Following our arduous cruise on Saturday, we were in need of some rest and recuperation. We therefore remained moored at Norton Junction, and took the opportunity of a final Sunday roast, at the New Inn, by the Top Lock of the Buckby flight. Monday began looking a bit grim, so we decided on having another stationary day. Four legs was taken for a walk down the Buckby flight, and we ended up spending some money in the CanalWare Shop. As we returned from our walk, we waved goodbye to some fellow moorers from Yelvertoft, onboard nb. Kantara, as they headed off down the Grand Union.

Today, Tuesday 9/4. We set off from our mooring, and stopped on the water point at the junction. Whilst waiting the half hour or so, to top up the half empty tank, we saw numerous boats moving, mostly heading towards Braunston. Would we be lucky and have a locking partner, certainly the Locks would be set against us. Turning right at the junction onto the Grand Union mainline, we had a slow trundle towards the tunnel with a coal boat just ahead.

Approaching Braunston Tunnel

The tunnel traffic today was very busy. We had three boats in front, and at least four behind. Fortunately, nothing was opposing, especially with the nasty kink in the tunnel to navigate. On arrival at Braunston Top Lock, we had a short wait before proceeding down the flight. Our locking partners were commencing their yearly cruise, from a winter mooring at Crick. They decided to stop for lunch at the Admiral Nelson, leaving us to do the remaining two Locks alone. We did finally meet some traffic ascending, which turned the remaining Locks in our favour. Once clear of the Braunston Bottom Lock, we had a slow chug passing the line of moored boats, and decided as it was lunchtime, we would stop. We took a mooring just beyond the Gongoozerlers Rest cafe boat, and wandered off to the Boat Inn. Following lunch we set off once more, heading for the junction with the Oxford Canal.

Joining the Oxford Canal at Braunston Turn

It has been a couple of years since we turned south at this junction, and soon we will be on completely new waters, for both us and the boat. Four legs and the first mate jumped ship at the next bridge, for a short walk. Fifteen minutes later, we arrived at our intended spot, just beyond bridge 100. It was fairly busy.

Mooring bridge 100 Oxford Canal
View from the side hatch

This is a nice rural mooring, about half a mile from the village of Flecknoe, situated on top of the hill, to the offside of the Canal.

Totals 6 Miles 6 Locks 1 Tunnel

Running total 13 Miles 13 Locks 2 Tunnels

Napton on the Hill

Weekly update. Following our short stay at Yelvertoft Marina to attend the Crick Boat Show, on Sunday 5/6 we departed in fine weather heading for Norton Junction. We waved to the crew of nb Adagio who were also due to be leaving, and turned left at the exit heading towards Crick. As we approached Crick Marina we saw most of the boats that had been moored on the, pay for towpath moorings, were now gone. Then it was on into Crick Tunnel for an unopposed transit. It was also unusually dry ish. We were soon at the top of the Watford Lock flight. There was a boat waiting, but soon after checking in with the lockeeper we were on our way down the staircase. Half way down, we again saw the crew of nb Adagio checking in. Later we found out they had a three hour wait, boy are we glad we got up slightly earlier than they did. Rounding the final bend towards Norton Junction and the Grand Union Canal it is always a lottery if the mooring spot will be empty or full. We were lucky. We had also arrived at lunchtime, so a quick call to the New Inn just round the corner secured a Sunday roast reservation.

Monday 6/6, we were away early aiming for the area of Flecknoe on the South Oxford Canal. The weather was glorious as we turned right at the junction heading for Braunston.

                                                 Heading towards Braunston Tunnel.


                                               Viewing back towards Norton Junction.

The previous day this stretch of canal had been really busy, we were expecting the same again. We were wrong. We had no boats with us in Braunston tunnel, and also none to share the six wide locks we now had to descend. The cottage by the top lock is for sale if you have a spare half a million, it’s not one of the best we have seen, but does include 3 acres of land. Onwards down the flight we began to meet oncoming traffic, which meant the locks were in our favour as we arrived at them. Once through the bottom lock it was onto the junction where we turned left onto the Oxford Canal. About a mile and a half later we arrived at our intended spot taking a position just prior to bridge 100. The main mooring area beyond the bridge was very busy, but stopping where we did gave us the illusion of being on our own.


                                                 Bridge 100 mooring spot on the Oxford Canal.

Our plan was to stay here a few days until our appointment at Calcutt Boats on Thursday. On Tuesday 7/6 we walked back into Braunston for lunch at the Boathouse, and on the way back we managed with a great deal of resolve, to avoid visiting the chandlers. Wednesday 8/6 we set to work with one of our Crick show purchases, ‘Brass Mate’. For the past year the brass on our boat has had a lovely bronze look to it. Both our neighbours at Yelvertoft polish theirs, so now we too can join in the fun and games. We completed one side, and it is now so shiney you need sunglasses just to look at it. Thursday 9/6 we wanted to be at Calcutt for when they opened, so at a very early 7am we were underway. An hour later we turned right at Wigrams Turn, rejoining the Grand Union Canal, and then travelled the short distance to Calcutt locks. Descending one lock we then reversed onto the wharf and checked in at the office. Our hurricane diesel heater was still not functioning correctly in that the exhaust was at times giving off very strong fumes. The engineer dismantled the inner workings paying particular attention to the compressor, as the unit had been running at low pressure thereby causing an incomplete burn of the diesel. He soon found the problem, a small hairline crack in the unit that has probably been present since new. For this reason Calcutts did not charge me for a replacement despite being outside the warranty period, which I thought was decent. By noon we were on our way again heading for Napton on the Hill and a favourite mooring spot by bridge 116. We had six locks of the Napton flight to ascend but the flight is manned by lock volunteers, so sometimes you get some assistance, usually only at the bottom of the flight. Our chosen spot was free so we moored up planning to stay over the weekend. 

                                             Mooring on the Napton flight by bridge 116.

During Friday and Saturday we visited the pub and the village shop to support both. Today, Sunday 12/6 we had booked in for lunch at the Folly Inn. Mid morning we received a phone call from the pub cancelling the booking due to a power cut that had affected the whole village. To say we were devastated at the prospect of missing out on a roast dinner was an understatement. Luckily, 10 minutes later lunch was back on as the power had been restored. The pub however in that short time had lost quite a few bookings. The food as usual was excellent. Our plan is to head back slowly towards Norton Junction aiming to be there by next weekend.
Totals  Sunday 5/6.     7 Miles 7 Locks 1 Tunnel
           Monday 6/6.    6 Miles 6 Locks 1 Tunnel
           Thursday 9/6.  8 Miles 8 Locks 
Running totals 141 Miles 91 Locks 7 Tunnels


Our visit to Calcutt Boats is over and once again we are back on the cut. First thing Monday morning we moved our boat into the covered dock, and transferred a few things onto the hire boat that would be our home for the duration of the works. The accommodation was basic and not at all comfortable, the next few days would be an endurance. Later in the day the engineer notified us that he had made good progress, and that he would be finished the next day. This was music to our ears. Not only would the eye watering quote for the works not be so eye watering, but our stay on board ‘Wild Hemlock 1’ would be very much reduced. The following day, Tuesday, with a few hours to kill we took a walk around the reservoirs and headed off towards the Bridge Inn at Napton for lunch. The pub was closed due to a funeral so we continued on along the towpath to one of our favourite pubs, ‘The Folly’ at the base of Napton locks. After lunch we wandered back to Calcutt Marina. It was quite warm by now so the three of us needed an ice lolly to cool down whilst we waited for the engineer.

                                                         Oscar enjoying a twister.
The boat was ready. By now it was late afternoon, so rather than set off we arranged a berth for the night. This would allow for a lengthy test of our relocated diesel heater before we travelled too far. It performed well. During the relocation the engineer has secured it to the boat using a combination of wooden boards and rubber feet. Previously, it had been secured directly to the steel of the boat. It now operates much quieter than before. This morning after breakfast we set off, departing the marina and headed up the flight of locks. The weather was fairly blustery, and there was a fair chance we would catch a shower before we reached our destination. Just as we were arriving at our mooring spot, the hail storm started. The wind picked up driving the hail sideways, and mixed in with the hail just for good measure was some icy rain. No sooner had we finished securing the boat the blue sky and sunshine made an appearance. We plan on staying here till Friday or Saturday depending on the weather.

                   Hurricane diesel heater. Positioned at a 45 degree angle to allow service access.




                                          The inner workings which are now accessible.

Totals 4 Miles 3 Locks 
Running total 21 Miles 19 Locks 2 Tunnels

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.