Friday, 21 April 2017

Familiar territory, but a good day.

(Boat Flamingo - posted by Alan)

Motorised River class "Wey", in use on towpath contract by Rothens.
We stopped rather short of where we had planned to be last night, as explained in my last post.

So the objective today was really to get as many miles and locks under our belt, to reduce the number we will need to do on our final day on Saturday p we need to be back home on Saturday, for an event on Sunday.

Max (left) and Odin wait patiently as we work through Hillmorton
The remainder of the trip from All Oaks Wood back to our home mooring is one we really are getting very familiar with. and, until recently, somewhat to the exclusion of other routes.  AS we have shuffled each of the boats to Brinklow Boat Services for work, it has been along this route, and in fact All Oaks Wood has often either been our first or last nights stop from the boat yard, depending on whether we are "delivering" or "collecting".

In the top pound at Hillmorton locks - our last narrow ones this trip out
There's nothing wrong with the Northern Oxford, but I'm not a great fan of endless miles with no locks, and whilst on the Oxford you only pass through the three pairs of locks at Hillmorton.  The rest is either fairly twisting, where it follows its original route, requiring a fair amount of concentration, or is dead straight and fairly featureless, where it is on the parts where the canal was reconstructed to shorten journey times.  As Cath is still struggling with a bad back, I largely did the twisty bits, whereas she was able to stand me down on the bits that need far less tiller work.  At least at this very quit time, (surprisingly quiet, we thought), we could go at our own pace, rather than be restricted to a long convoy, as all the boats turn out of the marinas for a day out in the sunshine.

Sharing with a rather lovely modern boat, (and someone very efficient.)
It remained quiet once on the Grand Union at Braunston, amd we worked up the locks with a very efficient single hander on a really rather immaculate modern boat which we were told had been built at Braunston by Roger Farringdon.  It was frankly as good an example of getting a pleasing boat that replicates traditional lines as I have seen, and although I am not normally a fan of fake rivets, these were done so subtlety that they didn't trouble me.  An immaculate presented Lister JP3 made up the picture, and when I suggested it was a lot of powr, I was told it is great on rivers, and also "I like to open it up in the tunnels".

Dane and Clara - There are not many wooden pairs about these days, unfortunately.

We alternated up the locks, sending ahead which ever boat it was easiest to release first, the other usually using the same gate, both when leaving and entering locks, hence Cath's work as lock wheeler was considerably reduced.  It is a very long while since I have been up Braunston so efficiently, although I did wonder if the fact that the pound one from the top was about 18" down might bring Flamingo to a temporary halt.  Fortunately I was able to gets its deep draught over the lock cills, and stick to the restricted channel through the sludge between the locks.

Pacific - the first of two lovely historic tugs passed near Norton junction.
At the top lock our sharer suggested we go off into the tunnel first, which given his previous comments I tactfully declined.  A good move, because although I opened Flamingo up to a very good speed, no way was I able to keep up, and e drew steadily away from us until he took the opposite route to us at Norton Junction, and headed toward Leicester.

And Typhoon in pursuit - lovely to see but less familiar to us.
We were able to find moorings above Buckby top lock - unusual with a full length boat, and I'm grateful to the person who volunteered to move back to create enough space, without even being asked.  We went to the New Inn, just assuming we could easily get a meal, and were staggered to find that what was a pub that was struggling some years back, (and closed for quite a period), is now so popular that it is full and booked out.  Luckily they squeezed us in, but those behind us were politely refused - something that seemed unthinkable a few years back.  Good to see not all our canal-side pubs are in decline.

All Oaks Wood (Oxford Canal) to Buckby Top Lock
Miles: 19.3, Locks: 9
Total Trip Miles: 160.4, Locks: 154

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