Down from Oxford


Having got back from Oxford, Thrupp to be more accurate, I thought I would check on the options for travelling there. By car 42 miles, just over an hour, walking 43 miles and google reckons it to be 13 hours on foot, my foot! By canal boat the planner gives the following for the return journey

Total distance is 230 miles, ½ furlongs and 202 locks. There are at least 38 moveable bridges of which 28 are usually left open; 24 small aqueducts or underbridges and 4 tunnels (including Blisworth Tunnel (3056 yards long) and Braunston Tunnel (2042 yards long). ).

This is made up of 86 miles, 4 furlongs of narrow canals; 143 miles, 4¾ furlongs of broad canals; 68 narrow locks; 134 broad locks.

This will take 122 hours, 13 minutes which is 17 days, 3 hours and 13 minutes at 7 hours per day.

Adding my own stats to this it means raising and lowering over 700 gate paddles, opening and closing at least 400 lock gates and running more than 50 thousand tons of water through the locks. It can be seen why it is not a practical mode of transport for anything that is time critical!

These locks have been around since the 1770s and they may take some work and time to pass through but they do reward by way of their picturesque character and obvious history.DSCN5625

Oh but it was hot! My boat is painted Oxford and Union blue and it does get hot in the sun. One day I had reason to walk along the gunnel in bare feet. As soon as I touched the paintwork that was not in shade I was dancing, trying not to fall nor burn my feet. Hence I spent most of one day moored in the woods.DSCN5649

Generally there is something that threatens to disrupt my normal laid back nature. This time it happened as I took my turn to enter a lock at the head of a queue. As the engine throttled up so the oil pressure warning light and siren came on .. which means stop the engine immediately or face its sudden death!. So I did. This was followed by somehow getting back to the bank with no engine and shuffling backwards through the queue to get out of everyone’s way. All was hot!. I was hot, the engine was hot, the steel work was hot, the sun was hot. Now so as not to bore you with a long story I’ll put it this way: No call out engineer available from RCR, contractor advised find replacement sensor, sensor over 30 years old, motor factors need a car reg number !!, found helpful parts shop in Banbury ( CR Marks ) helpful boat supplier ( Calcutt boats )  gave part number over phone, miraculously one in stock, for £5, biked back to boat (too hot) fitted it and all’s well. Just 2 hours delay .. wonderful people!

Now finally a few pictures of curiosities for you. The first does not do justice to the feeling that this stretch of canal goes down hill. Why the water does not run off I could not fathom, but it definitely goes down hill!!DSCN5663

Here is a sad sight. It what happens if a glass fibre boat catches fire.DSCN5622

There must be a story behind this land locked narrow boat.


And here is a hint to slow down before passing the moored boats.DSCN5671