It struck me this morning that I haven’t posted for a while, checking back it seems that it’s been nearly a week!
To be fair, not a lot has been happening…
Now, where were we. On Saturday we moved the short distance to Banbury, intending to do a shop stop on the Tramway moorings, then move into the town proper and moor for the weekend. We timed our departure well, just as the mowing crew came around the corner…
Leaving Nadkey Bridge
We got moored near Tramway Bridge, handy for a couple of trips to Morrison’s to top up the larder. By the time I’d done that we decided that we’d stay put. Another reason was the forecast; Monday was supposed to be very wet (true as it turned out), so we chose to move on on Sunday instead.
We were a little later off in the morning than planned, my route finding on my long (12 mile) run went a bit awry putting an extra couple of miles and 15 minutes or so on the planned course. But we were still on the move at just before half-nine.
We arrived at the bottom of Banbury Locks to see a couple of boats waiting to go up, but needed to use the service wharf conveniently located there, so made use of the delay.
Tank topping up at Banbury Lock
Up the lock, then there was the lift bridge to negotiate alongside the historic Tooley’s Yard.
Tom Rolt, a significant contributor to the waterways preservation and restoration movement, had his houseboat Cressy refitted here, before embarking on a cruise which helped to highlight the plight of the nation’s neglected canals.
I wish more canal towns appreciated the importance of the navigation passing through as much as Banbury does.
Heading out of Banbury there are a couple of old canal arms, Grimsbury Wharf, now moorings, was actually the route of the canal until the the building of the bypass (Hennef Way) necessitated a diversion.
Grimsbury Wharf, once on the navigation, now a truncated arm.
The diversion is clear on Google Maps -
The canal went straight on at the lower fork, heading for the new traffic island, then rejoined the current line at the short stub alongside the north-bound Southam Road.
We had three more locks to deal with, Hardwick, Bourton and Slat Mill, and all were a doddle, with boats coming down.
Our destination was a bit of piling just north of Slat Mill Bridge, we got in but struggled with the depth of (or lack of) water. We’d noticed on the way up that the pounds were low.
Slat Mill Bridge, the lock of the same name just through the arch.
After an afternoon and evening of scraping the bottom every time a boat went past we moved on a couple of hundred yards the following morning, to a recently vacated (and deeper) spot nearer Keens Bridge. The rain had started in earnest now, and continued, almost none stop but at varying intensity, until yesterday lunchtime.
We stayed put, but there were quite a few boaters braving the elements. At least the rain replenished the canal…
The ducks, opposite our mooring, were pleased. Their paddling pool had turned into Southport beach while the pound was low!
So, yesterday we moved the mile into Cropredy, stopping at the services and then going up the lock to moor on the 24 hour moorings above.
Into busy Cropredy
It was busy on the water, luckily for us all coming downhill. The normally busy moorings were almost empty when we tied up at around noon.
We had a motive for hanging about here; we were expecting visitors. Chas and Anne had berthed their boat NB Moore2Life here over the winter, which with one thing and another turned into a nine month stay. They were coming up and we’d arranged to meet.
We had a drink, ate, and a good old catch up before they left us at around nine to walk back to their boat in the marina.
Today we’d planned a slightly later start. There were a lot of boats moored in Cropredy overnight, so we thought we’d let the queues die down a bit…
After my morning run Meg and I took a walk around the village. Cropredy Bridge, over the River Cherwell, was a strategically important crossing, and became the focus of fighting between Parliamentarian and Royalist forces during the First Civil War.
June 1644 saw the two armies face each other across the river, and various skirmishes in the fields around Cropredy failed to deliver a decisive result, one way or the other. The battle ended in a stalemate, although the Royalist troops did capture a number of Parliamentarian cannon.
I had a look around the churchyard to see if I could spot any gravestones relating to the battle, but couldn’t find anything specific. There are, however, rows of these small grave markers alongside the path, but the inscriptions were too eroded or lichen-covered to read.
The church tower sports a corner tower, several churches around seem to have this additional bit of masonry. A lookout in the event of trouble, maybe?
Alongside the church there’s a row of thatched cottages, partly occupied by the Red Lion. The thatcher’s trade-mark seems to have been a large-eared cat…
Looking back at Cropredy Lock
We were just winding up to go over a cup of coffee when a familiar dog jumped onto the fore-deck. Molly was vanguard to Chas and Anne, who’d walked down to give us a hand up the first couple of locks. What a pleasant surprise after we’d said our goodbyes last night.
Chas poised as we head for Broadmoor Lock
I don’t think he’s chewing the handrail…
A familiar boat in Cropredy Marina
Going up Broadmoor Lock, gongoozlers looking on.
A very uncooperative buzzard. He was almost overhead when I got the camera out…
Our friends left us at Varney’s Lock, we moved on while they helped a following boat up before heading off back to the marina.
Above the lock the Hesperus is still forlornly sitting on the bottom, although the pump indicates that some attempt has been made to refloat her.
Our intention today was to “do” the 5 locks at Claydon, then moor above, ready for the summit pound tomorrow. But when we turned the bend below the locks…
..there were at least 5 boats waiting at the bottom of the flight.
It was getting on towards lunchtime, so we decided to pull in and have a brew and a butty, while waiting for the queue to shorten a bit. We waited, and a boat came past, heading for the locks. So we waited a little longer – and another couple came past. The queue didn’t appear to be getting any less. So we stayed here.
A nine o’clock start in the morning should get us up the locks before the traffic starts to build up. Hopefully. Maybe.
Locks 8, miles 7 (since the last post)