Thursday, 24 July 2014

No better countryside than this.

One of the most enchanting things about the Oxford Canal is it’s ‘countryside’ feel.


Leaving lovely Thrupp at 9 o’ clock on Wednesday morning we were soon in the valley of the River Cherwell and the canal enters the river a short distance. Before entering the River Cherwell we had to encounter Shipton Weir Lock.  It’s eight sided (if you count the gates) and an absolute devil to keep the boat in one place as the water comes in.


Our next bit of fun and games, after we’d got back on the canal proper, was coming across a wreck of an old BW working barge wedged between the bank and a moored boat.  Doug soon got things under control, hauled the wreck back to the tow path and tied it up using the bits of string that it been secured with originally.


Right now the fields are ripe for the harvesting of corn and hay and the aromas are wonderful.  There’s ‘corn’ as far as the eye can see in some places.


The old Manor House and lovely Tithe Barn at Upper Heyford look down on the canal from their high positions.


After a bit of a bottle neck of Somerton Deep Lock which took an hour to get through we finally got to Aynho Wharf just in time for a major diesel refuelling before they closed.  New canal friends Andy and Rich on nb “Carpe Diem” had kept pace with us during the day and, after both boats had refuelled and found moorings at Aynho, a meal together at the Great Western Arms was the natural thing to do in the evening.

Today we started from the wharf at 8 o’ clock and were soon at Aynho Weir Lock.  Immediately after the lock the River Cherwell  crosses the canal …….. 


……. and passes under this wonderful old brick causeway.  The wooden rails stop boats from being pinned to the causeway when the river is running fast – an experience we once had in our last boat!


The canal passes under the M40 motorway three times in total and, thankfully most of these old lift bridges (and there are many) are left in this ‘up’ position otherwise our journey would be a lot slower.


Kings Sutton Lock, at 10ft 8ins, is one of the deepest on the Oxford and, when the lock is full the view backwards off the boat provides a very atmospheric view.


Further on is the town of Banbury which provides us boaters with a very welcome chance to do some shopping.  Getting provisions is not the easiest thing on this very rural Oxford Canal.  At the lock in the middle of the town there’s no shortage of onlookers when the weather’s fine. 


More flora to be admired – this time huge clumps of Rose Bay Willow Herb …….


…… and the canal banks themselves are brimming with colour at this time of year.


After Slat Mill Lock and, hearing of a major holdup on the canal after Cropredy, we decided that calling things to an end for the day was the best thing.  Tomorrow we’ll hope things have improved ahead of us but for now it was a very welcome ‘champers and nibbles’ on the deck of “ Carpe Diem” with Andy and Rich before retiring to”Chance” for a risotto and a rest. Happy Days!


  1. You boys are so lucky having so much fun. I am tempted to reassess my sexuality. Loved your visit to Thrupp. Mort Bones will be so jealous. If you see her on the GU make a point of stopping and socialising

  2. Sorry I missed you when you left.

  3. Some of those locks look so narrow . . . like you only have inches between your boat and the sides. It must be very hard not to scrape the sides. You certainly must be a good yachtsman . . . I don't see any scratches on your beautiful boat :)

  4. Hi Doug & James
    We have been enjoying your blog for a while now, we are having a new boat built by Aqualine, we have started a blog if you ever get the time to look.

    We are in the process of equipping our boat, Melissa, and we were hoping that you might tell us where you purchased the magnificent gangplank that featured in a recent post?