It was very close to zero this morning, cold enough to give us a good frost, anyway. The sun was out, but there was a chilly wind blowing down the canal as we set off.
Leaving the moorings near All Oaks Wood…
…and through the wood itself.
An untouched section of the original contour canal winds it way past Hunderfield
Brinklow Marina uses one of the redundant loops as an entrance, spanned by a fine cast iron bridge
Along here the new, straighter line of the canal cuts through the loops of the old like the line through a dollar sign!
We made our first stop at the small boatyard just before Newbold Tunnel. While this weather continues I though we’d better get another couple of bags of solid fuel.
Newbold Tunnel is a part of the improved navigation.
Double width to allow boats to pass and with a towpath on either side, coloured lights were installed in 2005. But with no provision for maintenance one by one they flickered and died, now they’re all dark.
Here’s how it looked when they were first installed…
We stopped for water just beyond the tunnel, then pressed on into the fringes of Rugby.
The Barley Mow, next to the water point, offers a good range of services, not all beer related!
Rugby Wharf is off on an arm to the right, followed by a pair of aqueducts.
The first crosses a road, the second the River Swift. These twin valleys caused Mr Brindley some thought as he surveyed the route. His solution was to divert the navigation in an extended, inverted U to the north until they were shallow and narrow enough to be comfortably crossed.
I’m not sure why he was uncomfortable building aqueducts here; in 1761 he’d successfully thrown a stone aqueduct over the river Irwell, carrying the Bridgewater Canal, much to the amazement of the local population!
Our third stop was at Masters Bridge for a visit to the adjacent Tesco and a bite to eat.
They’ve moved the water tap, from the other side of the bridge, to the park moorings.
We paused for a 5 minute chat with Mike and Mags, NB Rose of Arden, who are waiting to take the boat into the dock at Hillmorton Locks for a repaint, then continued on, leaving the built up area at Clifton Cruisers base at Bridge 66.
The Rose of Arden crew
Another redundant stretch of canal is used as moorings at Clifton Cruisers
We were being followed by some rather dark clouds by this time. Up to now we remained dry, we just had a brief flurry of snow at lunchtime. But our luck ran out…
I think that’s more than we’ve seen all winter! It didn’t last though, soon blowing over on the brisk north-westerly.
We had to put up with another, wetter shower before we reached the bottom of Hillmorton Locks, but it had cleared again by the time we started up.
Hillmorton Locks, with a volunteer just about to knock off when he saw us coming
The Oxford Canal workshops, dry docks and offices were up this arm.
The facilities are still in use for boat maintenance.
Mags in Lock 5
For some reason the duplicated locks each have a number, so 2 and 3 are side by side, as are 4 and 5 and 6 and 7. The Trent and Mersey Canal adopted a different scheme on their duplicated locks. One number is shared, but the locks are designated offside or nearside to the towpath.
The metal construction between the chambers controls a sluice between them. It allows the locks to act as side ponds for each other, potentially saving water. Not in use now, though. Much too confusing for us simple-minded boaters!
Mags heading for the top lock, and there’s another shower coming!
We managed to outrun it though, up and out, through Bridge 72 and tied up before it reached us.
That’s the last of the narrow locks we’ll encounter for some time. Our route now takes us south, using the Grand Union Canal. All broad locks on that canal, but we’re planning on having locking partners…
Locks 3, miles 7¾