Cruising down Britain's inland waterways on a canal boat, usually a narrowboat, has become cool again. It's no longer the domain of pipe smoking retirees with too much time on their hands. Youngsters, hipsters and families are moving in on their territory, ready to have a crack at life at 4 miles an hour. You only have to switch on your TV to stumble across Channel 5's very amusing Celebrity Carry On Barging and Channel 4's Great Canal Journeys. Not that long ago, BBC4 aired All Aboard! The Canal Trip. You see... it's all the rage.
Today, I wasn't on a narrowboat but instead, I took an afternoon trip to Teddington Lock. Teddington itself is a pretty and historic town that dates back to at least 960AD. It's well worth spending a few hours having a wander around. There are great shops, cafes and restaurants and Teddington has an authentic village feel to it. But if you only have a couple of hours to get some fresh air and take in some stunning views, head to Teddington Lock.
Teddington Lock is the perfect place to river watch and soak up life at one of the busiest locks on the Thames. While you're at it, you'll likely spot some happy travellers cruising along the river.
Today was a brisk, sunny winter's day. The river wasn't too busy but, as ever, The Anglers was pretty rammed. That said, Teddington Lock always has fairly heavy floating traffic. So much so, that five lock keepers man the lock 24 hours a day, 365 days of the year. There's even a refreshment shop on sunny days.
The first lock to be built here was made of timber and opened to river traffic in 1811. It was replaced in 1856/7. The barge lock was added in 1904. The other thing about Teddington Lock is that it's big - almost 200 metres long. The weir here is the largest on the Thames. It has 20 gates and around 1,535,000,000 gallons of water pours over Teddington Weir every day.
If you cross over to the Ham side of the bridge, you can also take a longer walk along the Thames Path. If you have time, head north towards Twickenham and you could do this wonderful walk in reverse, ending in Richmond: Walk the Historic Thames Path: Richmond to Twickenham.
Keep an eye out here for local wildlife too. You might just spot foxes, minks, kingfishers, swans and herons.