Thursday, 28 June 2018

Travelling to Oxford and the Thames to Lechlade

We spent a couple of days in Banbury and had a well earned break, we arrived a day earlier than anticipated. Time to stock up the refrigerator and the cupboards and get the boat ready for our visitors. The dining table can be made into a double bed, the seats store all the extra bedding required.

I took the train from Banbury down to London to pick our friends up from the St Pancras International Station and get them across the Tube network to Paddington (above ground) Station and then back to Banbury. An evening of catch-up, then the next morning and afternoon for local sightseeing in Banbury before setting off for a three hour evening cruise to a nice mooring just out of Aynho. We put the visitors straight to work on the locks.

The next morning a 9:30am start for another three hour cruise to Lower Heyford where we met up with our cruising friends on NB Dunslavin for a canalside BBQ. The days continue to be lovely and warm, around the mid-20's celsius, but the evenings cool quickly once the sun has gone around 9pm.

We continued our three hour cruising plan to Thrupp the next day and our last three hour cruise finally mooring in Oxford the day after where we did the usual tourist things. Our first day was a shopping tour, as expected, followed by a nice lunch at the Turf Inn, a quaint little pub we needed quite specific instructions to get to. The Turf Inn, with roots back to 1381 is a very important landmark for Australians because one of our most popular Prime Ministers, Bob Hawke, set a Guinness Book record for skolling a yard of ale in 11 seconds.

Lunch was followed up by a guided tour of Oxford, a mix of Oxford University meets Harry Potter, a selection of photos from the tour below.

All Souls Church
Christ's Church

All Souls College

All Souls Quadrangle
The Great Hall of Christ Church

Radcliffe Camera built circa 1737
Hertford Bridge - The Bridge of Sighs

After a week of cruising and touring it was time to take our friends to Oxford Station for their trip back to London to catch a train to Germany. Time for a quick bite of lunch afterwards before dropping down through Isis Lock onto the River Thames and upstream for a three hour cruise to Eynsham. First stop was Godstow Lock, beautifully kept, this is where the Environment Agency hit me up for £68 for a week of River Thames cruising.

Next to Godstow Lock was a nunnery ruin dating back to 1133 with only the walls left of what was once a large estate with a huge church, courts and cloisters.

Working our way through the locks, it seemed that throughout our journey every second lock was unstaffed.


We've been on the Thames before and as expected the moorings were poor away from the locks, this mooring is just near Eynsham, no rings of course! Lock moorings were rather expensive at £9.50/day for a mooring or £11.50 with power.

Eynsham moorings
Another beautiful day for cruising, a four hour cruise finishing at The Trout Inn near Bampton. Only one mooring available so breasting up again. It's easier to have the cruiser stern narrowboat on the mooring first but with me leading I had to hover with wind in my face as well as the current on my bow. A difficult maneuver that had it's moments, the boat always wanting to go sideways across the river. These moorings were quite good and the meal at The Trout was nice although on the expensive side.

Tadpoole Bridge

Our last day of cruising was four hours to reach Lechlade at the end of the navigable Thames where there were plenty of moorings available right next to town in a farmer's field, complete with a herd of cows. First time I have ever been woken up to cows licking the side of the boat.

Glamping at Radcot Bridge

Lechlade from across the River Thames
Toll House on Halfpenny Bridge at Lechlade built circa 1792.
There was a similar bridge and toll house going into Eynsham still operating. The toll operators were charging cars 5p to cross, trucks were around 60p. I didn't think it was worth having the traffic queues and two operators for such a small amount until I checked on Google where in 2016 there were 4 million crossings that year!

Just a few shots around Lechlade, a nice little town with good transport connections.

A two day break in Lechlade before turning from our mooring and letting the current and the wind turn Serafina around heading downstream from whence we came. We had a rather long cruise mooring in the public moorings outside the Ferryman Inn at Bablock Hythe, a very quiet pub. Our last night on the river was spent back at Eynsham, same moorings but arriving earlier gave us a mooring each. And, getting there early gave us a chance to catch up on a little painting.

We cruised off early for our last day turning onto The Duke's Cut to bypass Oxford. The Duke's Cut was a little bit on the wilderness side, very overgrown and a few boats there that looked like it was quite a while since they had moved, no facilities near by either. Entering the Oxford Canal through Duke's Cut Lock with a lock mechanism I hadn't seen before. Easy to use but I wasn't sure it was working at first, a few more turns of the windlass and 'hey presto'.

Out of the lock, around the corner and into Duke's Lock heading towards Thrupp.

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