Monday, 26 September 2016

To Oxford! 3. Napton to Cropredy

Tuesday 13th September
Having passed through most of the Napton Flight yesterday we are well placed to fly today. In fact, after 2 more locks we are at the summit and on a level, winding route all morning, with delightful countryside (where we can see it through thick laid hedges) and in warm sunshine.
The towpath looks short and grassy underfoot, though in some places overhung by briar tendrils and with saplings sprouting alongside. This forms the Oxford Canal Walk, of 83 miles passing 43 locks.

At Broadmoor Lock we see a community living in caravans, sheds and other interesting buildings. Some do boat repairs, while another member, Ian Staples, offers fender making and disks of his music and his stories.
I enjoyed the lock, bridge, and simple yet characterful hut at Marston Dole, top of the Napton Flight.
We arrive at Fenny Compton at 1pm and after a quick lunch are off again at 2pm having decided to aim for Cropredy tonight. There is always, for us, the balance of "getting on" versus enjoying the tranquility of the slowly unravelling journey.

A few miles south east of Fenny Compton and just north of Claydon there are a dozen little patches of land bordering the canal, used as gardens, fenced, some mainly grass, others with fruit trees, some complete allotments, all with moorings. Some have shepherds' huts on wheels for overnight accommodation. It would be a lovely idea for those short of a garden or wanting a small piece of the country.  The photo shows the Google Earth view of the gardens at an early stage; they are mainly well tilled now.

Along this stretch of canal there are drawbridges, fortunately raised for our passage, characterful additions to the canal. Here also is a narrow stretch which was once Fenny Tunnel and is now a cut, since they wisely decided to take its roof off.  Look ahead carefully as it would be difficult to pass if there's a boat coming your way. Tree growth also impedes vision and passage.

This was a beautiful day, though for a while we sat underneath a cloud divide where eastwards it was fine blue sky and westwards cloud had set in.
In Cropredy by 6pm. I sit on deck writing while John clears the bilges. It's what engineers do .... for which I'm grateful.
14.5 miles, 11 locks.

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