Sunday 29 August 2021


 Today's Canal - Oxford

The weather today, all day, was more typical of early autumn rather than the later August Bank Holiday. But it remained pleasant enough, especially when working locks.

Although we have seen this canal much busier at this time of the year, it was only at locks that we were much affected. However, at most of them we saw a queue ahead of us of two boats.

We set off in good time, despite waking a little later than on recent days. The view in much the same direction as last night's sunset still looks good in daylight.

A couple of minutes after setting off we passed under Chisnell Lift Bridge. Apart from the busy footbridge in the centre of Banbury, all the other lift bridges we passed today are normally left open. Indeed, in many cases they seem now to be more decorative than functional.

These cows were in procession off to a hard day's work in the fields, converting grass into milk!

When the canal was first in use, working the bridges must have been a real chore as we passed almost as many 'former bridges'.

We passed through Aynho boatyard without stopping - we will take on water later when we also use the sanitary station in Banbury. A long line of moored boats, either side of the bridge, meant slow progress but it was even slower as we were following a boat that tows a shed on  water! Fortunately they let us pass by soon after but we chatted with the couple on board at a couple of the locks. He has injured his foot but is determined to make it back to Adderbury to join in with his local Morris Side!

Above Nell Bridge lock we saw the well-known and popular Pig Place - they sell all sorts of pig products but they have a strong following of people who come to them just for their freshly made bacon butties!

This first of two close encounters today with the M40. It is close to the canal for a long distance - all of today and much more - so the noise is a bit much. presumably people who live in Banbury and the nearby villages get used to it.

Good to see evidence of new piling being installed - looked a well-constructed re-build of the towpath edge. When properly installed, Armco is still the most  durable of the options for edging - although the concrete works of the 1930's job creation period comes a close second. Some of the more 'environmental' solutions have yet to attain the same lasting ability.

Work on the cottage at Kings Sutton lock is still continuing but at least it is occupied, unlike a number of others which are too isolated for contemporary living.

The offside yard still looks a bit like a maintenance depot!

This former lift bridge is becoming even more former with quite a bit of the abutments missing - we felt the bricks under the water as we passed through the narrow gap.

The fire damaged cottage at Grants Lock is looking even more unloved than a year ago when we last came this way. Alas, its lack of vehicle access, other than canal boat, makes it an unattractive option for most people.

We were keen to get to Samuelson Bridge on the edge of Banbury by three o'clock as we wanted to do a good stock-up of our food stores at the Morrisons supermarket which is only a couple of hundred yards from the canal. Christine hopped off at the bridge to start on the shop whilst Mike moored up - very luckily there was room for us just after the bridge - the section the other side was completely full! Mike joined her as soon as possible - if nothing else a good packhorse was needed to carry from the car park to the boat - we used a trolley for the first half but could not take it beyond the limits of the car park.

Next, we went the short short distance to the service block - we had quite a wait as another boat was already on the water point and the tap is not the fastest. As we left, another boat arrived for the same purpose.

Banbury lock was the only one today where we did not have to queue.

The lock is quickly followed by the only part-mechanised lift bridge today - hand turned hydraulic mechanism.

Moored just after the bridge was nb Gabriel - a link to their blog is in the list to the right of this page. They are keen supporters of BCF and Canal Ministries. Alas. they were not at home, as far as we could see.

The redevelopment on both sides of the canal in the town centre is coming on well - sadly the older shopping centre is having a hard time with the closures following the pandemic. A new footbridge links the two sides.

We only went a little further, just past Sovereign Wharf where we were tempted by a free space in an otherwise busy set of moorings. We had hoped to get to a place where we could use the tv satellite tonight but time was passing so we gave in!

8.5 Miles - 5 Locks

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