Locked In. 24th September

Bridge 126 to Claydon Bottom Lock

New boat shoes that need to get muddy

With the locks behind us closed overnight it meant no passing boats this morning. Most people had headed for Fenny Compton and the pub, but we’d elected to be in what felt like the middle of nowhere. No Mrs Tilly stamp of approval due to the number of sheep, but we certainly liked it here.

We pushed off at 10:30, getting off the summit pound our goal for the day, if we could fill with diesel and dispose of rubbish that would be a bonus. Over the weekend Mick had texted the local coal boat NB Dusty to see if we would be coming across them in the next few days. It took a while to get a response from them which was a touch ambiguous. They may be heading towards Oxford this week then back northwards next or it may be the following week. We decided to top up the diesel on our way south in case we don’t see them for another week.

Where we're goingWher we'd come fromThe summit pound of the Oxford weaves and winds it’s way across the top in such a laborious fashion. It’s pretty but it just takes forever at times you turn to your left and not only can you see where you had just left but also Napton where we’d come from yesterday. Then to the right you can see the way you are heading around the next loop of the canal. 11 miles that if you could travel as the crow flies would be 5. Some of the bends make it easy to see a boat coming the other way, but others make it far harder.

Think the bins have moved

You can’t miss the signs as you approach Fenny Compton regarding the site of the bins. They have moved to the marina away from the water point so we trundled our way past moored boats having to pause a couple of times for a boat coming towards us, it’s narrow round here. The service mooring was free so we pulled up, diesel price not too bad at 82p, just a shame they were closed! Closed Sundays and Mondays and an early closing on Wednesdays. Not in dire need of a top up, we’ll most probably last another couple of weeks but it’s getting to that time of year when we’d rather have the tank full to stop condensation.

Can you tell which is recycling?

The bins are down a hill in a locked area with a high fence round them. We’d been looking forward to getting rid of our recycling here. The padlock on the gates not unlockable with a key of power, but two of the bins by the fence have their lids left open so that you can throw your rubbish over. One had a small sticker on it about recycling the other didn’t, so we put our plastic and cardboard in the right one, just a shame that there were what looked like black bags of normal rubbish in there too!

Fenny Compton Tunnel

Fenny Compton Tunnel follows, a long straight stretch, narrow and quite overgrown. It was built in the 1770’s as a tunnel, as the name would suggest, but in 1838-40 parts of the roof were demolished, more in 1866-9. A brick works was set up alongside to make use of the clay spoil, a brick kiln being built n 1841 which continued firing bricks up to 1917. Today the sky is visible. The towpath overgrowth was being seriously cut back by three chaps with strimmers all the cuttings falling into the canal as they went.

Cuttings in the cutSharp pointy branches with a fresh amount of cream paint added to them

At one particularly narrow section the off side vegetation caught one of our fender hooks still hung on the side and dragged it along the grab rail. Branches from the sideways trees had been broken off but were pointy  and just at the right height to get the cabin side! Oleanna is not a shiny boat and the Ribble link left it’s mark last year, she now has one graze from the fender hook along the grabrail and one wavering scratch along the cream line on the cabin side. Grrr!

First lift bridge on the Oxford

Claydon Locks are also on restricted hours at the moment, all the signs we’d seen said last boat in at 3pm, although our friends who’d been on a hire boat two weeks back had them close behind them at 2pm. Now past lunchtime we moored just out of sight of the top lock and had lunch. If the locks were closed by the time we got there then so be it, if not we’d be on our way down. We pushed off again at 2:30 and met a boat coming up the last lock, more were following them up the flight.

Downhill to the Thames

I helped with the first boat, then had on lookers waiting for their turn as we made our way down. Another boat soon followed along with another in the second lock. At the third lock of the five two C&RT chaps walked by with windlass’s saying that they’d locked the bottom lock, so we’d have to wait for them to let us out.

LockedBig padlock noseThe bottom lock certainly was locked, I couldn’t fill it. The ground paddles had a bar passing over the top of the mechanism through the back of the metal post where a padlock held it in place. A sign on the bottom gates announced Locks Closed, so we waited. One of the chaps returned chatting to a fellow with a bike. He undid the padlock and wound the paddle up all the time chatting away about local goings on. Not one word said to either Mick or myself,what they were talking about was quite interesting, just not good customer service. Once in the lock the padlock went back on the paddle and the chap carried on chatting as I emptied the lock. With the lock empty I went to push both gates open, but no matter what I couldn’t get them to shift. I tried nudging one before the other still it didn’t work!

As it says

Mick got their attention at last and asked if one of them could possibly help, which the chap with the bike did. Still not one word from the C&RT chap, not even an opportunity to say thank you!

A long stretch of armco presented itself so we decided to pull up for the day giving Tilly a few hours shore leave before her curfew. TREES!!!!!! Big ones, small ones, sideways ones, big sideways ones. The big sideways ones must have fallen oven with all the woofer wee! Too much climbing to be done to find any friends today and then when I came home the hot box in the corner was glowing. Lovely, hope we get to keep this outside for a few days.

Once moored up Mick set about replacing the soft shackle that connects our centre lines to the roof. We’d noticed that it had frayed somewhat over the last 18 months of constant use and we’d bought a spare so better to replace it now than when it goes. Followed by a new fuse for the bow thruster charging circuit. Inside I decided now was a good time to give the oak surrounds to the windows a coat of Danish Oil. In the mornings we are starting to get condensation on the frames and windows. This tends to collect and run down the wooden surrounds and has gradually eaten away the finish on the oak. Splashes around the sinks have also done this so before the oak gets affected I wanted to give it some protection. A wipe around most of the windows with the oil whilst Tilly was out, I left the ones she likes sitting in the most until she has a full days shore leave and the stove is lit. The one above the cooker can wait for a day when it won’t be used. Most came up well, one had just started to go dark with the water. Hopefully I’ll get another coat on them in the next few days for more protection.

5 locks, 8.08 miles, 1 tunneless tunnel, 1 lufted bridge, 0 diesel, 3 throws, 2 grazes, 3 strimmers, 3 scarecrows, 2 lockies, 2 padlocks, 0 words, 2.5 hours, 7 big trees, 1 warm boat, 5 windows oiled, 100 amp fuse, 1 new shackle, 1 stove lit hopefully to stay in overnight.