Wolvercote

Yesterday we travelled ten miles and four Locks, before arriving at Abingdon. On route, we couldn’t initially work out what was missing from the landscape, then it dawned. The cooling towers at Didcot Power Station were missing, we had photographed them a few months ago, but since then, they have been raised to the ground.

This view no longer exists

A google search informed us, that they were demolished a week or so ago, and that when the explosives went off, it cut the power to the local area for a while. The approach to Abingdon is very picturesque and includes one building with what appears to be a substantial number of chimneys.

Approach to Abingdon

The mooring was tight in Abingdon, it is a popular stopping place, especially for the large cruisers. We spotted a gap to the front of a familiar boat, nb Castellan. We shoehorned ourselves into the gap, then went for lunch. Back at the boat the sky clouded over, and we realised that we’d had the best of the weather, during our morning cruise.

This morning we departed Abingdon just after 9am, it was going to be a hot day. We were aiming for a mooring at Oxford, just below Osney Bridge. As we ascended in the Lock, the Lock keeper told us there was one space left. Unfortunately in the time it took to open the top gates, another boat travelling downstream stole the spot. Being unable to stop here, also meant we would not be entering the Oxford Canal via the Sheepwash Channel, as the mooring on the Canal is very limited. We carried on upstream, passing Port Meadow to starboard, then navigated through Godstow Lock. Just above the Lock, we found a spot to moor and secured the boat. We had been told that the Trout Inn, a favoured haunt of John Thaw is located close by. We wandered off with four legs to find it, and then had lunch there.

Mooring at Wolvercote

The Godstow Lock keeper informed us that there may be a charge at this site, but that she didn’t think anyone had been along collecting fees for some time. We did find the remains of a sign, which probably gave information on the mooring regulations, but sadly not much of the sign remains, so we are in the dark as to whether we have to pay or not. I suspect if money is due, someone will be along soon to tap on the boat.

Mooring information sign, missing its information.

We only plan staying here one night, then it is back onto the Oxford Canal, via the Duke’s Cut.

Totals Thursday 22/8. 10 Miles 4 Locks

Friday 23/8. 10 Miles 5 Locks

Running total 505 Miles 530 Locks 15 Tunnels

Oxford

Our journey today would take us past Duke’s Cut, the point at which we joined the Thames a week ago. First however we had several long reaches to navigate in the glorious sunshine. We had four Locks to navigate, the third of which was King’s Lock. Once we had descended this Lock we were on new waters again. We cruised around several tight bends, which in places were very shallow. They had been clearly marked with red and green buoys to avoid any groundings. Beyond the final lock, Godstow Lock the river opened up. This Lock was even easier than all the previous easy Thames Locks, it was electric. We were now running parallel to the outskirts of Oxford heading towards its centre.

Port Meadow, Oxford In the distance

The meadow would have made a nice mooring spot, but the river was very shallow at the edge, so we had to maintain a central position. At the end of the meadow we passed the Sheepwash Channel. This is another route through to join the Oxford Canal, and is the route we will take on our return. Our intended mooring spot was just beyond the next bridge. Osney Bridge is the lowest on the Thames, but by Canal standards we still had plenty of room. I suspect if the water levels were up, it would be a bit different. We found a mooring just outside Oxford City Centre, and secured the boat.

Mooring in Oxford

After lunch we left four legs on guard, and went to explore Oxford and its dreaming spires. Initially Oxford had the appearance of any other dirty noisy city, that we tend to give a wide berth. However, eventually we found our way into the back streets of old Oxford, which resembled the look we had seen in many episodes of Morse.

The weather is getting much warmer, so when we spotted an ice cream vendor it was too much to resist. We didn’t tell four legs he had missed out again, he would probably sulk.

Looking down to the mooring

Tomorrow we will be aiming for Abingdon, and hopefully open countryside once more.

Totals 9 Miles 4 Locks

Running total 251 Miles 292 Locks 9 Tunnels

Farmoor Reservoir (in the rough)

We departed Thrupp after breakfast, continuing our journey south towards Oxford. The moorings at Thrupp are very popular, and with a seven day allowance, few and far between. We had four Canal Locks to navigate today, before reaching the river Thames. The penultimate being Duke’s Lock, just prior to the junction with Duke’s cut.

Duke’s Lock, Oxford Canal

Once below this Lock it was a sharp right turn into Duke’s Cut, a short link through to the Thames half a mile away.

Junction with Duke’s Cut

There were several long term moorings in the cut, so we trundled passed on tickover towards a T-junction. Fortunately it was well signpost, because if you got it wrong, you would be in the mill stream.

T-Junction Duke’s Cut
Left for the Mill, right for the Thames

We turned right and soon found ourselves on the main river. We would be going right heading towards Lechlade, but immediately to our left was King’s Lock. I reversed onto the mooring above the Lock, and then went to find the Lock keeper, to buy our license. We don’t want to rush, so opted for two weeks to explore the Thames, before we head off down the Kennet and Avon Canal. The boat being sixty feet, the price was worked out at just over 150 pounds. A bit more expensive than the River Avon was earlier in the year. By the time our admin was finished it was lunchtime.

King’s Lock, River Thames

We could have stayed put but the weather was glorious, so after lunch we set off once more. The next Lock ahead was Eynsham Lock, which was on self service. The Lock gear however is a doddle to use, in comparison to the stiff paddle gear on the canals. On route we encountered some larger boats, but the river is fairly wide so plenty of room.

Big boat steaming towards us

The mooring at Eynsham was fairly busy, so we continued on to Pinkhill Lock. This was manned by a duty Lock keeper, so instead of just using a centre line, we had to secure ourselves in the Lock with bow and stern lines. Once through the Lock we began looking for a mooring. After navigating a couple of bends in the river, we found a spot beside a meadow. Not an official mooring site, so out came the mooring pins.

Rough mooring by Farmoor Reservoir

This is a lovely mooring spot with only the sounds of nature to be heard. Some of these moorings do require you to register your arrival, and then you have to pay if you stay longer than the first day. There doesn’t appear to be any signs here, so it must be free. Four legs certainly enjoyed the freedom of running around in the long grass, until he got hot that is.

Totals 8 Miles 6 Locks

Running total 209 Miles 274 Locks 9 Tunnels