Thursday, August 09, 2012

Here comes the sun…

What a cracking day today! Hot and sunny, frankly a little too warm this afternoon. And more to come!

We got an early start, first boat up Bourton Lock and second up the next at Slatt Mill.

Mags waiting for me to empty Slatt Mill LockSAM_2133 Slatt Mill Lock
We wanted to get through Cropredy before too many boats started moving; it was bound to be busy with the Fairport Cropredy Festival starting this afternoon.

The camping fields are already filling up…SAM_2136 Cropredy Festival Camping

As it was we timed it well. The towpath was lined with boats from Slatt Mill northward, and beyond the village up to Varney’s Lock, but we only met a handful of boats actually moving through the congested sections.
SAM_2138 More boats

Boats manoeuvring for the service wharf.SAM_2139 More boats

A boat had just come down Cropredy Lock, and our good fortune continued, with Broadmoor also in our favour.

Still lots of boats moored as far up as Broadmoor LockSAM_2141 Above Broadmoor

The towpath thinned out, allowing us to speed up a little, and we made good progress to the bottom of the Claydon Locks, the last five that took us to the summit level.

Passing a downhill boat near the bottom of the locksSAM_2145 Claydon Locks

C&RT were doing some work on the lower gates of the middle lock. See if you can spot what…SAM_2146 Claydon Middle
SAM_2147 Claydon Middle
Yep, there’s a balance beam missing. The old one was on the bankside, and a new one was being cut to fit.

It was starting to get warm by this time, so Meg sought out a bit of shade as we worked up the locks.

Just Chillin’SAM_2149 Meg in shade

We cleared the top lock just after lunchtime, onto the summit level of the canal at around 375 feet.

Every canal summit needs a supply of water to replenish usage down the locks at either end. The Oxford has a reservoir over at Boddington, 2½ miles away.

Bridge 142 carries the towpath over the Boddington Reservoir feeder.SAM_2155 Feeder from Boddington Res
Although there wasn’t much being replaced today, the level is about 6” down up here.

Take a bow, historic narrowboats Truro, Ditton and Draco.SAM_2152 Take a bow, Troro, Diccan, Draco

We crossed over from Oxfordshire into Warwickshire at the appropriately named Boundary Lift Bridge, but the rolling countryside looks the same. Still, what did you expect? Different coloured grass?

Looking from Oxon to Warks over Boundary BridgeSAM_2158 Boundary Bridge

We had a welcome respite from the sun in the deep cutting that used to be Fenny Compton Tunnel, then passed the remarkably quiet visitor moorings in the village. I guess eveyone’s at Cropredy….

Through Fenny Compton “Tunnel”.SAM_2163 Fenny Tunnel
Very lush at this time of year.

Fenny Compton moorings, lots of space todaySAM_2164 Quiet at Fenny

North of the village the canal loops around Shirne and Wormleighton Hills, with plenty of blind bends to catch the unwary out. Some even have thoughtfully placed bridges across them…

Bridge 131 across the near-180° bend at the end of Wormleighton Hill.SAM_2165 Blind bend at B131
I screwed up royally here. Hanging onto the inside of the bend in case something was coming, I ran aground and finished up with the fore end on the opposite bank. It’s a good job there was no oncoming traffic to witness my embarrassment! I managed to get unstuck, and we moored up not far beyond the next bridge.
There are some good, open moorings a little further on, but we’ve stopped under the trees. Enough sun for one day!

We’ve had a good run today, if we do as well tomorrow we’ll be stopping just short of Braunston.

Locks 11, miles 10¾

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