Wednesday, 30 April 2014

An Epic Cruise !!!!


The last week has,by our standards anyway,been a bit of an epic cruise.We have covered some 68 miles and done 25 locks on 5 canals,that’s an average of nearly 10 miles and 4 locks a day,which is what we would normally like to do in a week.One of the reasons for doing this,in spite of what I said last week,is to get closer to Oxford a bit sooner so that we could spend more time around there.We’ve decided that all the places we have passed on our way here will still be there when we go back so our current plan is to enjoy them on the return trip.I must add that we have a new plan virtually every other day which seems to be the standard for boating on our canals.Another reason for traveling so much is we want to spend some time with our good friends Robbie and Suzie,off the good ship NB.Swamp Frogs,we haven’t seen them since saying au revoir in Cyprus back in December.We caught up with them this Monday afternoon when we arrived in Banbury on the South Oxford Canal and it was great to see them again.They haven’t changed much but the suntans have worn off.

We set off from Carlton last Tuesday morning with no plan as to when we would get to Oxford,but,as each day got us a bit closer we decided to push on the following day if the weather was kind to us.That is how it worked out,in spite of dire threats of torrential rain on the nightly weather forecasts,each day was mainly dry.There was the odd light shower which can be expected in April,April Showers and all that,but bye and large we had very little rain until after we had moored up for the day.When it does rain having a narrowboat with a traditional stern helps ‘cos you can pull the hatch over,leaving just enough room for the Helmsman of course,close the stern doors as well and then just carry on.You could then get by with just an umbrella for shelter if you wanted.

Anyway,we left Carlton and made our way down the Ashby Canal to Hinckley for our first night,stopping at Trinity Marina to fill our diesel tank and then moored just outside the marina.I wanted to go over to Nuneaton so it was across the road to the bus stop near the marina and out with our trusty Bus Passes.There’s a bus every twenty minutes so,business done,a bit of shopping and then back on the bus again,easy,who needs a car?On Wednesday we carried on to the end of the Ashby,turned left onto the Coventry for a few miles and then turned left at Hawkesbury Junction,through Sutton Stop,and onto the North Oxford Canal.To the uninitiated,Sutton Stop is the Stop Lock at the Northern end of the Oxford Canal.Because the water levels between the Coventry and Oxford Canals are different,the Coventry being a tad higher then the Oxford,the stop lock protects the water level on the Coventry.It’s named Sutton after the first Lock Keeper.That night we moored just outside the village of Ansty,just as the predicted rain arrived.

North Oxford 001  North Oxford 006

Sutton Stop with Lisa working the lock as usual and Chyandour almost ready to leave,the water level only drops a few inches.

On Thursday we just did a few miles down to Brinklow in the morning.We were expecting a visit from our eldest Daughter and our Grandchildren and Rose Narrowboats kindly gave us permission for our daughter to park her car on their drive while she visited.After they left we did a bit more cruising because it was such a pleasant evening and where we had moored at Brinklow wasn’t that good,we couldn’t get Chyandour close into the Towpath.Friday was the day we did the least,the weather forecast proved to be right and it rained,so we only did five miles before calling it a day.On Saturday we left the North Oxford at Braunston,turned onto the Grand Union Canal for about 5 miles before turning off at Napton and onto the South Oxford.We had a lovely mooring for the night in the middle of nowhere but,as is often the case,we had boats moored ahead and astern by late afternoon.It didn’t spoil it in any way and it’s nice to think that others share our preferences.

North Oxford 014  North Oxford 027

Just a couple of the views we enjoyed as we cruised down the North Oxford.

North Oxford 029  North Oxford 030

A flying visit !!!! She landed on the solar panels and then made her way to the hatch,presumably looking for food.We don’t feed them with bread because I believe it’s not good for them.

North Oxford 034  North Oxford 040

Braunston,the church to the right and the Windmill minus it’s sails to the left.Going under the towpath bridge at Braunston Turn.This had me puzzled at first ‘cos I didn’t expect a choice.They’re both for entering the Grand Union but I suspect the far one is difficult to turn under from this way

North Oxford 048  North Oxford 044

We don’t think he fancied Chyandour.For some reason Swans like to attack the stern button at this time of year when they are nesting and they can be quite aggressive.A strange looking vessel moored on the Grand Union,as both the front and the back look the same it’s difficult to know whether it’s coming or going !!!!

North Oxford 055  North Oxford 057

The Windmill on the top of the hill at Napton just after we turned onto the South Oxford.A Buffalo farm as you go up the Napton Flight,we’ve been told they can be quite aggressive.

North Oxford 063  North Oxford 064

The last line of defence perhaps? After the invaders have managed to cross The Channel we will halt them on the banks of the South Oxford? Having looked at it again and seen another one very much like it I don’t think it’s a prefabricated Pill Box of WW2 era,I think instead that it’s just a farmers store.It’s not all hard work doing the locks as Lisa is happy to demonstrate.

Sunday was Lisa’s Birthday so after opening all her cards we set off to Fenny Compton Wharf and The Wharf Inn where we stopped for lunch as a treat before continuing to the top of The Claydon flight of locks.We did have a minor hiccup as we approached Fenny Compton though.We came around the bend and across the canal was a plastic cruiser,there was no room to get past so we had to stop.There was no way I would try to push it out of the way,18 tons of steel pushing against a fibreglass hull is a recipe for disaster.One of her mooring pins had been pulled out so I got a line onto her,pulled her back in and secured her so we could carry on our merry way.

We knew by now that Swamp Frogs was moored in Banbury so on Monday morning we set off down the Claydon locks to meet up with them.On the way down the locks we helped a boater who’s wife was non too well,Lisa working the locks for both boats bless her,and some of the paddles weren’t easy I can tell you.Robbie was waiting as we approached Banbury and guided us to a mooring in front of them.It was good to meet up again and swap a few stories over a beer or three before going to the nearest Wetherspoons for a meal.Don’t we just live the high life hey ???

Well,that’s it again for this week,slightly delayed due to the celebrations I hasten to add.Since our last blog we have cruised 68 Miles and gone through 25 Locks,giving us a Grand Total of 692 Locks and 1236 Miles since October 2012.Take care everyone.

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