Saturday, July 12, 2014

Warm work

It’s certainly been a hot one today. From first thing we had bright sunshine, but by mid-afternoon it started to cloud up, a harbinger of the rain forecast for overnight.

I’m glad we only had the remaining three locks of the Napton Flight to negotiate, it was just too warm for much else than sitting around.

Across from our mooring water buffalo were grazing contentedly on the Napton savannah.IMG_0273

The buffalo are raised for cheese, ice cream and of course, meat.

Not much meat on this little chap, though.

The first of our locks was just around the corner, and there were already boats going up and down when we arrived.

Napton, Lock 14IMG_0276

Despite getting away soon after 9 we had to queue at each of the locks, but not for long.

Mags cruising between the locks

One of the problems that beset the canal builders was providing an adequate water supply for the locks. The usual solution was to build reservoirs above the summit levels, but this wasn’t always possible. An alternative was back-pumping, where water was pumped from the lower levels back up to the top of the locks. This was employed on the Napton flight, a steam powered pump drew water back up to above Lock 14, returning it to the canal via a short arm.

Seyella passing The Old Engine House ArmIMG_0277
The arm is now used for moorings, the buildings at the end mostly removed.

Napton Top Lock at Marston DolesIMG_0281

Wide open views on the summit level

The canal zigzags it’s way across the Warwickshire countryside generally heading south. The Oxford was built in the late 18th century, when manpower and shovels were cheap, but the skills to construct embankments, aqueducts and deep cuttings were expensive and undeveloped. The summit follows the 370 foot contour only dropping down locks when essential. By the 19th century civil engineering techniques had improved enough to be able to provide for straight, fast canals, like the Shropshire Union, crossing valleys on embankments and cutting through hills.

Typical contour canal

It was hot, but not that hot!
I hope he had plenty of sunscreen on…

Relics of WWII remind you that the canal would have been a strategic defence line in the event of an invasion.

The countryside is now facing another invasion, one that is unlikely to be averted. IMG_0303

The locals in rural areas like this are generally opposed to HS2, but I suppose they were the same when the canal was first proposed. And look at it now. I’m sure no-one in 1790 thought that their commercial waterway would become a major leisure industry!
Maybe, in 200 years, the HS2 line will be the longest, fastest cycle way in England…

We came up behind two boats travelling extremely slowly, the one in front actually stopping when meeting oncoming traffic. And there was a fair bit of that.IMG_0304

After 15 minutes of dead slow to stop cruising we were near Wormleighton Hill and good moorings we’ve used before. We decided to pull in for lunch to let them get ahead, then made our minds up to stop here for the night.

Moored near Wormleighton Hill


We might even stay here tomorrow, too…

Locks 3, miles 5½


Tom and Jan said...

A rare English Red Bottomed Baboon?

Ade said...

Made me lol Geoff "maybe in 200 years the HS2 will be the longest and fastest cycle way in England "
Good one that.