Hand Over Toes. 23rd May

Dashwoods Lock to Shipton Bridge 220

Levels on the Thames were shown to be rising this morning. The same with stretches of the Oxford Canal that cross the River Cherwell. Behind us Nell Bridge is closed, ahead Dukes Cut and Isis Lock are closed too. Just one section shown as amber levels rising, between Bakers Lock and Shipton Weir Lock. Would it still be open for us when we got there or would we be spending some time on the lock landing?

Dashwood Lock

A College Cruiser hire boat was on the move before us and headed down Dashwood Lock. As we rolled the covers up another boat appeared from behind, we let them go first as we weren’t quite ready, but ready enough to lend them a hand.

The River Cherwell meanders close to the canal for much of the way. We could see it was quite high and that the flow was quite fast, was all this water going to scupper our plans!

Northbrook Lock was busy, boats waiting to come up and soon there was another boat arriving behind us. A German crewed boat followed by old friends both on hire boats, all having a good time.

Pigeons Lock

Pigeons Lock was a different matter, no other boats in sight. It needed filling which meant I got to take a photo from the bridge below it looking back. Now on past Kings Ground with their Design Studio/Office perched up high on the bank looking like a green double decker bus. A goods train ran across the bridge then we squeezed past a C&RT work boat and wondered what will become of the old pub that has been boarded up for years.

No queue at Bakers Lock, everyone ahead of us had carried on. A look at the levels board, flashing amber lights still saying level rising, but slightly more positive than the email notice had been ‘proceed with caution’ we were happy with that. A hire boat crew were at the lock looking back to see where their boat was, still pushing it’s way upstream, the lock was in their favour so we stood and chatted.

Right please

Then it was our turn, down onto the last river section before Oxford. The current stronger than normal, but nothing like the Tidal Trent. Mick kept the revs low, just enough so that he could steer. Next thing would be arriving at the lock landing and being able to stop and not continue along with the flow of water. A discussion as to who should get off first, me to get the lock ready? Or Mick with the centre line to tie up. I hopped off first, the lock sadly not full. Thankfully the pull of the current wasn’t too great so Oleanna was pulled in and tied to a post whilst the lock filled.

Shipton Weir Lock

Another lozenge shaped lock, the level difference between river and canal was about two foot today and it took quite a while for the lock to empty and level out. Now we wanted a place to moor for lunch. We tried several times to pull in, but the bottom was too close to the top. Just before the lift bridge things looked to be a touch better, we tried and got into the side just off the new bridge landing.

This looked like a very good outside, plenty to keep me busy. But the meanies didn’t open the doors, as much as I tried to be really nice and insist She stroke my head, it didn’t work!

Shipton Lift Bridge 219 now hydraulic

Not far now. I walked up to the lift bridge to wind it open. This bridge through the last five or six years had been gradually falling to bits and always seemed to be left open to boat traffic, it however is a right of way so needed reinstating and now comes windlass operated from the towpath. It also comes with another hand written sign from C&RT reminding boaters to leave it wound down. I wonder how long before a more official sign is added to these new bridges.

Through the flood gate

Just through the flood gate at Shipton we could see where we needed to pull in, on the off side, a vacant mooring right in front of the boat we were to visit. At last I was going to hand over a pair of my sockathon socks to a Boat Woman, Fin. She gave us a hand to pull in and tie up and then popped the kettle on. We were invited onboard for a cuppa and some sweet treats and a chat, a late lunch break for Fin who was working from home today. I handed over her Autumn socks, the pair I’d knitted for her last year being worn with some sheepskin lined sandals today. So lovely to get to meet one of the Boat Women who have sponsored a pair of socks.

We then pushed over to the towpath side of the cut, leaving Tallulah, Fin’s cat, and the expensive Bengal cats from the manor to enjoy their side of the cut and give Tilly some shore leave in the friendly cover opposite.

Not bad!

An email from the Company Manager at the SJT in Scarborough took over the next hour. We’d recently had a new lodger move into the house, but unfortunately due to an accident she has had to step away from the show for a few weeks. Could the new actress possibly move into the now vacant room? This actress turned out to be someone we already know and stayed with us last year. All perfectly fine, but no way we’d be able to check over things in Scarborough at such short notice. Messages went back and forth, Annie who was already staying with us had already washed sheets, what a star. Everyone was wanting to make sure we knew what was going on and were happy with things in case no one else had told us. Finally things calmed down and we could eat and I could get on with knitting again.

Latest four pairs of socks now with their sponsors

5 locks, 5.7 miles, 1 last river section crossed, 2 flashing amber lights, 1 lift bridge, £3000 for a cat! 1 wonderfully fluffy black cat, 1.5 hours of shore leave, 2 much footfall for a stamp, 1 Henry! 1 house playing musical chairs with lodgers, 1 actress who has a lot to catch up on, 1 pair handed over, 2 much Rocky Road, 1 sugar high. 1 river to watch now.


2 thoughts on “Hand Over Toes. 23rd May

  1. Mike Todd

    You were lucky not to get caught by the flood gates around Shipton – IIRC they had to be shut for a few days quire recently (first time I had heard of this being needed)

    1. Pip Post author

      According to Fin, those gates had required quite a bit of sorting as they were pretty rotten and wouldn’t have held anything back before. There is also a culvert that passes under the moorings by Shipton Bridge which at times backs up as it isn’t wide enough so the offside moorings get flooded. Not ideal really


Leave a reply and don't forget to tell us who you are