Thursday, August 28, 2014

Making up a bit of time…

Not a lot, but a bit.
In order to avoid getting involved with the queues today we were off at 9 o’clock, heading straight for the bottom of Claydon Locks. We’d had rain overnight which slowly petered out first thing, leaving us with a breezy but mainly bright day.


Although we were following about 45 minutes behind an earlier boat, the first three locks were no more than half full, leaks at the lower end losing the water. Then again, they are getting on a bit. It’s a common problem (I’ve been told), a bit of a leak from the lower end as you get older…

Heading up Claydon LocksIMG_1353

We met two boats coming down but at the right time, and were leaving Top Lock just 50 minutes after starting. Rather quicker than it would have been yesterday, I fancy.

Claydon Top Lock (the property, not the chamber!) is for sale, a beautiful, out of the way ex workshop and warehouse for the canal company. IMG_1359

The website doesn’t suggest a guide price, but does make it clear that there’s no road access, pedestrian only from Middle Lock, no mains sewage, no mains electricity and no mains water if the new owner’s negotiations with the supplying farmer go wrong! Nice place otherwise.

Changing shires, Oxfordshire to Warwickshire at Boundary Lift BridgeIMG_1361

Traffic was starting to build as we approached Fenny Compton and the narrows which were once a tunnel.

Fenny Compton “Tunnel”
Luckily we only met one oncoming boat, and that was at one of the wider bits.

Mags took over the tiller for a bit while Meg and I stretched our legs, re-boarding at the wharf.

We slowly overhauled a boat as we wound our way around the hilly bits near Wormleighton. Why soon became apparent. It was a hirer from Kate Boats and he was going a little too fast which meant that he regularly ran aground on the bends. He just couldn’t react quickly enough at the speed he was going. It was even more interesting when he met another boat, on a bend crossed by a bridge. I think this shook him up a bit, he pulled over and waved us past.
I do wish boaters would cruise the way they (should) drive. I’m sure most drivers don’t approach a blind bend without slowing down…
When I’ve mentioned this in the past (not just to hirers, either) the stock response is “But I’m only doing 3mph”. Mine is - “Fine, if you’re responsible for a 1 ton motor car with disc brakes all round, but not if you’ve a 16 ton narrowboat with no brakes and only a propeller the size of an egg-whisk to stop you”. Some even get the message…

Beautiful moorings near Ladder BridgeIMG_1365

It’s around here that the HS2 rail link is intended to cross the superb scenery.IMG_1369
Taken just past Willison’s Bridge, the way the land falls in the above picture makes it look as if the canal is running downhill. Or is it just me?

We pulled in near Priors Hardwick, just before Spurfoot Bridge, at around half-one, 4½ hours fine cruising.

Around mid afternoon we had a short sharp shower, but it’s cleared up again now.
After tea a boat went past, pulled in then there was a knock on the side. It was Mike and Christine, NB Take Five.IMG_1371
We had a bit of a chat but they couldn’t stop, they have to get to Lower Heyford for some paintwork. They don’t hang about anyway, have a look at their blog! Thanks for stopping to say hello, you two. Hope the paint goes on OK!

Probably part way down Napton tomorrow. We’ll see how we go. Mike and Christine said it was very busy on the flight earlier today.

Thanks everyone for the messages about Mags’ beanie hat. The general consensus seems to be that it doesn’t matter what the headgear is, what’s more important is what’s under it. I quite agree.

Hiya Jacqui, Tony. Sorry you didn't enjoy the Llangollen, after 14 years of anticipation, too! It's a lot quieter in the winter, join us then.

Hi KevinToo, glad to see you missed us! Shame about the old Hyperion, isn’t it.

Simon, hope you and the kids are well. Thanks very much for the donation to MacMillan Cancer Support.

Just 9 days to go before the Great North Run. Plenty of time though for those donations… See the side-bar on the right for a couple of ways to part with your hard earned cash.

Locks 5, miles 9

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