Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Banbury, then Aynho.

I didn’t get a chance to post last evening; we needed to stock up the larder so I spent a couple of delirious hours toddling to and fro between our moorings and Tescos. Deep joy.

We’ve had two good days, the weather continues to hold fair, and any rain has been at night.

We left our mooring below Claydon Locks at around 09:30, aiming for Banbury. The locks now come regularly, about one a mile, and there are several old boats between Varney’s and Broadmoor Locks.

Some in better condition than others…IMG_0364


Remember Longfellow’s poem “The Wreck of The Hepserus”? Not so dramatic, but still tragic in it’s own way is…

Wooden narrowboat HesperusIMG_0360

Flooded engine ‘ole

Cropredy Marina is open and fairly well occupied, looks like.IMG_0367
Chas and Anne’s Moore2Life is in there somewhere.

Heading past the unusually quiet moorings at Cropredy we spotted a boat that looked a bit familiar from blog reading…

It was Gary and Della’s fine looking NB Muleless.IMG_0369
The boat has a hybrid drive system, maybe the future for narrowboats as batteries and motors get more efficient, and diesel more expensive. (I can hear the Russel Newbury chaps muttering into their beer…)

Della came and gave us a hand down the locks before they followed us down themselves. 

There was usually a boat ahead of us as we steadily descended the locks, and Cropredy Lock was no different.

Cropredy LockIMG_0371

I mentioned that the Cropredy moorings were quiet, well, the 48 hour ones were, but the 14 day length was already full, probably intending to stay till the Convention…

We picked up a hitch-hiker nearing Bourton Lock, a pigeon fluttered down onto the roof and sat there, relaxed as you please, surveying the passing countryside. IMG_0383

After 10 minutes he decided that this mode of transport was too slow, and took off, disappearing over the trees. We christened him Walter…

Bourton Lock has a lock cottage alongside, secure but apparently unrestored.IMG_0384
The trouble is that a lot of these properties have no mains supplies of anything, and often no road access either.

Hardwick Lock was our last of the day, in a lovely setting…IMG_0386
…if you disregard the railway ahead…

…and the M40 behind.

They didn’t put off the couple having a picnic by the lockside though.

We moored up near the footbridge next to Spiceball Park in Banbury, the nearest we could get to Tesco’s.

Moving on this morning, we passed through Banbury, a town that has embraced the canal rather than ignoring it. Extensive moorings line both sides of the canal.

Banbury, under Tom Rolt Bridge.IMG_0392

Near Tooley’s YardIMG_0393

We had the lift bridge raised for us by a lady off a day boat, then had a short wait before we dropped down Banbury Lock.

Banbury Lock, clogged with gongoozlers at the weekend, but quiet this morning.IMG_0396

The Oxford, like the Llangollen, has several lift bridges to deal with, but those on this navigation are normally left open. At least at this end.

Haynes Lift Bridge, the first of the eight we passed under today without lifting a one.IMG_0397

Like yesterday we were following a boat all the way, so every lock had to be turned until we got to Nell Bridge, where a boat was actually waiting to come up.

King’s Sutton LockIMG_0402

King’s Sutton church, across the river, has a fine, ornate steeple.IMG_0403

The lock has a bit of an identity crisis…

Bridge 183, replaced in 2009, either that or there’s a graffiti artist called M Mix knocking about around here…

We really must visit the Farm Shop near Nell Bridge one of these days.IMG_0417
As well as your usual farm shop produce, they sell coal, gas and logs, and provide overnight moorings too!

Nell Bridge Lock drops the canal down to a short river-fed length. The bridge below the lock can be impassable if the river is up.

Nell Bridge Lock

Above Aynho Weir Lock the River Cherwell comes in from the left and drops over the protected weir on the right.IMG_0421
The chap in the lock has just waved us in to join him…

Aynho Weir Lock is sort of diamond shaped, giving plenty of room for the small wooden pram dinghy.
You can actually get two shorter narrowboats in here, but that defeats the object of the odd shape. It’s only got a drop of about a foot, and the next one down is Somerton Deep Lock, 12 times that. The extra area of this lock drops more water down than a conventional lock, ensuring that the pound level is maintained.

Our locking companion’s boat is, I think, one of these. He uses a ramp to wheel it into the back of his Volvo Estate. On the water he uses an electric outboard, just powerful enough to nudge the boat along at around 1½ mph. In perfect silence. The three car batteries he carries gives about 8 hours cruising. What a great way to enjoy the water.IMG_0423

We pulled in just beyond Belcher’s Lift Bridge, about 10 minutes from Aynho Wharf, our diesel stop for tomorrow. If we fill up here at 83p we should get back again without having to pay silly Thames prices.

Moored near Aynho

We should be down on the Thames by the weekend.

Locks 12, miles 12½ (two days)

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