Tuesday, 5 October 2010

Captain's Slog - Monday 4th October

Today is a long hard slog, our longest day on the itinerary, it is 10.5 hours of travelling and consists of 17 miles, 17 locks and 6 swing bridges, ending up at Isis Lock, Oxford our pass onto the River Thames.

We set off again at 7am with Glyn at the helm, I was finishing the blog, which is now much quicker, it works best to update when stationary as I keep losing the phone signal when cruising.

The weather started off very misty and moody, which looks ethereal across the fields, especially at 7am when it is hardly light. Food today now really minimised as chefs departed, just a bacon sandwich for breakfast.

Oxfordshire at 7am - 4th October

A long way down
An extremely tight fit

Our first lock is Somerton Deep Lock which is the deepest on the Oxford canal with a 12 ft drop. Is is really stunning as the pictures show.

I was still blogging when we arrived and had to rush out to steer us through when I was caught unawares by the paparazzi, which just shows how vigilant we will need to be from this constant risk, I believe the photographer was a heifer.

A non authorised photograph
From here we travel on  through many pastures and meadows, with again no real signs of activity or modern life, just the odd gate and bit of fencing, it is idyllic .........

Down in the Glen

A Heron in flight

We spotted a Heron, which then spotted us and flew a hundred yards or so further down the canal, we then caught it up and it did the same again, this repeated several times over and I took quite a few photographs.

We haven't really seen much wildlife apart from lots and lots of ducks and many pheasants, quite a few swans, about five rabbits, a deer and our heroic fox.
Swans and Ducks posing again

We carried on travelling through Heyford, sharing the locks with some very pleasant people on a couple of other narrow boats, everybody is extremely friendly and helpful and no one is in a hurry.

Once the mist had cleared away the sun emerged strongly and stayed all day, a just shirt sleeves day (and trousers of course).

Glyn decided to make lunch, this consisted of mushroom soup and rolls. This did however run into some difficulties as I discovered a particularly shallow stretch of canal and eased the centre of the boat onto some mud. I then jumped off to pole us off while Glyn steered, this shallow canal then continued for about two hundred yards or so and I couldn't get close enough to the boat to get back on, when I eventually did we took the rolls out of the grill - dark!!!, almost immediately we arrived at Enslow Lock and moored up for ten minutes and ate lunch, the rolls were surprisingly good, as was the soup made by our new German chef Heinz.

Enslow Lock and Mushroom Soup
Cherwell Weir
The Oxford Canal joins forces with the River Cherwell for a while, here a weir controls the water levels, the two separate later at the Shipton Weir Lock.

Shipton Weir Lock

Thrupp Service Point
We travelled in the gorgeous sunshine until we got to Thrupp, another village devoted to the canal which cannot have changed in 100 years. It has a swing bridge over the road for traffic, this has now been converted to electric/hydraulic operation, which is great as most of the swing bridges are very heavy and not at all well balanced - in fact like the boats crew. We decide to fill up with drinking water, but with a very slow tap it took us nearly an hour.

Cottages by the Canal in Thrupp
We  reached the Kidlington area in the late afternoon the light was very autumnal and reflected dramatically in the calm waters, it is a very tranquil experience, partically as we could not achieve faster than 1 mph due to the boats along the canal near Oxford. It is hard to believe that many Morse murders took place along here. I did however keep looking over my shoulder when working the locks and kept the windlass in my hand.

We reached the Dukes Lock around 5pm, where the canal splits in two, with one part going into Oxford and with us continuing down the other leg towards our destination for the evening Isis Lock. We reached Isis at 6.45pm, just made it as the light was falling fast by now, we moored up about 100 yards from the lock. Once through in the morning we do a 180 degree turn and then we are travelling down the Thames, which at this point looks very similar to the canal, but I am sure that will all change. We could not see a restaurant or pub close by and were too tired to go walking so its our third frugal meal of the day, Corned Beef, tinned Jersey potatoes and Branston pickle, Glyn had Trappist ale which went with the food very well and I had Chilean Savignon Blanc, which was not the perfect match. Another satisfying day and we are bang on schedule.


  1. Marcia says.....I have just got back to work and this is by far the BEST email I have.

    Captain's Slog/Blog is brilliant it looks liek you're having a brilliant time.

    Safe sailing :) xxxxxxxx

  2. Trousers Peter, remember to pack some trousers!!

    A great read - am getting envious of you both...