Flecknoe update

Decided against moving today as we are in a nice spot. Following breakfast we walked into Braunston a couple of miles away. After lunch at The Boathouse P.H. our route back took us passed Midland Swindlers also known as the chandlers. We popped in for a look around, you can imagine my surprise that having spent twenty minutes inside we left without spending any money. That’s a first. Later back at the boat we picked some blackberries for jam making. As it was our first attempt we only used a pound of fruit. An hour later after sealing said jam in a Kilner jar it hardly seemed worth the effort.

       

We now have the grand total of three quarters of a jar of jam. Tomorrow we will be aiming for Norton Junction after a brief stop in Braunston to collect some fenders we have ordered at Tradlines.

Cropredy

Yesterday morning with the prospect of a fair weather window we set off from Fenny Compton. First stop the water point which was being used, so we had a short wait before we could fill the tank. After passing Fenny Compton Wharf we entered a straight narrow section of canal cutting. Originally a 1000 yard tunnel when the canal was first built, the roof was removed some time later. Continuing generally South we passed Wormleighton reservoir, one of three that provide water to the summit section of the canal. Shortly we passed a bridge with a very small opening. I thought this would be a bit tight. It was not however for boats, it was a feeder channel from the nearby reservoirs.

       

We had now left Warwickshire behind and had entered Oxfordshire. Soon we were approaching the Claydon flight of five locks. As we descended, an ominously dark looking cloud was getting closer. We exited the bottom lock and the cloud burst. The rain did not last long but it did not need too. In seconds we had been drenched. The moorings at the bottom of Claydon Locks appeared dank so we pressed on. We navigated through Elkington’s Lock then found a nice mooring above Varney’s Lock. We are about 3/4 of mile outside the village of Cropredy.
       

       

Later walking into the village we were pleased we stopped when we did. The moorings in Cropredy are only 24 Hr and we want to stay here till Monday so this would not have been long enough. The village has two pubs, we have already located The Red Lion, and a well stocked general store.
Today we took our walk early in anticipation of the forecast heavy rain, a remnant of a tropical storm that is due.
Totals 5 Miles 6 Locks
Running total 577 Miles 267 Locks 19 Tunnels

Fenny Compton

We departed our mooring at about 10, for the short two mile cruise to the village of Fenny Compton. No sooner had we untied the ropes it began to rain. Fortunately it was only a short shower, although the skies did look threatening for the remainder of our trip. We saw very little boat traffic on the way, probably due to the fact the busy cruising season is now over. There is a general autumnal feel to the air, and the leaves on the trees are beginning to yellow. On arrival at Fenny Compton we knew it would be busy with moored boats, but we did find a spot on a slight bend. As we only plan to stay one night this will do. The crew nipped off to the co-op in the village, and I fired up the heating for a while. The hurricane is running perfectly, now the air lock has been removed. As it was lunchtime, we opted to visit the Wharf Inn. The four legged crew was left on the boat because it was raining, and we did not want a wet smelly dog on board. This pub is dog friendly as we have all visited it previously during one of our walks.

Tomorrow we will be aiming for the village of Claydon so we will have a few locks to do.
Totals 2 Miles
Running total 572 Miles 261 Locks 19 Tunnels

Wormleighton update

Not too much to report today. We were facing the wrong direction for Cropredy following our trip to the services, so it meant setting off in search of the next winding hole of 60 feet or more. This morning we finally got the warm sunny weather the Met Office has been forecasting, so a pleasant day’s cruise along the summit of the Oxford Canal was on the cards. The nearest winding hole was at Marston Doles some five miles away. Unfortunately, it was for boats upto fifty foot. We therefore had to descend two locks of the Napton flight, and wind in the Old Engine House Arm. This short arm of canal is now used as private moorings. Having winded, it was then back through the two locks and up onto the summit level. It appeared as if the sun was shining on us metaphorically speaking as well. Having ascended Marston Doles Lock, we saw a queue of five or six boats had arrived and were waiting to go down. As we cruised over the next half a mile, another five boats passed us heading towards the lock. I imagine a two to three hour wait was likely for the last boat. We also got logged twice by the Canal and River Trust. Once just above the locks, and again by a different data checker below. The sun has obviously brought all of them out of hiding as well. We arrived back at the spot we had departed five hours previously, and moored up. We are now facing the right way again.

After lunch a few maintenance chores were completed. The heating system had an air lock, so this was bled to remove that problem. The batteries needed a top up with water and an equalisation charge, and the stern greaser needed filling. We will have a rest day tomorrow, then probably stay put over the weekend due to bad weather forecast. We will aim to be in Cropredy by Thursday as the crew is abandoning ship again to visit family.
Totals 10 Miles 4 Locks
Running total 570 Miles 261 Locks 19 Tunnels

Wormleighton

Our cruise today was simply to get services at the nearest wharf, which happened to be in the village of Fenny Compton. This was about six miles away by the wiggliest section of canal we have yet travelled. As the crow flies it’s a distance of about three miles. However we did not want to get to far ahead of ourselves, so this morning we set off with the intention of winding (turning) and heading back towards Priors Harwick once we had used the services. On the outskirts of Fenny Compton we stopped for water at a particularly busy bottleneck, which consisted of a water point, winding hole, public house, bridge, coal boat and visitor moorings, all within 50 yards of canal. Needless to say we observed some interesting boating manoeuvres whilst we waited. Then it was on to Fenny Compton wharf. We winded in the marina entrance which was quite tight, cheating a bit with generous use of the bow thruster. After our pump out we were off again on a return journey. We had seen a spot near the village of Wormleighton on the way, and this was where we were aiming for. We arrived just after lunchtime and secured the boat.

       

As can be seen in the photo the towpath is wide and grassy and the four legged crew member decided to sit outside for a while.
       

When we arrived at this spot we had it to ourselves. But we have found on our travels that as soon as one boat moors it seems to attract others so we were not alone for long.

       

The view from our side hatch across the Warwickshire countryside. This summit section of the Oxford Canal is very rural, quite and unspoiled, currently. The dreaded HS2 high speed railway is due to carve up this tranquil haven sometime in the future.
We will only stay one night here then continue our journey. The nearest winding hole is back at the Napton locks so we have to go all the way there first, before heading back this way to continue on towards Cropredy and possibly Banbury.
Totals 8 Miles
Running total 560 Miles 257 Locks 19 Tunnels

Priors Hardwick

Today we departed Napton on the Hill after our long weekend there. During this time we had become regulars at The Folly. On Sunday, we had our usual roast dinner in front of the large open fire. It was very cosy. We set off up the remaining four locks of the Napton flight, soon reaching the summit section of the Oxford Canal. About a mile beyond the top lock, we passed a sign for moorings available.

       

A little further on we saw what was entailed. It seems if you want to moor here, first you need a JCB to dig a channel into the field. Then, navigate boat into said mooring, before rebuilding the canal bank behind you. The lengths some people will take to avoid the Canal and River Trust license fee.
       

       

A little further on, we reached our destination for the day, near to the village of Priors Hardwick in the vicinity of bridge 124. After securing the boat we nearly put the heating on for the first time. The Met Office had told porkies indicating that this week was going to be warm and sunny. Well it was bloomin cold where we were.
       

     

       

                                            Views of our mooring spot summit of Oxford Canal.

We will probably only stay here tonight before moving onto Fenny Compton tomorrow. Hopefully we will also see the sun.
Totals 3 Miles 4 Locks
Running total 552 Miles 257 Locks 19 Tunnels