Cool and blustery today, with just odd glimpses of the sun. There were several boats passing before we got going ourselves, so I wouldn’t have been surprised if there had been a queue at Marston Doles, at the top lock of the nine Napton Locks.
Two miles of the beautiful summit pound before the locks.
This culvert must require a lot of work, they were at it when we went south!
We arrived at Marston Doles, having passed two or three boats heading the other way in the intervening distance. No-one was on the water point, no-one was waiting for the lock. Amazing!
So we filled up with water, filled the lock and set off down.
Dropping down Napton Top Lock
The pound below was low, it always seems to be. One time, coming up, we couldn’t get closer than three feet to the lock landing.
Below here the pounds were flush with water, and boats were steadily climbing the flight.
We passed tar boat Spey, once part of Thos. Clayton’s fleet from Oldbury, Birmingham, near the Engine Arm.
Built in 1937, the wooden hull was decked over to carry liquid cargoes, tar, crude oil or creosote. Several of these boats still survive thanks to the nature of the payload preserving the timber.
Mags passing the Napton savannah, water buffalo happily grazing alongside the canal
We pulled in above Lock 11. Five of the nine locks done, the rest we’ll leave till tomorrow morning. The damaged Lock 10 is still crewed by C&RT volunteers, and, with a bottom paddle also out of action, is causing a bit of a backlog.
We heard the drone and rattle of mowing equipment coming down the towpath, but I wasn’t quick enough to adopt my usual practice of standing alongside the boat, daring the strimmer operators to come near. Inevitably the gunwale and up the cabin side got a good coating of grass, which I had to spend 40 minutes brushing off with plenty of canal water. If you leave it it sets like fibreglass.
Unfortunately for him the lawnmower man came back, while I was cleaning, and I told him to relay a message to his colleagues – if they came back they’d likely need a powerful torch and a skilled surgeon to locate and remove their strimmers from where they’d go… I was not a happy bunny!
The contractors have been told by C&RT not to strim alongside moored boats, following a string of complaints and claims for damaged paintwork and cracked windows. But they don’t always listen.
Of course, now the cabin side was covered in khaki-coloured Oxford Canal, so I had to set to and clean it properly with fresh water.
Tomorrow we’ll head down the last bit of the flight, empty a loo and the rubbish at the bottom and then cruise the four or five miles to moor near Flecknoe for the rest of the weekend.
Napton Hill from above Lock 11
Locks 5, miles 3½