Monday, August 18, 2014

Avoiding the rush.

After spending the weekend at Abingdon we decided on an early start today to beat the rush as boats left the town moorings. There’s only one water hose between Cleeve Lock and Eynsham Lock, and it’s at the services here, so everyone and his dog want to use it. It can get a bit manic…

Yesterday rope and stake barriers went up around the meadows alongside the river, joining the porta-loos already there. It was Abingdon’s Horse Show. They’d only have got wet twice, so the weather was reasonably kind.

They had dressage in one ring…IMG_1153

…and jumping in another.
I got the impression it’s mainly for the youngsters, though, unless I missed the senior events.

Some expensive looking nags about. 

On Saturday morning we’d moved half a mile to just below the lock, opposite the weir. Where we were had a high bank, and it was a bit of a struggle for Meg.

A walk around Abingdon…

The Town Hall

Abbey Walk

The abbey itself has been demolished, but some of the associated buildings remain. IMG_1146

We were getting ready to go for a walk on Saturday afternoon when a couple and a little boy came along. The youngster, 4 or 5 I would guess, wanted to say hello to Meg and came toddling down the bank, then stepped through the gap between the boat and the bank. He was only in the water a couple of seconds, but on the way down he banged his forehead on the guard around the fore-end. When I hauled him back out his face was covered in blood. But he was screaming, always a good sign.
We rushed him up to the lockside where an ambulance arrived after about 15 minutes. After treatment the medic said he’d be OK, but they were taking him in as a precaution, and he’d need anti-tetanus and antibiotics just in case.
It could have been so much worse; if I hadn’t been there, or if a boat going past had sucked him under the boat. Just a moment’s inattention…

Moored below Abingdon Lock

Anyway, this morning we pulled pins at 08:30. We weren’t the first up the lock, though, three narrowboats had already passed around 8. Just as we were preparing to get off another boat came past, NB Chilli Pepper, and we joined them in the lock. Both boats needed water, so we spent the next hour chatting, finishing up with a handful of home-grown courgettes from their allotment. Anyone got any good courgette recipes? I might try courgette fries…

Water filling

Someone had been cutting trees back on on bank above the lock, it broke my heart to see this lot going up in flames. IMG_1165
They were only saving the heavy trunks, anything smaller than about a foot in diameter was going on the pyre.

We had a quiet cruise to Sandford Lock, only seeing two or three boats coming the other way.

MV Circassia

EA workboat Cherwell, towing a small flat and a dinghyIMG_1177

Behind us, however, it was chaos. The couple on NB Chilli Pepper were waiting on the visitor moorings above the lock for some friends, and, when they arrived here in Oxford, told me that boats were all over soon after we’d left, most coming up the lock wanting water. There was no room on the service wharf or lock landing, several boats circling in a “holding pattern” waiting for a gap. I think we made the right decision…

Nuneham House, up on the west bankIMG_1173

I’d be happy with the boathouse…

Nuneham Railway Bridge is a double bowstring design.IMG_1171

Sandford Lock is the deepest on the river above Teddington at nearly nine feet, but it’s also really gentle, the well designed sluices bringing the water in through the base of the chamber.

Approaching Sandford Lock, the mill is now apartments.IMG_1182

Filling Sandford Lock, fast but gentle.

A half hour above Sandford is Iffley Lock, in contrast one of the shallowest at just 2’9.

Kennington Railway Bridge is a triple bowstring. Wow.IMG_1189

At Iffley Lock we were supervised by this lot…IMG_1194

Having taken the southerly channel at Folly Bridge on the way down, I decided to take the other on the way back.

Folly Bridge, heading for the north channel. IMG_1200
Salter’s have a base on the island here.


Near Osney Railway Bridge is a monument to one Edgar George Wilson who died while saving two young boys from drowning. The 21 year old was on his way back to work along the river path when he saw the boys in difficulty. Although barely able to swim himself, he jumped in to help them, losing his own life.
Osney Lock, like the previous two was lonely, just us and the lock-keeper. He had a bit of company to look forward to as we left.

A party of skiffs getting ready to drop down Osney Lock


Arriving at lunchtime there was plenty of space on the East St moorings, we got a slot opposite the now redundant Victorian power station.

Moored near OsneyIMG_1203

Two more Thames locks tomorrow, then Dukes Cut and up onto the Oxford Canal.

Locks 4, miles 8½


Alf said...

"Some expensive looking nags about" & the horses look good too !!!

Nuneham House, have they moved it ? used to be on the East bank when I lived that way !!


Geoff and Mags said...

Hi Alf
You're right, some trim buttocks about, some even dressed in jodpurs!
Well spotted, the day's deliberate mistake. You win a spot prize! :-)