Monday, 16 August 2010

Napton to Banbury

Napton to Banbury
29th July 2010

15 miles - 10 locks - 8 hours

I was woken to the sound of a passing boat at 5.30am, which crept by very quietly but swayed me into a state of semi consciousness. I later learned that his Brenda and David off nb Mr David making their way back to their Gas St Basin.

 Napton top lock

The penultimate pound was very low - about 2ft down and Belle ran firmly aground about 200 metres below the lock. Fortunately the summit pound was full, topped up by constant back pumping. Five minutes of sluicing replenished the pound a Belle was freed from the clutches of the mud and able to ascend.

The Oxford summit pound is short as the crow flies but very lengthy as the canal winds its way through the low hills of the watershed. The first hour of so was very quiet but then we encountered a stampede of boats out of Fenny Compton, one of the few towns on the top level and a popular stopping point. Boat after boat passed us, sometimes in chains of five sailing nose to stern. Perhaps the most unusual craft was one going south - a traditional butty being stern hauled all the way back to Fenny C. The two haulers were making heavy weather of it and their efforts were being hampered by a very overgrown towpath.

Unusual floating shed

We wound our way over the summit, landmarks swirling round us as the canal cavorted along and tops of boats appearing from unexpected angles over the furrowed fields. Three hours of this convoluted progress brought us to Claydon Top Lock and still the stream of northbound traffic passed us, setting the locks in our favour down to Croperdy.

Claydon Top Lock

Croperdy is a dead loss from a visitor mooring point of view allowing us just a short pause at the water point whilst Belle hunted out a post office. The main pound below the village was very low, leaving the lines of moored boats leaning over and Wand'ring Bark ploughing a furrow along the canal bed.

Belle at Croperdy


Characters at Croperdy (do I detect a similarity between the three?)

Bourton Lock cottage is one of my favourites, very pretty and very remote with its lock keepers cottage devoid of water or electricity.



Then on to Banbury, the only major town on the canal and a cross of the old and the new. But more of that tomorrow.

Captain Ahab in playful mood


Capt and Tilly

2 comments:

MortimerBones said...

that was a picture of Bourton Lock cottage.....

Captain Ahab said...

Silly me - getting all confused!