Friday, July 18, 2014

A rude awakening and an early trip to Thrupp.

A quarter past two this morning, it was. Mags thought I‘d fallen out of bed, Meg shot up, I jumped out of bed to close the windows I’d left open for ventilation, then spent the next 10 minutes watching the lightning tracing across the sky and listening to the thunder rumble off into the distance. Quite an impressive display of nature’s power.

This morning we’d planned to be off a little earlier than normal to make up for lost time yesterday and also to make sure we got a mooring in Thrupp. Not easy during the summer!
I thought the plans had gone awry when a heavy shower passed over as I took Meg for her constitutional, but that cleared, only to be followed by another 15 minutes later. This was the last though, so we were on our way a little before 09:00, into Dashwoods Lock just vacated by an Oxford Cruisers hire boat.

Off we go this morning

Only just over half a mile took us to Northbrook Lock, passing through a heavily wooded section above the River Cherwell.

A bit bosky..IMG_0468

Northbrook Lock.

We were doing well, two locks done, no queues and both set ready for us. The canal sticks close to the river along here, so it’s understandably a bit green.

If you don’t mind the trees there are good moorings on the towpath south of Old Brighton Bridge (No 212) and on the offside at Kirtlington Quarry.

Kirtlington Quarry moorings.IMG_0470

This is where we’d originally planned to be last night. Just beyond the quarry there’s a tea gardens on the canal bank, where you can choose to sit in a variety of locations with birds for company. Typically English eccentricity. Great!

Jane’s Tea Gardens


Inevitably we caught up with a queue at Pigeons Lock, a boat going down ahead and another coming up.

Caravan Lift Bridge is showing the scars of countless encounters…IMG_0480

Enslow Mill is a busy spot, moorings, a marina and boatbuilder all cluster close to the Rock of Gibraltar pub.
It’s a bit tight in places.
The next lock down, Bakers, is named after Henry Baker, one-time landlord of the canal-side hostelry.

Bakers Lock, still queuing, but at least it’s not too hot yet.IMG_0490

This lock drops the navigation down to a short but pleasant excursion onto the Cherwell, just less than a mile but with deep water under the boat a pleasure to cruise. The overnight rain hadn’t affected river levels, still well in the green.

On the River Cherwell heading for Shipton Weir LockIMG_0494

We expected a boat in front of us at Shipton Weir, but not this one!

NB Milly M, waiting for the lock.IMG_0495

Maffi was as surprised to see us as we were to see him, although we should have expected to find him lurking about Thrupp during the summer; he looks after the canoe hire there.

We shared the lock, another of those diamond shaped ones designed to dump a substantial amount of water downhill for a shallow fall.

Shipton Weir LockIMG_0497
[I’d not noticed before how much lens distortion there is on this new camera. The fore-end of Seyella looks twisted!]

Strictly speaking, like I said when we came down Aynho Weir Lock, this defeats the purpose of the shape, but both boats were stopping before the next lock so it was immaterial.

Shipton-on-Cherwell Church of The Holy Cross sits alongside Bridge 220IMG_0500

Heading into Thrupp, busy, busy, busy!IMG_0501

We’ve taken to filling our water tank at quieter water points, like yesterday at Lower Heyford. This means that we can just make a flying visit to busy sanitary stations, just to empty a loo and dispose of rubbish. This allowed us to queue-jump the preceding boat and follow Maffi through the lift bridge at Annie’s Tea Rooms.
I’d jumped off without my camera to do the bridge, so no pictures of the operation. Good job eh, Mags! With all those people watching too…

We managed to wiggle into the last space on the 7 Day moorings, thanks to the chap behind pulling back a foot. Even so I’ve had to lift the bow fender. We’ll be staying here tomorrow, hopefully avoiding those heavy, thundery showers that the weathermen are talking about.

Moored in Thrupp

We tied up at 12:15, it’s just starting to get hot again.

I don’t know if it’s the weather that’s bringing them out, but we seem to be plagued by horse-flies this year. If you can get them just as they land, fine, otherwise you finish up with an itchy bump when they bite.

To paraphrase General Philip Sheridan, on meeting Commanche Chief Toch-a-way in 1869 :–

The only good horse-fly is a dead horse-fly!

Cottage pie for tea tonight, maybe not an ideal choice considering the climate, but you can only eat so much lettuce...

Locks 5, miles 6

No comments: