Sunday 31 December 2023

Napton Engine Arm

Boy did it rain last night, the canal was up by 100mm this morning, our fenders which were between the hull and the piling last night hung clear of the top of the piling this morning. My weather station shows 19mm of rain in the past 24 hours and I think that is probably correct.
It was dry when we set out but it wasn’t long before the rain coat was on. I have never seen the summit this high and it was topping the towpath in places.DSCF8828

I managed to get a photo of the foundations of the new HS2 bridge as we went by, as you can see the weather is still fine, but look at the sky.DSCF8831

It looks as if last nights wind and rain took down the last of the crab apples, I wonder if any of them get eaten or if they all just rot away .DSCF8834

The rain started lightly but was soon coming down quite hard, we had a bit of luck at Marston Doles top lock with a boat about to leave, this meant both the locks were ready for us. Not only was the by-wash above the lock running well but the top lock gate was over topping.(sorry about the rain on the lens)DSCF8836

At Marston Doles bottom lock a boat approached the bottom lock as we were dropping down so we could leave that one empty , two good results. We had planned to moor somewhere in the flight and as it was really tipping it down we stopped above Napton Top Lock opposite our old mooring for ten years.

Todays Journeyimage5¾ miles, 2 locks in 2 hours

Saturday 30 December 2023

Wormleighton (Not quite the same spot as coming)

It was quite a bit colder last night than of late, dropping to almost 2°C on the roof of the boat.This morning we had light, fine drizzle but that stopped just as we set off.
Things didn’t start to well and I got it completely wrong on the first sharp righthand corner, a bit to close to the bank, the stern dragged in the mud and the bows refused to go round at all, going straight across the cut, needless to say at the same time a boat came the other way. We avoided each other but I struggled to get the stern out to go round and by now he was stuck on the mud on the off side with the wind against him. I did apologise and he seamed to take it well, I can only imagine what he was saying after we both got going again.
This is a shot of us approaching the old tunnel at Fenny Compton, it was opened out in the 19th.DSCF8818

century and the spoil used to make bricks, they even built a brick works beside it. Looking back from the other end there are now three bridges on the long straight section of canal, a foot bridge, the disused A423 and the present A423 bridges. The shot looked really good when we were travelling south but today the lighting was poor.DSCF8820

A brief stop at Fenny Marina to deposit the refuse, the CRT waste bins are now located there, this reduces fly tipping by none boaters. To the north of the marina are on line CRT long term moorings, today there was only one boat there and that had a CRT notice attached to it.DSCF8821

Another stop outside the pub to post some letters, while Diana was doing that I topped the water tank up. In the winding hole opposite the pub is an apple tree, it doesn’t have a single leaf but still a crop of bright green apples.DSCF8822

Just after this we met the second boat of the day, he was just emerging from a bridge hole on a bend, this time I made a much better job of things. Years ago there use to be a boat house on the offside just north of bridge 132, today the ridge of the roof is just above the water.DSCF8823

We carried on under “The Wedding Bridge” a fairly new replacement for a quite old wooden footbridge, I do wonder who replaced it as it doesn’t tie in with any footpaths. We pushed on and moored for the night at the first bit of piling by the radio mast, about a quarter of a mile south of where we moored before.

Todays Journeyimage[3] 6 miles, no locks in 2½ hours

Friday 29 December 2023

Claydon Top Lock

Last night we met Graham and Brenda up at the Brasenose Arms for dinner, the place was very quiet but the food was good.
When we went to bed it was blowing a holey again and getting to sleep  was bit of a problem but overnight it dropped right away and this morning it was dead calm and sunny. Needless to say as soon as we set off it started raining, first stop was just over the canal to fill with water and then up to the first lock. Above this lock we passed The Village Butty with a small push tug called Lion.DSCF8810

I don’t know if this is the same boat as we saw on the Ashby some time ago or maybe there is more than one with everlasting anodes.DSCF8812

Someone lost their fender in Varneys Lock, I stopped in Elkington lock and removed it from my prop, hopefully that is the last one I will collect this year. I do wish people wouldn’t boat with them down.DSCF8813

We arrived at the bottom of the Claydon flight and a boat was just going up, almost leaving the lock, so rather than chase them up we stopped for lunch below the locks to let they clear the flight. The bottom gates of the bottom lock are unusual in that they are made of cast iron there is also a pair on DSCF8815the Hillmorton flight plus a cracked pair on the bank at Hillmorton that couldn’t be repaired. I wonder how many were tried originally and where that only on the Oxford Canal. Also this lock has a notice on the lock beams.DSCF8816

We carried on up the flight passing a pair of happy fishermen sat under their brollies to moor for the night just above the top lock. Since we have been here the wind strength has been slowly increasing, I wonder what tomorrow will have in store for us.

Today’s Journeyimage

3 miles 9 locks in 3 hours

Thursday 28 December 2023

Cropredy again

Boy what a night, the heaviest rain came this morning after we were awake, it hammered down, then by nine o’clock the sun was out.
We have now turned round and retracing our steps back to the marina. I will try to find something fresh to write each day.

As we approached Hardwick Lock I could see the water topping the bottom gate. the bywash here is piped and it just can’t handle the flow.DSCF8805

Just as we were about to leave the lock a boat arrived at the top, it was the chap we followed down to Cropredy a couple of days back, he was hoping to get into Banbury but the fallen tree hasn’t been removed yet.IMG_0051Just beyond the motorway on the off side there are people living in tents, not somewhere I would want to be in this weather.DSCF8806

Back at Bourton Lock again the owner of the cottage was around and he kindly opened the offside gate for us. There were a few canoes out on the canal it seems they go from Cropredy down to Hardwick Lock and back. They were travelling an awful lot faster than we were.DSCF8807

Coming back into Cropredy I spotted this caravan on the offside. Its funny how the UK and America went in different directions with the design of things. just thinking of caravans, school busses, lorries. of course I don’t know if this is American.DSCF8808

Back in Cropredy we moored in the same spot as two nights ago, but facing the other way. It stayed dry for our journey but has just started raining yet again. Tonight is the Brasenose Arms with Graham for dinner.

Todays Journeyimage 3¼ miles, 3 locks in 1¾ hours

Wednesday 27 December 2023


Well another night of rain and not much better today. We set off in fine but heavy drizzle, the stuff that gets in everywhere but at Slats Mill lock it had stopped and stayed reasonably dry until Banbury. We passed this boat with a rather impressive rain cover on the exhaust pipe, but my painted coffee can to shame.DSCF8801

At Bourton Lock we had a chat with the owner of the lock cottage, I met him out boating several years ago. and then on to Hardwick Lock which like Bourton lock was also full, strange as there was a shared ownership boat going down about an hour ahead of us and we hadn’t met anyone. I suspect the water is over topping these gates as well as the by-washes looked a bit stuffed.
Our original plan had been to go into Banbury town centre for the night but there is a tree down at bridge 163 so we winded just before that at the junction of the old line of the canal before retracing our steps for a bit. The donkeys have gone from the piece of land by footbridge 161 where the stream comes in, its now all mown with moored boats and even a BBQ. O and even a hippopotamus.DSCF8804

We carried on just round the bend and tucked in the space behind the shared ownership boat that came down earlier,  they have also turned round so I expect we will follow them up tomorrow. I hope its not a sign of things to come but they have been running the engine since Just after lunch. As we came into Banbury it started raining real rain and that’s been going on and off ever since we have been here.

Just a reminder there is a Google map of the whole journey HERE its the blue track


Today’s Journeyimage4½miles, 3 locks in 2 hours

Tuesday 26 December 2023


First one from yesterday with our dinner and theDSCF8789 decorations. Weather wise it was a washout with rain all afternoon and evening, however this morning was a different story, no wind, sunshine what more could you ask for.DSCF8791

It was quite a while before we met another boat, needless to say at a bridge with bushes on the Offside. Last time I was this way there was rubbish disposal at the pub, now like Fazeley its at the marina.
There was a steady flow of water entering the canal just prior to Fenny Tunnel, the blocks really take the power out of it.DSCF8793

Its a long time since I last passed under one of these, I am guessing the plastic drums are for balance for when the deck is lowered.DSCF8794

Claydon locks were all against us and half way down we caught up with a single hander, well he worked as a single hander with an elderly foreign lady onboard who just took photos, videos and chatted into her phone sitting in the well deck. In the past we have always encounter boats moored in the pound below the second lock, for some reason that is now a no no.DSCF8795

Another interesting notice at Elkington Lock, I wonder what the story behind it is,not a problem with low water today, its over topping the top gates.DSCF8796

The boat ahead stopped just past Cropredy Marina so we were able to go by, we were only doing one more lock, Cropredy lock before calling into theDSCF8799



services and then dropping into a mooring almost opposite between the section reserved for CRT work boats and the long term moorings for the night



Todays Journey image

6½ miles, 9 Locks in 4½ hours

Monday 25 December 2023

Fenny Compton

We woke to very fine light drizzle and not a breath of wind, the drizzle stopped at 10 am and we made ready to set off, then it started again like no tomorrow. looking round it was the same as far as I could see and no wind, so probably set in for the day. Down below and long mac on, lo and behold it stopped and we had a dry run. We waved goodbye to the mast and set off.DSCF8783

Not much to report on such a short journey, we did pass this tree stump that someone has take a lot of trouble to carve, what would you pay for something like that in your garden and here it is by the towpath for free.DSCF8784

The old wooden footbridge is weathering in nicely, it looked very stark to start with, especially after the one it replaced which was very rustic.DSCF8785

Our target for today was Fenny Compton but then we spotted a nice length pf piling just before bridge 135. Its just long enough for one boat to get on, so rather than risk getting to Fenny and finding all the moorings full we have tucked in here for the night. We were moored in good time for lunch, a nice bit of smoked Salmon and the Turkey is in the oven forDSCF8786 this evening.
So all that remains is for me to wish you all a very merry Christmas.

Todays short Journeyimage

2½ miles, no locks in ¾ of a hour

Sunday 24 December 2023


Well its still windy but warmer than yesterday. Not a bad run up the Napton flight, some with us, some against us and a few that were almost one or the other. We were just as lucky with the weather watching the rain passing both ahead and behind us. CRT have installed one or two lock mooring bollards or posts, a bit more substantial than the old ones.DSCF8770

At the top of the flight we passed our old moorings, we were there for ten years. At least one of the boats that was there then is still there.DSCF8772

We stopped above Marston Doles to fill with water, boy its a slow tap, still it was an opportunity to eat lunch. The visitor moorings by the water point have been designated winter moorings but there is only room for three boats. Just beyond the moorings on the offside is what I assume is an artificial nest, I have no ide who would use it or if its ever been used but its quite substantial.DSCF8774

It was now early afternoon and the sky changed with this cloud pattern, but even that was only there for a short time.DSCF8775

The boat in the hole is now definitely floating and the water level in the hole looks higher than the canal level, they also have a very smart block of dog kennels.DSCF8776

Next on the list was the Tepee glamping site with its canal side bath tub, it doesn't look as if they have any tenants for Christmas, it all looks a bit unloved, but come the summer!DSCF8779

HS2 have installed a temporary access bridge across the canal since we were last this way, I wonder if they will do the same at the Curdworth lock flight where the line crosses the canal. It is across the canal, the photo was taken on one of the many bends in the South Oxford Canal. I will try for a better on on the way back.DSCF8833

The rail line will cross on the far side of this nearer bridge 128. They have pilled the sides of the canal ready and excavated for the footing for the bridge supports. We moored a short way after here just beyond the Ladder Bridge overlooking the famous Wormleighton mast part of the UK Decca navigation system.

Today’s Journey image

7 miles, 9 locks in 3¾ hours

Saturday 23 December 2023


It was still windy overnight and today but its dry. Our first port of call was Midland Chandlers, luckily I could moor outside, I only wanted a door catch for the front cabin door but it set me back the best part of £20. Pulling away from their wharf backward so that we could turn right up the Grand Union/ South Oxford canal.DSCF8766

Its surprising easy travelling up the wider Grand Union section and with few moored boats about we made good time. The only boat we saw moving on the GU section was one we met, luckily they came through bridge 108 just before we got there.
It’s quite surprising how thin the actual deck of the arched accommodation bridges are. Normally you don't get this view due to the walls.DSCF8767

A boat came out of Wigrams Turn Marina some way ahead of us and we then followed them all the way to Napton. The going being much slower now with more moored boats, Napton Narrowboats had 24 hire boats all tied up for the winter. Even with no moored boat our top speed was about 3MPH, these two canoes we met were probably going faster.DSCF8769

As we approached Napton we were much more sheltered from the wind, as we didn’t plan on doing any of the flight today we moored at the first section of piling we came to before the winding hole and Folly Pub.

Today’s Journeyimage

9 miles, no locks in 3 hours