I was a bit weary after another fairly long yesterday, and didn’t get a post done, I’m afraid. So here we have two day’s worth.
We had a reasonably handy start yesterday, getting away shortly after 9 o’clock. There was no pressure for an early start to avoid queues at locks; with a couple of hours cruising to Marston Doles and the top of the Napton Flight we were bound to be behind other boats.
Early sunshine was being soaked up, not just by us.
Half a moon
Looks almost close enough to touch…
We had a steady 4½ miles through beautiful Warwickshire countryside before we had to get active again.
Busy farmers making hay while the sun shines…
And the boating Rev. Reed with his hotel boats Oak and Ash
Our luck on the locks from Thursday, when we had most in our favour, deserted us today. Arriving at Marston Doles, Napton Top Lock, there was only one boat ahead, but alas it was a solo boater.
Napton Top Lock and NB Four Seasons
I’ve nothing against lone boaters, don’t get me wrong, but inevitably they take longer on locks, even if assistance is offered and accepted. To make matters worse, this chap would let his two Dachsunds off to explore each lockside, who then had to be gathered up again and deposited back aboard before he could move his boat along.
Not very many boats were coming up, so most of the locks had to be turned for Mags as well.
Napton on the Hill
There go the hounds again…
And our very own hot dog!
Just a couple more locks to go, the sails of Napton windmill just visible on the horizon.
We reached the bottom after about 3 hours, and decided to fill and empty the relevant tanks here rather than at Braunston today.
The canal does a long loop around the foot of the hill, giving good views of that iconic windmill, before heading north-westerly towards Braunston.
There’s that windmill again
At Napton Junction (Wigrams Turn), the Grand Union Main Line is joined, as it heads off easterly to Warwick and Birmingham.
This short, 5 mile section of the Oxford Canal became part of the Grand Union network in 1929. The GU was the result of the amalgamation of all, parts, or arms of existing canals, to produce an efficient transport link between Birmingham and London. Although a crucial part of the route, and widened and deepened as a result, it never actually changed ownership to the Grand Union Canal Company. The Oxford Canal Company remained independent until the waterways were nationalised in 1948, and charged significant tolls for the use of 5 miles of “their” water…
We moored a couple of miles short of Braunston, near Bridge 99.
Safely gathered in…
Today we were on the move soon after 9 o’clock, following several boats up towards Braunston Turn.
Passing the Puddle Banks, one or two derelicts have been removed, but this sad wreck still remains.
Someone once loved it…
Braunston Turn, where the Oxford goes straight on and the Main Line turns right, is an unusual junction. It has a triangular island with bridges over the two legs. A boat was using it to turn around, down the Braunston side, reversing back up towards the Oxford Canal side to face back into Braunston.
The only problem was other boats, us included. We approached from the south, another came from behind to head south, and yet another wanted to turn left off the North Oxford into the village.
It made for an interesting few minutes…
I’m glad we’re turning right…
Braunston was always going to be busy, and we weren’t surprised to see several boats ahead as we came to the bottom of the six locks.
Approaching Braunston Locks
It looks worse than it was; I tied Mags up to a hire boat(!) and had a walk up to see what was what. There were only 3 boats ahead to go up, the rest were hire boats moored at Union Canal Carriers. The boat directly ahead was NB Avocet, a Willow Wren boat out of Rugby, and they became our locking partner for the flight.
In Braunston Locks, meeting traffic as we went up.
Live music at the Lord Nelson next to Lock 3.
We had a good run up, the hire crew were not novices and it’s so much easier working with a competent crew.
Lee, Duncan and Hazel just before we left Lock 6
Enjoyed working with you. Have a good trip.
Just a few hundred yards above the locks is Braunston Tunnel, 2042 yards long with a bit of a wiggle in the middle, and two way traffic.
The first time we went through here we came the other way, and emerged with a scrape and a shallow dent after a coming-together with another boat. So understandingly it’s not my favourite hole in the ground.
Today, even though we met two boats coming through, no paint was exchanged. It’s actually better going this way. On the right-hand wall there’s a timber fender just above the water line, so if a boat is coming you can hug the wall knowing that you can’t get close enough to scrape the brickwork with the handrail. For some reason there’s no fendering on the opposite side.
Light at the end of the tunnel
Out of the cutting on the other side and there’s fine views across to where the Leicester Line heads north from Norton Junction.
Across the fields
The boats you can see are on the Leicester Line.
There’s a sharp left turn to negotiate just after Bridge 10, then we were heading north towards Leicester.
Norton Junction, turn right to London, left to Leicester
We moored just a little further up from the junction, and will stay here tomorrow.
Not long ago we watched Mo Farrah take the historic distance double in London, adding the 5,000m gold to the 10,000m gold he won a week ago. What a runner!
Locks 15, miles 17½ (2 days)