But we headed off the river today anyway.
Just above the East Street moorings is the low Osney Bridge, the limit for larger vessels heading upstream.
To rejoin the canal network Oxford offers a choice of two routes. The first leaves the river a little further up using the Sheepwash Channel and joins the South Oxford Canal nearest to the city, but involves negotiating the shallow water and lines of moored boats. We usually use the northern connection, Duke’s Cut. And that is what we did today.
Entrance to the Sheepwash Channel
The Sheepwash Channel was opened on completion of the Oxford Canal, around 1790. A transhipment basin was constructed just to the south for goods into and out of the city.
At around the same time the Duke of Marlborough had the northern link constructed, which became known as Duke’s Cut. Although the whole connection, from the main river to the canal, usually bears this name, the “cut” is actually only a quarter mile long, running from the Wolvercote Mill stream.
Above the Sheepwash Channel entrance the river narrows between heavily wooded banks, making a good lookout for approaching craft essential!
The river soon opens out though, running wide but shallow past the large expanse of Port Meadow.
Just how shallow was discovered by a small cruiser that had got itself hard aground a good 10 yards from the bank. I tugged them off backwards and sent them on their way, with a warning to keep in the middle! Which they didn’t heed…
That’s them, River Dancer, over on the left, heading for the shallows again!
The wide open reach ends at Godstow Lock, above here it’s narrow and extremely bendy, with shallows on the inside of the bends.
The ruins are of a 12th century Benedictine Nunnery. It was dissolved in 1539, during The Dissolution. Henry VIII was desperately in need of money, and the religious houses were a ready source of wealth. In the four years up to 1540, 800 such establishments (and their gold) were confiscated or “voluntarily” offered to the crown.
Godstow Bridge, taking the upstream navigation arch (to the right) means you have to duck the overhanging willows!
Twist and turn above Godstow Lock, buoys mark the shallows
Going upstream, keep the red to the left, green to the right. Although you’d be daft not to realise that the shallow water is on the inside of the bend.
King’s Lock was our last Thames lock of this trip. And it’s the first, going upstream, that still relies on muscle power and not hydraulics!
Only a couple of hundred yards above the lock we made a hard right turn into the weir stream that bypasses King’s Lock…
…Avoiding King’s Lock weir…
…And then another left turn into the cut, away from the Wolvercote Mill Stream
Now it gets very narrow, and the boats lurking in the weeds on both sides don’t help…
The link seems to be a licensing “no man’s land”, neither water authority wanting to police it.
Or maintain it, come to that!
Duke’s Cut Lock, aka Shuttleworth’s Lock, tucked under a railway bridge
Back to windlass waggling…
Through this lock, and a hard left away from Oxford takes you straight into Duke’s Lock, on the Oxford Canal proper.
Mags is glad to back in the ditch. She’s not fond of rivers, especially, it seems, the Thames.
We topped up with water at the end of the long-term moorings, and pulled in just before Drinkwater’s Lift Bridge just around half-twelve, so good timing to watch the Silverstone Grand Prix.
The day had started grey and damp, but soon cleared up enough to stay dry until later this afternoon. A couple of heavy showers have been and gone.
Tomorrow we’ll press on up the canal to Thrupp, then beyond if the weather is kind.
Hi Debby, yes I was expecting to meet you as you came down! Never mind, another time.
Hiya Carol. Yep, in and working – . Enjoy your summer… XXX
KevinToo. No, Mags made no secret of the fact she doesn’t like the mighty Thames! A big grin when we turned onto the cut again! We’re heading your way, maybe we could catch up in a month or two?
Locks 4, miles 4½