Last Sunday I visited Pyford Lock on the River Wey Navigations with assorted family members, which is one of my current favourite places to go. It has pretty much everything you could ask for for a family afternoon out; a pub with good food, big garden and play area, ducks, boats, water, bridges, locks and ice cream. And, every time we’ve been since we discovered it, sunshine.
We ate lunch first, which was not only very tasty with good prompt service (considering we had to put our names down for a table on arrival as they were fully booked), but fairly reasonably priced too. This time I had the roasted stuffed butternut squash, but previously both Nick and I have had one of their larder boards, which are basically my favourite type of lunch; lots of delicious bits of things. And treacle tart for pud, one of my favourites, yum. The chocolate brownie was good too, as I liberated a piece from someone’s plate.
After a meal like that, you’ve really got to walk it off a bit, so we set off down the path by the canal. You don’t normally have to wait long for a boat to go through the lock, which is a mysteriously fascinating procedure to watch, for both adults and kids. The girls were in seventh heaven, as they got to help close and open the locks for the first time.
Before you go very far down the path, there is a perfect little bridge for playing Poohsticks, which Alice normally wins as Jessica hasn’t got the hang of the strategy of dropping the stick close to the bridge rather than throwing it in as far as you can.
There are also some amazing looking houses along the bank opposite the side you walk on, including a tiny folly-type building that has a plaque on it saying the poet John Donne used to live there. Although, rather incongruously, it’s situated in the grounds of an obviously new-build house. We wondered if it belonged to them; presumably he didn’t actually live in the little building itself.
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Despite both girls moaning about the distance we were walking, we made it all the way to the next lock, Walsham Gates, which has a pretty lock-keepers cottage. We reckoned the walk there and back was a good couple of miles, so I considered my lunch well and truly walked off. At least, that was what I told myself when I polished off half a packet of chocolate biscuits with my coffee when we got home.
Oh yeah, and on the way back we were passed by what looked like a running club. And bringing up the rear was a nun. Or someone dressed as a nun. Running. Like I said, this place has EVERYTHING.