Thursday 29th August
An early start for a change – up at 6.30 to find the sun just creeping above the trees and the mists rising from field, canal and river.
The boat behind us left at 6.45. So many people have warned of the difficulty of mooring at Thrupp and Oxford that we left our moorings soon after 7 to be sure of arriving in time. It was fantastic cruising as the sun came up and no-one else was about – until we got to the lift bridge at Upper Heyford. No sooner had I raised it than a boat appeared round the corner – we waved them through only for another boat to appear behind us. Well, that was two good deeds out of the way! and we had plenty of time. Plenty of boats on the water but no serious delays and we cleared Pigeon lock soon after 11. Seeing the sign pointing to the village shop, we tied up below the lock and foolishly I didn’t check Nicholson’s before I set off or I would have sent Dave on his bike! It was a mile uphill all the way, but we did need some milk so someone had to go. Last time we came this way, there was a narrowboat – Jane’s Floating Shop - selling cakes, eggs and veg above the lock – it’s no longer there, but you can now visit (from the track to the village) for tea on a Sunday – cream tea, high tea or even a champagne tea! It’s a lovely quiet mooring below the lock and we stayed for lunch.
Off again past Enslow with its long permanent moorings to Baker’s Lock. Mortimer Bones’s boat was at the wharf.
At Enslow we passed the Rock of Gibraltar pub. We were unable to moor once as night fell and stopped at the pub’s mooring – the pub had a Greek owner at that time and the food was delicious. The mooring itself was good, at the end of the pub garden, but unfortunately the yard by the towpath opposite started loading its lorries at 5.30 next morning, which was rather a shame.
At Bakers lock we could see these dishes across the fields – I have done a quick Google search but not found out anything about them and I don't want to waste any more precious internet connection minutes on it so it will have to remain a mystery!
Here is the attractive towpath bridge over the Cherwell below Baker’s Lock;
the chimney of the ugly cement works beside the beautiful river;
some other river users. Rather like meeting other narrowboats at bridgeholes when you think there is no-one else about, we came round a bend to find canoes and another narrowboat coming toward us. Technically it was our right of way over the other narrowboat but we had to hold back as best we could as the canoes came past with him rather close behind them. We felt he should have held back until the canoes were well past us.
and Chuffed leaving Shipston Weir lock.
We found a mooring at the start of the Thrupp controlled area. This is the sign that greets you as you approach;
With moorings so controlled you expect something decent to tie up to; the 14-day area where we were had no rings or bollards and a hard towpath - the boat in front had come back from a couple of hours away to find his pins had pulled out. There was no Armco piling and nowhere to drop chains, at least where we were. Luckily we found some rope loops which someone had managed to fix so we could moor safely. Later on a volunteer came along with a tablet to record boats moored – apparently if you cannot find a public mooring space, and you can find a volunteer, they will tell you which long-term space you can use. (We saw at the services next day the name of the boat where you can find someone, but by then you are past half the moorings!) There is a lot of info to take in on the posts if you are on the move;
Grumble over. If we remember we will send a comment to the relevant bit of CRT.
It’s a quiet spot here and we saw this delightful roof garden a little way along; the board advertises the services of Monsieur Jardin, a local garden designer. Clever!