This morning, as I set off for my run, the roof thermometer was reading 3.1°. I was cold by the time I got back, mainly because I got lost and had to wade across the Cherwell to regain the towpath.
But the sun was rising over the trees and the temperature was going the same way as we pulled pins and set off.
Sunny morning but still cool in the shade.
The locks come regularly spaced on this section of the canal as it slowly climbs up the Cherwell valley. Our first today was Northmoor, about 25 minutes after setting off.
Approaching Northmoor Lock
We made good time overall; we had to turn the first two locks but after that traffic coming the other way had left them set for us or were on the way down. And there was often another boat waiting to come down as we left.
Lower Heyford was surprisingly quiet, only three or four boats occupying the visitor moorings.
Mags passing under the stainless steel Mill Lift Bridge.
You have to sit on the beam or else it drops again…
Allen’s Lock at Upper Heyford was the only one where we had a bit of a wait. There was a boat coming down and a day-boat waiting to go up.
Heyford Common Lock was quick and easy, then it was just over 2 miles to the notoriously difficult Somerton Deep Lock.
Looking out across the Cherwell Valley
Somerton Church tower visible above the trees
A boat was just leaving Somerton Deep, and another was waiting to come down, so I only had to close that very heavy bottom gate. It’s more difficult to open it. The downhill crew looked after the paddles and top gate, so we were quickly on our way.
The “wild rhubarb” above Somerton Deep is going over now.
I think this is butterbur (Petasites Vulgaris), which starts in the spring with spikey lilac-coloured flowers. It’s long been known for it’s medicinal properties, from a cure for plague and leprosy to the common cold and bronchial complaints. It contains the active chemical Petasine which is used in migraine medication and is being trialed as asthma, blood pressure control and anti-inflammatory treatment. How did the old ‘uns know?
We pulled in just past Chisnell Lift Bridge after quite a long day, but we needed to make up for yesterday’s early stop.
Moored near Chisnell Lift Bridge
Locks 5, miles 8