Moving on, on day 5, we found the canal even more winding, and with extremely narrow stretches. The most notable of these is the Fenny Compton Tunnel, which is, however, no longer a tunnel, having been converted to an open cutting in 1868. The result of this conversion should have left a passage wide enough for two boats to pass, but now that vegetation has been allowed to grow along its banks, there is room only for one boat at a time to pass through in places.
The twistiness of this stretch is highlighted by two quite extreme hairpin bands – very difficult for 70 foot boats, one would imagine.
We stopped at Fenny Compton for services, and to buy the last bottle of milk from the shop which is run there in a room in The Wharf Inn.
The weather was warmer than the past couple of days, and it rained on us a few times, but not enough to be a problem. We moored overnight between bridges 143 and 144, another very quiet and beautiful spot.
It's my birthday on Sunday, and I received an email from Naomi today asking if the three of them – her, Steve and Jess (Eddie will be working) – can come to see us that day. We agreed to be at Cropredy to meet them. What a lovely birthday present!
We set out earlier than normal under a bright blue sky and warm sun. The descent of Claydon Locks was smooth – once again, most other boats were travelling in the opposite direction, and found the locks waiting ready for us.
The same was true of the next four locks, which took us down into Cropredy where we have moored up, ready to greet Naomi, Steve and Jess when they come to visit tomorrow. We looked at the local pub restaurants, and booked a table for lunch at The Brasenose Arms, and bought supplies at the village store.
Cropredy is the venue of the annual Fairport Convention, founded by the members of that folk group over 30 years ago, and still organised by them. How the village copes with over 20,000 visitors over those three days I cannot imagine. We're considering bringing the boat here next year for the Convention. It sounds like a lot of fun!