Napton on the Hill

Well this morning the summer temperatures had returned. We woke to bright sunshine, and could tell it would be a very warm day. Our first job was to cruise the one mile to Ventnor Farm Marina for services. We manoeuvred into the Sunset Basin, and what a delightful setting it is. The staff attended to us immediately and were very friendly, even allowing us to refill with water, and empty all our rubbish. Services complete, we exited the Marina and headed for Calcutt Bottom Lock. There are three Locks in the flight, and we met a couple of boats descending. Passing through the flight, you could see that it was a hand over day for the hire fleet, as all the boats were lined up, ready for new holidaymakers to arrive.

Looking back at the Calcutt Boats

Once above the Top Lock, it is a short hop to Wigrams Turn, mostly done with the engine on tick over, as we passed a line of moored boats. Wigrams Turn is where the Grand Union Canal meets the Oxford Canal, and is where we were turning right, heading for Napton, and ultimately Oxford.

Wigrams Turn and the Oxford Canal ahead

We now had just a mile and a half or so to cruise, until we would reach our intended destination of Napton on the Hill. As the crow flies the distance is about 600 yards, but we had to follow the contour of the hill as we rounded Napton. There is a nice windmill perched high up on the hill.

Windmill at Napton on the Hill

We found a mooring spot and secured the boat. Knowing that just round the next bend is the Folly P.H. and being lunchtime, we popped along for a bite to eat. The Folly is a favoured location of ours for Sunday roasts, during our winter confinement at Yelvertoft.

Well deck view of mooring at Napton

I had the fillet steak, and the crew battered halloumi, it was very nice. The furry one sat drooling the entire time, so begrudgingly I gave him a smidgen of my steak. With the Napton flight of Locks ahead, we are not sure if we will move tomorrow or not, and even if we do, we might not do the whole flight, as there are several options to moor on the way up.

Totals 4 Miles 3 Locks

Running total 161 Miles 233 Locks 9 Tunnels

Stockton

Yesterday whilst sunny, was also very windy, so we stayed put near bridge 100, and took four legs for a walk instead of moving. On return to the boat, the sun was shining along the length of the cabin, and it was exposing my poor attempt at waxing, that had been completed, prior to departing Yelvertoft Marina. There was nothing for it, out came the rags for some remedial polishing. This morning the wind had dropped significantly, and the weather was looking pleasant. We set off heading for Wigrams Turn, where we would rejoin the Grand Union Canal.

Cruising through open countryside

After three miles of gentle cruising, we reached Wigrams Turn, turning right onto the Grand Union heading towards Warwick. At least that is what the signpost said. The next few days, will see the crew working numerous Locks, and they are all wide.

Wigrams Turn, junction with the Oxford and Grand Union Canals

We chugged passed a line of moored boats on long term mooring, soon arriving at Calcutt Top Lock. We had been here a few years ago, when our Hurricane diesel heater needed relocating. As we were entering the Lock, another boat arrived, so we had a locking partner for the flight. There were numerous boats both ascending and descending, so cross overs between the Lock pounds, needed some careful manoeuvring.

Waiting to enter Calcutt Top Lock
Held in the pound by Calcutt Boats
Looking back toward the Locks and Calcutt Marina

Once through the flight, we had just a mile to go, to reach our intended mooring spot. This is now new water for us, never having been this way before. We were also surprised, by how narrow the Canal is in places, due to hedge growth on the offside. Especially as this is a wide Canal, and though we have seen several Wide beam boats moored, we have not encountered any moving yet. We arrived at our spot, and secured the boat. We had a late ish lunch, enjoying the peace and tranquility of our surroundings.

Mooring between bridges 19 and 20
View from the side hatch at our mooring

After lunch we wandered off towards Stockton Locks, to give four legs some exercise. On route we encountered this swan and its rather splendid nest. It, and its mate did hiss loudly as we walked past.

This was a round trip of two miles, so it was necessary to take some refreshments at the Boat Inn, on our way back.

Totals 5 Miles 3 Locks

Running total 18 Miles 16 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

Calcutt Marina

After spending a pleasant Saturday by bridge 100 it was time to move again. Today there seemed to be an increase in boat traffic, all heading towards Braunston. Just over an hour after setting off we arrived at Wigrams Turn where we rejoined the Grand Union Canal heading towards Birmingham. As we were entering the top lock another boat came into view in the distance, so we waited. It is far easier with two boats in these wide locks, and it saves water. There are three locks in the flight at Calcutt and the entrance to the marina is adjacent to the bottom lock. As we turned left into the marina and headed for our berth by the slipway, we spotted a very well known narrowboat ‘James’ moored against the ‘dump barge’. The owner runs a web site, living on a narrowboat, and operates taster days for people who want to try boating. We moored up and went to report in at the office. Later, the engineers who are going to refit our diesel boiler came to the boat to discuss what needed to be done. The good news is the work may only take a day and a half, rather than the three days originally quoted. Tomorrow, we move temporarily onto one of Calcutts hire boats, ‘Wild Hemlock 1’, whilst our boat goes into the shed.

       

             Our spot against the slipway with famous nb.James and the dump barge in distance.

Totals 4 Miles 3 Locks
Running total 17 Miles 16 Locks 2 Tunnels