of news this morning? The camp was enlarged in the 1950's and has three barracks. Alexander house the Army Training Centre, Elizabeth is the base of the Welsh Guards. Brunswick Barracks house the course training centre for the Household Division and the Parachute Regiment.
The first three of the Deepcut Locks look as if the water is a bit deeper and there is little weed on the centre of the canal, although there are lillies to the sides. This area is known as the Chobham Ridges which are low lying and sandy heaths.
When I first saw this I thought they were lime kilns or some other industrial site as I though that the metal items were boilers. In fact a look at the map showed that an old railway line crossed the canal here. I have never seen the metal supports being left like this as you would have thought the scrap man would have had them by now.
We crossed the canal and walked up in to Sheet's Heath Common. This is a 65 acre are that is a managed habitat. They say that near to the canal is ideal for British reptiles. It was a bit dull and not too warm so it was no surprise that we didn't see any perhaps. Parts of it reminded me of Hopwas Woods on the Coventry that had been an army firing range.
The Common is managed and there was evidence of the belted Galloway cattle that are loose and grazing there to try to keep some of the open habitats. This pond was a surprise as I thought it would have drained in the sandy soil but will make it very valuable for the fauna here.
We continued across the common and into Knaphill which has plenty of shops etc. We bought some items at the Tesco there and then headed back to the boat. There was an old mental hospital near the village and in fact it was the second county Mental Hospital to be built and completed in 1867. It had a dairy farm, cobblers shop, fire brigade, gas works and sewage farm! it closed in 1994 and much of the land was sold off for housing and some of the buildings altered to apartments. The original chapel is now a Buddhist temple and the mortuary their accommodation.
Helen took us through the wood and directly to the boat moorings, more by luck than judgement, but she is very good with a map. After lunch I decided to wash the boat. I started with the roof and by the time I had just about finished that of course the heavens opened. I decided to carry on as it would help with rinsing and would mean that I wouldn't need to leather it off. I hope it looks better in the end. I then set to trying to sort out the buildings insurance for home. My quote was for £250. I checked on line and could get a comparable policy for £125. It is very difficult to get an exact comparison but I'm sure it is 'good enough'. That is another thing that 'T's me off in a supermarket. The fruit is sold loose and in bags. One will be marked as per fruit and the other per kilogramme so it is impossible to compare. Mini rant over. I called the first insurance company and they asked all the usual questions. The only change was that my daughter no longer lives with us. That put up my premium by £1-75?? Anyway they offered me another policy that brought the cost to £420!! Well I said thanks, but no thanks and went with Policy Expert. I hope I never need to make a claim on it though. All down hill tomorrow.