Friday, July 11, 2014

Climbing on the South Oxford, and chance visitors bring the germ of an idea for next Spring…

Yesterday afternoon there was a knock on the side of the boat and Lesley and Joe NB Yarwood were stood there. They’re in  Braunston to have some work done on the boat. We chatted over a beer and, talking about trips we’d like to do, The Wash came up as quite high up the list. So, next end of May, early June…. Just got to convince Mags.

But we’ve still got this year to go, so this morning we set off, heading out of Braunston and then south towards Oxford.

Sunny Braunston yesterday, the impressive All Saint’s Church high on the ridge, visible for miles around.IMG_0236

Behind the church, the windmill provided sustenance of a less spiritual nature…IMG_0237

Passing NB Yarwood this morning, Lesley in the window.IMG_0239

Fine cast-iron bridge over the entrance to Braunston Marina.IMG_0240
Until the improvements to the Oxford Canal in the 1830s the navigation came under this bridge, after following a tortuous course south of the village. The Wolfampcote Loop left the present course near Bridge 109, heading south then north to once again rejoin the current line at the marina bridge.
The improvements here were the most southerly of a project to speed up traffic on this early canal, a scheme which saw the North Oxford from Braunston to Hawkesbury shortened from 36 miles to just over 22.
This bypass, over an aqueduct crossing the River Leam, took nearly 2 miles off this section.

With the construction of the Grand Junction Canal early in the 19th century joining the earlier canal, a stop house was built at the junction to extract tolls from boats passing from one navigation to another.

Braunston Stop House

Braunston Turn is where we turned left to head for Oxford. A right turn heads north and west for Rugby and Coventry.

The twin bridges at Braunston TurnIMG_0248

Wide and deep as befits a waterways “motorway”, the navigation heads south, past the entrance to the old Wolfhampcote Loop, to Napton Junction, passing under the A425 twice. The second crossing is the wonderfully named Nimrod Bridge. Though why it’s named after Noah’s grandson is beyond me.

Napton Junction, where the main line continues towards Birmingham, is also known as Wigram’s Turn or just Wigram’s. Another strange title lost in the mists of time.

Napton Junction, turn right for Birmingham, straight on for OxfordIMG_0257

The name lives on, Wigram’s Turn Marina is opposite the junction.IMG_0259

Main line and broad locks up to Birmingham.

Now we’re off the Grand Union and back on the original course of the South Oxford, the navigation becomes narrower and shallower.

Below Napton Hill, almost beside the canal, used to be a large brick and tile works, serviced by the canal. The site is now light industry, the wharfs overgrown and derelict.

Brick works wharfIMG_0265

Just beyond Brickworks Bridge the much photographed Napton Windmill makes it’s first appearance…

Then my camera battery died… This is the new Canon, but to be fair, I’ve not charged it for a fortnight! A quick nip inside to retrieve the old Samsung and we’re back in the happy-snaps business.

Approaching Napton Locks and the moorings on one side and encroaching reed beds on the other make for a narrow passing channel.
SAM_0118No queue at Napton Bottom Lock and it was empty so up we went.

Napton Bottom Lock, Oxford Canal Lock 8SAM_0121

Lock 10 has some problems, the damaged entrance has required protection with a temporary steel framework, and a lock-keeper in attendance.

Lock 10SAM_0123

We were thinking of stopping above Lock 11, but a downward boat had left the gates on 12 open, so we went up that and 13 too.

“A bit to the left, Mum”

Heading for our last lock today, Lock 13SAM_0129

Visitors for tea…

Three more locks take us up to the summit level, 11 wiggly miles to cover just five as the crow flies. This bit didn’t get improved! Just as well really, it’s very pleasant as it is. Tomorrow’s trip.

PS. Just found out that “Wigram’s Turn” most likely derived from the name of the first toll collector at the junction, John Wiggerham.

Hi Mike, Christine. I started at Lonslade in 1970, so I probably missed you... Will check out the other blog, Mike.

Locks 6, miles 9

1 comment:

Alf said...

Hmmmmmmm, the Wash next year, interesting, very interesting, but likewise, have to convince SWMBO !!