Friday 10th August; Marston Doles to Fenny Compton
The sun was out while we had breakfast ….. we were on our way before 9 as we thought the rain wasn’t due till this afternoon. Well, we were wrong.
We came up Marston Doles top lock and had the usual difficulties getting out of the lock and round the bend before the wind caught us. There is a notice taped to the bottom and top locks of the Calcutt and Napton flights, entreating boaters to save water.
The yard on the offside above the lock is the home of Connaught Historic Racing, though I would have thought ‘historic’ is quite a generous adjective for these cars. They still look familiar, though I couldn’t say what make they are without looking at the badges.
Before long it was raining lightly and getting a bit cold. The boat moored in a field is still there, now with horses for neighbours (ha ha).
They may be avoiding licence fees by filling in the access to the canal, but it hasn’t stopped them being affected by dropping water levels. Life at such a tilt must be rather awkward.
We intended to keep going to Fenny Compton but after another hour, and by now with long trousers on and full waterproofs, and gloves and a woolly hat for me, we decided to stop. Of course we had passed a lot of suitable spots and reached an area with fewer available moorings. At least, we commented, the rain will reduce the numbers of boats on the move. Wrong again – at bridge 131, where the canal doubles back on itself, we met two boats. The first saw us before we saw them and tooted, and we passed them without incident. Unfortunately they didn’t mention there was one behind, who came round the bend rather too quickly as we were in the bridge hole ourselves. They ended up scraping through the undergrowth while we had to shuffle about to avoid the boat which had moored too close to the bridge. Very silly of the absent owner, but at least no contact was made. One of our favourite spots wasn’t too far away now – Wedding Bridge, the footbridge just a few hundred yards further on.
The rain got heavier as we tied up, then we had the unfamiliar job of peeling off waterproofs and hanging them up to drip in the cratch. It was still only 11, so we read the papers, had an early lunch, watched the rain stopping, starting again …. I made some flapjack and just as it was cooking the sun came out. This mooring is very shady and we decided to cruise while the sun was shining, and hope there was space at Fenny Compton.
The hedgerow shrubs are fruiting now and these berries on the guelder rose (a native viburnum) will get even more brilliant before the birds eat them all.
In one field most of the sheep appeared to be dozing. Some were chewing as they lay with their chins on the grass.
We found a Chuffed-sized space at Fenny and before long the rain had started again, quite heavy this time. It is certainly needed. When it eased off we went for a walk, partly to find the new location of the boaters’ rubbish bins which are now at the marina. We had hoped to get as far as the open tunnel where the towpath changes sides, but the rain had beaten the vegetation down over the path. There were too many nettles for people in shorts, so we turned back.
We ate in the Wharf. We had large slices of a very nice pie, home-made with a proper crust – none of this china-dish-with-a-puff-pastry-lid rubbish.
7½ miles, 1 lock