Goodbye Old Father Thames. 11th August

Sandford Lock to College Cruisers, Oxford Canal

Only a few hours cruising left on the Thames and the last day of our licence, although I think we could have got an extra day because of the hold up at Boveney.

NB Snowy Owl

Today our trip would be a relaxed one unlike Mick’s two years ago. The river then was going up and down, not by much, but that much made a lot of difference to cruising. He first made his way up the pretty Iffley Lock stopping for a night or two near a rowing club.


He walked up to Osney Bridge where boats were starting to cling onto the moorings, then on to see what the turn into Sheepwash Channel was like. He did his homework and made his decision to go for it before the next band of rain had chance to rise the river any further. Thankfully it paid off and he made it to the safety of the Canal.

Iffley such a pretty lock

Today we pootled up the river with no fears of levels rising. The lavender at Iffley Lock looked wonderful as ever, a Lock Keeper arrived as we did and worked us up. A chalked sign announced that Osney Bridge would be closed between 10 and 12 today, but there was plenty of space on the East Street moorings where we could wait.


The rowing clubs looked all gleaming in the sunshine and the dreaming spires were all very well tucked up behind the leaves of the trees.

No spires in sight

We went round Folly Bridge to the right a trip boat preparing to show the sights to it’s passengers.

Folly Bridge

Osney Lock was on self service, our last on the Thames for this trip. The bow rope was all ready on the roof ready to be picked up with the boat hook. We’d just closed the gates behind us when a keeper arrived, he’d been to see how things were progressing at the bridge ahead. He reiterated that there was plenty of space on East Street for us to wait.

Where is everyone?

Space, blimey! Only three boats moored up along the whole stretch, we’ve never seen it look so empty. We pulled up almost to the far end to wait for the work boat to finish.

No space to get through

An EA work boat a while ago had collided with a water main that runs under the bridge. Today they were putting in a bypass pipe so that the original one could be mended without interruption to the supply. The work boat sat plum in the centre of the bridge, we had a cuppa and waited for midday.

House being clad in copper

Another two boats arrived behind us, the workmen would be another half hour, maybe an hour.

Waiting impatiently

Then a trip boat arrived, it hovered mid channel next to us waiting for the work boat to move, but move it did not, not until about 12:45. We were out, ropes untied and on our way.


I managed to get a photo of a hole in a pipe, but the proper hole was in a much bigger pipe a little further on, only a quick glance upwards and it looked like bits of wood had been strapped to the hole to stem it’s flow. I didn’t notice a bypass pipe, but then we were through the bridge very quickly.

Goodbye to the Thames

The right turn into Sheepwash was easy, not much flow to make it a worrying manoeuvre. We turned and waved goodbye to Old Father Thames and headed back towards C&RT waters.

All under wraps

Work is happening at the Swing Bridge to restore it, most of the structure encapsulated in white tarpaulin, so nothing to see.

A boat was pulled up on the pontoon below Isis Lock, waiting for the bridge to open. They kindly asked if we wanted the lock gate opening for us, but we actually wanted the pontoon so that we could fill with water from a handy tap alongside the permanent moorings on the canal. We swapped over and they headed out onto the river.

Just by Isis Lock

The water pressure was pretty good and by the time the next boat appeared our tank had just filled. They were wanting to do the same as us so were happy to wait for our hose to be stowed.

Back onto dinky waters

A narrow lock! And a pretty one. No heaving or having to bump the gates to get them moving, just a gentle little sigh to let you know it’s ready to move. I know that won’t be the case by the time we reach Somerton Deep Lock, but for now I’ll enjoy the ease of the locks.

We’ve heard the stories of so many boats on the Oxford Canal at the moment. Sadly the canal into Oxford seems to have a bit of a reputation, fortunately for us it meant we had the choice of moorings.

Final bit of model painted, a portrait

Having spent quite a bit of time here over two winters whilst I’ve been doing panto we know the advantages of where to moor. Nearer Isis Lock you are slightly sheltered from the noise of trains, but the outlook is of the hoardings for the development that may one day actually happen across the canal in Jericho. But this mooring now has a lot of over hanging branches, not so good for solar. Further along you get the view of College Cruisers and the house where the first murder in Inspector Morse happened. Here you get a lot of sunlight, but increased train noises. We chose sun and being nearer to the footbridge.

Tilly was quite happy to be back in this outside, she knows it very well, except someone’s changed it’s colour to green!

3 locks, 2 river, 1 narrow, 4.51 miles, 5o much space at East Street, 1 copper house, 1 hour wait, 1 right, 1 full water tank, 1 washing machine running again, 1 meeting confirmed, 1 get together postponed, 1 menu written, 1 shopping list, 1 Gothel portrait, 1 Dame painted, 1 model totally and utterly complete, 1 cat back in the Oxford outside.

5 thoughts on “Goodbye Old Father Thames. 11th August

  1. Karen

    I knew Jericho sounded familiar! We enjoyed the Morse series, and Inspector Lewis. Now we’re watching Bodyguard and Unforgotten on American PBS. About once a year we re-watch our All Creatures DVDs.

    1. Pip Post author

      Hi Karen
      Have you seen Endeavour? It predates the Morse series. Also if you get chance to see the new All Creatures Great and Small it us very well done.

      1. Karen

        Yes Pip…I forgot about Endeavour, we’ve really enjoyed it; hoping to see the next series of it on PBS in the fall. And we did like the new All Creatures – it was very good (although no one could replace Robert Hardy’s Siegfried!). Another favourite is Foyle’s War, and we still enjoy the Doc Martin re-runs!
        British tv shows are one hundred times better than anything else!

  2. Dave (Scouts)

    The water main runs along the north side of botley road from eynsham treatment works right into the city. Its a 24″ pipe and back in the ’90s a contractor working by bullstake close put a jcb through it and the resulting flood swept down botley road and surrounding street. Most went down Earl st and duke st where my dad lived (family house) and it reached over a foot high until they managed to shut it off.
    Its lucky this time it was over the river and they shut it down very quickly.
    You can probably see the pipe in the video of when the narrowboat got stuck on the weir

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