Saturday 25 June 2005

Honey - Napton to Croperdy

Saturday 25th June 2005
Napton to Croperdy
Oxford Canal

15 Miles
17 Locks
8 Hours

The morning dawned clear and bright, reflecting in the muddy brown waters, so typical of the Oxford Canal around Napton Junction. The absence of electricity was an inconvenience but with bottled water available, a full gas cylinder and rinsing water in the Porta Potty reservoir we had all we really needed.

Having seen the state of Honey when fixing the broken door, I had taken the precaution of including huge bucket of assorted tools. I therefore spent the first hour or so with my head and shoulders in the engine bay fixing a multitude of small snags, including a non functioning bilge pump.

We got underway at about 9.30 and were straight into the nine locks up to the summit pound. It had been 25 years since my last encounter with a lock and whilst I hadn't forgotten the mechanics I had forgotten to keep an eye out ahead for oncoming traffic. Within a couple of locks I found myself in the embarrassing position of having emptied a lock of water in the face of an oncoming boat. The boater was justifiably irritated and made his feelings known... bad form.... right of way.... our lock etc. Belle would have been impressed at my response. I walked over the the other boat (as Honey was rising) and apologised outright, explained that my mind had been elsewhere and offered to lock him down if he liked to stay on his boat. Of course, there was little he could do in the circumstances but to accept my apology and decline my offer of help.

Tip for life: If you are going for an abject apology you may as well go the whole hog - kill them with kindness.

The remainder of the day passed under a brilliant blue English sky, with us covering a tortuous 15 miles winding round and round Wormleighton Hill on Brindleys most convoluted of contour canals.
It was then downhill all the way from the watershed, joining the Cherwell at Croperdy and then onto the Isis / Thames and so down and down all the way into London, seven days away.

We found a nice isolated spot for the night neat Prescote Manor, just before Croperdy and on an offside bank for a change. Cows grazed on the meadows beyond the canal and on the other side birds chased each other through a woodland coppice.

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