Cropredy

Since our last post we have been dodging the rain. So much for this being Flaming June, it’s been colder and wetter than February was. We have even had the diesel heating on. Having spent a couple of days at Wormleighton, on Sunday 9/6. we set off for Fenny Compton. We needed a top up with water, and due to the appalling weather forecast, it was likely we would be staying put at our intended mooring for up to a week. We also arranged for a pump out at the wharf in Fenny Compton, earlier than we needed, but it does mean we won’t need to move for seven or eight days. Once our services had been completed, we continued our cruise on the summit pound of the Oxford Canal, in relatively warm weather. About half a mile beyond Fenny Compton Marina, we reached the tunnel, or at least what used to be. It was originally built as a single bore Tunnel in 1776, but became a choke point, and by 1870 the roof had been removed. All that remains is a narrow cutting. Soon we arrived at Claydon Top Lock. A flight of five Locks, which dropped us 30 feet, and down off the summit. We had one more Lock to navigate, before reaching our intended mooring above Varney’s Lock.

Mooring above Varney’s Lock, Cropredy

The two geese in the picture above are our neighbours, living in the field opposite. Fortunately they are generally very quiet, except when the cows charge at them. We had been aiming for this spot, because the towpath is now on our port side, meaning I can attend to the jobs that need doing on that side of the boat.

The next five days have been a virtual washout, with very little opportunity to do anything. Our situation means we don’t have to move in appalling weather, but some do, especially hire boats who are generally on a schedule. It hasn’t been a complete waste of time, I have conducted the 2000 hour service on our beta marine diesel engine, and also topped up the water levels on our Trojan batteries. We have had the opportunity to walk into Cropredy on a couple of occasions, and during our visits, we have supported the local businesses, aka The Red Lion, and Brasenose Arms. The small village shop has also had some of our custom.

Cropredy Church opposite the Red Lion P.H

This afternoon the weather finally broke, and we caught a glimpse of the sun once more. Hopefully the towpath will dry out fairly quickly, and tomorrow I can finally begin our outdoor maintenance tasks.

Totals 8 Miles 6 Locks

Running total 175 Miles 248 Locks 9 Tunnels

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

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