Wednesday, 22 May 2013

Now Really Heading South

Now we've joined the South Oxford Canal we really feel we are making progress in our aim to cruise South this  year.  Tonight we are moored between Claydon and Cropredy just over the border into Oxfordshire from Warwickshire.  For those not familiar with canal places we are a day's travel North of Banbury.

From Rugby we cruised down to Braunston going up the three Hillmorton Locks on the way:
Hillmorton Bottom Lock
 We moored at Braunston with fine views of the church and of some interesting neighbours!
View of Braunston Church from Leo

Some cygnets hitching a ride

Monday afternoon we didn't do any cruising but had a good look around Braunston which in many ways is the centre of England's canal system where the Grand Union and the Oxford Canals cross and share a single canal for 5 miles.  Two lovely iron bridges span the 'Y' shaped junction at Braunston and further down the Grand Union six wide locks lead up to the Braunston tunnel - over a mile long.
Braunston Junction - Oxford Canal goes under the bridges

Braunston Bottom Lock - we had ice creams from the shop on the right

 Yesterday morning it was back to narrowboating and we set off down the Oxford Canal route that is shared by the Grand Union.  When they were separate companies the Oxford Canal company levied swinging tolls on boats to make good their losses when the Grand Union put in a much shorter route from Birmingham to London.  Five miles down here you come to Wigram's Turn.  Here is the signpost:
Signpost at Wigram's Turn (Napton Junction) - we went right towards Oxford
A few miles beyond this junction you meet the 9 locks that take you up to the summit level of the Oxford Canal at around 375 feet above sea level.  Coming up the Napton Locks we passed our friends on NB Tacet.  We always seem to meet passing each other in lock flights.  Last year it was on the Cheshire Locks, this year on Napton.
Napton Bottom Lock

This windmill is a prominent landmark around here on the top of Napton Hill

 Last night we moored in a spot we found last year with only sheep for company near a village called Wormleighton.
Our neighbours last night
Today we've enjoyed cruising the rest of the eleven miles of the summit level and this afternoon after a walk to the village of Claydon we descended the five locks there to where I now sit watching the sun go down.
Fenny Compton 'Tunnel' or it used to be until the top was taken off in the nineteenth century

Our first lifting bridge of 2013, fortunately it had been left open

In the village of Claydon

Where I am as I type this

In the next few days we will be cruising down to Banbury and towards Oxford.  This weekend however we are having a few days away from the boat visiting friends in Bristol.  There will be a short break in blogs then until sometime next week.  Happy Bank Holiday.

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