Sunday, 12 August 2007

Islands in canals?

6 Locks, 10 Miles, 2 Lift Bridges. Now moored at King Sutton.
563 locks, 700½ miles, 18 Tunnels, 37 swing bridges and 17 lift bridges since Nov 2006

The River Cherwell yesterday, a bit different from a couple of weeks ago.

We cast off from Heyford and moved several boat lengths up to the water point where we refilled before setting off. We had only gone about 500 yards when we spotted Clare and Doug aboard Zanzibar who we first met at Reading on the Thames. We pulled in for a chat and eventually got away about half an hour later. Passed Narrowboat Quidditch just out of Lower Heyford but no signs of life on board, must have been too early!

It was an uneventful cruise until we got to Somerton deep lock where a solo boater was trying to bow haul his boat out of the lock. Several other boat crews got stuck in and helped him out. Apparently he had picked up a prop full of weed coming into the lock.

As I approached the lock I could see a small clump of floating reeds in the lock which Dot and Alan tried to flush out before I got there. I got into the lock OK but as I rose to the top I could see a hive of activity going on above the lock. The lock exit was blocked by a huge floating island of reeds which had broken away from somewhere and floated down to the lock. It took 4 of us half an hour using a long fork and pole hooks to pull the island out of the canal onto the bank. The occupant of the old lock keepers cottage gave us a hand and said he would wait for it to dry out and then fork it over the fence. The lockkeepers cottage is for “Sale by Auction” on Wednesday with strong interest and then the couple will retire to live where else but on the canal in their narrowboat.

We stopped at Aynho wharf for lunch and then carried on until we found a good mooring just above King Sutton lock. From our mooring we can see a combined harvester in the distance making the most of the fine weather.

For the last 2 days we have been taking note of the flood levels of the recent flooding. All along the canal banks and hedgerows we could see where the water had risen to and they were quite frightening levels. It became quite obvious why BW had to close the canal for a time. It’s no wonder that the river Thames has been taking so long to return to normal levels.

Beautiful sunset tonight with Gypsy Rover in silhouette.

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