The improvement in the weather has seen a proportional increase in the number of boats about. We had a quiet weekend outside of Banbury, just watching them all go by, but on Monday morning we had to join the fray!
We had guests meeting us in Banbury for a bit of a cruise, so were off at 9 o’clock to give me time to get some consumables from Morrison’s before they arrived.
Looks like these quiet moorings outside the town won’t be quiet for much longer…
There’s a lot of development either side of the lane up to the main road from Nadkey Bridge. One plus point, it looks like one of the new buildings will be a small supermarket.
We filled with water and disposed of rubbish, then went up Banbury Lock, under the lift bridge and found a space on the Castle Quays side of the canal, not far up from Tooley’s Boatyard. There wasn’t a lot of room besides…
Our guests arrived, Jan, daughter Michaela and son in law Johnny, we had lunch then set off in pursuit of several boats heading the same way as us. I had a feeling that our 2½-hour cruise might take a little longer… the moorings had thinned out a little.
I quite like Banbury; a town that embraces the canal that runs through it, rather than turning it’s back.
Fine day for a cruise.
As expected, we joined the end of a queue at Hardwick Lock. But it gave me a chance to give brief instructions on lock management to Johnny and Michaela. If you’ve got extra crew, why not use ‘em, eh? And they did volunteer…
Michaela is from around here and has a passing acquaintance with canals, but Johnny is from Gibraltar. I think his nearest canal would be the Suez…
Anyway we slowly hotched up to the lock, and then it was our turn. No-one coming down, so we emptied the lock, struggling with the very heavy gate paddles, opened the gates and I went back and brought Seyella in. With the gates closed behind me I shouted up to close the paddles. And this is where the wheels came off. Johnny’s hand slipped off the windlass as he was lowering the paddle. It rapidly unwound, belting him on the arm, before going airborne and clouting him on the side of the nose. Blood everywhere. I thought he’d done some serious damage but luckily it’d missed his eye and his teeth, but his nose took the brunt which caused all the blood. And at least the windlass didn’t finish up in the cut!
Anyway, he had to go and have a lie down, feeling a little out of sorts. Michaela lifted the top paddles then went in to administer first aid in the form of cold compresses while I, and crews waiting below and above, finished off the lock.
We couldn’t abort the trip, they’d left a car at Cropredy where we intended to stop, and once the gore was removed Johnny didn’t look so bad and claimed to be alright. So we pressed on.
Inconvenient mooring on a blind bend
Mags took her usual spot on the tiller at Bourton Lock, now we’d disabled half our volunteer crew!
Meg finding shade from the hot sun at Slat Mill Lock…
…and Mags practicing her duck-speak!
I don’t mind her talking to the animals, it’s when she reckons they talk back I get worried!
I didn’t take many pictures before we arrived at Cropredy, other things to think about. I was concerned that we’d struggle to find a space there, but we got in below the lock, opposite the canoe centre. Handy for our guests as they’d left the car near the Red Lion.
We had cake and a rather splendid bottle of wine that J&M had brought back from Gibraltar, then it was time for them to depart. I had to get a picture of the damage… the bruising was just coming out.
It could have been a whole lot worse…
Michaela, Jan and Johnny at Cropredy, after a really good day.
Well, it was for most of us. I’m not sure Johnny will want to join us again!
The mooring was handy for them to get to the car, the only problem was they’d left the keys for it in the car they’d taken to Banbury! Oops! So a taxi was called to take them back to Banbury, so they could retrieve the car there and bring it back to Cropredy, with the other set of keys. I did offer to turn around and take them back by water, but they could tell it was a bit half-hearted. And anyway, we might have nobbled someone else!
Looking at the forecast for today we decided we’d get off reasonably early and be tied up again before lunchtime. Everybody else thought so too, the first boat went past us at 06:45, and by 07:45, when I took Meg out, another 5 had gone by!
Cropredy was the scene of a battle early on during the English Civil War. Sizeable forces on both sides, Sir William Waller for the Parliamentarians, Charles I himself for the Royalists, faced each other across the River Cherwell, each trying and failing to get a foothold on the enemy’s side. The stalemate continued for several weeks, during which time many dispirited troops on the Parliamentarian side slung their hooks. The King’s forces were then free to head south west and face the threat posed by the Earl of Essex in Cornwall.
Cropredy Bridge, fought over by detachments of dragoons and cavalry on the Royalist side, and Parliamentary cavalry and infantry.
There was a bit of a pause in the passing traffic, so we cast off and motored up to Cropredy Lock. The overhanging willows could do with a trim…
We caught up with the queue at Broadmoor Lock, but there were only two boats in front of us, so it wasn’t too bad.
Something you don’t see every day, Mags in short sleeves!
I don’t know what she’s done with her hair this morning…
Above Broadmoor the small boatyard specialises in wooden boat restoration.
As we approached Varney’s lock there was a commotion in the weeds on the bank, then a ginger tom shot out, followed by a loudly quacking, wing flapping mallard. She’d successfully and very bravely protected her brood of ducklings from the cat.
Looking a little smug, have-a-go hero mum standing on the stump.
Varney’s and Elkington’s Locks were passed without drama, the queue had now broken up and there were boats coming down.
There are the five Claydon Locks next to take the canal up to the summit level, but it was 11:00 and getting pretty hot, so we pulled in on the end of the straight below the locks. We’ll tackle them before it gets too warm in the morning.
Moored below Claydon Locks.
I didn’t envy those still out cruising this afternoon, it got very warm indeed!
Wow, thirty-five outside, and with all the doors and windows open, thirty-three inside at five o’clock.
Even Mags said it was a bit warm!
Locks 7, miles 8 over two days.