Apparently it's now October, but it was a summer's day from the off this morning, with no autumnal mist or dew; instead it was warm and sunny first thing. There was no rush, as the lock flight down to Napton currently opens only at 10am, so we had bacon and scrambled eggs for breakfast. We then started a wash load. At about 9am there was some activity at the locks, with a BW staff member running some water down to fill a pound which had got a bit low overnight. Soon the boat at the front of the queue was on its way, and we, at number 4, entered the top lock at 10am.
The last time we did the Napton Flight was on Boxing Day 2008 on Debdale. Today was much warmer and busier. We met a few boats coming up, but there wasn't the same efficient one up one down rhythm that was achieved yesterday at Claydon. It's a very pretty flight no matter the time of year, and the Napton windmill on the top of the hill makes for a nice view.
We got to the bottom of the 9 locks in two hours, and stopped on the water point to top up the tank -- we've done lots of washing over the past few days, as it was good drying weather. In fact, we'll be taking home very little dirty washing. There are two water points at Napton, and we remembered that one is fast and one is very slow, but couldn't recall which was which. They were both free so I tested them and found that the one furthest from the locks was at least three times as powerful as the other one. We had lunch while the tank filled, and as the first load of washing was already dry, started another one.
After the quiet of the summit pound, we went round the corner from the water point to find a rather chaotic scene. There was a boat aground on the offside, and a procession of boats coming the other way, one of which decided to turn in the winding hole, rather to the dismay of the guy who was aground.
The length from the locks to Napton Junction always seems to last longer than I expect.
For the rest of the afternoon, the canal was incredibly busy. We think we've seen more moving boats this afternoon than any other complete day of the whole trip. But some of the usually busy mooring places, such as either side of Bridge 102, were almost empty. The other change since we came this way in June is that all the offside trees and bushes between Bridge 102 and 101 have been cut down, making the canal much wider. Soon we were approaching Braunston, with its distinctive church spire and the sail-less windmill.
We turned left at the junction, and in doing so completed the Thames Ring: Braunston to London via the Grand Union, and back via the Thames and the Oxford.
It seemed to have been quite a long afternoon, so we decided to stop at a favourite mooring just past Bridge 88. There were only two other boats here. It's quiet and peaceful, and we've been sat on the well deck with a glass of wine watching the world go by.
10 miles, 9 locks. (354 miles, 205 locks)