Friday, 18 May 2007


9 Locks, 131/ 2 miles, 1 lift bridge now moored near Somerton.
Total of 301 locks and 383 miles and 16 Tunnels and 1 lift bridge since 5th Nov 2006

We got away to an early start this morning with the intention of watering up at the BW depot in Cropredy. However when we got there some prat was moored on the water point so we pulled around him into the winding hole. Just after this the BW staff arrived and the prat came out claiming he had moored on the towpath side and gone to the pub. When he came back his boat had been moved on to the water point which is on the opposite bank. Yer right, what does he take us for? It was slow going until we were well clear of the village with all the long term moorings. We had a good run through to Banbury where we stopped at Sovereign wharf for diesel (49p per ltr). Then it was a complete contrast to what we have experienced so far as we went through the town centre. First Tooleys historic boat yard and then the hydraulic lift bridge which joins the 2 parts of the modern shopping complex, virtually in the centre of a shopping mall and then a lock right next to the bus station. Many years ago the council didn’t want to know about the canal, it was just an inconvenience. These days it’s a vibrant part of the town centre. When we come back this way in July we will make a point of stopping for a longer visit. After Banbury the locks change from 1 top gate and 2 bottom gates to 1 gate top and bottom and because of the depth of some of the locks the bottom gates are huge and heavy. You really have to put your back into them to get them to move. This came about as a cost saving measure when the canal builders ran short of money by the time they got to Banbury back in the late 1700’s. The trickiest lock is the Aynho weir lock because immediately in front of the lock you have a river coming in from your left going straight across the canal and over a weir. There is an indicator board painted red, orange and green. Green is safe to proceed, orange is proceed with caution and red is too dangerous to proceed. After all the recent rain the indicator was just on the line between green and orange so we were clear to proceed. The lock itself is a wide lock with only single gates and a drop of only 1 foot but again they are heavy gates. We are now moored near Somerton in a nice rural setting although the railway is only a couple of hundred yards away but hopefully it shouldn’t worry us too much. While sitting here writing this blog we became aware of something splashing in the canal as we heard a noise and there were large ripples going past the boat. Dot ran out to the stern just in time to see a deer swimming across the canal and then scramble up the opposite bank and run off down the field. I grabbed my camera and quietly walked down the tow path looking for it. I eventually found it and took some photos but unfortunately the light was not strong enough and they came out like infrared pictures, not clear enough to publish. From what I saw I am pretty sure it was a small fallow deer hind. It’s amazing what you see when moored up out in the countryside like this.

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