Wednesday, 1 May 2013

Aynho to Banbury

Today we decided to cruise 3½ hours to Banbury.  First we had to cross over the River Cherwell at Aynho Weir Lock.  This is the second hexagonal lock we’ve come across on the South Oxford Canal.  Paul (Waterways Routes) left a comment explaining they are hexagonal to allow more water to enter the pound.

I’d been anticipating an aquaduct but the river cuts across the canal at 90° entering from the East and exiting via a large weir on the West.

View south towards Aynho. The river Cherwell enters from the left with the lock beyond the bridge.  The weir is quite substantial indicating there must be occasions where there is a considerable volume of water in the river.

The weir

At the next lock (Nell Bridge) we met a boat descending and the lady on board warned Jan the water was on Red Boards.  Jan was left with the impression there was a strong flow on the stretch above Nell Lock.  But the canal guide didn’t mention “river” from this point onwards.  We decided the lady was confused!

At Kings Sutton Lock I had difficulty with Waiouru at the lock entrance.  Jan was draining the lock and the fierce back current dragged Waiouru forward until it collided with the closed gate.  I couldn’t reverse because Waiouru grounded when power was applied.  I shouted to Jan to drop the paddle which then enabled me to slowly back away.  That’s when the ‘local’ who had been watching told Jan about the fierce back current <most helpful…. after the event!>

The canal gently wandered through the peaceful countryside until we reach the outskirts of Banbury.  Karen (nb Quacksilver) had sent us an email advising us there was a large Morrisons supermarket on the southern side of Banbury.  Following Karen’s instructions, we moored south of the bridge and made the short walk to Morrisons where Jan purchased some food for lunch and dinner.  She is going to do a larger shop tomorrow morning at Tesco on the other side of Banbury.  We also need to replace the “dead” microwave.

After lunch we decided to move further and top up the water tank.  Both Jan and I failed to notice the CaRT services block on the left immediately below Banbury Lock as we were focussed on setting up the lock. 

Banbury Lock

All wasn’t lost as there is a second water point immediately above the lock before the lift bridge.  After filling the tank we moved off with Jan raising the bridge. Beyond the bridge is the historic Tooley’s Dry Dock where the boats were two abreast leaving sufficient clear water for one boat to safely pass.  As I entered this narrow section an Oxfordshire Hireboat appeared in the open water at the far end.  To my astonishment the boat kept coming into the narrow section where it hit our bow and pushed Waiouru against the concrete edge to the towpath.  The steerer keep on coming grinding the side of his boat down our gunwale which also resulted in the other gunwale being ground against the concrete edge to the towpath.  As he passed me he made the comment “Tight….. but we made it!”  Impatient idiot!  Jan was back at the lift bridge as they needed to pass under it before I could free Waiouru. The steerer said to Jan “Are you in a hurry?”  To which she replied “I need to catch up with my husband and help him find a mooring”.  His reply to this was “Tough!”  Jan told me she wanted to lower the bridge on top of their boat!  

So we are now moored in almost the precise spot Paul (nb Lola) suggested we DON’T moor as they had previously had their mooring lines untied here in the middle of the night.  One assumes by some locals who had killed several million grey matter cells with amber fluid.  We’ll chance it!

Tomorrow we head towards Cropredy, stopping briefly at Tesco for more food and a new microwave!

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