Wednesday, 15 July 2009

Cropredy to Lower Heyford

We heard the boats going by and considering yesterdays queues we thought we had best set off a bit earlier, so we were away at 9 15 am. we were still in a queue at every lock until mid afternoon but never more than 3 from the front.  The boat ahead of us had a tortoise on the roof, this set the old grey matter turning over. I had saved that tortoise from drowning at the AWCC 40 anniversary rally at the Black Buoy Cruising Club several years ago.  At Banbury I stopped for diesel at Sovereign Boats taking on 140 lts at 65p lt plus duty. Banbury was choker block and we slow slid down the middle of boats moored on both sides by Castle Quay shopping centre. Below the lock we passed our friends on "NB. Traivelic" they had passed us before we were up this morning and very shortly afterwards met 2 more on "NB Maximus" who were returning from a trip to Lechlade.

At Somerton Deep lock I inadvertently turned the lock in the face of an oncoming boat and they were sitting on the lock mooring. I helped the boat ahead of us through the lock, drawing the bottom paddles and opening the bottom gates, all the time looking down the cut for oncoming boats and saw nothing. Once the boat left the lock I closed the gates and turned the lock,  just as the lock was about full a young lady cam up to the bottom gates. They had been sitting below the lock all the time on the lock moorings hidden from view by the bridge. I have no idea why she didn't come up as the other boat left, but at least I was able to apologise to her.

Passing through Bourton Lock the lock cottage still looks very forlorn and un loved, I do hope the new owner has not taken on more than he can handle. Last time we came this way I contacted BW to tell them they had a breach just below Heyford Common Lock, this has now all been piled but they still have to get round to back filling the piling so the water is still being lost. At Aynho weir Lock BW are replacing the weir protection completely with new horizontal timbers and what looks like new steel piles, I wonder how much money would have been saved if they had carried out regular maintenance on the existing structure. At tow points on the canal trees have fallen into the water, these have been cut up but only partly removed just to make room for a narrow boat to pass by. There are major towing path works going on just prior to the aluminium lift bridge at Lower Heyford where several meters of towing path have slid into the canal requiring piling and dredging. We moored for the night at 1830 just trough the lift bridge and went to The Bell to eat.

So far this is the worst place I have experienced on the canal system for Vodafone reception, it is even worse than Braunston and even with the aerial I could get just 1 bar on the signal indicator, sometimes dropping to zero. The 3 dongle is on the TV mast and just usable.

You will find our latest position at
http://tinyurl.com/Harnser-s-route

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