Monday, October 02, 2017

Five on a boat to Oxford - part 5

It's Sunday, 17th September We're half-way through our trip - no longer to Oxford since we don't have the time - and we're wanting to get to Thrupp by the end of the day. Tomorrow, we'll turn and head back towards some location as yet unspecified where Dorothy's son Martin will meet her and drive her back to Wellington in Somerset. In fact, Thrupp is the better winding-point, because the canal down towards Oxford itself is far from pleasant, and the city end of the navigation leaves a great deal to be desired. Those who actually want to visit Oxford, a fine city worthy of a visit, tend to moor in Thrupp and catch the bus.

As we set off towards Somerton Deep Lock, our hearts sank. We very soon caught up with an extremely slow hire-boat. Clearly, they had had no previous experience of narrowboats, and were finding it very hard to keep a straight path on the straight bits, and to turn appropriately on the bends. And there were many bends! However, they were aware enough of us to pull over at the lock, and let us go down first, apologizing profusely as we passed.

"No need to apologize," we called out. "You did the right thing. We can be very fierce!"

The last time I managed Somerton Deep Lock, I failed to close the bottom gate. It was extremely heavy, and my honour was saved by a woman from the boat in front of us, who came back to give me a hand. This time, I'm glad to say, it was no problem.

At Bakers Lock, one starts the short trip upon the River Cherwell, flow conditions allowing.

Shortly after this lock, the Cherwell flows in from the right, the water's deeper, and the speed kicks in! It's wide and winding, fast and fun!

And, all too soon, we arrive at Shipton Weir Lock, which takes us down away off the river and back onto the canal.

There were just three lift bridges now before Thrupp, each of which needed to be opened, one of them electronically. And at Thrupp, we chugged slowly past long lines of moored craft, hoping to find a 60-foot space for the night. We passed one, gambling on there being more closer to the wharf, but that was in vain. We pulled over for the services, winded and made our way back to the space we'd passed. It was still vacant, and we were grateful!

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