Sunday, May 24, 2009

Just messing about on the river…

At least that’s what the world and his uncle seemed to be doing today. Boats of all shapes and sizes, from inflatable canoes to Salters cruise boats, they were all out enjoying the best day of the year so far.

We had an early-ish start again today, and managed to get up to Godstow before it got really busy.

I hadn’t realised that geese ran a nursery system. We spotted this group, the adults protectively surrounding a couple of dozen goslings.
Under Swinford Bridge, the mellow Cotswold stone looking good in the sun.

We were first into the Godstow Lock, but were quickly joined by another 3 boats.

Godstow Lock full.
Lots of small boats started to appear on the reach towards Osney Lock, but it was after there that it got really busy.

After Godstow we passed the Sheepwash Channel from the Oxford Canal, the route we took onto the river.

Sheepwash Channel

No turning off this time, downstream to London is our route.

Around the island and under Folly Bridge, and we came to the broad stretch where Salters run their cruise boats from, there are several self propelled small boat hirers, and the university boat clubs have their headquarters.

Folly Bridge
And into the fray

University boathouses

We snuck into Iffney Lock just before the lockie went for lunch, but that meant we arrived at Sandford Lock while it was unattended.
There were a couple of boats on the layby, but, never one to shirk a challenge, I decided to work through the lock anyway.
Strangely, as soon as I started to fill the lock, there was activity on the other waiting boats. By the time I’d got it ready and open, we had 5 boats waiting.
I made sure we went in on the left side, opposite the control consoles. Let one of the other idle b***ers empty it, I thought.
And that’s what happened. By the time the lock was empty there were boats waiting at the bottom to go up, so the gates didn’t even have to be closed.

We were looking for somewhere to stop after this lock, and after passing Nuneham House and the Carfax Conduit, we pulled in to the bank.

Nuneham House, built by the Earl of Harcourt in the 1750’s, now the Global Retreat Centre, a spiritual retreat.
The Carfax Conduit.

This was the water supply cistern in the middle of Oxford from it’s construction in 1610 till 1787. It was then moved to Nuneham Park to make way for a road widening scheme. Lots more info and better pictures here.

Everyone enjoying themselves on a Salter's cruise boat.
Moored in the shrubbery.

We’re actually facing the wrong way, having turned to get back to this spot. You can’t do that very easily on the canals! Must remember to turn around again in the morning, though….

Locks 7, miles 14½

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