Saturday, 7 June 2014

Oxford to Banbury

Oxford to Banbury

Sun 1st June  (part 2)

Dukes Cut to Roundham Lock, Kidlington

We had to get our windlasses out as we left the Thames and entered the Duke’s Cut and came to our first narrow lock of the trip. This only has a fall of a few inches usually.  Two boats were moored on the lock bollards, and have apparently been there for some time. It meant that James had to get off at the bows to operate the lock. 

Duke's Cut

While we were in the lock, another boat went past our bows at the junction, coming up from Oxford, so we would need to wait for the next lock, just round the corner.

Filling the water tank on the Oxford Canal

We paused for water just before (interestingly) Drinkwater lift bridge.  To unlock the lift bridge, the instructions tell you to insert the key, hold down the bridge, and turn the key clockwise.  After struggling with this for several attempts without success, j
James noticed an arrow in marker pen pointing left. He tried again, turning the key anticlockwise, and unlocked it!

After two more locks, we decided to moor up just above Roundham Lock as we thought we may not find a mooring in Thrupp so late in the day (1745). A very peaceful mooring with rural views except for trains.  Next time, near Kidlington Green lock might be better.

Oxford Canal: 4 locks, 3 miles, 1 lift bridge, 2hr00

Mon 2nd June

Roundham Lock to Thrupp

A leisurely start to give time for boats to vacate moorings in Thrupp.  When we arrived there were several spaces available, and we managed to get on a 7 day one, which was ideal. 

Anne Clark arrived for a chat and to invite us for the evening meal later.

We trundled our cassettes to the facilities and also got rid of our rubbish. Water will have to wait until we leave and go through the lift bridge.

We had a great time renewing our friendship with Anne and David and their dog Angus. Hugo also met a friend near the boat – a small black cat we had seen earlier sitting on a wall.

0 locks, 1 mile, 0hr40

Tue 3rd June

Royal Albert Hall trip

We were collected from the Boat Inn at 1045 and taken to the Enterprise Car Hire base at Kidlington Airport (London Oxford Airport!). We were allocated a small Hyundai which was good enough for our needs.

We drove to Sainsbury’s to stock up a few items, then we drove out of Kidlington and found a pub for lunch.  Back to the boat to unload and find a parking space.

We set off later for London down the M40 and managed to find a parking space quite near the Albert Hall, and we met up with Sue Graves and her friends David and Hazel, and Sarah.  We had a picnic by the Albert Memorial.

L-R Hazel, Sue, Sarah, David, Hazel

The Seekers concert was excellent. The original line-up with Judith Durham, Atholl Guy, Keith Potger, and Bruce Woodley.  They have still kept their voices, despite Judith’s brain haemorrhage last year.

Driving back we could have done with a car with cruise control, and we may go for this next time.

Back to the boat around midnight.

No boating today

Wed 4th June

A wet day all day. No boating.  Rain stopped around 5pm, so James went for a walk up past Thrupp Wide to Shipton on Cherwell, where he signed the visitors book in the church.

Thu 5th June

Thrupp to Somerton

Boats we have been seeing recently, travelling in our direction: Hawkeye, built in 1995, bought by present owners last year. They have a tug boat for sale in Cornwall. Islay, owned by Christians who are not sure about BCF. Sixth Quarter, seen but not spoken to, Chy-an-dour, which means home on the water in Cornish. Chieftan, a hire boat from Twyford Wharf.

Leaving our mooring in Thrupp

We set off at 9am, went through the lift bridge, and stopped at the wharf for all facilities.  Everything here is run by Thrupp Canal Cruising Club, and it is all looked after very well.

Thrupp Wide

On our way again, and we found that the strange shaped Shipton Weir Lock was being voluntarily operated by a guy called Manny, whose boat was moored on the river side of the lock.  He had tied to two poles which apparently used to have “no mooring” signs on.

At Bakers Lock we caught up with Hawkeye who left the lock ever so slowly, and we thought we might get held up by him. 

Bakers Lock
At Pigeon Lock there were boats waiting to come down, mostly hire boats, and Hawkeye was only just going in when we arrived. By the time we were in the lock, Islay had arrived below us, also waiting.

At Northbrook Lock, again Hawkeye was just going in when we arrived.  We noticed badger setts just above the lock. A good place to moor another time?

The lovely tithe barn at Upper Heyford

Hawkeye eventually moored up and we passed.  We moored just after bridge 198, a lovely spot with views, mostly out of earshot of the railway.  Islay pulled in just in front of us.

Willows and water meadows at Somerton

James went for a walk back along the towpath, over bridge 199 and across a field where the path disappeared, and into Somerton, emerging near the church.  Lovely interior, with some old box pews, and ancient tombs from the family who held the manor here.

Wild roses are spectacular this year
Box pews in the church at Somerton

Sadly no shop, pub, school etc in Somerton.  There were some glorious flowers, particularly wild roses which seem to be excellent this year.

7 locks, 11 miles, 2 lift bridges, 5hr50

Fri 6th Jun

Somerton to Haynes lift bridge 170 (south of Banbury)

Our early morning wake up call

We were woken up by some very loud cows this morning, right next to the boat.  Islay had gone. We were just about to cast off when Chieftain came round the corner, so we waited for them to pass before following them.

Somerton Deep Lock was fine. We had heard stories about the bottom gate being difficult to open, but it was OK.  While we were there Chyandour appeared at the bottom.   We passed Chieftain when they were moored up for coffees around the corner above the Deep Lock, where we have often moored in the past.

We paused at Aynho to buy coal and another windlass, so by the time we got to Aynho Weir Lock Chyandour caught us up again.  At Nell Bridge Lock, we found another boat, Vox Stellarum, going up in front of us.  They must have passed us while we were buying coal.  They have a Buddha on the roof and they sell fenders.  Nice friendly people.  We caught them up by the M40 bridge, and they pulled over to let us pass. They are very deep drafted and therefore move very slowly.

The lock keepers cottage at Kings Sutton Lock is up for sale. There doesn’t seem to be a mooring with it.  We heard first and then saw a curlew soon after that, plus a reed bunting.

Grant’s Lock was in our favour – a boat had just left.

We had intended to moor between bridge 171 and 170, where there is some piling.  When we arrived we discovered that some earth-moving vehicles were busy in the field opposite, making a lot of noise, so we went through bridge 170, and moored on some piling on the offside.  Lots of people walking their dogs here, as there are houses just up the hill. The M40 was also noisy.

A tractor came down the hill and put down the lift bridge 170, and went across to work in the field the other side.  Whenever boats came along, James went to help with the bridge because it was very heavy.  When the farmer came back, he left it open for boats, but some walkers who had crossed earlier, put it down again.  James had to put it back up again for boats, as there were quite a few going past.

We noticed a boat called Wren’s Nest go past towards Banbury. They have a fish sign in the window.  Perhaps we’ll catch up with them tomorrow.

Lovely sunny evening, skylarks in the field.

By bridge 170
5 locks, 8 miles, 1 lift bridge (several times), 4hr15

Sat 7th Jun

Bridge 170 to Banbury

Cloudy this morning, but dry.  We took down the pram hood, and set off without stopping at Morrison’s!  We’ll be back in two days, and can stock up then.  We paused to use the facilities before going up the lock and lift bridge in Banbury.

As we went under Tom Rolt Bridge it started to rain, so we stayed under the bridge while we put the pram hood back up.  We moored after Sovereign Boats, where we thought it was 14 days, but it is only 48H.  Still, Hugo should enjoy it here, out of the centre, and alongside the park.

The rain then started properly, so we had breakfast.  When it eventually stopped, Hazel went off to explore the shops.

Wetherspoons pub for evening meal

Rabbits on the towpath.

Church with Peter and Fran Braybrook tomorrow

1 mile, 1 lock, 1 lift bridge, 1hr15

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