Tuesday, 27 September 2016

To Oxford! 4. Cropredy to Aynho

Wednesday 14th September
Snorting and with a head cold I disturb the peace of the canal with several series of 6 successive sneezes (how about that for alliteration?).  A delightful morning through dappled shade and green countryside as we head further south to Banbury.
An article in Waterways World unfairly slates Banbury and its Castle Quay shopping centre:
[the Mall] "tramples all over the Oxford Canal like a mindless skinhead at a peace rally."
Apart from the archaic reference we found this to be simply untrue.
"The town planners must have all been on holiday in the Bahamas when permission was granted for this incongruous development ..." the article goes on (Waterways World July 2015).
Well, for the record, we found the new development a pleasant change, a convenient and safe mooring and an excellent place to top up supplies. Yes, it is certainly not the quaint brick lock keeper's house or the charming rural mooring, but it seemed to us to be a good example of a canal in a modern setting.
We grumbled about the odd back street route we had to take to get from waterfront to The Reindeer (Wood-panelled pub with exposed ceiling beams and an open fire, serving cask ales and very good British food) but had no complaints about the mooring, the floral-decorated bridge and the excellent - and free - museum. A surprisingly poor and prejudiced review from the usually excellent Waterways World.
The draw bridge in the centre of Banbury waterfront.
We found the entry to Banbury from the north was delightful and the south side only passes through an industrial estate for a short time before passing back into country and parkland.
Banbury also has a very fine old Victorian fluted pillar box (in continuous use since 1876!) and Tooley's Boatyard where Rolt had Cressy rebuilt.

Exiting the lock in Banbury we featured prominently in a primary school trip. We've rarely been spied by so many gongoozlers in one place! We all waved, to mutual delight ....

After lunch we headed for Aynho Wharf, passing the pleasant cottages of Twyford Wharf and the deep lock at King's Sutton. The Waterways World review had completely ignored Aynho despite its wharf and plentiful moorings, as well as a perfectly good pub, The Great Western Arms. We found it comfortable and convenient.

12 miles 9 locks

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