1 Jun 2015

An afternoon river cruise

After we had our lunch at the Kennet-side pub our family group went back into Reading for an afternoon cruise on the Thames.
Some of you may remember that we went to Mapledurham House and Mill a couple of years ago
and we were supposed to have taken the boat back into Reading as part of the tour. However, the boat trip was cancelled by the tour operator because of some technical problem with the boat's engine.  It was a shame because the boat, the Devon Belle, has quite an interesting history.  Built in 1938 it is one of the Little Ships of Dunkirk as she helped evacuate the Allied troops in 1940. She stayed with the RN and had a role with the mulberry harbours which were built on the south coast and were then towed to Normandy on D.Day to service the invasion.  After the war she became a pleasure cruiser in Devon until she came to the Thames in 1999.

The Devon Belle - photo www.thamesrivercruise.co.uk
This time the river trip had been arranged by our daughter as a combined treat for my birthday and our golden wedding anniversary (which is this month) and the boat that was available that day was another one of the fleet, the Caversham Princess. Although the weather was rather cloudy most of the cruise, which makes the water look brown and not very appealing in the photos, it was a leisurely experience made even more enjoyable because two or our grandsons had been able to get a rare two days off work to be with us. Their brother had travelled to Reading to be with us for a family meal a few days before.

Feeding the swans and other water birds that congregate near Caversham Bridge and Promenade has been going on for years.  These days there are so many of them there's a notice requesting people not to encourage them onto the path, but only to feed those swimming in the water, as they make a mess around the landing stage area and the swans can also be quite domineering.

Here comes our cruise boat, the Caversham Princesss.

This swan, however, stood patiently by the boat without making a fuss, perhaps waiting and hoping for some food from those who came off the boat.

We passed Caversham Court Gardens.

1st Reading (YMCA) Sea Scout Group Headquarters.

Ducks and ducklings

Houses whose gardens go down to the river bank.  I vaguely remember going to a garden party in the garden of one of the older houses with the Victorian/Edwardian architecture as a child. Most of the others are newer builds.

Out into open countryside now and I went down to stand at the prow of the boat joined by my husband and the others from time-to-time as tea was being served inside.

Mapledurham Lock

Visitors to Mapledurham House were waiting to come on board.

Mapledurahm Mill and Mill Pond

A heron

Mapledurham Church from the river bank

Mapledurham House from the river

Back to Caversham

The Promenade - a favourite place to have a picnic and take a walk

Caversham Bridge again

Looking down at the birds from the boat before we disembarked......

......and we were pleased to see the black swan or an offspring of the one we always look out for when we're visiting this stretch of the River Thames.


  1. i would love to see all those swans, i have only seen two and they are in a jungle garden here, not wild but domestic. love that thatched roof house hanging over the water and the blue fence is so pretty

  2. It looks like you had a lovely trip and it makes it all the more special when family can be there with you. There's some beautiful riverside houses, I saw one or two which I wouldn't mind myself if I won the lottery.

  3. Lovely photos of some interesting river-side hideaways.... and congratulations on your approaching 50th wedding anniversary. Jx

  4. What a wonderful way to spend a birthday! I did enjoy all the swan pics, especially the black one, the geese and heron are a treat too! Oh...those houses are fabulous and I loved that boathouse? the one with the thatched roof! Happy birthday, sounds like you had a ball!xxx

  5. What a great way to see the river! Lovely to see all of those houses too!! There are some very pretty ones aren't there. Happy Birthday and Anniversary to you as well!! Congratulations! xx

  6. I love to go on boat rides/river cruises, it's such a calm and tranquil way to take in the sights, sounds and scenery around you. That sure was a lot of swans, I can understand why some people may feel intimidated by them.

  7. Thanks for sharing this lovely river cruise, Linda! Congrats on your upcoming golden anniversary! What a thoughtful gift from your daughter! Your photos made me feel like I had been on the cruise with you. Thanks for sharing the history of the Devon Belle; for those of us with a longer life experience the little boats of Dunkirk have a special place in our hearts. How I would love having such magnificent swans in my area! Have a happy day! Hugs!

  8. This is the most beautiful countryside that you visited. I so enjoyed seeing all the photos and learning about the history of the boat. And, the swans are amazing. It looks like you had a wonderful time. Happy Anniversary to you, too!

  9. How wonderful to have this river cruise. It is just beautiful. We once were in Reading, but to meet friends and take a car trip through the Cotswolds. Oh such beautiful country.

  10. I love the story of the boat and all the pictures. The ducks are gorgeous! Congratulations for your upcoming golden anniversary! I really love to know such beautiful places in Reading! I would like to go to this trip and see the houses along the river. Thanks for sharing them!

    Cheers, Sandra

  11. Thank you everyone for your good wishes.
    Linda :)