We were woken by Jim wanting to go out at 4 am this morning and looking out, the river was flat calm with the houses reflecting in the water like a mirror.
Leaving the mooring we descended Shepperton lock and took the 3/4 of a mile long Desborough Cut so avoiding two very large loops of the river on the other side of Desborough Island. The modern Walton Bridge then came into view closely followed by the tent and shed campsite like those we had seen earlier on our way down river. Sunbury Lock is actually two locks, a canoe portage, and boat roller. The mechanised lock on the south side is normally used for boats but the hand operated one on the north side can be used at peak times.
Next came Hampton still linked to the south shore by ferry and with its prominent Church visible from some distance before arriving at the town. Hampton owes its existence not to Hampton Court but to Hampton House bought by David Garrick in 1754. By the river is Garrick’s temple built to house Roubiliac’s bust of Shakespeare.
Approaching Molesey Lock you enter Houseboat world with some fantastic two story boats. Here we had a pump out (£9) and filled with water. On the right hand side is Molesey Rowing Club with this vertical Totem Pole of a rowing eight.
Arriving at Hampton Court there was, surprisingly to us, plenty of mooring right outside the Palace with its gilded gates. It was too hot to take Jimmy out reaching 34 degrees in the boat so I did a quick reconnoitre of the area finding several small food shops across the bridge in East Molesey and even Henry X111 strolling in the palace grounds. The picture of our mooring was taken from Cigarette Island. The ancient name of Cigarette Island was 'The Sterte', mentioned as early as 1306, and which almost certainly comes from the Old English word 'Steart', a tail of land, an apt description of its situation between the two rivers. In 1843 it was called 'Davis's Ait' after the family of Davis who at one time kept the nearby Castle Inn. The present name derives from a houseboat called Cigarette which used to be moored here.
Across the road from the palace is Bushy Park a magnificent area of lakes woods and a pond with the Diana Fountain in the middle.The fountain lies in the centre of a roadway from Hampton Court Gate to Teddington Gate.
Since Cookham we have been buzzed by aircraft taking off from Heathrow with Runnymede being the loudest and lowest flight path so far, but even here at Hampton they are still very noisy.