River & Mills

Wednesday, 4th March 2020, 10am - 6pm FULL

The Wey Navigation is one of the jewels in Surrey’s crown. Constructed a hundred years before the canal age, the Navigation runs for just under 20 miles from Weybridge to Godalming. The Navigation and its towpath provide a tranquil green corridor through some of Surrey’s loveliest countryside.

The Navigation was the brainchild of Sir Richard Weston of Sutton Place. The first ten miles from the Thames were opened in 1653 and extended to Godalming by 1764. The principal cargo was timber from Surrey’s forests destined for the shipbuilding yards on the banks of the Thames, but the Navigation was also an important route for the transport of wheat, flour and numerous other cargoes, including, in the early 1920s, a number of aircraft from Brooklands. Today, however, pleasure boats ply the Navigation and walkers and cyclists frequent the towpath.

On this workshop, we will visit the first three locks on the Navigation, starting at Thames Lock in Weybridge, the only manned lock on the Navigation. The picturesque lock keeper’s cottage is a replica of its eighteenth century predecessor. Next to it, an attractive development of waterside apartments stands on what was the site of paper, iron and oil seed mills from 1791 to 1963 when the last of many fires on the site finally put paid to further milling. After exploring the lock area, which offers many fine compositions, we will walk along the towpath towards Town Lock. This stretch of the Navigation runs behind the Portmore Park area of Weybridge. The land here was once a gift from James II to his mistress, the Countess of Dorchester. James stayed at the house on his last night in England after he abdicated. The water moves slowly along this stretch and on a still day offers nearly perfect reflections. Despite its proximity to Weybridge town centre, this is a peaceful section of the Navigation and, even in midsummer, your principal company may be damselflies, ducks and the occasional brightly-painted narrowboat.

After lunch in Weybridge, we rejoin the towpath at Town Lock and walk towards Coxes Mill and Lock. Coxes Lock is the Navigation’s deepest unmanned lock and the imposing Victorian edifice beside it, a Grade II listed building converted into apartments, is its biggest mill. The first mill here, built in the 1770s, worked iron. Water from the Navigation powered a hammer that was so noisy it became known locally as ‘Hackering Jack’. The mill pond is a nature reserve. It can be a good place to see Greater Crested Grebes and other waterfowl. There are plenty of opportunities for macro photography too, depending on the season, as well as, of course, capturing the imposing mill and lock.

This workshop is led by Rachael and will suit all levels of experience, from beginner to enthusiast. The locations offer opportunities to practice long exposure photography. If you use ND filters, you will definitely want to bring them along!

The cost of this workshop is £205 including lunch and refreshments.  (Alcoholic drinks excluded.) Group of 4 only.

To secure your place on the workshop, we take a £100 Deposit payable now which you can pay by clicking the PayPal link below (no PayPal account needed).



Four weeks before the day of the workshop we require the balance of £105 which is payable via Bank Transfer. You will receive instructions via email once the deposit is received.