Fringe Box



Narrowboats, Canoeists, Paddle-boarders and Anglers Back on the Wey

Published on: 21 Jun, 2020
Updated on: 22 Jun, 2020

The Bella Blu makes its escape after seven months “in captivity”.

The River Wey in Guildford re-opened to all river traffic yesterday morning, Saturday (June 20) at around 9am. It had been closed since the collapse of the Tumbling Bay Weir in Millmead in November.

The first boat to escape from Farncombe Boat House at Catteshall was seen making its way downstream yesterday and more are likely to follow.

The narrowboat pictured, Bella Blu, was just one of the boats caught up in the river closure caused by the collapse of the Tumbling Bay Weir in November. It had been undergoing repair work at Catteshall.

Boathouse managing director Russell Chase said: “I guess they were making a speedy escape just as soon as they could back to their home mooring back on the River Thames, I believe.”

Canoeists enjoying the re-opened River Wey

Canoeists were also enjoying the re-opening this morning, Sunday, and a father and son were setting up for some fishing by the St Catherine’s footbridge.

More canoeists and fishermen on the re-opened River Wey

But yesterday’s traffic was not the very first to test out the “re-watered” stretch between St Catherine’s and Millmead Locks. Keith Chesterton sent in this photo of a paddle border on Thursday.

Was this the very first craft on the re-opened Wey?

Russell Chase is hoping that he can now get his boat hire business back on stream. He said: “Our day boat operation has just been given the green light by the government to re-open for days-only with some measures being put in place for Covid-19 protocol both on the boats and our site at Farncombe Boat House and we plan to re-open for day hire from 1st July onwards and hope we can at least save some of the remaining season.

Farncombe Boat House

We now really need the support of the local community to book a boat to enjoy the river once more. Each boat will hold up to maximum of 10 persons and are available 9.30am to 5.30pm.

“We will ensure the safety of our customers and staff with robust cleaning regime and detailed handover tuition with social distancing in place.

“At this moment in time, we still do not have any government guidance on re-opening our holiday narrowboat fleet nor the rowboats canoes or punt hire but we hope this will come in due course with further easement of lockdown.

“The last eight months have been hell in the long life of the boathouse, one we will never forget. We are about to concentrate on opening a dialogue with the National Trust, both our landlord and the river authority, about our forced business closure to see what support they can now offer us. We had agreed to defer the matter until the river re-opened.”

But it was not entirely good news, walkers are still unable to use the towpath where it crosses Tumbling Bay Weir in Millmead and it is not expected to re-open for up to two years, according to GBC’s project engineer.

Information about Farncombe Boat House can be found at: including their Covid-19 countermeasures

See more Tumbling Bay Weir Stories here.

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Responses to Narrowboats, Canoeists, Paddle-boarders and Anglers Back on the Wey

  1. John Schluter Reply

    June 21, 2020 at 5:36 pm

    Surely these are narrowboats? Aren’t longboats what the Vikings used?

    Editor’s note: Yes, thank you for your correction. No raiding parties reported, so headline amended.

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