Sunday 27 October 2013

Summery of our last trip

We set off on Sunday 13 October and returned to our moorings on the 27 October, in that time we clocked 68 engine hours and covered just over 150 miles. We passed through 85 locks going as far up the Thames as the junction with the River Coln. On our outward journey we went via Dukes Cut and on our return was via Isis Lock and Oxford. The shortest distance between two overnight moorings was at Thrupp which was about 100 meters,  but we moved between them by going via Shipton Weir Lock and back again. We met lots of old friends and a few new ones.

Saturday 26 October 2013

Napton Top Lock Saturday 26 Oct 2013

Yesterday we came up Bourton Lock, the lock cottage is in the same state that it was last time we came this way. One thing I had never noticed before is that has been extended by about a third some time in the distant past. The joint and different size bricks are very obvious between the front door and the left hand window. I wonder how long it will be before its lived in once again.DSCF4049

This morning we set off at 10am to a miserable morning, not really raining but not dry. The Cropredy Canoe Club were out in force, the first ones came by about 9-30 and we met most of the rest of the club by the long term moorings. There were still a few at the club getting ready to go as we passed.DSCF4050

While waiting with the bows against the bottom gates to go into Cropredy Lock there was a load clonk and the engine which was on tickover stalled. I restarted the engine but no drive, there was something big in the prop. Down the weed Hatch I found a stick about an inch and a quarter in diameter across above the prop and under the weed hatch. I set too with my saw but I cut from the wrong side resulting in the wood jamming the blade and snapping. Saw No.2 on the job working from the other way and it was soon free and we were on our way.

DSCF4051 There is a new building being erected beside the lock.

Cropredy Marina has progressed in the time we have been away, all the pontoons are in and the last bit of decking is being laid, its full of water and they are laying the roadways.DSCF4054

At bridge 147 we came across this sign, this is the last bridge before the Claydon flight.DSCF4055

We were expecting a fast run up the Claydon flight, a boat was coming down in the bottom lock as we arrived and there was nothing ahead, the second lock had one of bottom gates open so it should be good. However as we rounded each bend in the flight another boat coming down had just turned the lock and were about to enter, so we had to wait for each one.

As the day progressed the weather improved and just after we passed the Wormleighton tower Diana decided she would like to pick some blackberries, so I dropped her off as we went under the footbridge.What happens, the farmer has flailed all the hedgerow and there wasn’t a berry to bee seen for quite some way.

At Marston Doles Top Lock there are even more cars. DSCF4057I think there may be someone living in the Cannaught coach as I noticed that it has been levelled on wooden blocks. There is also an old enamelled advertising board above the door to the building advertising petroleum spirit. 

When we arrived at the Engine Arm we decided to wind and back down towards the lock for the night so that we can unload the boat to the car in the morning. Whit I haven’t mentioned was the boat moored with its bows directly opposite the Arm. I swung the bows into the Arm with lots of welly to push it round then hard astern to drag back out of the mud. At this point the lady on the moored boat hurriedly opened her cratch and asked if I wanted her to move, but at only 57ft I was OK and the stern cleared her bow as we continued round. I have never winded from this direction before and its much easier than when you do it after coming up the flight. I reversed back to about 200ft from the lock and moored for the night, dead on 6pm. Tomorrow its just a case of taking the stuff to the car and then “Parking” Harnser down the Engine Arm before heading back to Sunny Suffolk for a family wedding.

Friday 25 October 2013

Slat Mill Friday 25 October 2013

We set off after quite a disturbed nights sleep at about 10-15am on a sunny morning.

At Somerton Deep lock I got a photograph of the notice on the bottom gate beam. The German Shepherd that lives at the lock cottage kept a good eye on us.DSCF4031

A little further on and CaRT are repairing the towing path, you can see how deep the water is by how close they managed to moor their boat.DSCF4032

When we passed through Aynho last week I spotted what looks like a steam powered Narrowboat on the hard, right by the bridge.DSCF4036

Passing under the motorway bridge No.182A there is a memorial plaque to Paul Hill who was killed during the construction of the bridge 25 years ago.DSCF4038

Just north of the motorway there is a Wilderness trail boat,  its been in this area for several years now and it looks as if it is someone’s home.DSCF4041

Between the two lift bridges to the south of Banbury there is work going on both sides of the canal, on the non towing path side they are digging a deep hole inside a coffer dam, there are also diggers working in the field on the other side.DSCF4044

To get the plant across the canal they look to have used a Bailey Bridge so I suspect it was to large to get through the lift bridge.DSCF4045

The lift bridge was down to give them access between sites and luckily for us one of the workmen walked down and opened it, Diana wouldn’t have managed and its debatable if we could have done it between us. The chap stood on top of the stump post that the arm of the bridge rests on when open and then swung on the chain for several seconds before his body weight started to lift the platform and he came back down to earth, he was much bigger than ether me or Diana.

We stopped briefly in Banbury to fill with water and then continued north mooring for the night just above Slat Mill Lock, this is as bout as far as we can get from the railway but there is still the constant buzz of the motorway.

Thursday 24 October 2013

Somerton Common Thursday 24 Oct 2013

Last night dinner and drinks were again taken at The Boat as part of a party of 8 boaters and a good night was had by all. The cost was very reasonable thanks to “Taste Card”.

This morning we woke to a sunny still morning, ideal for boating. It took us some time to say goodbye to everyone and it was gone 11 before we set off. As we cleared the Thrupp Lift bridge we could see a boat coming down the canal behind us, but as you can’t remove the key with the bridge up, we had to close it and let them open it themselves.

The last person to use Shipton weir lock left the bottom paddle up, which was handy for us as we could open the gate straight away, you normally need to draw the paddle and wait for the lock to drain, even if the last boat did come towards you. The water level in the Cherwell was very similar to yesterday with the indicator in the yellow but the measurement gauge at only about +50mmDSCF4020

As we left the lock we met a boat coming down the river so we were able to leave the gate open for him. At the other end of the river navigation there is a fine cast bridge carrying the towing path across the river Cherwell as you cross back onto the canal at Bakers lock. The navigation is actually to the right of the bridge via a 90° bend.DSCF4021 By the lock is another level indicator for people coming downstream, as you can see it is still in the green.DSCF4023 A notice above the lock on the canal section explains it all and tells boaters what actions they should take. Note it is a BW notice.DSCF4024

There is a long row of official long term moorings above the lock, one of the boats is a very keen communications fan as can be seen by his boat.DSCF4025

What more could you want than to be on a canal like this on a day like today?DSCF4026

A little later on we came upon this boat right across the cut, his stern pin had been pulled out leaving quite a furrow, so ether it was the shared ownership boat we just met, or they went by and just left it floating all over the cut,  it didn’t take many minuets to push it to the side and drive his pin back into the ground, it was hanging on his stern rope.DSCF4028

In Lower Heyford one of the houses has a tree house, this use to be a rather splendid affair,  but over recent years it has been allowed to deteriorate to the point that maybe now it should be officially condemned.DSCF4030

We did a couple more locks before pulling over just before 5pm on the edge of Somerton Common for the night.

Tonight we dine at nb.Harnser.

Wednesday 23 October 2013

Thrupp Wed 23 Oct 2013

Last night dinner at The Boat went down very well, probably the best beef chilly I have ever had out. It tasted like chilly not mince. The sky was bright with lightening and we had a very heavy rain storm, thankfully we were in the pub at the time.

This morning we pushed off at about 10 30 heading north, we passed a boat on the mooring ahead and I am not sure how the steerer can see where they are going as the flowers must be at least 2ft. higher than the boat, maybe the owl tells them which way to go.DSCF4018Next to come into view was what looked like a chimney being swept, but on closer inspection is a dummy brush on a blank stub of pipe.   DSCF4016 Once through the electric lift bridge we pulled over and filled with water at the Thrupp Cruising Club service block. I must say that the club do keep the area looking very smart with all their planters and flowering tubs around the place.

When the tank was full we set off to Shipton Weir, at this point we checked the level of the river Cherwell, the indicator showed just into the yellow so not a problem. With this information  we decided to lock out on to the river, turn round and head back south. if it had have been higher we would have continued north up the river before things got worse. I have since found out that I could have checked the level on the EA web site HERE.

The old cement works stood out nicely in the sun against the dark clouds.DSCF4008

Back in Thrupp I winded just before the electric lift bridge and reversed through the bridge to the visitor moorings, not the same one as we were on last night but 2 boat lengths to the north.

So it has taken us 2 hours to move 50 yard and fill the tank with water. that included passing 2 lift bridges twice, locking down once, up once and turning round twice. Still its better than sitting with the engine idling to charge the batteries.

Tuesday 22 October 2013

Thrupp Tuesday 22 Oct 2013

We woke to a wet morning and as we only planned to go to Thrupp we didn’t start to early hoping for an improvement in the weather, but it was warm and showery most of the day.

We slipped off at 1030hr just as the trip boat was leaving the other side of the bridge, but as we intended travelling slowly  that was not a problem. We actually met a boat coming the other way, just one.

It looks as if CaRT have adjusted the locking mechanisms on the lift bridges, last time we came this way Diana had to sit on them to turn the key but now hand pressure is quite sufficient.DSCF4003 It is noticeable how the recent wet weather has changed the balance point of some of these bridges, when we came down 5 days ago Diana was able to open Drinkwater’s lift bridge from the towing path side, today with the deck heavier she had to cross and pull the arms down.

The trip boat we were following turned off on to Duke’s Cut so I expect they are returning via the Thames. From Duke’s Cut all the locks were in our favour but in most cases it was still necessary to draw a paddle to get the gate open.

By the time we reached Thrupp at about 1415 the sun had come and it was quite warm, the moorings were surprisingly empty and we actually managed to get mooring rings this time on the 7 day moorings, even though we are only staying overnight.
Once tied up we wandered down to Annie’s Tea rooms for a pot of tea and a wedge of cake.

Monday 21 October 2013

Oxford Monday 21 Oct 2013

Last night we checked out all the beers on offer at The Trout and were treated to cold Yorkshire Puddings. While there we got chatting to the people from the boat breasted to us.
Overnight we had plenty of rain and it was still trying at 9-30 this morning when our neighbours pushed off upstream, we left about 10 when the rain stopped to go down stream. There was noticeably more flow on the river today but we only saw one other boat on the move.

At Newbridge it looks as if The Maybush Inn is closed for redevelopment.DSCF3978 It was here that we caught up with a team who were electric fishing. The boat they were using looked very modified with small rectangular dinghies mounted there side of the main hull as outriggers and a frame work on the bows supporting the earth electrodes.DSCF3984 We got quite close to them as they sheared two locks with us, in each case we went in first and they came in close behind. They  were returning all fish back to the water after removing a scale sample. The said they had caught more fish than they had expected so that sounds good.

Between Northmoor and Pinkhill Locks there are some old chalets standing up from the river. DSCF3990There is also this place which somehow seems a tad out of place.DSCF3988The guys doing the electric fishing passed us while we were stopped for lunch on the EA 24 hr moorings above Pinkhill LockDSCF3986 but were just getting the lock ready as we arrived, so again I went in first and they tucked in behind us. It wasn’t the normal cheery lock keeper on duty which was just as well as they didn’t stop their outboard and one of the outriggers caught the gate on the way out. Well it was rather unwieldy in a lock being wider than it is long.DSCF3991   We continued on down to Eynsham Lock where we stopped to fill with water. For those that don’t know EA waterpoints consist of a 1” diameter fire hose on a pull out reel that fills a normal tank in minutes. Luckily this one also had a standard bib tap. I say luckily as there was a barge on the 24 hour moorings adjacent to the water point and they appeared to be filling their tank with the red hose. I say appeared as the hose was full of knots and was connected when we arrived. Our tank was just about empty so we used our own hose on the half inch tap and had time to make coffee as well as sit and drink it before our tank was full. When we left there was still no sign of life on the barge and the hose was still poked into their boat. While we were doing this the chaps on the electric fishing boat arrived, packed their stuff away and went home.

Below the lock the EA chap had his van parked, has the EA been bought out by Welsh Water by any chance.DSCF3997 Arriving at Kings Lock a chap who we assumed was the lock keeper crossed the lock and opened the gates for us, closed up behind us and worked us down. The lock had its “Self Service” sign up, but that means nothing because several of the manned locks had them up and some only had them up at one end.

We thought we would moor at the old Abbey at Godstow as now that the EA have brought in their mooring restrictions there was plenty of space, what there wasn’t was plenty of water, so that was a none runner.

Godstow lock is the first automated one that we have done this trip and it was unmanned, but Diana sorted it with no problem. Passed Port Meadow and in through Sheep Wash and Isis lock on to the Oxford canal. There was quite a flow of water coming from the Thames and through sheep wash which I wasn’t expecting.

Back on the canal finding a mooring was the next job, we finally tucked in on the end of the visitor moorings below Aristotle bridge, we are a bit closer to the bridge than I would have liked but we didn’t expect much more traffic as it was quarter passed six. Wrong, a little after 8 a boat went by.

Sunday 20 October 2013

Tadpole Bridge Sunday 20 October 2013

Last night my Grandsons came with their mum for dinner in The Riverside, I must say the Barnsley chops were quite good.

Overnight we had heavy rain again but this morning started fine but cloudy. We set off upstream at 1030 under very heavy skys but slowly the blue started to break through. The bank was lined with anglers ready to start a fishing match at 11 am.

At the head of navigation at Inglesham where the Thames and  Severn canal joins the Thames and the river Coln, there was a lone fisherman set up in the shallow water on the left. DSCF3958 I apologised to him as we arrived pointing out this was the only place we could turn, right in his swim, but he was fine with it.
I motored just passed the mouth of the Coln and reversed back in to it,DSCF3954 the water is quite deep close to the upstream bank but very silted on the downstream side, as can be seen from the photo. I then let what little flow there was on the river take my bows round and point us back down stream.

Just above the Riverside pub there are a series of moorings and at one time the moorers obviously had wooden sheds to keep their bits and pieces in. Some of these are now really looking passed their sell by date.DSCF3953

By now the fishing match was in full swing, I expected it to extend from Inglesham to Half Penny Bridge but it actually went all the way down to St John’s Lock.

We were lucky at St John’s lock as a cruiser was coming up so the lock was full for us to go in. You are requested to leave the locks empty with all gates closed, this meant all the rest had to be turned before we could use them. Only a couple of them had keepers on today so we only used one gate to enter and leave, so cutting down on Diana’s work.

Between Buscot and Grafton lock there is a boat club which always strikes me as being unfriendly. They have these big notices both up and down stream from the club. I have never seen a fast moored boat, most of them are stationary.DSCF3948The fact there is no “Please or Thankyou” really gets my goat.

The lock keeper at Grafton told us that they finished craning boats out at about 4 pm yesterday, so they were probably finished before the storm came, or finished because of it.

As we worked through Rushey Lock it started to rain, really rain so we decided to moor for the night back at tadpole Bridge outside the Trout. Well I didn’t try their beer on Friday as we had wine so I can check it tonight.

When we arrived at the moorings there was a red boat already there, but down the far end leaving room for us. I never thought I would moor behind a Shell tanker.DSCF3972

As the rain eased another boat came up the river and slowing beside us so Diana asked if they would care to moor alongside which they were happy to do. Its a shared ownership boat called Zenith who are based not far from us at Wigrams Turn

Saturday 19 October 2013

Lechlade Sat 19 Oct 2013

As expected last night meal in The Trout was first class, but then it cost us a lot more than we normally spend on a meal when we are out.
We just walked back down their garden to the boat when it started to rain and as the night went on the rain turned to drizzle but got much warmer so we ended up with the back hatch open. This morning it was 15°C outside so we turned the Dickinson off.

We set off at our normal 10 o’clock, under Tadpole Bridge making our way up to Rushey lock.DSCF3935Tadpole bridge has had a couple of what look like bat boxes added since we were last this way.

After Rushey Lock the river is quite bendy up to Radcot Lock. So far we hadn’t seen a boat, but that was about to change. The lock keeper at Radcot warned us that between the The Swan and the next lock there would be a lot of activity as it was the annual cruiser lift out day. As we approached the Swan it was obvious that this was the main holding point and the “dispatcher” stepped forward to warn us and would contact the lifting crew to tell hem we were on our way.As we proceeded there were small group of boat gathered together against the bank, often on corners. Needles to say as we passed the last group on the outside of a bend we met a Narrowboat coming down stream, do you think one of the waiting crews who could see upstream as well as back to us thought it would be a good idea to warn us, NO.

At the lift out site there were two cranes working, one lifting out and the other moving them to their winter storage point.DSCF3941

All the HSE regs. were being observed and every one had their hard hat on in case a boat fell on their heads and watching the way some of them worked crawling under unsupported lifts it was quite likely. I personally thought that it might be a good idea if the crew slinging the boats had life jackets on as I think they had more chance of getting knocked in or tripping on a fender than getting their heads banged.DSCF3944 We took the lock keepers at Grafton by surprise as all of their traffic had been down stream for the lift out and we met a few more on their way down after we cleared the lock.

This notice on display at the locks is a new one on me, I have always given the lock keeper a hand when locking down stream when its easy to step off the boat on the off side.DSCF3946 Another notice that was in evidence was the chalked ones warning of lock closures in November.

I have heard of boats having extra decks fitted, but I have never seen one made of decking before. I think Alan Titchmash would have been proud of it.DSCF3947

The next two locks,Buscot and St. John’s were both empty but on “Self Service” as it was between 1 and 2pm. so we just used one gate to slide in and out, the only thing is they request you leave the locks empty, so gates were shut and paddles drawn.

Above St Johns lock we came across a gaggle of Canada geese with a few odds and ends with them for good measure. Two things struck me, DSCF3952 firstly some were wearing collars that were so big you could even see them when they were flying, the had what I assume to beDSCF3951 identification numbers on them and the chap in this bunch looked a bit strange.DSCF3949 We carried on upstream and have moored for the night outside The Riverside at Lechlade another Arkell’s pub. It has been warm and fine all day but in the last half hour it has thrown it down, the sun is out again now along with the sight seers and the kids determined to drown themselves.

Friday 18 October 2013

Tadpole Bridge Friday 18 Oct 2013

Last night dinner was take at The Talbot, Eynsham. A short walk over the privately owned Swinford Toll bridge, which 4 years ago was sold for over a million pounds. Luckily pedestrians can cross free but for cars its 5p a time which gives an income of about £200,000 per year.

The Talbot is an unusual pub in so much that it doesn’t have any beer engines (pumps). The kegs are all racked up behind the bar and the beer is drawn straight into your glass.

This morning a boat came by to use the water point behind us, other than that its the only moving boat that has passed us. Its a lovely 24 hr mooring just above the lock and below the bridge.DSCF3919

Once about we walked down to the lock to dump a bag of rubbish. The local Fire Brigade were at the lock doing some water rescue practice with an inflatable walkway and dingy. We pushed of at 11am making our way upstream. I remembered the shallows just above the bridge as extending further out into the river, may be they dredged it. The next one we came to they hadn’t and there was hardly enough room to get a wide beam boat between the bank and the buoy.DSCF3920 You have to pass to the right of it as you see it in this photo.

Just before Oxford Cruisers yard where there were 13 Anglo Welch Narrowboats moored we passed this rather charming wooden cruiser.DSCF3922 I guess it would have been all the rage in the 20-30s.

We arrived at Pinkhill lock to find it manned which was great, the lock keeper opened the gates as soon as he saw us, we were the only boat around. He closed the gates and as he walked past asked if I would please turn the awful noise off. As I didn’t have the radio on I assumed he meant our engine, he then made a comment to Di about being gassed by the fumes. Still he was having a busy day.

Bablock Hythe use to have a ferry crossing the river, unfortunately its been resting on the bank for some years now, so I don’t expect it will ever go back into service.DSCF3923

Northmoor lock had the self service signs out but as I walked upDSCF3933 I met the lock keeper, he had just turned the signs an was about to leave, but kindly worked us through before he went. No such luck at Shifford lock where we did have to work it ourselves. Beside the lock set back into the hedge there is an insect hotel.DSCF3931

Just below Newbridge at The Rose Revived the Oxford punt and paddle boat company  hires out  peddle punts for those thatDSCF3927 can’t stand up in a boat and handle a pole. They also had some other brightly coloured punts with a small steering wheel,which are electrically propelled.DSCF3930

Our destination for the night was The Trout at Tadpole Bridge, they have a very good mooring along the bottom of their garden and usually serve very good food, not cheap but a treat when we are this way. When we arrived at 3-30pm their landing stage was completely vacant so here we are waiting for dinner.