June 21 – 24, 2014.
Starting the day on the Thames in Oxford at Osney Bridge we took the Sheepwash Channel and turned onto the Oxford Canal at Isis Lock. Dave was back as crew for the day and our target was Lower Heyford nearly 14 miles and 10 locks away.
The Oxford Canal is not for people who are in a hurry. It’s narrow locks that can take only one boat almost inevitably mean that sooner or later you will find yourself queuing to go through them. Despite this, we made Lower Heyford, where Dave could catch the train back to London, comfortably after stopping for lunch and a pint in Thrupp.
This isn’t the first time I’ve travelled up the south Oxford Canal from Oxford to Braunston and consequently I had a plan of where I wanted to stop at the end of each day’s cruising. Leaving Lower Heyford the following morning my planned destination was Kings Sutton, or more accurately, the moorings at Twyford Bridge opposite Twyford Wharf.
On a very hot day, that took in Somerton Deep Lock, where I had an accident last year (my gear cable snapped!), it took me longer than expected to make Twyford Bridge due to queuing at the locks. I was lucky to secure the last space to tie up for the night.
I was away from Twyford Bridge early the next morning in order to get through lift bridge 144 in the centre Banbury before the town became busy. The bridge is operated with your lock windlass. This I managed and I reached my next destination Cropredy at mid-day, just in time to visit the Red Lion for a bit of lunch. Unfortunately, it being Monday, the day they don’t serve food, I had to make do with a drop of lunch 😉
After an easy day yesterday I left Cropredy with the intention of reaching the moorings just round the corner from Napton Bottom Lock. To do this I had negotiate 17 locks in total that included 2 lock flights – Claydon 5 locks and Napton 7 locks – as well as 3 locks leading up to the Claydon flight and 2 further locks at Napton leading down to the Napton flight. The gap between the first 8 locks and the 9 Napton locks is big and involves several hours of lock free cruising – plenty of time to recover for the Napton flight. I managed to make Napton as planned but unfortunately all the mooring spaces were taken. Rather than tie up in the middle of nowhere, I was looking forward to a couple of pints after a long hard day, I decided to press on to Braunston another lock free 7 miles. By the time I reached Braunston I’d been on the go for 12 hours.