Wednesday – 24th September – to Braunston

Right, 9 locks and 9 miles today. A very leaky gate meant there was little water after the first lock so we had to let some water down …

Viv does all 9 locks!

some very leaky locks

you meet some lovely people over the locks – always chatty and full of helpful info about your route . . coming down to Napton – windmill on the hill.

A page from the Pearson’s guide – showing what we use to navigate the canals and to work out where to get water, dispose of rubbish, pubs and moorings!

wonderful CRT volunteer at the bottom lock – thanks!

The Folly pub (sorry, 1100 a bit early even for me!) – went here with AM & P. and then it snowed! No more locks – off to Braunston.

the famous windmill in Napton hill

Viv getting her second gold star for driving past moored boats, and an oncoming boat and taking lungfuls of smoke from Steve’s fire!

A happy Viv! Getting into her stride now. Notice the VHF radio – we use these for 2-way comms – very useful.

Welcome to Braunston turn. Here it’s left turn to ? and right turn to our route to Yelvertoft. We had a smashing surprise here as our friends Chris & Chris had made the effort to come and see us & the boat before heading off for the weekend. They had a meal at the Boathouse and suggested we moor outside … us and a pub, really?  Did we need asking twice?  Thanks for coming guys – it made our day!

What a nice mooring! We even came back in the evening – the excuse was – free Wi-Fi and the ability to update this blog and of course some more beer – I had Old Thumper at lunchtime and now it’s Marston’s EPA. A great pub & cool bar staff.

Tuesday – Cropredy to Marston Doles

We’re just amazed at the weather. We came prepared – waterproofs, boots etc. Wood & coal for the stove … but I had to go out and buy sunscreen! We’ve had marvellous sunrises, sunsets and such warm weather. 14 miles and 8 locks today. 0800 to 1445 finish – lightweights, eh? But we’re beginning to get into the cruising groove & the let’s finish early.

lots of locks up to the summit

a liveaboard with a cunning leather, um, bum bag (lit.) to hold his lock key

Viv earns her gold star badge for tricky steering!

The Fenny Tunnel – well, it was but the roof crumbled, so no roof but very narrow.

a “turn-over” bridge – helped the ‘Orse cross over without unhitching the tow rope.

That’s enough for one day. No phone signal. No satellite reception (trees!). A wonderful M&S meatballs, Lloyd Grossman red wine sauce and pasta meal. Tasty.  This is Marston Doles – top of the Napton flight.

Monday – Aynho to Cropredy

A misty start to our day

strange hexagonal locks

and our boat just fits in

Viv steers under the M40 and an ancient lift bridge . .  just thinking of all those folk hurtling off to work … we’re not!

arriving at Banbury – time for a wander & lunch

they seem to welcome boaters and make the canal central

we encounter some ancient working boats

another odd boat (called Hythe) and a chap looking just like Buster Merryfield popped out of the hatch and well, did a weird hello remark.

oh no, another Adagio!

a scenic sunset entrance to Cropredy

Sunday – off up the Oxford . . . just a crew of 2

Just the two of us now! Said goodbye to Chris and moved the boat up to Kidlington Green – much quieter!  Sunday  … it’s off to Aynho . . a long day (0840 to 1820), 16 miles and 9 locks.  Still it was worth it to get to the Great Western Arms pub for a meal out  …

On the river Cherwell – scenic

Viv steering some of the bendiest bits of canal!

Lots of scenic locks  – some with adjacent houses for sale

Viv tries some locks too …

You do get some pretty boats…

Some other waterway users

We finished up at the Great Western Arms (Pierre & Anne-Marie – remember this pub? Great Food – 3 meat roast!!)

A Day’s Rest in Oxford

Quite a shock – hordes of people! Bustle, noise, foreign tourists . .  we sought out a real ale pub called Far from the Madding Crowd … apt!

Great pub – and they had a beer festival on with about 12 beers! Apt.

Quite a busy spot (next to the Jericho bridge) and very very noisy

Ashmolean museum (free entry!)

bit of an in-joke (see Victoria Wood’s sketch to Alicante . .  it’s not a Henry Moore, except this one is!)

more sightseeing!

off to re-position the boat now … somewhere Far From the Madding Crowd indeed … we’re missing Chris already! Thanks for all your help mate.

Ripping Riparian Ride!

Definitely some money around – lots of simply super riverside properties, complete with boats.  We even saw one where they were all playing croquet. More warm weather and some high speed runs along Father Thames … Goring, Abingdon … superb and so different from the hard work of the K&A.

Nearly all the locks here are huge and keeper operated. So nice to hand your lines to the chappie (or chappete!) and let him control the boat.

Sometimes they see you coming and the gates magically open as you arrive. Cushty.

Oxford Uni boat house!

Every skipper needs a mate! And I’ve got my Viv – really enjoying the river cruise.  The high(er) speeds caused some leakage from our water stern gland but not much (Steve does fret about everything) . . back on the canal system this will probably stop, since the skipper won’t be calling for warp factor 9 any more.

One of those magical locks. Each has a keeper and each keeper has their own cottage – nice!  This is Days lock … we sought an overnight mooring just up from here . . not ideal as our boat didn’t quite fit. .

We’re very close to Dorchester and Chris popped off for an evening stroll (Oer, I just checked – despite it’s size it does have 3 pubs) whilst Viv prepared her River Cobbler, mash, cabbage & corn on the cob!

A relaxed brother with his never-ending G&Ts (we did get through 2.5 litres of gin!!)

Head of the River and nearly in Oxford . .

Squeezing down the Sheepwash channel and into the first narrow lock of the trip (Isis Lock)

This proved to be close to the station (for Chris’s departure on Saturday)  but a bit tooooo close for a good night’s sleep as the marshalling yard is nearby and they rev up at 3 in the morning – avoid!!!

Father Thames!

 Heyho shipmates!

Cheers to Iris & Cliff, Jenny & Penny plus Anne-Marie & Pierre and all our followers . .

Well, a bit of a fraught day… a few cock ups, a few pompous gits asking us “if we know anything about boating” but also some jolly decent folk, especially the Red Boat going up to Northampton who shared a few locks and had a Dad who cycled off to prepare locks & swing bridges – thanks! Hope we meet you again. We also met the folk on Eliza Jane – who were keen to visit Tesco’s with us but when they heard it was a Tesco Extra, declined! It turned out to be a HUGE Tesco and 24 hr too … more on that story later …

So, we left the outskirts of Aldermaston and had about 10 miles and 10 locks to do … but first . . 0730 and Roger, the Cabin Boy (aka Chris) delivers “tea in bed”! Trained at last.

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not too many photos as we were too busy catching up with the Red Boat and getting stuck on weirs . . bumping into lock gates etc

Here’s the M4 rolling overhead

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Fobney Lock with the treacherous weir flow entering from the right

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and on into Reading . .  the infamous County Lock with a nasty weir but in these hasn’t-rained-for-5-weeks days, it’s all very calm . .

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Adagio and the Red Boat (sorry, never found out their name)

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Nice photo of Chris at the helm and also Viv operating the double paddled locks

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and on into the Oracle shopping edifice much to the bemusement of shoppers

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and then out onto the Thames (Reading was a hole – the book said “it doesn’t exactly roll out the red carpet for boaters” and they were right. Shame, because they could make it so much more). Still, we pushed on and out onto the Thames:

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Delightful mooring (using a stake and 2 trees) and oddly only100 yds from that Tesco! But being the Thames – it was shielded by trees.

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you do get somewhat different types of craft here . .

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here’s one for J&P – black swans with red eyes and beaks

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and if we drink any more gin – so will we!! Thanks to Viv for a delightful Spaghetti Bolognese and oh look a bottle of Rioja …

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Nigella at her best (note Tanqueray in foreground)

Off up the Thames towards Oxford tomorrow

 

Tuesday . . . must be Aldermaston

We left Newbury around 9 and chugged along the very passive K&A – sometime river sometimes canal.

Managed to see even more Kingfishers!

Newbury bridge

Two brothers “in control”

Middle bottom of next photo – the often seen but camera-shy Kingfisher!

Monkey Marsh lock – authentic, reproduction of the ancient type of locks .

Some very serene pieces of canal – this one at Woolhampton

Had fun stopping the traffic (quite a few times) with electrically operated lift & swing bridges – nice photo here, with Adagio sailing thru

tomorrow … Reading!

Monday, workday? Hungerford to Newbury

Ah, we heard all the people going off to work today and remembered that we are on HOLIDAY! Away from the mooring by 0850 and on to Newbury.

The K&A becoming more river like but fairly smooth and quiet.

Teamed up with a nice couple, John & Lesley (both ex-coppers, so Chris had a good chat or three). Went down the locks together.  All good fun.

Got to Newbury well ahead of schedule by 1415 – so had lunch then a wander around the town.  Glorious sunshine – Steve went off to seek out some suntan lotion as the forecast is for more Scorchio!

Viv spent some time polishing those mushrooms:

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A friendly narrowboat called Toby moored in Hungerford wharf.

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More river like now and very smooth . .

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Toby still has his sad paw but seems quite happy – be happier going for a swim!

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Trying for the artful shot

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 …  very tranquil K&A – very few boats . .

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arriving at Newbury – operating the electric swing bridge

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very peaceful mooring at West Mills

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Colourful Newbury centre plus the ubiquitous Wetherspoons:

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Devizes to Crofton to Hungerford

Well, with a crew of three – thanks to my Brother coming along for the first week, we are off and a sad farewell to Devizes Marina. We left at 0845 on Saturday morning and after a mammoth 9 hour trek, well, the sun was out and it was wonderful sailing . . we kept going until 1800 when we tied up at the Crofton locks, a tired but happy crew!  The daily log reads 17 miles & 9 locks. We saw a kingfisher (twice) and lots of heron too. Lunch on-the-go but a delightful gammon, savoy cabbage & Viv’s special cous-cous for tea.  Accompanied with copious amounts of Tanqueray gin!!

Crofton locks

Chris enjoying the helm.

The Kennet & Avon canal looking serene in the sunshine – hard to believe this is mid-September and it’s sun-bathing weather again.

Hmm, too much gin . .  ?

Nice trip through the Bruce Tunnel

Queen of the cous-cous!

Very glad to see this boat – the Langton, a hire boat full of scout leaders who get together each year for a canal holiday. They were great at sharing (and doing all the work) at the locks but since they were on a 12 hr marathon each day, we left them at Hungerford.

Only just enough room for 2 boats

Nice mooring in Hungerford, with the sound of church bells.

A quick trip to the shops and the Plume of Feathers!

On to Newbury tomorrow!