Saturday, July 09, 2016

‘Bout time for a catch-up…

Sorry it’s been quiet these last few days, I was almost out of Gbs on my internet, so thought I’d better save them for more important stuff.
So, where were we? Ah yes, leaving Dorchester for Abingdon on Monday.

Looking back on Day’s Lock, after a fine couple of days there.IMG_0675

The river follows a wide loop around the tail end of the Sinudon Hills, only 20 foot or so above river level. It ends near the delightful village of Clifton Hampden, with it’s old river bridge and small church.

Fine houses in Burcot…

Grebe with a Mohican?

Clifton Hampden Bridge, with the spire of St. Michaels and All Angels rising above the trees beyond.IMG_0687
The bridge is one of the more recent crossings, having been completed in 1864 to replace a ferry. The church, on the other hand, has parts which date from the 12th and 13th centuries.

Clifton Lock is the first encountered upstream of Dorchester, at 3½ feet it’s less then half the rise of the next one at Culham. IMG_0693

Two lockies on here saw us up in double-quick time.

A good fishing spot…
Girl or buoy?

Culham Lock has a narrow stone bridge just below…
and no lock-keepers on.

Boats were coming down as we arrived, and by the time they’d cleared the lock and we were in, there were another couple of boats waiting to come down. Folk leaving Abingdon, I guess.

With the lock on self-service it’s quite a bit slower to fill, for safety’s sake. There’s a sign on the top controls that advise users that it’ll take 20 minutes to fill. Yep, that’s about right…

Out of Culham Lock and the cut leading to it, we’re back on the river heading for Abingdon.

The town is on another wide loop of the river, and when it was made navigable the loop was bypassed, a cut known as the Swift Ditch constructed across the bight.

The Swift Ditch joins the river under the wooden footbridge.IMG_0701

The Abingdon merchants lobbied successfully to have the course of the navigation made to follow the river, after all, it went through their back yards!
The channel is now not navigable to anything but canoes, and the only lock, corresponding to Abingdon Lock, is now a weir.

Coming into Abingdon, the old junction with the Wilts and Berks Canal on the northern bank.IMG_0702   
Following the valley of the River Ock, the W&B ran for 52 miles from Abingdon to join the Kennet and Avon Canal near Melksham. A short link to the Thames and Severn Canal was built running from Swindon. The canal’s main cargo was coal from the Somerset Coalfields, with the addition of local produce from the areas through which it passed. But it was never particularly profitable, and the rapid exhaustion of the pits proved to be it’s final undoing. Ironically it generated most income during the 1830’s, carrying construction materials for Brunel’s Great Western Railway. It was officially abandoned in 1914, following a major breach.
Ambitious plans to reopen it are afoot. The lower section, near where it joined the Thames, is irrecoverable due to subsequent building, but a new junction, just upstream of Culham Cut and called Jubilee Junction, has been built, from where a new channel will run to join the old line about 3 miles further west. Read all about it here.

We got onto a mooring below Abingdon Bridge at just before noon. IMG_0711

I had a package being delivered, Abingdon Bridge Marine on Nags Head Island had kindly agreed to receive it for me, but I wanted to be there. It arrived as planned…
…one refurbished Webasto water heater. I’ve given up on the unreliable Eberspacher.
Having done the same swap on Sue and Vic’s old boat No Problem, I didn’t foresee any problems… but it was quite a bit more involved this time, not helped by the cramped working area under the counter.
But I got there in the end.
I had to do some rewiring on the harness, adjust the water pipes, remake the exhaust and source a fitting for the different sized fuel line. It was the latter that held us up; not being able to source it locally I had to order it online, for delivery to Argos. Good ol’ Ebay “click and collect”.
It didn’t arrive till lunchtime on Friday, but we decided to go anyway. Just up Abingdon Lock, to moor above the services. We were running short of water and wanted to avoid the rush in the morning.
Apart from tidying up in the engine hole, I got the ugly surface-mounted timer/programmer recessed into it’s mounting panel, with a rather fetching hand-made bezel surrounding it…
…oh, Sue, I deciphered the programming instructions!

This morning we were away at around 09:15, an early-ish start because we were meeting up with friends up river.

Leaving Abingdon Lock moorings, the Saturday morning Park Run is under way.IMG_0719

I mentioned the Swift Ditch being once the main navigable route, bypassing Abingdon.

Here’s where it leaves the river.
There was a lock here.

In the 4½ miles from Abingdon to Sandford Lock there are no road crossings, just one railway bridge at Nuneham…

…shortly followed by Nuneham House on the hillside above the river.IMG_0728

The now obligatory red kite picture
Back to herons, swans and mallards when we’re back on the cut!

Our first lock was Sandford, with the converted mill alongside.IMG_0736
We were joined by a small launch which had steadily been overhauling us.

Another half hour saw us at the very pretty Iffley Lock.IMG_0744

An attempt to avoid being spotted by license inspectors? Blimey, I can hardly see it!IMG_0742

It got busy between Iffley and Osney Locks, lots of small boats scurrying about. I’m glad I don’t skipper one of the Salter’s craft along here!IMG_0746

Past the university boathouses on Christchurch Meadow and it gets a little quieter. A good job, too. Either passage around Folly Bridge Island is blind…

Which way, left or right? We’ll go right

Several bends under several bridges finally bring you to Osney Lock.IMG_0750
Surprisingly, two out of the three locks we did weren’t shared with any other boats. But the lockies said that there’d been a steady stream all morning.

Above Osney and we had a decision to make. We were meeting friends, and Plan A was above Godstow Lock. But if there was a space on the East Street moorings…
...that would do equally as well.
There was, so in we went.

Our visitors arrived at around half one, and a very enjoyable afternoon was had. Thanks, Jan, Johnny and Michaela.

We’ve had the rest of the day here, and tomorrow we’ll head off, up the last two locks this side of Dukes Cut, which we’ll use to get onto the Oxford Canal.

Got to be moored by 12:30, it looks like it’s going to be an interesting Silverstone Grand Prix!

Sorry it’s been a little long-winded, but we’re all caught up again now.

Since last post – Locks 5, miles 16½  


KevinTOO said...

Nice to know you've not been idle during your enforced silence... LOL

Hope you are both keeping well :)

Will Mags be breathing a sigh of relief once you get back on the cut, or has she secretly enjoyed your time on the mighty Thames?

Carol said...

Goodness, you’re cracking on! Pleased to hear that you’ve now got your Webasto in and working and I bet you’ve used it a couple of times this past week or so too! Love to you both. Keep blogging and stay warm and safe. xx

nb Chuffed said...

We'd been hoping to see you on our way down the S Oxford, but had to be in Oxford today to meet our daughter so will miss you. Off up to Lechlade on Tuesday we hope
best wishes