Tuesday, 2 February 2010

Nearly there

Woke up on Sunday morning to solid ice across the canal again, so delayed leaving in the hope that another boat would pass and dothe icebreaking. Eventually one did pass, but on walking Lyra before leaving I found it on the water point, though not taking on water. Left it a while longer but it was still there happily moored. I wasn’t too surprised as it’s a boat I have seen a couple of times before using facilities as convenient moorings. So it was down to me to break the ice.

It was only about a quarter inch thick so not too bad to get through. I eventually met an oncoming boat, at the site of the delightfully rickety footbridge which has now been replaced with a new bridge of similar design but lacking the character of the old one. That boat must have been moored near the mast as I was soon icebreaking again. Towards the end of the summit I was into broken ice again so was following someone, which made boating easier but meant I would have all the locks set against me.

After another long day I moored above the bottom lock. I suppose it was probably due to a few long days out in the cold but I felt exhausted and unwell once I had stopped. Apart from giving Lyra her walks and food, I just snoozed all evening, waking about midnight with the fire almost burnt out.

I didn’t feel up to moving at all yesterday so had a quiet day. Shortly after 9pm I realised that a boat was coming alongside. It was Gosty Hill, so I again have a good supply of coal.

I didn’t expect to see Gosty Hill again today as they were planning on an early start, but as I left the bottom lock they were just finishing delivries below the lock. The ice was thick enough that, at the big bend outside Napton, Gosty was taken to the edge. I passed to have a go as getting round is easier with a shorter boat but also got stopped. Breakiing a path with my pole meant that Gosty could ger round and we were on our way again. I passed just before the Bridge Inn and continued to Braunston in much easier conditions as the ice was now patchy and thin.

After a stop to dry out as it had been raining all morning, I have made my way to the top of Hillmorton locks, so should have a short day tomorrow to get back to the marina.

Saturday, 30 January 2010

It’s all downhill from here

The weather yesterday would normally have put me off boating as there was a strong wind blowing, and as it turned out it was in my face the whole day, but having had so many days of not moving I wanted to press on. The first lock of the day was Somerton Deep, which I don’t really like as I don’t like heights and it’s deep enough for me to want to avoid the ladder if at all possible. The good thing about this lock is that the bollards are (in my opinion) on the correct (towpath) side. This meant that once set I could let the boat drift into the lock and use the bollards to stop her when she got to the top gate and then hold her against the gate whilst filling the lock. It all worked really well.

Apart from that the only excitement was at one of the lift bridges, or silly bridges as I have come to refer to them. Having got through, the wind pinned the boat across the canal making getting away impossible. I ended up having to throw the front mooring rope across to the towpath and haul the bow across.

I finished for the day at the recently improved moorings at bridge 168. This was as I wanted to do some shopping and didn’t want to go into the town centre on a Friday evening. I did wonder if I had made a bad choice when I felt someone climbing onto my roof, but when I asked them not to it turned out that they wanted a photo of themselves. From their accents I think they must have been foreign students.

For no particular reason, I woke at a ridiculously early hour so made an early start. It had been a cold night and throughout the day I encountered patches of ice, but none of it was very thick. This spurred me on to make as much progress as possible today and make it onto the summit pound. I decided as I approached the Claydon flight that if I was out by 1 I wouldn’t stop for lunch and try to get across to Marston Doles.

I didn’t manage it so stopped for a while at the top of the flight and made my way to Fenny Compton. Still a fairly long day (for me) but with clear skies and little wind it was a wonderful day’s boating.

It’s another clear night, already down to –2 and a layer of ice has already formed, but hopefully it won’t be too thick in the morning.

Thursday, 28 January 2010

Moving again

I moved on to the centre of Oxford last Friday, spending the day there but not doing very much as the rain was persistant and quite heavy. There was no option of going any further as the Thames was on red boards, and flowing very fast.

Friday’s rain also meant that when I got back to Thrupp on Sunday, the Cherwell had risen again and so further progress wasn’t possible. This did mean that I was able to meet up with Bones and Maffi and of course Boots and Molly. This meant that I had various visits to Annie’s Tea Room and the Boat Inn to make my stay more enjoyable. Thrupp is a pretty good place to find yourself stuck as there is a great community of boaters there, and a good variety of walks for dogs.

As the days passed the lakes that had appeared gradually turned back into fields and finally, this morning, the river had dropped just into the yellow. I would have prefered it to have been a bit lower and did wonder whether to wait longer but the forecast is a bit unsettled, so I decided to leave.

As I want to get back to my moring as soon as possible I had a longer day than usual and got north of Upper Heyford today. The river in Upper Heyford was much lower than when I came down the canal, so I’m fairly confident that the next river section will not cause a problen.

Thursday, 21 January 2010

Oxford……..At Last

The snow/rain turned out to be fairly heavy rain, which was strangely pleasing as it helped to melt the remaining ice.  For weather forecasts I am using Accuweather more than any other now as they do seem to get closest to what actually happens. A workboat had moved up to Thrupp from the south so the ice after Thrupp was all nicely broken, but there was still a lot along the moorings and out near where I was moored, but it was much thinner and I felt it wouldn’t be too bad to get through. Even so I decided to leave it another day as I didn’t see any point in getting drenched.

I ended up regretting my decision when I took Lyra for a walk down to Thrupp as I saw Dusty, the fuel boat, pointing back towards Oxford. I had run out of gas, and didn’t have a huge amount of coal or diesel so was hoping that he would come past me.

It was foggy this morning but I decided to leave anyway. The remaining ice wasn’t too bad to get through and I was soon on the service point. I have been quite frugal with water and it would have lasted a while longer, but it is good to have a full tank again. I also pumped out the holding tank, which was very close to being full.

There was quite a lot of broken ice still about until after the first lock, so most of the day has been in clear water. As I had hoped I did catch up with Dusty and was able to get gas and fill with diesel, but unfortunately all the coal he had was already spoken for. I have enough for a few days and know where I can get some more fairly easily so it’s not a huge problem.

So finally I have (almost) reached my destination. It’s taken me 5 weeks to get from Rugby to Oxford. I stopped a short way from the end at a place I have used before and will do the last mile or so in the morning and spend a bit of time in the city. After being stuck for so long it’s been great to be moving again.

Then it’ll be the trip back, which I hope won’t take as long as there is stuff I need to do when I get back.

Monday, 18 January 2010

Snow has gone, Ice is going

Still stuck here below the lock. The snow got washed away by heavy rain on Friday(?) by the heavy rain. Since then the ice has been receding but it’s still pretty thick.

With the thaw, the river level did rise as I was expecting, but it hadn’t got too high by yesterday evening, only just touching the red sector of the indicator. Waking up this morning I could hear a lot more running water, which seemed to mainly be behind the hedge in the field. The river had risen considerably overnight. The indicator gauge was virtually underwater this morning.

18012010779 The fields between the river and canal are now underwater.

18012010786 18012010787Lyra is confused by all the water as she’s got really used to being able to play in the fields that are now underwater.

18012010789The weather forecast seems to be for more snow on Wednesday, or perhaps rain, depending on which one you look at, but at least the temperature is meant to stay above freezing so hopefully the ice will continue to thin and it will be possible to move on soon.

As places to get iced in go, this is quite a pleasant one and did have plenty of places to walk Lyra, but I’m getting

Thursday, 7 January 2010

Deserted village

After another very cold night, the ice has an even firmer grip on the boat.

Some time ago, idly looking at my Nicholson’s guide, I spotted the entry for Hampton Gay which is a deserted village near where I am moored. It looked interesting and I thought I would have a look if I had time whilst passing, not realising quite how much spare time I would end up with.

It isn’t far from the canal, in fact I can see the Manor from my front door,IMG_9392but the route to it from here is rather longer as the Cherwell is in the way. The footpath seems to have been rerouted since my guide was printed the railway is now crossed on a walkway alongside the river under the rail bridge.

The first building that you come to  is the church which is still in use.


The Manor House burnt down in 1887 and has been left as a ruin since then. It seems that there is a local legend that links the destruction of the manor house with the failure of the lord to provide assistance to the casualties of the rail crash some years earlier when carriages fell into the frozen canal.

IMG_9336 Down by the river, near the manor is what I believe is the remains of the water mill that once was part of the estate.

IMG_9360 More Pictures

Wednesday, 6 January 2010

Lots of snow

No further progress has been possible, the canal is still well frozen.

It started snowing about 3 yesterday, by this morning the landscape had been transformed.

IMG_9146 I have posted more photos to Facebook at this location.

The skies seem to have cleared this evening so I’m not expecting to be moving any time soon, At least it is only a couple of miles to the nearest shop.

Creative Commons License
This work is licenced under a Creative Commons Licence.