Napton on the Hill

It has been a while since our last update. We left the river Thames behind, and are well on our way back to the Midlands, via the Oxford Canal. We were in Thrupp for the August bank holiday weekend, and were very surprised on arrival to find a space available. It did mean we got to eat a Sunday roast in the ‘Morse Room’ of the Boat Inn.

Our next overnight stop was in Lower Heyford. We found ourselves moored in front of nb Bones. This boat is owned by the famous canal feature writer, Mortimer Bones, whose column can be found in the monthly magazine, ‘The Tillergraph’.

Next stop Banbury, where the crew abandoned ship for a couple of days. This gave me the opportunity to deal with a job, which I had been putting off for a while, getting the stove and flue cleaned, ready for its impending winter usage.

Once the crew had returned, we set off for Cropredy, popping into the Marina on route for services. We found our usual spot above Varney’s Lock, then the following day, wandered back into Cropredy, for a Sunday roast at the Brasenose Arms P.H.

Monday 2/9. Departing Cropredy we were soon ascending the Lock flight at Claydon. It wasn’t long before spotting numerous signs, resisting the prospect of a new Marina being built in the area. The problem is, this is on the summit of the Oxford Canal, which is always having issues with water levels, and quite often restrictions are in place. The powers to be say, the Marina will act as a Reservoir, but given the increase in boat numbers taking water from the summit at both ends, it would have to be a big area of water, to make up for the extra use. On arrival at Fenny Compton, we stopped on the Wharf, so I could visit Leesan, the toilet specialists. No dramas, we just needed some de-scaling fluid, to keep everything running as it should. A couple of miles further on, we found a mooring we have used before, close to a large radio mast. It is quite, and several miles from anywhere, so just what we like.

Moored near Wormleighton

The next couple of days were forecast to be fine and dry, so out came the paint brushes, to touch up the war wounds we had gained, during our travels. Most incidentally occurred whilst on the Rivers, the landing stages are geared up more for the height of cruisers and not narrow boats. We also walked the three miles back to the Wharf Inn for lunch. I had the black and blue chicken, grilled and smothered with Stilton, it was delicious. The field opposite our mooring contained several hares, difficult to spot without binoculars. Unfortunately not the season for any boxing matches, but still nice to see them.

Today we set off for Napton on the Hill. Cruising along the summit of the Oxford Canal is very pleasant, with some lovely countryside to enjoy. Sadly this is no longer untouched. The dreaded HS2, is ploughing straight through the middle of it. We thought the new government were meant to be conducting a review, but the diggers are still changing the landscape at a startling rate.

A small section of the HS2 site

We carried on until reaching Marston Doles, and the Top Lock of the Napton flight. Whilst stopping for water two boats passed by, but we didn’t have far to go now. We descended three Locks, and took a mooring at one of our favourite spots, opposite a field of water buffalo.

Mooring Napton on the Hill
View back towards Adkin’s Lock and the Old Engine House Arm

Here we have excellent views, a sheltered area, and good phone and tv coverage. We also have the benefit of our favourite pub nearby, The Folly, and a well stocked village shop in Napton.

Totals 42 Miles 32 Locks

Running total 547 Miles 562 Locks 15 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


Today is the summer solstice, and the day began with bright sunshine. We set off nice and early, as we had a fair way to go, and several Locks to navigate. Our first stop was for water at Lower Heyford, close to the Oxfordshire narrowboats base. Once the tank was filled we commenced our cruise south towards Oxford. At a point between the next two Locks, we noticed the towpath had suffered some subsidence, and that water was flowing slightly through the depression towards the adjacent River Cherwell. Whilst not an immediate problem, this could certainly develop into one, so we made a phone call to the Canal and River Trust, to report the issue. Once we reached Baker’s Lock we had to check the water level indicator boards, as the River Cherwell and the Oxford Canal share the same course for the next mile.

Water levels indicator board

As can be seen above, this is a modern 21st century gauge, I wonder if they will last as long as the old fashioned method of coloured boards in the water.

Direction board on River Cherwell

The flow on the river was only slight, but it did make a difference in the speed of the boat over the ground, we seemed to be whizzing along. After a mile we arrived at Shipton Weir Lock where the Cherwell and the Oxford Canal part ways once more.

Shipton Weir Lock

In the photo above the Oxford Canal is through the Lock to the right, and the River Cherwell is to the left. We were now getting close to our intended mooring spot, the only question was, would there be any space. As we entered Thrupp there was a significant number of moored boats. We were delayed for about ten minutes waiting for a boat to reverse and shoehorn themselves into an available spot. We carried on to the sharp right hand turn, and I waited for the crew to operate the electric lift bridge.

Electric lift bridge, Thrupp

Through the bridge we were lucky, there was one spot vacant, and it was just about big enough for us to squeeze into. We secured the boat and then went to the Boat Inn for lunch.

Mooring at Thrupp, were the third boat along

The Boat Inn is a hundred yards ahead of our mooring spot, and was made famous being the focus of an investigation by Inspector Morse, the late John Thaw.

The Boat Inn, our lunch venue

After lunch we had a wander round and found that Thrupp was full. Anyone turning up after 3 pm looking for a mooring, was going to be very disappointed. On the way back to the boat we went via Annie’s tea rooms to select an afternoon cake.

Tomorrow we should reach the Thames.

Totals 9 Miles 6 Locks

Running total 201 Miles 268 Locks 9 Tunnels