Thursday, August 21, 2014

Still hanging on in there…

Well we’ve not cracked and lit the stove yet, but it’s been a close run thing. Those of you who know Mags will know that that she likes it warm, and, to be fair, she’s not shivered AT me yet. When she does I’ll know it’s time to reach for the matches…
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.IMG_1247

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.IMG_1252
You have to sit on the beam or else it drops again…

Dozing duck

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.

Allen’s Lock
With only one top paddle working and considerable leaks around the bottom gate it was taking some time to fill, hence the short queue.

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 ValleyIMG_1257

Somerton Church tower visible above the treesIMG_1263

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.IMG_1267
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

Tomorrow we’ve to stop at Aynho Wharf for diesel, gas, a couple of bags of solid fuel, and some bits from the chandlery. I can hear my wallet groaning from here!

Locks 5, miles 8


Tom and Jan said...

We're up north and it's not that cold here! Or perhaps it is but we haven't noticed it because of our insulation?
Come to think of it Jan gave me a strange look when I walked around inside with just a T-shirt and jeans on.

Carol said...

Hi you two, hope this finds both of you well and staying warm as you head north again. (We’ve just sponsored you Geoff for the great north run £20.)
Love and best wishes to you both from both of us. xx