Thursday, 29 August 2013

And so onto the Thames

Map Reference SU 50798 97108

Distance 9 miles

Total 100 Locks 6 Tunnels

We have now reached Abingdon and, since they are 5 day moorings here, will probably make full use of them and remain in Abingdon at least until Sunday. The waterfront here seems to be very attractive but haven’t had chance to visit the actual town as we are moored ½ mile upstream of the town above Abingdon Lock. The trip down the Thames so far has been brilliant, a fairly isolated route through fabulous countryside. We have travelled behind a couple of canoeists who are making their way to Walton on Thames, but even more amazing is a family rowing from Lechlade to Teddington in the sort of boat that Jerome K Jerome immortalised in his book ‘Three Men in a Boat’. They are doing it in the full style of Jerome’s book, camping either in their rowing boat or on the banks of the Thames as they go, hope that the fine weather holds for them!

Tuesday, 27 August 2013

Still in Oxford

Map Reference SP 50448 06813

Distance Travelled 4.2 Miles

Total 96 Locks  6 Tunnels

We have decided to remain in Oxford for another couple of days, leaving on Thursday to join the Thames and head towards Abingdon. Have to say that I quite like Oxford as it is a very cycle friendly city with cycle paths and lanes everywhere. Went from the city centre towards the John Radcliffe Hospital to book a blood donor session (tomorrow, 3.10pm) and it seemed very strange to pass from the city centre, through Merton college fields and then into a country field containing a herd of cows, within a mile of the city centre!

Will do the touristy things tomorrow in Oxford, up a church tower for an overview of Oxford, round the Bodleyan Library etc. One further point of interest today was a hot air balloon passing directly above the boat as it travelled over Oxford, except for the fact that I have a poor head for heights it must be an amazing way to see Oxford.

Sunday, 25 August 2013

Kidlington Green Lock

Map Reference SP 49157 12688

Distance Travelled 14.4 miles

Total 94 Locks 6 Tunnels

Another agglomeration of a couple of days travelling from Chisnell Lift bridge to our current location downstream of Kidlington Green Lock. It has been very pleasant travelling through the Oxfordshire countryside which in some locations, surprisingly, you are completely out of sight of any human habitation.

There have been no major dramas on our trip to here although things may change over the next couple of days as we move out onto the Thames. It is our intention to spend a couple of days in Oxford, although that may be difficult if we arrive tomorrow (bank holiday Monday) as I would be surprised if there were many mooring available so we may delay our arrival until Tuesday morning, in the hope that those who came to visit Oxford over the Bank Holiday will have to move on from their 48 hour moorings. So hoping for an interesting visit to Oxford (and an opportunity to attend a Blood donor session!).

Friday, 23 August 2013

Aynho Wharf and beyond (Chisnell lift bridge)

Map Reference SP 49765 30599

Distance Travelled 8.7 Miles

Total  85 Locks 6 Tunnels

So after a couple of days in Banbury we move on towards Oxford having stocked up on fuel (95 litres) and water. Have to say that the central canal basin in Banbury is very pleasant and does credit to Tom Rolt who effectively started the recreational use of the canals in the UK since that was where he started out in his converted Shoppie Fly ‘Cressie’ in 1939. His actions eventually led to the creation of the Inland Waterways Association and the excellent canals that we all enjoy today.

When I get to download the photos taken in Banbury I’ll upload them to the blog.

Wednesday, 21 August 2013


Map Reference SP 45603 41156

Distance Travelled 27 Miles

Total 80 Locks 6 Tunnels

It unfortunately transpired that the alternator was not the problem with our electrics but was in fact the batteries which were no longer storing charge. The only cure was to replace thjem at a cost of £800!! I sincerely hope that we won’t have to do that too often. All now seems to be fine with our electrics as we head south on the Oxford Canal towards Oxford.

Currently at Banbury moored by a Country Park (pleasant) and an industrial estate (noisy). Was hoping to refuel here but it seems that Sovereign Wharf is out of Diesel and is hoping for a delivery tomorrow (Thursday). Having looked around Banbury we may possibly stay here for a little while as our only real future plan is to be in Aldermaston by 13th September so we have plenty of time to kill. The wharf area of Banbury has been developed and is very pleasant but by the time we were in a position to approach it all the mooring have been taken, never mind.

Thursday, 15 August 2013

To Braunston

Map Reference SP 53742 65892

Distance travelled 12 Miles

Total 59 Locks 6 Tunnels

Making up today for not having completed yesterday’s record so the total distance is in fact for two days not just today. Interesting couple of tunnels we have travelled through to reach Braunston, which seem to be the chandlers capital of the canals! Have stocked up on a few essentials (loo chemicals, mooring lines and pins) and will probably be back in the chandlers tomorrow for further items (oil filter, gas key).

Back to the tunnels, Crick tunnel was Ok although it was a bit of a smoky transit since another smokier boat had passed through just before we did so initially couldn’t see the far end of the tunnel when entering. The second tunnel, Braunston tunnel, however was a whole different kettle of fish. It is the longest so far (2048 yards) and the busiest passing 4 boats coming in the other direction. The passage isn’t helped by the ‘kink’ in the middle of the tunnel which I didn’t see until the last minute as I was dazzled by an approaching boat’s tunnel light, so unfortunately gave the tunnel wall a bit of a clout, no apparent damage done though. Fortunately the boat that had dazzled me had actually stopped since if it hadn’t we would probably have also collided in the ‘kink’. Altogether a bit of a learning experience!

The final mishap was once we were in Braunston, which is quite a busy junction; I managed to pick up someone’s discarded sheet in the canal which wrapped itself around the propeller and shaft bringing us to a halt in the middle of the busiest area. Tried forward and revers to try to free the propeller, and to try to get out of the way of traffic, but unable to move at all. The only option was to stop the engine, open the weed hatch and spend 10 minutes freeing the sheet from the propeller. Once back under way apologised to the single boat that we had held up, and was totally blanked by the helmsman, as though I had deliberately and inconsiderately blocked the canal, can only wish a similar incident of bad luck happens to him in similar circumstances to teach him a bit of humility!!