Wednesday, 15 October 2008

Hampton Ferry

I quite like Calmac ferries; they're big, comfortable, stable in even rougher weather and many do a good curry and chips.

However Calmac ferries aren't a patch on the best ferry in the world, which can be found at Hampton in Evesham. There's no lifeboats here, no safety advice over the tannoy. You pile on, and sit on the bench (only on one side, so the ferry tends to lean). Dogs can either join you or swim alongside. There's no vending machines or cafe, it's 50p and there's no RET reduction.


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There's no bridges for some distance in each direction, so the ferry provides a useful shortcut between the town and the village of Hampton. It also provides a quick way for people staying in caravans on the west bank to get over to the parks and town on the east. It's open from March to October, so I was able to take this during one of the last crossings of this year:

[youtube:http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=mUDWPG-Oees]

How it works is simple. There's a chain across the river that goes through two loops attached to the ferry. The ferryman pulls on the chain; the boat moves acrosss the river.

The only problem are boats approaching in either directions. They can either wait for the ferry to get across and the ferryman to hand-crank the chain till it's well under the water line. Or, for the rowers who zip up and down the river, you can just go under it:


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I like the Hampton ferry. It's only concession to the 'modern age' is that it has a website; apart from that and a few changes of staff, it's as it was when I used it for the first time um nearly four decades ago. Long may it continue.

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