Wednesday 24 October 2007
We had an easy drive to the boat with no hold-ups. Once we had loaded the boat we were ready to be on our way at 1540 hrs. Our first task was to wind in the arm before heading south towards Oxford. We were half way round when the first boat appeared travelling north, for some reason he wanted to go round my bow which I was poking up the engine arm as opposed to my stern which was about 4 foot from the towing path side with the gap getting larger. As we approached Marston Doles bottom lock we thought there was a small queue ahead, it turned out that the second boat had moored for tea so we slipped past them. The boat following pulled in behind them. As we started going up in the lock they all piled out, untied the boat and set off in front of the boat following us. As we left the bottom lock we met our first Ownerships, The Mucky Duck and just after leaving the top lock we met two more. We stopped for water just above Marston Doles which allowed the two boats behind us to pass, but it wasn't long before we passed them moored for the night. We carried on until 6 pm when we moored for the night just beyond bridge 126 before the bend. In our short journey today we must have met 9 or 10 boats.
Thursday 25 October 2007
Last night after going to bed Diana decided to get out and visit the loo, I asked her to check the stove was OK while she was out. She came back with the news that the galley floor was wet. We both went to investigate further and found a very wet patch just by the galley unit which has the water pump housed in its base. Sure enough the pump was leaking very slightly out of the housing weep hole while it was pumping, so first job this morning was to change out the pump. Luckily we carry a spare. We set of at 10 am and met so many boats it was almost unbelievable, we must have met the entire Napton fleet of Black Prince boats, 5 in Banbury alone. Several Ownerships, quite a few Anglo Welch, a few Rose and Napton Narrowboats, even a few private ones. The only lock we turned was the bottom of Claydon. Cropredy now seems to have been seeded with car tyres, I fished the first one out by the long term moorings, just floating in the middle of the cut with a piece of rope attached. The next one I hit with the prop and it came to the surface just south of Cropredy where they hold the music festival and later on I saw a third almost submerged but to far over to fish out, goodness knows how many I didn't see. We approached the centre of Banbury just on 5 pm after passing and waving to "Daniel Oakley". We were a bit undecided whether to push on for half an hour but as it was just starting to drizzle we pulled over by the shopping centre for the night. I have just been informed that we are going out to eat tonight.
Friday 26 October 2006
It was a bit noisy on the moorings last night as they were working on the car parks both sides of the cut until late and then what sounded like a sweeping machine and of course the steel wheelie bins. Not much noise from people. We set off at 10 am on a very dank, cool day, very overcast and damp. The canal was much quieter than yesterday although we were in a queue of 3 at one lock and a boat we met coming the other way said it was busy, so we must have been in the flow instead of meeting it. There were several children out fishing on Heyford common with adults, I don't know if it was an organised event or not. At Aynho Wharf they are fitting out a broad beam boat, I can't see it going far on the south Oxford. At Heyford lock we met an Oxford Narrowboat who opened both top paddles fully before closing the bottom gate. I ran and dropped the paddle my side and shouted to Diana to get away from the bottom gate. The chap who raised the paddles asked what I was ding and said the bottom gate would soon be closed. We moored for the night on the single ring at the quarry just above Pigeons Lock. It would be very nice if Cherwell Council could find a few quid in there budget to install another couple of rings, they have marked it up as a 24 hr mooring.
Saturday 27 October 2007
Before we set off this morning at quarter to ten we took the dog for a walk round the disused quarry. there is a walk all the way round the top lip to the north side looking down into the bowl with its flat grassed area. An interpretation board at the entrance on Mill Lane refers to it as Kirtlington Quarry Nature reserve, but I don't think you will find a great deal of nature there as it has a number of walks and picnic areas, its main use appears to be for dog walking and general walking. Maybe nature in the name attracts more funding?
We set off on a very quiet canal and didn't see another boat on the move until we arrived at Bakers lock, where one had just locked down, one was coming up, as we went down one moored just below the lock on the Cherwell pulled away in front of us, so when we arrived at Shipton Weir the boat that pulled out was still waiting for the lock and again there was one coming up. Before we entered the lock a forty footer arrive behind us and we let in the lock first and then went in beside them. For those that don't know, although all the locks on the Oxford are narrow, the two where the Cherwell joins the canal are lozenger shape about 25 ft wide but with only a 7 ft gate at each end, a forty foot boat will fir comfortably at the side of the lozenger shape leaving room for a full length boat down the middle. The locks were made this shape to ensure that sufficient water was drawn from the river to fill all the rest of the locks on the canal. This lock is only about 2 foot deep where as the rest are about 8 foot deep so as the area of the weir lock is about 4 times that of a standard lock they both use the same amount of water. We arrived at the Thrupp visitor moorings at mid day to find they are all listed as private, when I enquired with one of the club members he told me they had changed them all today as on the 1st November they become long term winter moorings. A quick word with John the Commodore assured us we would be fine if we wanted to stay until the 1st. Our reason for stopping so early was that my son, daughter and all there family's were having lunch locally in Kidlington and we were going to join them. We got back to the boat at 4 pm and immediately set off towards Dukes Cut with a very brief stop at the Jolly Boat Man, my son and grandson had bagged a short ride from the moorings to here and my daughter in law was waiting with the car. We continued on to a very noisy mooring just above Dukes Cut Lock arriving in the dark a little after 6 pm. Here the railway, Oxford Ring road and A 40 all cross each other and the canal.
Sunday 28 October 2007
Last night was not as noisy as I had feared. The trains stop running quite early on in the evening and the road noise just became a continuous low drone from the back cabin. We set off at 9 am this morning and locked down onto the Thames via Dukes Cut and then headed up stream towards Lechlade. Almost as soon as we were on the Thames the wind picked up and it started to rain a bit. At Eynsham lock we had a pump out just below the lock, EA are still only charging £6 for a pump out card. As we entered the lock it started to rain harder but eased a bit as we left. We then stopped to fill with water and as we left it started chucking it down, I thought I would drop back down river a bit and moor up to put the rain shelter up. I started to back up quite nicely with the bow coming over as I rounded the slight bend, then the wind caught the bow and there was nothing I could do except change my plan and do a 180 degree turn and head down river. Straightening up and continuing up stream was not an option and luckily the river was wide enough to get the boat round. we continued down stream and round the bend just above Swinford toll bridge. here the navigation channel as very narrow due to silting on the bend, I tucked the bows in behind the silt bar in the slack water and the stern came round easily in the main flow, I then edged back from the bar and continued back upstream where I had intended to go all the time. We stopped for lunch about a mile above Northmoor Lock on the right hand side at 13-15 for about an hour before continuing upstream. As we approached Shifford lock it started chucking it down again, we carried on for another mile just above the weir stream when we decided to moor on the left bank for the night, it was now 15-40 and very overcast, we would only have had about another hour of daylight now the clocks have changed. While we have been moored here we have seen a raft of about 50 geese in the river in front of us and watched a Barn Owl working its way across the field, hovering and then pouncing. It came within about 20 yards of the boat before continuing along the river bank upstream where it was joined by another Barn Owl and they continued off hunting together.
Monday 29 October
Last night the weather improved dramatically, the wind dropped and the cloud cleared to leave a large moon high in the sky. This in turn was the signal for the Canada Geese to move around all night with the accompanying noise. This morning we got up to bright sunshine and very little wind. As the dog has still not changed his clock we were on our way at 9 am. The wind freshened a bit but the sun was very pleasant and when we were in a sheltered bit it was quite warm.
We saw a wealth of wildlife today including Kingfishers, Dabchicks, ducks and geese, Birds of Pray, and even a water vole.
At Buscot Lock we had a slight incident, The lock keeper had just gone for lunch and we worked ourselves through. we were about to leave the lock and Diana hurried below to come and steer the boat out so I could close the gates, unfortunately Magic came in with her but left his tail tail in the door. Diana closed the door and trapped a large lump of fur in the door which Magic left behind when he jumped down. His tail was bleeding but he was not to bothered and wagged it well as Diana checked he was OK. This resulted in blood all over the lounge area including the radiator, floors, walls and even the ceiling. We stopped at St Johns lock to bandage Magic's tail and clean the inside of the boat. Once this was done we moved on to moor at a deserted Lechlade Common at 2.30 pm. We didn't meet a single boat all day but we did see one about a mile behind us just after we set off. One of the lock keepers told that all the local boats had been lifted out the weekend before and these were in evidence sitting on 205 lt oil drums beside the river. One that caught my eye not only had twin props but also a bowthruster and it must have been all of 30 foot long.
Tuesday 30 October 2007
We pulled stakes at 9.30 and headed up stream to wind at the Round House where the Thames and Seven Canal joins the Thames. As we approached St Johns lock a small cruiser came up behind us, as the offside gate was only half open I went into the lock and pulled to the
offside to give the cruiser a straight run in, however she refused to come anywhere near until I had opened the second gate fully and then she only just managed it.
The saying "To fail to prepare is to prepare to fail" is very true, she only had one short line attached to her boat and had to find a length of orange cord to attach to the rear. After the lock keeper had taken them round the two adjacent bollards the ends only just reached back to her and when the lock keeper could finally empty the lock she was standing in her boat arm stretch to hold the ends of her cord. I was going to let her go first but she showed no signs of doing anything while I was still there so after Diana opened the offside gate we chugged out and left her, she eventually came out and then moored to the lock landing stage. We thought that would be the last we would see of her. As we arrived at Buscot the lock keeper had the gates open for us and was asking if we had seen the small cruiser anywhere. We told him we last saw her mooring to the lock landing stage so he locked us down, with the information that the Keeper at Grafton Lock had gone to the dentist and we would have to work ourselves through. When we arrived we started filling with water and set the lock ready when round the corner came the same cruiser, she didn't enter the lock but moored between us and the lock. As I walked back to Harnser she said she wasn't going through, so we finished water and pushed out round her, leaving her once more tied up on the lock moorings. We continued down in very pleasant sunshine to Tadpole Bridge where we moored at about 2 pm. We intend to stay here overnight and eat in The Trout tonight.
Wednesday 31 October 2007
We had a very tasty meal in the Trout last night. We found the owner and staff very friendly and the service good.
This morning after taking the dog for a walk we set off at 9.30 am. As we approached Shifford Lock we passed NB. "Whisby Wanderer" stuck hard and fast on the mud. We threw them a line and soon had them off again. Chatting to them in the lock they were heading for Thrupp but didn't know where it was. It was dad's boat and the 3 of them, two lads and a girl were moving it for him, they had already had a couple of disagreements with trees and bushes. When the gates opened they shot away but were soon on the outside of a bend using the pole to get back into open water,. About a mile later the girl started to steer at a steady tick over, as I passed they asked how long it would take to get to Thrupp at the speed I was travelling and I suggested it would be tomorrow morning. The never speeded up from their tick over and we never saw them again. The lock keeper at Northmoor lock asked where they were and we told him we hadn't seen them since above Newbridge. From there we travelled alone only meeting one more boat all the way to Thrupp at 5 pm when we met a second just as we were mooring up.
Thursday 1 November 2007
Just as we were about to pull away at 9 30 this morning an Oxford Narrowboat hire boat came by, it was 69 foot long but only had two people onboard which we though unusual for a hire boat. When we arrived at Shipton Weir lock the crew of the Oxford boat had set the lock and waved us passed into the lock. It was at this point things became clear. The couple were moving the boat from the Thames base to the Heyford base and on their way they were going to tow a new shell to Heyford for fitout over the winter months. Once in the lock I pulled to one side so the hire boat could come in the centre beside us.
At Enslow the new shell was already in the water, it was craned in by "Tuckey" from the lorry base opposite "The Rock of Gibraltar" pub lifting it over one of the live a boards that are now moored there. Luckily for us they put it in the water facing the wrong direction so they had to turn it round in Kingsground Marina, this gave us the opportunity to get passed them. We made a brief stop at Kirtlington quarry to take some photographs. We pushed on in the wonderful afternoon sunshine, the only thing interrupting the day were the continuous stream of twin engined planes going overhead.
Between Heyford Lift Bridge and Allen's Lock we came across the dredging operations that are going on along this stretch, we only waited a couple of minuets until the dredger moved to one side and waved us passed. A few minuets later we met a push tug with an empty mud hopper, they had obviously just come down through Allen's lock as when we got there the bottom gate was wide open. There were more Blue Boar operatives here sitting on the bench. They are spreading the spoil on fields a bit further along the canal, here another 3 chaps were enjoying the afternoon sun.
We decided that we would continue on a bit further before stopping for the night and at 4 pm pulled in just above Somerton Deep Lock.
Friday 2 November 2007
Just as we were about to leave at 10 am this morning a BW hydraulic crane barge came the other way giving a very nice reflection as it came towards us.
We travelled up the canal without incident until we reached Aynho Weir Lock, firstly we had problems emptying the lock due to the amount of water coming in around the top gate and once in we could not close the bottom gate leaving about a 6" gap. We opened it up and backed Harnser over the cill and had a poke around with the boat hook followed by the "Seasearcher" magnet which pulled up some very shiny crunched up metal that looked like stainless steel but was still magnetic. We tried the gate again with no luck and continued poking about. By now another boat had turned up to watch but didn't start offering advice, I went down with the magnet again and pulled a large forged nail up, this must have been on the cill because once this was out the gate shut. We let the other boat come in beside us and locked up. At Nell Bridge lock the top offside paddle would still not close fully which gave bit of a problem open the bottom gate. Once through it was plane sailing all the way to Cropredy where we came across John Forth moored for the night, as the diesel place in Banbury had been closed (only open Mon - Turs 10-4) we took 150 lts at 57 p/lt. from John. I have never seen the moorings at Cropredy so empty with hardly anything on the designated 48 hr moorings, in the past these have always been almost full of long term moorers. We then moved onto the waterpoint and topped up with water before going up through the lock in the dark to moor for the night at 5.30.
Saturday 3 November 2007
There were a few fireworks going of along the towing path last night which didn't impress Magic very much. While walking him this morning I came across some typed, encapsulated notices saying that all visitor moorings in Cropredy were ether 48 hr or 14 day and if there was no indication of the limit then it was 14 days and a charge would be made for overstaying. The result of this is that all the residential boats have left the visitor moorings. We also noticed that there were no boats on the long term moorings above the lock and very few up near Broadmoor lock. We left the moorings at 9 am in brilliant sunshine that lasted most of the morning before it started clouding over and turning cool. We met one or two private boats and about 5 Ownerships, I hope they have read the stoppage list. BW have things ready for the stoppages next week with new lock gates, work boats etc. in the area. We arrived back at our home moorings at Napton about quarter past four after stopping to fill with water at Marston Doles top lock.