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Buddy effortlessly towing the IONA

On bank holiday Monday SurreyK travelled the Victorian way along an unspoilt stretch of the River Wey in Surrey.

Originally all barges or narrowboats were either hauled by horses or manually by bow haulers.  Then came mechanisation with first steam, then diesel and electric motors.

The Godalming Packet Boat Company have revived an old tradition and today the IONA is the only working horse drawn vessel operating anywhere along the river Wey.


Stopping for a snack

Beautiful Buddy is a 12 year old Clydesdale X gelding who came from Montgomery canal where he was working for Bywater cruises.


IONA tea bar

The IONA is a full length narrowboat (72ft) 19.5 meters, and retains the stunning traditional Victorian paintwork.  She began her working life in 1935 carrying cargoes of coal, lime juice, chocolate crumb and steel billets along the Grand Union Canal.  In 1958 she starred in ‘The Bargee,’ a canal based British comedy with Harry H Corbett, Ronnie Barker, Eric Sykes, Richard Briers and Derek Nimmo.  She was converted in 1968 to operate as a horse-drawn trip boat.  Since 1985 she has been a regular sight along Godalming Navigation.

iona horse drawn narrow boat

Alizee – French Comtois chestnut


Cream tea served from the IONA tea bar

If the stillness and beauty of the River Wey is not enough then you can enjoy a delicious cream tea as part of your journey.

I felt so relaxed by the end of our trip that I was sad to leave.


River Wey, Surrey