Soaring To The Summit. 17th December

Elkington Winding Hole to Fenny Compton Wharf Bridge

The mushrooms he'd forgotten the other day

Despite a small amount of ice on the cut this morning in shaded parts we had a easy cruise up to the summit of the Oxford Canal. Every lock was in our favour, most probably they’d emptied themselves overnight as we’d not noticed a boat come past us. A few top gates needed an extra bit of a nudge to get them open, so two pairs of legs were needed rather than one.

On the summitNew roof lights alredy inAt Claydon Top Lock work men were busy moving machinery about, a couple of diggers and small dumper truck. As the lock filled a workman came for a chat. The slightly wonky cottage and out houses are being converted into two holiday lets. New roof lights were evident in the main house already. Apparently full planning permission hasn’t been given as yet so there is only so much they can get on with. Access to the site has been none existent up to now, so the chaps with the diggers were busy building a temporary track. Once the works were complete some other arrangement needed to be made for access. The cottages certainly will have great views to the west and over the lock.

On the summit

On we pootled, now on the summit pound winding it’s way towards Marston Doles and Napton. There is no rush at the moment as Napton Locks are not due to reopen until 4pm Friday, we’re hoping it might be slightly earlier.

Last lift bridgeIvy ready for me to be creative withUnder our last lift bridge with a wonderful blue sky. Then an old railway bridge where there was plenty of good ivy hanging about. I hopped off whilst Mick kept Oleanna in what had been the bridge hole. Shears in hand I chopped away at the ivy filling a bin, hopefully I’ve got enough for a wreath on the bow now. Then on we continued to Fenny Compton Tunnel, here there was a touch of ice again. Maybe it was still hanging about from a few days ago, the tunnel more of a cutting keeping the water in the shade. As we passed the ice just rippled on the water and moved aside for us.

Empty Fenny

On the two occasions we’ve passed this way before, all the moorings in Fenny Compton have been taken and meeting another boat on the narrow stretches meant having to squeeze through. Not today though, plenty of room. There were a few boats before the water point and then four after the road bridge. Here we pulled in, hopefully a cats safe distance from the road. Tilly had a short explore but it didn’t seem to inspire her to stay out long, maybe there was a lack of anything to hunt.

The Wharf Inn

This evening we decided to try out The Wharf Inn and it’s large portions. We needed an excuse, so decided that it should be our LTS Christmas do. Mick used to work for LTS (Local Telecom Service) in York as a telephone engineer and I was handed down some of his old t-shirts to use as painting shirts. LTS now stands for Leckenby Theatrical Services, so my fee from Chipping Norton would pay for our food tonight.

The pub for a Monday night, with not many boaters about, was quite busy. After hearing about the portion sizes we avoided having a starter and launched into the main courses. The pies sounded very good and a waitress said the latest batch had just come out of the oven, Mick opted for a Steak and Cheddar Pie, whilst I had a Rump Steak. My steak was fine, not as good as The Red Lion in Crick and not a patch on the one near Bugsworth, but Micks pie well and truly made up for anything it lacked.

Pie and steakTwo full tummies nowWhat looked like a quarter of a large pie took over his plate with mashed potato, swede and carrot and peas with just enough gravy. The filling was ever so tasty and certainly not been skimped on, I did have a couple of tastes, yummy.

A Christmas card from the staff too

We decided that as our Christmas do might become a touch rowdy that we’d retire back to the boat and refrain from pudding in the pub (not enough space for it). We had plenty of wine on board so no need to spend my hard earned cash in the pub.

DSCF7114sm5 locks, 4.14 miles, 1 roofless tunnel, 1 last lift bridge, 2 slices toast with mushrooms, 0 access, 8 boats in Fenny, 1 disgruntled cat, 0 good trees, pah! 1 pint, 1 glass wine, 1 huge pie, 1 steak, 1 card, 1 Christmas do done, maybe we should have another one.