Summer Cruise – Day 83

Sunday 30th August – Day 83

Hawkesbury Junction Layout

We left last night’s mooring at 9:00 this morning, through the stop lock and swung through the bridge making the 360° turn onto the Coventry Canal perfectly, if there had been a crowd outside the Greyhound Pub I would have messed it up for sure!

The weird layout is an improvement on the original route where due to a disagreement over tolls both canals were built parallel to one another for some distance.

Rick on Auriga

From here on, the canal is, again, lock-free until Atherstone. We had just seen Fuelboat Auriga again and gone into the countryside when a hire boat approached, there was an overhanging tree on their side, so I tried to keep as near the towpath as I could but went aground on a large rock which tipped us at a crazy angle, instead of stopping the hire boat went straight into the tree and I was seriously worried that the steerer was going to be knocked off the back by a hefty branch.

That drama over it was past Charity Dock, Marston Junction where the Ashby Canal joins and through Nuneaton. We had just been saying how there had not seen any boats coming toward us recently when we met three at the congested section at Boot Wharf.

See what you can spot in the background at the incredible Charity Dock

We considered stopping for lunch near Springwood Haven but decided to have lunch on the move and press on for Atherstone. We passed another hire boat aground near one of the bridges, I asked if they needed a tow off but they said they would be fine.

We thought we might do the first five of the Atherstone locks and the volunteer lock-keepers were on duty and we did them easily, so we decided to carry on. The hire boat had caught us up and one of their crew who was ‘setting ahead’ (walking ahead to prepare the locks) helped us down all the remaining locks (bless her).

On the way we saw a boat I recognised from Banbury and met the owner walking back up the towpath, he obviously recognised our boat too and said he had just called on his sister who had a mooring at the bottom of the locks. Yes, we knew her as we used to moor there too!

We called it a day and moored opposite the service area, or Sanity (Sanitary) Station as some of the old boaters called them!

I thought we had done rather well today so had a rather disappointing Indian Takeaway delivered, I think I’ll take a break from Lamb Pasander for a while but Joy enjoyed her Stuffed Peppers.

We have been invited to lunch by one of Joy’s friends tomorrow, so maybe a short journey tomorrow, or none at all.

Today’s Totals

  • Total distance:13.23 miles
  • Time:6h38m
  • Locks:11
  • Bridges:46
  • Average speed:1.99 mph (3.65 lock/mph)



Summer Cruise – Day 82

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Saturday 29th August – Day 82

Another 8:00 am start this morning for me as we had a lunchtime rendezvous to keep.

It was a fine but chilly morning and though I started off in shorts & a jumper, I soon donned a coat, followed later by hat and gloves.

Our first feature en route today was Newbold Tunnel which I negotiated without meeting anyone, in fact, I met almost no one for the first couple of hours.

I noted that Lime Farm Marina, who I tried to contact on Thursday display a mobile phone number outside, but it was too late now to be of use.

On we went and at All Oaks Moorings picked up something on the propellor.

The cutting between All Oaks & Stretton Stop has suffered a landslip and a little floating footpath has been installed around it.
I removed the prop-foul at Stretton Stop, just after the little swing bridge, it turned out to be a short loop of packing tape entangled with a pot scourer!

The canal follows the railway line here and I could actually feel the vibration from a passing goods train. This section is pretty straight and deep and good progress was made. On through Ansty, judging from all the no mooring signs through the village they don’t like looking at visiting boaters (although there are moorings outside the village). I’m always tempted to make an anagram from the village’s name.

While travelling I was served hot drinks, cornflakes and cake by Joy while Iona baked a sponge cake, and sausages were cooked for lunch.

We arrived at Hawkesbury about half-past twelve where Iona was reunited with her daddy who was waiting for us at The Greyhound.

We lunched on sausage sandwiches and sponge cake before saying goodbye to the pair of them leaving us to relax (sleep) for a bit.

We had a good mooring and there was a lot of traffic passing through the lock, so we decided to go no further today.
Another early start tomorrow?

Summer Cruise – Day 81

Wednesday 26th August – Day 79

Having moored two locks down the flight I figured that as soon as I saw the first boats coming up we would leave, as this would ensure the locks were set right for us, but the best-laid plans of mice & men were thwarted when a boat went down the locks far too early.

We waited for the expected convoy to start appearing, but then I got impatient and dropped down Adkins Lock as there is a gap before the next lock. This strategy paid off as a boat was just leaving the next lock as we arrived, this happened all the way down the flight and with Iona’s help too we were at the bottom by 10:20. We topped up with water and carried on safe in the knowledge that there were no more locks today.

We soon reached Wigrams Turn (aka Napton Junction) and spotted a boat named Jenny Wren (not that uncommon, in fact, there are at least 63 of them listed here) but when someone called “Chris” I realised it was our friends Graham & Judy who we met on the Grand Union canal back in 2010 details here. A stop and a chat were obviously in order as we hadn’t seen them since August 2010 but had kept in touch with Christmas cards and knew that they had been boatless for a while, but now own Jenny Wren!

A trip down the weed-hatch revealed a length of orange rope around the prop shaft, progress was much smoother with that removed!

We followed them for a while until they moored near Bridge 102, then blow me we hadn’t gone another mile when a familiar boat appeared from behind a clump of reeds, it was nb Celendine with Barry & Ruth from Upper Heyford on board, so another stop was called for. Tea & cake were shared and I cleaned out our Fuel Guard water trap/sedimenter and removed some gunge.

We left them about 3:30 and motored on to Braunston where we turned left and found a mooring just after London Road Bridge.

Thursday 27th August – Day 80

I made an early start today at 7:30, with Joy & Iona still in bed as we wanted to be moored in Rugby by lunchtime so that the girls could do the regular Thursday on-line art lesson.

We reached Hilmorton Top Lock by 10:00 and at length my crew emerged but a kind gent who was walking his dog opened to top gate for me and we exchanged locks with oncoming boats through all the locks.

These are ‘paired’ locks but one of each pair was out of action but work had begun replacing a broken paddle on the bottom lock and repairs on the others planned to follow.

Onwards through the building works of the new town of Houlton & it’s ugly new bridge, past Clifton Cruisers and just after 11:00 we were in Rugby.

We were getting low on diesel and gas so I phoned around to check where I could get some and was amazed at the responses:

  • Willow Wren: “We only keep stock for our hire fleet.”
  • Rose Narrowboats: “We haven’t found a way to make sales Covid secure.”
  • Lime Farm Marina: Didn’t answer the phone or respond to my message left on voicemail.

The only positive response was Armada Boat Hire, but they were only open until 1:00 pm on Saturday when we would be passing.

Then I had a brainwave where was Fuelboat Auriga? A quick check on Facebook showed he was at Sutton Stop and would be at Newbold tomorrow. Result!

Friday 28th August – Day 81

A dash down to Tesco between the showers and we were away, a short hop to Newbold to meet up with Rick on fuel boat Auriga this afternoon.

We had been moored an hour or so when nb Katherine moored behind us which used to be Graham & Judy’s boat. Then nb Keeping Up went past who we bought a fridge from a few years ago, what coincidences.

Now all fueled up ready to head for home.

Summer Cruise – Day 78

Friday 21st August – Day 74

Still here at Fenny Compton, it was a rest day today excepting a trip to the Co-op as my morning cuppa was spoilt by sour milk, I couldn’t survive without my tea, could I?

Random selection of photos

Saturday 22nd August – Day 75

Joy made a malt loaf today, its an easy recipe which includes Shreddies, and here it is, courtesy of our friend Lis.

¾ Cup of Shreddies
¾ Cup of Sugar
¾ Cup of Sultanas
1 Cup of Milk
1 Cup of S R Flour

Put oven on to 150° C

Crush the shreddies with a potato masher. Mix in the sugar Mix in the Shreddies Add the Milk. It suggests leaving overnight, but I don’t. Gradually mix in the flour. Add into prepared loaf tin – greased to prevent sticking. When loaf’s beginning to brown up nicely, it’s ready, that’s it.

Sunday 23rd August – Day 76

A visitor for elevenses today, as Joy’s niece, Chris, paid us another visit, she left before lunch and we spent the rest of the day doing not very much at all.

Monday 24th August – Day 77

This morning we moved up to a 48-hour mooring next to the pub as we have a Sainsburys delivery later, the boat moored in front of us moved off after a while and we quickly moved into their place to take advantage of the sunshine. That achieved, I biked down to the Co-op for some things for lunch and on returning I enjoyed a pint of Hereford Pale Ale with my lunch. This is a Wye Valley Brewery product, whose Butty Bach I have previously enjoyed, but I had erroneously assumed from the name it was a Welsh brewery, but of course, the Wye extends into Herefordshire which is where they are actually based.

This evening we had a visit from Jer & Louise to deliver Iona to us for a few days boating, we took advantage of being next to The Wharf Inn for an evening meal (including The Boris Bonus discount) and were pleasantly surprised by the quality of the meals (even our fussy son who likes his steak ‘blue’ Eugh!) They were very busy and it was almost on hour after our booked time before we got our meals, this however allowed us to deal with the Sainsburys delivery while we were waiting.

Tuesday 25th August – Day 78

The majority of this morning was spent studying the weather forecast, umming & ahhing, trying to decide whether or not we should move today. Eventually, a window of opportunity presented itself between 11 & 12 so we cast off vowing to stop for lunch when the torrential rain started. As it happened the rain didn’t come to anything because as soon as it started I put on my coat and the sun immediately came out!

The wind was gusting at up to 45 mph, apparently, which presented a few challenges negotiating the wiggly course of the canal. Lunch was taken on the move and we made it to Marston Doles by 2:30 pm which was just the normal 3 hours.

A boat was coming out of the Top Lock and had got pinned by the wind against the old wharf, they left the gate open for us, so when they extricated themselves we were able to go straight in.

Iona helped me with the top two locks and we found a mooring near Old Engine Arm in the shelter of a hedge but away from any trees that might fall on us.

The strong winds continue to rage but we are safe and sound inside, Joy & Iona have been doing some watercolour artwork while I’m typing this.

Summer Cruise – Day 73

Wednesday 19th August – Day 72

Yes, the weather forecasters were right, it did rain all day and we didn’t venture out, save to visit Cropredy Stores for bread, fresh fruit & black pudding.

Thursday 20th August – Day 73

With Storm Ellen on the way, we decided to make a dash for Fenny Compton today. We cast off at 7:30 (yes a.m.) and watered up at Cropredy Services, then it was onwards and (literally) upwards as we climbed the nine locks to the summit level of the canal.

We had been warned to expect delays at the flight of five locks at Claydon which have restricted opening hours of between 9.30am to 4pm. Having had a good run up the other locks, we were surprised not to find a queue at Claydon, apparently, C&RT bank-staff had been out ‘running water down’ and unlocked the flight at 8:00 am, good news for us!

With two volunteer lock keepers on duty and a constant stream of boats coming down we cleared the flight in 40 minutes.

Top Lock Cottage has gained an electricity supply since our last trip this way, somewhat spoiling the view by an unsympathetically sited transformer, which dominates the cottage, and I do miss the wind generator whizzing round even if it has been replaced by a vintage tractor.

By 11 am we were at Claydon Moorings where we paused to speak to Ian & Ali and get some runner beans & a courgette from their garden.

With no more locks, we covered the next three miles without any bother and tied up on the first 48-hour mooring at Fenny which was a bit dark & shady. We had just finished lunch and were setting up Joy’s ‘Art Studio’ ready for her lesson, when a boat came past which had been moored three boats back, so it was a quick reverse into their space which was much sunnier and a 14-day mooring.

This was useful as we intend to stay here for the weekend to sit out Storm Ellen and to receive visitors, but more of that in the next instalment.

Summer Cruise – Day 71

Tuesday 18th August – Day 71

Can you believe it, another week has gone by and we’re still in Banbury, having had our permitted 14 days, it was time to depart.

Jill & Tricky

We have enjoyed our stay here, it was quite like old times, having friends passing by with cups of tea and food shared. Jill’s lurcher Tricky would quite often visit on his own if they were passing.

So today was leaving day and we got as far as the town moorings where I was despatched to buy some watercolour paint from The Artery, on the way back I met Maffi and arranged to have brunch with him at The GF’s club’s Waterside Bar. Joy & Maffi had Ham, Egg and Chips, while I elected to have an All Day Breakfast.

The building work continues noisily creating Castle Quays 2, hopefully, it will be finished on our next visit.

Eventually, we could delay no longer and we set off for Cropredy, leaving all the urban sprawl behind and we met boats at every lock which was a help. Approaching Cropredy we saw Jan & Ed on their boat and arranged a rendezvous later.

By 3pm we were mooring up and for the five minutes I was tying up it poured with rain and stopped as soon as I went inside! Ho Hum.

If Cropredy Festival hadn’t been cancelled this year we would have had no chance of finding a mooring. If you are missing the festival there’s a Radio Oxford program available online.

It’s a lovely spot which will do us well as the weather forecast for tomorrow is wet all day so here we shall remain if that is the case!

Summer Cruise – Day 65

Thursday 6th August – Day 59

I found out today that dipping the end of a live phone charging lead into a glass of lime cordial is not a good idea because it doesn’t work any more. I didn’t do it on purpose, you understand, it just kind of happened while making the bed.

As a consequence, a trip into town was necessitated. I had also been thinking of buying a new bike helmet and needed some Tomorite so thought that a visit to Wilko would procure all three items. Although their website lists all the items they had none in stock, they could not order them in or let me order online for delivery to the shop and so they lost my business. A phone accessories stall in the mall provided the phone lead, Halfords the helmet & Homebase the Tomorite.

Joy had her art class in the afternoon and when it cooled down in the evening we walked over to Morrisons for some shopping.

Friday 7th August – Day 60

I awoke this morning with a strange feeling and on getting out of bed felt that the floor was sloping, it was! The water level was very low and we were aground. Boats were still able to navigate the centre of the canal so I waited for a few boats to come out of Banbury as each one would bring a lock-full of water with them, unfortunately, the ones coming towards Banbury were letting a lock-full out.

Our neighbours managed to get away by mid-morning, but we were still stuck fast so I phoned C&RT and they promised to investigate. By the afternoon I could see that they were ‘running water down’ and I managed to free Wrens-Nest from the lump of silt we were wedged on and moved just a couple of yards and we were floating again.

Joy’s friend from art class, Norma, called by for a chat, Jill & Tricky (the lurcher) popped by on their way back from the shops and we refreshed them with ice cream and a cup of tea, poor Tricky only got water. Later we saw Maffi and Susan walking past and a had a brief chat with them too.

We decided to treat ourselves to a takeaway tonight and ordered from Jools, it was very nice, except my Kashmir Lamb was chicken, which I don’t eat! We had timed our food to be delivered after our Sainsburys delivery but Sainsburys didn’t turn up, on checking… I’d ordered it for Saturday! Another ‘Senior Moment’!!!

Saturday 8th August – Day 61

We have another visitor today, Tricky is staying with us while his mum goes to a birthday party in a yurt.
You can see how impressed he is.

I walked down to B & Q this morning and picked up the ‘Sun Sail’ I had ordered online, is it me or is daft to have the click & collect desk at the back of the store and then still have to queue at the tills to get out even though I paid online?

Now I just have to figure out how to fix it to the boat.

Our Sainsbury’s delivery arrived successfully today.

Sunday 9th August – Day 62

A quiet day today with church online from Rising Brook, Stafford.

This evening Jill came up and shared roast dinner with us.

Monday 10th August – Day 63

I was getting concerned about the remaining capacity in our black waste tank (that’s the toilet waste) following the aborted pump out at Heyford, since we wanted to spend a few more days here in Banbury ‘something had to be done’.

We decided we would cruise on up to Cropredy Marina, stay the night in Cropredy and return the next day.
Do you sense a ‘but’ coming?

We left Tramway moorings around 11 and were at Banbury Lock by half-past, just one boat in the queue and several waiting to come down. We entered the lock, taking the downhill boat’s place and all was well until we wanted to exit the lock, another boat had joined the queue and was attempting to moor but failing miserably and was blocking us from coming out of the lock. The wife pleaded her husband’s lack of experience but refused another boaters offer of help, he then proceeded to reverse out of the way allowing me to get out of the lock but was now blocking access to the lift bridge mooring. Eventually, a kind soul opened the bridge for us and we escaped, but not before I had bumped the bridge with our TV aerial mast!

Our journey up to Cropredy was uneventful (except camping paraphernalia dumped beside Hardwick Lock)  and we even found a shady place near Slat Mill Lock to stop for lunch.

We arrived at the marina just in time for someone else to beat us to the service pontoon. We moored temporarily and in due course got our pump out at their very efficient machine. It was self-service so I was able to make sure it was done to my satisfaction, and all for £16.00.

We left the marina and found a spot to tie up just above Cropredy Lock, where there was enough room to put chairs out in a bit of shade and spent a peaceful night there.

Tuesday 11th August – Day 64

Our plan this morning was an early start to get back to Banbury before it got too hot. Unfortunately, three other boats had the same idea and got the jump on us!

Even so, we were at the first lock by 8:20 where Joy had a coughing fit which wore her out for the rest of the journey. I single-handed the first lock, a boat was coming up the next one which always helps and the crew of a following boat helped me through all the following ones.

We got back to Banbury and moored at Spiceball Park. I biked up to Argos and collected an external aerial for our mobile broadband router.

We were opposite the Fine Lady bread factory which we hoped would quieten down in the evening, no such luck, so I went on a recce and found there was plenty of space at the town so we moved on down and treated ourselves to tea from the chippy.

Later we had a torrential downpour with thunder and lightning which cleared the air.

Wednesday 12th August – Day 65

The builders of the new shopping mall saw to it that we rose early so  I went reconnoitring again on the bike and found a space back at Tramway, so off we went.

Joy had a lunch arranged with some of her Arty friends so we got a taxi up to town and I went to the GF Club’s Waterside Bar for a pint and an All Day Breakfast.

Another hot afternoon, but another thunderstorm has started now which will hopefully cool things down a bit.

Tonight we are expecting another visit from Toni & Chris, if they brave the weather.

Summer Cruise – Day 58

Tuesday  4th August – Day 57

Our cunning plan today was to return to The Pig Place and make use of the electricity supply and use our washing machine, £15 for an overnight mooring including electric compares well to a couple of washes at a laundrette.

Aynho Weir Lock

Before we moved off we had a message from Louise asking if she & Iona could visit as she (Louise) had left her handbag on the boat on the last visit.


Just 1½ miles and 2 locks, but there were queues at both locks and the journey took us an hour & forty minutes.


Pig Place Selfie

We just had time to get a load of washing on when the girls arrived and we had lunch from the Outdoor Cafe, half-price thanks to Boris’ Eat Out to Help Out Scheme.

We spent a lovely afternoon with them and later revisited the food bar for our tea, so lazy!

Wednesday  5th August – Day 58

Another two locks today on the way to Banbury and since we came down, the dilapidated Grant’s Lock Cottage had suffered an arson attack, so sad to see.

The grass cutting contractors were out in force with two mowers and two strimmers, will the job get done twice as quickly?

Just before one o’clock we pulled alongside our friend Jill’s boat and begged the use of her water-point, to replace all that we’d used doing the wash. We found a mooring near Samuelson Bridge, handy for Morrisons just across the canal.

Jill joined us for an impromptu lunch and later I collected a new tool bag for my bike at Argos and spent the evening modifying the fixings to suit my bike. Jill came past again later and had a go on the DYU which judging from the video she thoroughly enjoyed.

We plan to stay here for a few days and do some shopping and jobs on the boat. Oh, and seeing more friends, no doubt.


Summer Cruise – Day 56

Sunday 2nd August – Day 55

After waiting for a suitable moment, we cast off this morning following a passing hire-boat, we were travelling backwards through the lift bridge which the hire-boat crew were happy to keep open for us; they were less happy when two more boats came through, but this is the nature of canal boating, anyway, you can’t remove your key from the mechanism until the bridge has been lowered.

Thrupp Wharf

The reason for our bizarre behaviour was to save a 4-hour journey to Dukes Cut and back just to turn around. We had intended to call and see bank-dwelling friends, Phil & Bryony, at Kidlington but they were away on holiday! So after negotiating the bridge, we turned at the winding hole (turning point) and pulled onto the wharf where we replenished our water tank.

By 10 am we were off, retracing our route, there was a queue at Shipton Weir Lock and we were helped by the crew of the following boat who we met at every lock. Up the River Cherwell through Bakers Lock, past the Rock of Gibraltar Pub, Kidlington Quarry (where the moorings were as full as they had been empty on the way down)  Northbrook & Dashwood’s Locks and we were at Heyford.

A mooring with clear views across the fields was free, TV reception good and we just about had phone & internet on O2 but not EE network.

A quick message to our friend Nicky, who lives opposite and she came around bearing cake made by her daughter, she had spotted our arrival already.
It was good to see her although Mike was ‘busy’ watching F1 (for professional reasons as he works for an F1 team!).
We heard with amazement how old her kids are now and her experience as a GP in this Coronavirus pandemic.

We saw Bones again briefly in passing and spent a good night here despite the railway line next to us as there were fewer trains running, being Sunday.

Monday  3rd August – Day 56

nb Nutwood

This morning we were making ready to leave when along came Alex for a chat, we bade our farewells and as we were passing the Heyford Wharf we saw nb Nutwood and stopped to see Andy, who I used to work with here. He used his influence to get us a pump out despite being a ‘turnaround day’ for the hire-boats, unfortunately, the machine failed halfway through so we will have to make other arrangements.


There were queues at all the locks today, Heyford Common Lock was still in a bad state with leaking gates and now a paddle out of action but all the boat crews helped each other and we managed okay.

Shortly after we had a problem where passing a moored boat a couple in a canoe approached going hell for leather with no intention of leaving their course.

Lister Power!

Being the gentleman that I am I moved over to let them through and got firmly stuck on the mud! Fortunately one of the boaters I’d met at the lock soon came along with his Lister HR3 powered boat (that’s quite a big engine) and after a couple of attempts pulled us off. The Latin motto on the side of the boat “Lister hanc navim impellit ubique”  translates to something like “The Lister [engine] propels this boat everywhere”

We stopped for lunch at Sommerton Meadows before tackling Somerton Lock (our last today) again there was a queue but that meant, plenty of people to help us through.

I love the railway viaduct at Aynho (see the ‘featured’ photo at the top of this post) apparently it’s part of a flying junction, info from Wiki2 if it makes you any-the-wiser!

… with the down line from Bicester North grade separated from the up and down lines from Oxford. The junction is the point where the Great Western Railway’s New North Main Line (via Northolt, High Wycombe and Bicester North) of 1910 joins the original Didcot and Chester Line via Oxford. The former line is also known as the Bicester cut-off line.

We arrived at Aynho Wharf just after 4 pm, finding plenty of space to tie up and settled ourselves in feeling a bit weary after nearly six hours boating including our lunch stop.

Summer Cruise – Day 54

Wednesday 29th July – Day 51

Today was our 48th wedding anniversary and we contemplated going up to the Boat Inn for an evening meal, but in the end, I cooked us a Boeuf Bourguignon.

Oh, have you noticed I’ve taken a new header photo of Wren-Nest moored here at Thrupp.

Thursday 30th July – Day 52

Wow! Wasn’t it hot today, not a lot was done except to rig up our sunshade and try to keep cool, and of course being Thursday Joy had her online watercolour class, the subject was a bear, the less said about the result the better!

Friday 31st July – Day 53

It was a bit cooler today, well more of a breeze which helped a bit and in the early evening we ventured down to The Boat where we enjoyed a cool beer in their garden.


Saturday 1st August – Day 54

This morning I got the bike out early and rode the 3 miles to Sainsbury’s before it got too hot, I tried using the Sainsbury’s SmartShop app for the first time. You scan your shopping with your phone and put it straight in your bag, scan the phone at the checkout, pay and Bob’s your uncle. The only downside was juggling the trolley, phone & shopping list.
When I got back I said to Joy, “Wouldn’t it be a good idea if the app had a shopping list feature”, guess what… when I had a look at the app a bit harder, it has!

I had to be careful on the ride back with a backpack on not to pull wheelies, I’ll have to find a way to carry the load on the front of the bike.

Joy put a couple of her paintings out on the cratch table this afternoon and was delighted when someone asked to buy one.

Later on in the afternoon, our friend Nina cycled down from Dukes Lock to see us which was lovely as we hadn’t seen her for years, in fact it was when Joy broke the ball of her humerus in March 2013. See the story here.

Later we attempted to polish the side of the boat & clean the windows while tea was in the oven, Greek Stuffed Peppers & Latkas (a kind of Jewish Rosti) proper world fusion food.

This will be our sixth night here so we’d better not outstay our welcome and head back north tomorrow.