Thursday, 27 September 2007

September Cruise: Part Three

Day 13 - Wednesday 18 September

The lock keeper opened his office at Godstow Lock at 9am, and we were there to buy our one day licence. It cost £26.50, which is quite a lot for one day. It includes a second day free, though, although we had no time to make use of it. We were soon going up in the lock, then dodging Godstow Bridge, and negotiating the sharp bends up towards King's Lock. King's Lock was open, so we went straight in, and the lady lock keeper emerged to do the hard work. Then it was a right turn into Duke's Cut, and eventually to Duke's Cut Lock, which has a railway bridge right over the chamber, and back onto the canal network.

We stopped for lunch at the Boat Inn at Thrupp. As we approached the visitor moorings by the main street, a coach disgorged its load of pensioner passengers. We must have had our photo taken a dozen times. It seems that once aboard a narrowboat, you become public property! After lunch we moved onto the water point to fill up, then continued retracing our steps for the rest of the afternoon, mooring for the night just below Dashwood Lock, before the railway line gets too close for comfort.

12 miles, 10 locks. (148, 101)

Day 14 - Thursday 20 September

A short journey to start the day, to the water point at Lower Heyford. While the tank was filling, Adrian and his mum went to the shop at Oxfordshire Narrowboats. It turned out to be very well stocked (certainly much better than the one at Aynho Wharf), if rather expensive. It seems that since the Heyfords both lost their village shop, the boatyard has taken over the role.

Stopped for lunch just after Somerton Deep Lock, with its pretty cottage, just as the rain came down.

The rain sisn't last long, and the afternoon was actually quite sunny. Between Bridge 190 at Aynho and the Weir Lock we continually saw a kingfisher darting in front of the boat. He flashed past in a blaze of blue at least a dozen times. Our mooring for the night was just past Bridge 172, almost exactly the same spot as a few days ago.

14 miles, 8 locks. (162, 109)

Day 15 - Friday 21 September

Various boaters who'd passed us the day before had told us about a very heavy lift bridge just before Banbury. It's usually chained open, but the farmer was working in the fields on the other side of the canal so it was down. We'd heard stories of two people hanging on the chain, and still being unable to lift the brigde, so we were prepared for the operation to take some time and effort. In the event, though, Adrian managed it on his own. Either he's exceptionally strong, or the bridge had losened up a bit.

We stopped for water at the point below the lock in Banbury. While the tank was filling, I recognised the boat coming down the lock as Ten Bob Note. I went to say hello the Ernie, as I've been following his journey on his webiste. We had a good chat as we swapped places: we went into the lock, and he moored up at the water point. We tied up in the town centre, and spent a while shopping.

We made good progress in the afternoon. The five Claydon Locks took 50 minutes, and by 6pm we were mooring up at Fenny Compton. In the marina, I spotted Ragdoll, the home of Rosie and Jim, and Waterway Routes, the electric powered boat reviewed in the October edition of Canal Boat.

12 miles, 13 locks. (174, 122)

Day 16 - Saturday 22 September

Woke to a beautiful still morning, which made a nice change from the blustery conditions of the past few days. We left our mooring at 9, and stopped for water a few hundred yards later. As we were pulling away from the water point, a boat stopped behind and a woman dashed off to the BW skip with a bag of rubbish. Within a few minutes, the boat was right behind us. And I mean right behind us. It was so close we could hear its tiller squeaking. As the summit is so twisty, with lots of blind bridge holes, I wasn't happy about having another boat only six feet off our tail, so as the first wide straight section I signalled to them to come past (and gave them a few words of advice as they did so!) It didn't do them much good, as they were just leaving the top Napton Lock as we arrived.

We went down the first two locks in the flight, then stopped for lunch on the well deck in the sunshine.

There were plenty of boats coming up (including three OwnerShips boats in a row), but not too many going down, so we completed the flight in a much shorter time than a week ago. At the bottom, we stopped at the little shop by the Folly pub for an ice cream.

The stretch between the locks and Napton Junction was extremely busy with hire boats which had just been picked up. We turned onto the Grand Union, and moored up on the offside by the BW reservoir for the night. We spent some time cleaning the boat inside and out, ready for the next owners.

12 miles, 9 locks. (186, 131)

Day 17 - Sunday 23 September

After a final cooked breakfast, we moved down to the water point above Calcutt Locks to fill up, then went down the first lock to Calcutt Boats for diesel and a pump out. We shared the remaining two locks with a tiny day boat from Wigram's Turn. The final bits of cleaning were done as we travelled to Stockton Top. As the services there are closed on a Sunday, we moored on the diesel point, as that was by far the closest place to the car, to unpack. Then it was home by car, ready for work the next day.

2 miles, 3 locks. (188, 134)


google said...

It's nice to see out boat was still safe at Fenny Compton when you passed.

The boat was built there and we collected it on Good Friday. After using it all summer we had returned it for some warranty work. We're collecting it tomorrow.

I've added your blog to teh links on the main website at



Nic said...

Wow three weeks out - I guess there is something to be said for buying shares on a new boat with several shares available. We were out for two weeks mainly because being 11th this time I chose one week next to a blank week knowing I could get the other as a fourth (the people 12th could have gone for it but (a) it was unlikely and (b) I'd swapped a week as a favour* due to an O/S cockup (* well they could have got the week by forcing a reselection of weeks at the meeting).
I'm surprised you hadn't chosen to do the London Ring which is a hectic two week but leisurely three week outing (okay I realise the "boat driving lesson" prevented this, but hope you get the chance to, I haven't yet)

Adam said...

Hi Nic -- Not quite three weeks (I wish!), just a couple of extra days on the end. We're 11th in the pecking order for next year's bookings, so interesting to hear your strategy. Sounds like one worth following!