Sunday, 22 June 2014

Claydon to Braunston

Monday 16th June

Claydon to Br 130 Knotts Bridge, Summit level

We moved off quickly as we heard the sound of the gardening team coming along with tractor mower and strimmers. We didn’t want the boat covered in grass cuttings.  We then tied up again on the lock bollards to put down the canopy, get the windlasses out, binoculars to hand, log books, maps, phones, etc organised.  James emptied the lock for another boat to go up in front of us. There were several boats coming down the locks so they were mostly in our favour. 

We stopped at Glebe Farm to have our breakfast of croissants bought yesterday in Cropredy. We were there for an hour, and nothing went past in either direction. We set off again, and within half a mile there was a boat travelling ahead of us! It must have come from some long term moorings opposite the feeder.  We weren’t in a hurry. 

In Fenny Compton “Tunnel” (now just a cutting) another boat caught up behind.  We stopped at moorings in Fenny Compton, and so did the boat in front. The one behind carried on.  We went into the “shop” in the pub, and all we bought was some “I can’t believe it’s not butter”, which always reminds us of the Vicar of Dibley.

Moving on, we would have liked to moor near bridge 133 for a walk to Wormleighton, but the banks were not suitable. We carried on round Wormleighton Hill, and stopped just after bridge 130, where there are lovely views across to Napton.

There was a buzzard, and several reed buntings. They seem to be more common this year.

James went for a short walk to bridge 128 to see who was moored.  Just three other boats, all facing the other way.  Lovely flowers once again.

A white umbellifer. Anyone know which one?

Another one

a pink one

The humble blackberry in all its glory

Near bridge 130

5 locks, 7 miles, 3hr40

Tuesday 17th June

Br 130 to Br 116, Napton Locks.

Very cloudy this morning – not so good for a walk to Wormleighton. Maybe next time.

Five boats went past in a small convoy over ten minutes, so we waited for thirty minutes before setting off.

We had a beautiful but uneventful cruise along the summit level, which twists and turns, following the contours.

When we arrived at Marston Doles there was a boat going down in the top lock, and one waiting to come up.  The next lock was mostly in our favour as another boat had come up.  There is a mile before the next lock by the old engine house arm, and again a boat had come up, but when we arrived at the lock, it had leaked , and so was half empty.

We moored up round the corner where there was a good view. There are water buffalo in the fields around here.

Water buffalo at Napton

The towpath had changed to the left at Fenny Compton, so we were able to put the second Canal Ministries logo on the boat.  We had a little bit of trouble with the sticky parts sticking to each other, but we mostly sorted it out.  One arm of the cross is pointing slightly down.

slightly crooked

3 locks, 6 miles, 2hr50

Wednesday 18th June

Br 116 to Br 113 Folly Bridge, Napton

Two boats had come up the locks by the time we were ready to depart.  The next lock was therefore mostly in our favour, with just a foot to fill.  Another boat was waiting to come up, and a lady was there with a windlass. The boat was a hire boat, and as I drew near to the stern, I recognised the man on the tiller: Ricky Hamburger, a friend I have known since my teenage years in Cobham.

The lady was Martina, his wife, whom I had never met. We moored up and had a cuppa and exchanged contact details. We had lost touch a bit, and it was great to see them. They had hired the boat for three days.

Ricky and Martina

Lock 10 was manned by a CRT volunteer, and had only one paddle working on the bottom gates.  The whole lock had threatened to collapse inwards, so they had constructed a steel frame to keep the walls from falling down. They have scheduled an eight week closure in the autumn to repair it.

Temporary repairs at lock 10

We continued down the remaining locks, and used the facilities before mooring up and walking into the village of Napton.  We found the shop and bought a few items, including a home baked olive loaf.

We had lunch at the Folly Inn, which was very good. It has changed hands since our last poor experience seventeen (!) years ago.

Hugo caught a mouse.  We started on the olive loaf in the evening – very nice.  Our signal was poor, and we missed two calls from Oliver. James phoned him from the bridge by the pub.

Sign for boaters at Napton. Is this really what we are expected to do with 
our recycling, having left Cropredy three days ago, and not having a car?

Sunset at Napton

6 locks, 1 mile, 1 mouse. 1hr45

Thursday 19th June

Napton to Braunston

We left our mooring and cruised slowly down past Napton Narrowboats to Wigrams Turn. As we approached the junction, we heard two long blasts from a steam whistle, coming from the Grand Union.  It was steam tug Adamant, and they emerged under the bridge to follow us as we passed the junction, heading for Braunston. This five mile section is shared by the Grand Union and the Oxford Canal. In front of us was Barolo, a very smart boat seen earlier on the summit level.

Adamant at Wigram’s Turn

Barolo pulled in for the day at one of the many beautiful rural moorings.  We had decided to moor in the thick of things in Braunston so that we could meet people, and we arrived there at 1200. Another boat we keep seeing is Pond Life, and they were moored a little further along.

Wash day in Braunston

James went for a stroll along the towpath before lunch to see who was there, and found Arachne. Peter and Jean Webb are BCF members moored on the Nene. They are heading for the Saltisford Arm in Warwick for a Sea Otters Club gathering.

Back on Gabriel we had lunch, and then saw Fruit of the Vine (Keith and Diane Yeandl) arriving. They went to turn and moored behind us before coming on board for a cuppa. They told us that Mikron Theatre were playing that evening at the Admiral Nelson pub. Keith and James wandered up to Arachne to tell them, but they were not there, so we left a note for them, as there was no phone signal.

Later a fourth BCF boat arrived – Shammah with Brian and Brenda Gooding. They paused alongside, but were on a schedule, so they said they were going to get the other side of Braunston tunnel today.

Brian and Brenda Gooding

So at around 6.45 four of us walked up the path to find Peter and Jean waiting by Arachne having read our message. When the six of us arrived at the pub, we were able to put our chairs out by the lock.  We were joined by Brian and Brenda who had decided to stay for the performance after all. They had moored at the top of the six locks.

Waiting for the performance to begin

Mikron Theatre were on top form – very talented musically, as well as good actors, and the scene changes and use of props were very slick. An added bonus was that the pub serves Addlestone’s cider.

Mikron Theatre. One of Keith’s photos

BCF members L-R James, Hazel, Brian, Brenda, Keith, Diane, Jean, Peter
Keith's photo again
It was a great evening, quite unplanned.

0 locks, 7 miles, 1 mouse, 2hr35

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