Upper Heyford

This morning we woke to bright sunshine, and the sound of the boat creaking as the expanding steelwork warmed up. We had a short hop to the Aynho Wharf for services. This included 80 litres of diesel, which is what we have used in the three weeks since our last top up. Having to use the heating has been responsible for some of this, but no need for heating today, it was t-shirt weather. Aynho Wharf were very accommodating, and in addition to a pump out and diesel, we also filled with water and disposed of some rubbish. There is also a well stocked shop for emergency essentials. Next stop was Somerton Deep Lock, which was mentioned in yesterday’s post. The paddle gear winders were very stiff to use, and there is a delightful Lock cottage at the site.

Somerton Lock Cottage

Descending in the Lock chamber, the walls begin to close in on you the deeper you get. Fortunately the top gate does not leak too much, but the depth below the cill, is more than the height of the gate above.

Cill, Somerton Deep Lock
Somerton Deep Lock, looking up

We had a couple of miles further to cruise, and one more Lock to navigate before reaching our destination. This Canal is proving to be very enjoyable, with some stunning views across open countryside. We found a mooring near bridge 203, just prior to Upper Heyford, and secured the boat. After lunch, we took four legs for a walk along the Canal to Lower Heyford, a distance of one and a half miles. The two legged crew enjoyed an ice lolly each, four legs had to settle for a drink from the Canal. Tomorrow we will be aiming for Thrupp, at which point we will be in striking distance of the Thames.

Totals 5 Miles 3 Locks

Running total 192 Miles 262 Locks 9 Tunnels

Aynho

This morning we set off for Aynho, five miles and four Locks away. The skies were grey, and in the distance looked black, but at least it was warm. It would be touch and go as to whether we would be hit by a shower. The stretch of Canal we are on now, south of Banbury seems quieter, and we settled into a pleasant cruise through the countryside. We soon passed beneath the M40 motorway, and from then on, it ran parallel to the Canal, but sufficiently shielded to prevent too much of an intrusion. Our third Lock of the day was Nell’s Bridge Lock. It is necessary to check the indicator boards below this Lock, to ensure that the water levels are not excessive. The reason is because at the next Lock ahead, the River Cherwell crosses the Canal, and following periods of heavy rain, the levels can rise making navigation risky, and reducing the headroom at Nell’s Bridge.

Nell’s Bridge, can be a tight squeeze

The next Lock, Aynho Weir Lock is just over half a mile further on. The River Cherwell crosses the canal from left to right, and the Weir bridge is protected by a wooden barrier.

Aynho Weir Bridge

The levels today were fine, and the flow fairly insignificant across the Canal. Once in the Lock and looking back, it could be seen that the gauge was in the amber zone. This is fine for navigation, with caution.

Aynho Weir Lock, Amber indicator board

Aynho Weir Lock has very small drop of about one foot. It also has an interesting diamond shape. It was built like this because the next Lock, which is one and a half miles ahead is Somerton Deep Lock. With a twelve foot drop, Somerton Deep Lock takes a larger quantity of water than is usual. In order to maintain the water levels in the pound between, extra water capacity was needed to be built in, hence the strange design.

Aynho Weir Lock, diamond shaped for extra capacity

Our intended mooring spot was just over half a mile further on, close to Aynho Wharf. After securing the boat, we wandered off to the wharf, and adjacent public house. It was lunchtime after all. The Great Western Arms was very pleasant, as was the food. We have earmarked this for a Sunday roast on our return, sometime in September. Back at the boat I had a minor maintenance task to deal with, and four legs found a spot to snooze on the grassy towpath.

Mooring at Aynho

Tomorrow we will need services at the Wharf before heading off towards Lower Heyford.

Totals 5 Miles 4 Locks

Running total 187 Miles 259 Locks 9 Tunnels