Tuesday, 26 June 2018

South on the South Oxford

We've left the Grand Union and are now heading towards Banbury on the Oxford Canal.  Last Thursday we left the Saltisford Arm at Warwick and went down the two Cape Locks and over the River Avon.  From there it is all uphill to reach the summit level of the Oxford Canal (about 375 feet above sea level) where we are now.
The pub by the Cape Locks is called "The Cape of Good Hope".  We've no idea why it is called that and have been unable to find the answer.  We ate there on Tuesday evening and it was very good and reasonably priced.

This is the aqueduct where the Grand Union crosses the River Avon.  Perhaps one day there will be locks connecting the two which would save all the locks up the Hatton flight and down the Stratford Locks.

A little further on the canal crosses over the railway too.

Going up wide locks in a narrowboat can be difficult but the Grand Union Locks seem to be OK.  Just open one paddle on the same side as the boat and the upwelling water pushes the boat firmly against the side.

This is looking back to Welsh Road Lock, one of a number of single locks before we got to Bascote where there is a short flight of two single locks and a double staircase.  In case you're wondering why we've left a top gate open that's because there is a boat coming to use it!

Here is Leo going up the Bascote staircase.  We managed to pass a single narrowboat in the staircase which is always fun.


We moored near Long Itchington and walked in to see the village and the church shown here.  The village was very quiet and peaceful with a village pond and several pubs. 
On Saturday we climbed the Stockton Locks, all 10 of them, and passed Calcutt Marina shown here before going up the 3 Calcutt Locks to reach Napton Junction with the Oxford Canal.  The iron bridge in the marina reminded us of the 'Horseley Iron Works' bridges around Braunston and elsewhere but it was in fact made in 2006.

In one of the pounds of the Calcutt Locks is a hire company base.  Handy for showing your customers how to operate a lock.

And here we are at Napton Junction turning right onto the Oxford Canal.  Left would have taken us to Braunston.
We moored soon after the junction and on Sunday we only cruised for a mile and a half to moorings near the Folly Inn where we had Sunday lunch and our son David popped in to see us on his way back south after a weekend away.
Napton is famous for its windmill, seen here from the canal.

It is said that you can see seven counties from the top of Napton Hill.  We can't verify that but certainly you can see a long way as this panorama taken from near the windmill shows.

Sunday was also sheet washing day!

The Petunias on Leo's roof are doing really well at the moment.

This picture was taken about 10.30 at night.  These long days are lovely for boating especially when the weather has been so good this June.

This is the Folly Inn.  Good food and good beer at reasonable prices.  It was deserted on Sunday because England were playing Panama.  And winning 6-1!
After a lazy Sunday and having a good chat with David involving a second visit to the Folly Inn, we set off on Monday morning up the 9 Napton Locks.  We moored near the top of the locks and today (Tuesday) we've crossed the long and windy summit pound of the Oxford Canal.
This view is taken looking down from the first lock with Napton Hill behind.

We passed this narrowboat in a depression in a field.  We think a linking channel allowed it to be driven in and the link was then filled in so that they don't have to pay licence fees.  But we could be wrong.  It seems to be on a bit of a tilt for comfortable living.

The weather is that hot this week that we are forsaking the sun on the solar panel and looking for shade to keep the boat and ourselves cool.

We are finally seeing some swallows.  Where we moored last night there was a pillbox where a couple of swallows had a nest.  Three swallows were regularly hoovering up the flies along the canal.

This moorhen was clearly nest building too, perhaps for a second brood as we have seen lots of moorhen chicks already.

The Oxford Canal is well known for its lift bridges.  This was the first we have seen and fortunately is held open to give priority to boats.  No doubt we have plenty more coming which we will have to operate.
The Oxford is a lovely canal, winding, scenic and away from it all.  There now seem to be a fair number of boats on the move and we did have to wait for one boat ahead of us to go up the Napton Locks, the first time we've queued for a lock so far this year.  The next few days will see us going down from the summit level towards Banbury and Oxford.

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