Sunday, 25 September 2011

Autumn Cruise - Day 16

The moorings above Day's Lock are excellent, and we slept well.  When I looked out this morning, the field was full of cows, but a few minutes later they'd all moved on.  We set off just after 8am, on what started as a nice morning but soon clouded up.  There were some very large houses set way back from the river as we passed Burcot, then we reached Clifton Hampden Bridge.

The lock keeper hadn't yet come on duty when we reached Clifton Lock, so I went to press the buttons.  We passed the new junction of the Wilts and Berks Canal (there's not much to see), and then went through Abingdon, which looks lovely from the water.

Abingdon Lock was very noisy; it sounded as though the lock keeper was watching a Grand Prix in his little office, or there was a swam of wasps close by.  In fact, it was a Professional Motocross race taking place a mile or so away at Culham.  As we passed the site, which was full of motor homes, we could see the riders doing spectacular jumps.

The next section of the river is, frankly, the least interesting we've travelled.  There's not much to see, and very little of interest.  Sandford Lock is the deepest on the Thames at 8ft 10in, but was also one of the calmest as we went up.  The lock keeper was being very careful, as we were sharing with a canoeist.

Iffley Lock, on the outskirts of Oxford, is very pretty.

The approach to Oxford is nothing to write home about.  Then the University boat houses appear, followed by Folly Bridge - where you wonder where you're supposed to go.  It becomes more obvious when you get closer.  In the past, I've seen dozens of punts moored the other side of the bridge; today there were none.

Beyond Folly Bridge, Oxford could be any town - there are no dreaming spires to be seen, just houses and a railway bridge.  We shared Osney Lock, which was self service, with a trip boat which seemed to be electrically powered.  Four of those on board were having lunch; the rest appeared to be there just for the ride.

We stopped above the lock for lunch.  Osney Bridge was our first after setting off again, and we took the chimney off as it's the lowest bridge on the Thames, and stops all the gin palaces.

We passed Sheepwash Channel, the entrace to the Oxford Canal.  If you didn't know, you'd never imagine that it led to the canal.

At Port Meadow, we found ourselves involved in a sailing race.  There are a few spires to be seen as you look back towards Oxford, and there are horses and cows grazing on the meadow.  But Adrian had a full time job avoiding the sailing boats.

The Lock Keeper at Godstow Lock told us that the lock in three inches narrower than all the others.  Even so, she managed to fit a wide plastic boat in the lock with us.

Beyond King's Lock (the first which hasn't been powered - the Lock Keeper said he preferred the more reliable manual method), is another entrance to the Oxford Canal, at Duke's Cut.  This one at least has a sign (visible from the other direction), but still doesn't look like much.  But we stayed on the Thames to Eynsham Lock, where are large Dutch barge was coming out of the lock.

We went up, stopped at the water point to fill the tank, then went through the very attractive Swinford Toll Bridge.

With useful info from the Lcok Keeper that the first field beyond the bridge charges £5 a night but further on it's free, we picked a spot in a field of cows.  It's popular round here, with boats at almost every available mooring.  The sun had come out but the wind had also got up, so there was no problem getting to the side.  There's a great view from the side hatch, as there's also the occasional intesresting plane heading into RAF Brize Norton.

25 miles, 9 locks.  (250 miles, 150 locks)

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I've always been disappointed by Oxford from the river - I expected the city to make more of the waterway.

Sue, nb Indigo Dream