We left Market Harborough early 'ish' on Monday arriving at the bottom of Foxton Locks well before lunch. I made the trek up the hill to check in with the lock keeper while Rachael stayed with the boat, for some reason they were all up the top with no boats. The word from the lock keeper was to go straight in to the bottom lock. It's the first time we've had a cheer squad to get us into a lock!
No boats coming down and one other boat followed us up the two five-lock staircases. There was plenty of help for Rachael with the gates along the way and plenty of CRT guidance as well.
|Foxton nearly done|
|Bronze statue of Dolly the canal horse at the top lock|
On Tuesday the cruising was going along nicely, the views of the surrounding countryside were picturesque England, right up until we met the boater moving at 'tick-over' that was oblivious to all that surrounds him. I had plenty of time to take this shot to remind me that autumn was coming, the tow path is covered with leaves, not long before we head home.
We cruised past Crick Marina, no one we knew was home.
And then we got to Watford Locks where we took our place at number six in the queue. Once again we found the lock keeper, this time at the bottom of the locks and put our boat name down and waited, and waited...four hours before we moved into the top lock. Rachael and I locked up Serafina and took our windlasses to help speed up the process a little.
|Queuing around the bend as some boaters take in the sunshine.|
|Watford Locks from the top|
We hit Braunston Locks rather late and we were tempted to moor in the pound with two locks to go but I was certain at this time of year we would easily get a mooring at Braunston, even if it was 8:45pm. I was wrong, we continued through Braunston and turned at the junction towards Napton.
We grabbed a spot 200m after the junction, we knew the moorings were shallow, but any port in a storm (or the dark). We managed to moor almost behind the boat we moored behind last year at the Braunston show. Only difference here is Serafina has done around 1000mls since, this boat hasn't moved.
We slipped off the mud of our shallow Braunston mooring to start our Wednesday ready to take on Napton Locks, we are starting to get used to narrow locks again after being up north where the locks are mostly short and wide. We were heading back to Oxford, we were only there on the boat a year ago. We passed the windmill at Napton on the Hill, this is the closest picture you will get from me. I think I'll leave it to Tom from NB Waiouru to go up there and get a closer shot!
The Water Buffalo herd were still there, I think the herd has grown since last year.
When I get a chance I'm tempted to try a selection of the farms' produce, steaks, cheese and ice cream, the locals tell us it's a dairy herd! May call in to the farm on the way back.
We had a close call on the second last lock of the day when the bottom gate paddle wouldn't rise further than 100mm, the other gate paddle was taped up as inoperable. It took around thirty minutes for the lock to empty and we could get a boat out so we could go in, we called CRT to report it while we waited! Our lock fill took around five minutes, the top gate paddles were working nicely thank-you. We finished the day at Fenny Compton on the first visitor mooring near The Wharf Pub. Not a problem on a Wednesday night but I would think twice if it was a Friday night! We also remember there was a lot of entertainment here last time as lots of hire boats
Today, I hauled Serafina back a boat length on to the water point and filled with water. I had started the engine fifteen minutes earlier and Rachael had started a wash so we could the most benefit out of the water fill. It was a nice fast fill and the wash was on the spin cycle when we left to ten minutes around the corner to fill with diesel at Fenny Compton Marina. We had done most of the hard yards earlier in the week so after we ploughed through the undergrowth just after Fenny Compton without scratching the boat we knocked over the next nine locks rather quickly. There were very few boats heading towards Oxford and lots going the opposite direction. They were queued at Napton yesterday and they were queuing at Claydon Locks today.
We arrived in Cropedy just in time to tie up and wait out a heavy rain shower. Hoping to get a mooring at Banbury for the long weekend we completed one more lock and took up a rural mooring just above Lock 27. It's only a short run from here into Banbury tomorrow.