Saturday, 7 October 2017

Big Push (Part Two) Goring to Claydon.

Wednesday 4th to Saturday 7th October 2017 from Goring to Claydon.
Breakfast at Pierreponts was a rare treat. Although the restaurant changed hands a year or so ago, the quality has not diminished and breakfast was delicious!
Normally, we have been setting off by 8:00am, but today we started late going through Goring Lock, which, like most of the locks on the Thames now the season is over, was on 'self service'.

We cruised up to Abingdon, where we moored up for the night and in the morning we were greeted by a lovely sunrise that lit up the riverside buildings.
Whilst the Thames has been beautiful, it was a huge relief to turn on to the Oxford canal with its familiar narrow locks! Isis Lock is the first lock as you enter the canal in Oxford.
This lovely wooden bridge illustrates perfectly the difference in scale between the canal and the River Thames.
R to the rescue! A working boat running in front of us was travelling far too fast past the moored boats and had torn out this hire boat's mooring pins so that it had ended up broadside across the canal. The hirers were not on board so R pulled the boat back to the side and re-fixed its pins while M set the lock just in front of MM.
Sunrise at our overnight mooring just outside Thrupp next to the "Jolly Boatman" pub, where we met our friend Richie (formerly of Kingsground) for supper last night.
We stopped for an hour at Enslow, where MM was launched, to see Richard and Tiffany and to have a catch-up. As we left there, we were very surprised to see Richie leaning out of one of the moored boats that belongs to his accountant, Sue. So, we stopped and chatted across the water for a while.
The Oxford Canal has narrow locks, so only one boat at a time can go into each lock. However, there was a queue to go through Shipton Weir Lock, which is a rare diamond shape, and we teamed up with some nice middle-aged chaps on nb "Surveyor" on their annual "Chaps' Jolly" cruise and managed to squeeze both boats into the lock together. A unique experience on the "narrow" Oxford Canal!
M, walking between the locks, was able to enjoy the  signs of autumn in the hedgerows, particularly the bryony berries, which always resemble strings of red beads.
Finally, we moored up at Somerton opposite a very large meadow and enjoyed the sunset reflected in the water.
The first lock that we tackled on Saturday was Somerton Deep Lock, which lives up to its name. At 12ft, it is the deepest lock on the Oxford.
The Oxford has many lift bridges, many of which are, thankfully, left open. This one we see from the M40 every time we pass by in the car.
What a lovely surprise to arrive in Banbury to find a festival going on to celebrate15 years since the current owner acquired Tooley's historic boatyard. Next year, the boatyard will celebrate its 230th birthday - it is the oldest boatyard still operating on the canal system. The boatyard is not normally open to the public, so it was a great opportunity see it.
M disappeared, ostensibly to go shopping but really to acquire R's belated birthday gift, which is an introductory blacksmith's course at Tooley's Yard. R was thrilled at the prospect and we have already talked of bringing MM down to Banbury next year for R to do the course.
The blacksmith's forge was open, so that we got a chance to look around the forge and talk to the resident blacksmith.
We continued on and moored for the night just below Claydon Locks.
Four days: 60 miles, 36 locks and 28.9 hours.
Trip: 480 miles, 393 locks and 296.0 hours.

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