From One Catwalk To Another. 4th July

Chisnell Lift Bridge to Dashwood Lock

A sausage day! Well it seemed like it would be a sausage day a I was allowed out to explore first thing, but it turned out not to be. She and Tom were up and outside chatting to Roots Tom and She quite early. I went along to check out their boat and their catwalk. A suitable size, but not such a good view inside. How’s a cat meant to be nosy?! They untied the outside, we’d still got hold of it so it couldn’t get away, and then they drifted silently away.

Bye, until next time

Time to find some friends!

A good vantage point, now go away!

Soon after breakfast there was a toot of a horn. Julie and Simon on NB Perseus had arrived a few boats back quite late yesterday evening. They’d seen a gap near us but hadn’t wanted to moor next to someone they didn’t know at that time of evening, little did they know at the time it was us.

Simon and Julie another Lady of Finesse

They pulled in for a quick catch up in the rain. We’d all be getting wet today! Good to see them again and be less aware of keeping space between us, last time we met we had covid. Hopefully we’ll get chance one day to sit out on the towpath and have an evening with them, but today they were on a more serious mission than us, hoping to reach Henley by Thursday.

By the time we’d finished our morning routine several boats had come past. Paul yesterday had warned us that only one top paddle was working at Somerton Deep Lock so it was taking an eternity to fill. We didn’t rush to get away, but also sooner or later we’d need to join the queue.

Notes, photos and phone calls

A group of high vis stood looking at the underside of Chisnell Lift Bridge. Was there something wrong with the bridge, we’ve seen it down before when the farmer has been in the field across the way.

Wonder how long this will take to move?

Arriving at Somerton Deep Lock we joined the end of the queue, three boats ahead of us and one already going down. The boats nudged up. One boat came up, another down, the filling of the lock taking forever. One boat was mob handed opening and closing the heavy gates. I picked up a windlass and walked up to see if I could help as did the lady from the hire boat in front.

A chap who’d been helping, headed to get his boat from below, he was a boat mover heading for Wilton. People around the lock helped him with the gates. A chap lifted the one working paddle to fill the lock. He paused halfway up and left his windlass on the paddle gear. This always makes me wince as it is bad practice. When he did it again after lifting the paddle fully I shouted across. I can’t remember exactly what I said, but I did follow it up explaining that if anything should break on the paddle gear then that windlass would likely spin off at great speed, a broken arm, lost teeth possibly.

As we waited for the boat to come up I chatted away to the lady from the hire boat, they’ve been hiring for around twenty years, so quite a bit of experience.

The boat mover thanked everyone as he left and the next boat was brought into the lock. The gate was being closed by a lady from the boat and I walked up to add my bum to the job. As I walked up she walked away saying that as the paddles get lifted it would close. The gate was quite a bit away from being closed and would likely make a big bang closing this way. I continued to push the gate, the lady walked down towards the bottom gates then because she wasn’t needed she got onto her now descending boat, saying that she was now redundant.

Then mutterings could be heard about hire boaters from the couple on the boat as it descended. Were they complaining that the hire boat crew weren’t helping. The lady I was chatting to had to say something, did they have a problem with her? They obviously did have a problem. I walked up to see what it was. A tirade came from the chap at the helm. ‘Don’t you know you should ask before helping at locks!’

Leaving Somerton

I explained that we’d come along to help if needed and to be sociable. ‘My crew are more than capable!’ Well we hadn’t done anything other than help close a gate for them, no risk of us sinking their boat! If there had been need of anyone lifting paddles I would most certainly have asked if they wanted assistance, I never assume and never lift a paddle without confirmation, I even wait for someone to reappear at the helm if they’ve gone inside before winding my windlass.

The man was so rude. ‘Well we’ll have to make sure we don’t catch you up’ I said. Maybe he’d had a problem with me calling over to his crew regarding the windlass, or maybe he was just Hireist, those who are prejudiced against hire boaters no matter what. The lady from the hire boat was quite rightly p*d off with the amount of abuse they are getting from boat owners. We stood back and let them leave.

No-one was coming, time to fill the lock. I then asked the hire boat lady, ‘Can I help you with the lock?’ We both laughed.

One arriving to go up

Still a queue of four boats behind. Mick and I worked ourselves down, the following boat only coming to close the gate behind us. Except there was a boat arriving below, the chap walked away. Hope someone asked if they could help!

It was now raining quite hard. Should we continue or pull in on the meadows? There was space. If we carried on we’d want to get to Muddy Slipper before stopping due to there being a big black hole of everythingness around Heyford (no phone signal, internet or TV). With a zoom meeting planned for tomorrow and slow progress today we decided we’d best stay wet and carry on to the other side.

Googlie eyes

Heyford Common Lock, Allens (Alan! Alan!!) Lock, then the long section before you reach Mill Lift Bridge. Key of power was utilised here. Many hire boats were at home in Lower Heyford, one couple being briefed for a few days afloat.

Dashwood Lock then appeared on the soggy horizon. The hire boat just going down, another lady assisting with the bottom gate. I walked up to see if Muddy Slipper was free, it was occupied. Thankfully there is space for a couple of boats before the lock landing above the lock, so we pulled back and tucked ourselves up close to another boat. Time to dry off.

Still a temporary beam

An afternoon of Tilly not being overly impressed of the wet outside that we’d tied up. I got my paints out to see how best to paint my rain forest portals and cloths. Of course as usual I changed my mind. Tomorrow I’ll give it another go.


This evening to help warm us and the boat up we’ve had a roast, well nut roast, but with squash, beetroot and roasted potatoes. Very tasty and just what we needed at the beginning of July!

3 locks, 6.2 miles, 2 lift bridges, 1 under examination, 2 cat walks, 2nd Lady of Finesse in a week, 1 very wet day, 2 miserable sods, 1.5 hours to get through Somerton Deep, 1 black hole cruised through, 1 router not working, 1 hot spot better, 2 versions to be revised.