Monday, May 11, 2009

Another fine day, the last for a while?

We has a steady weekend just south of Banbury. I had my last weekend of long runs in preparation for next Sunday, Meg and I had some good walks around the area, and Mags relaxed, getting her breath back after a couple of heavy days at the end of last week.

Meg sampling the waters of the River Cherwell.
Goose Stepping?
I spent half of yesterday watching Jensen Button consolidating his lead in the F1 world championship, and feeling sorry for a disappointed Lewis Hamilton, unable to get anywhere near the pace of the likes of the Brawn and Red Bull cars.

Today we were off early, not long after 09:00. It had been a cool night, but the day soon warmed up with almost cloudless skies. The wind is back though, after taking a day off yesterday.

We had an easy trip down the first 4 locks, all of them set ready for us. Unusually, the bottom gates of these locks are single, rather than the more usual pair of mitred gates. This makes them heavy to get moving.

First Lock of the day, Grant’s Lock
Most of the many lift bridges are left open. A lot have been recently replaced, with the date carved into the cross beam.

Moving on down the canal, the elegant spire of St Peter and St Paul's church in Kings Sutton is clearly visible on the horizon.
The River Cherwell crosses the navigation between Nell Bridge and Aynho Weir Lock. There are indicator boards showing river levels and headroom under the bridge.
Just as well; there’s not a lot of clearance even at the current low levels.
Aynho Weir Lock is an odd lozenge shape. And is only nominally a foot deep. This will vary depending on river conditions. The shape is to ensure that a decent lock-full of water is sent down to the next pound, even though the drop is only shallow.

I think I’ve another nomination for the prettiest lock setting. Somerton Lock and cottage are delightful, well kept and in a beautiful setting. Today’s sunshine showed the spring flowers at their best.

Somerton Lock and cottage.

Apparently, the lady in the cottage sells ice cream on summer weekends.

From Somerton, the pound on to Lower Heyford is superb. There are long sections where there is no towpath hedge, just the canal alongside the watermeadows of the river valley. Then a leafy cutting leading to Lower Heyford Lock.

Cherwell River Valley.
We pulled over on piling at the end of the lock landing below the lock. It was nearly 2, and we’d had a good day. A chance to have a sit in the sun, it may be the last we have for a few days.

Moored near Lower Heyford Lock
There’s been a few boats about today, mainly private, mainly local.

NB Sonflower coming through the narrows where a lift bridge has been removed.
Locks 6, miles 9½

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