Monthly Archives: April 2014

Wednesday, 30th April, 2014

Country: England
Distance travelled:
Weather: warm with big fluffy cumulus filling the skies

The stretch of the Grand Union Canal we moored on last night is wide and enclosed in leafy green trees, very picturesque. It was difficult to get moving from such attractive surrounds but we have to keep in mind that Conquerer has to be back home on Saturday morning. We cruised along the Braunston Summit to Norton Junction where Mark executed a very neat u-turn although I did get marooned on one bank and had to race across two bridges to be able to step back on board as they headed back on our southward journey.

As we approached the entrance to the Braunston Tunnel we could see another boat passing through the arch. Careful examination with our trusty binoculars led us to believe that they were just heading in as well so we slowly approached. I cannot imagine what it would be like meeting another canal boat heading in the opposite direction while we were in there. Luckily I didn’t find out. Once we were in, I took over the steering as Mark wanted to attempt to take a photo up one of the air shafts we had passed under yesterday. He distracted me regularly by shining the torch on limestone formations on the tunnel walls where I assume water has been seeping in since it was built in the 1790’s.

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We had just exited the tunnel when a gentleman walking his dog along the tow path called out to us to say that one of the set of locks ahead was closed for maintenance. We moored up immediately behind the line of boats in the short stretch of canal before the top lock and Allister went ahead to see what the hold-up was. While he was gone, I decided that as we were in need of some provisions anyway, I would walk into Braunston Villiage. I stopped for a brief chat with an Australian couple who tell me they spend 6 weeks here every year and who warned me to cross over the canal at the bottom lock and then I set off. Allister passed me going back to Conquerer to tell the others the details of our holdup and I continued into Braunston.

Unfortunately, I was enjoying the walk so much I forgot the warning and ended up having to walk the entire distance to Braunston Junction where the Oxford canal and the Grand Union canal part ways. This apparent faux pas did allow me to walk back along the main street of Braunston where I managed to obtain some very tasty pies for lunch at the local butcher and the rest of the provisions we required from the supermarket. I was by this time quite hot as the weather had become pleasantly sunny and when I finally made it back to Conquerer I let Mark sort out lunch while I recovered.

At about 4pm, the people who had been doing the lock maintenance came along the tow path letting everyone know that the locks were open again. There was only one other boat heading through the locks as everyone else had decided to moor up for the night. I imagine the pub not far from there made a good trade come dinner time. We joined the other boat and went down through the set of six locks together, these being wide enough to take two boats. With Allister and one of the crew members from the other boat both cranking the paddle gear and opening the gates, there was not much for me to do so I took advantage of the opportunity to get my camera out again for some photos from inside the lock pound (the main chamber of the lock).

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From Braunston Junction it was a little over five miles to the other end of the stretch of water shared by both the Oxford and Grand Union canals. We were just passing Napton Junction when we spied a pair of swans with their brood of very young cygnets. The two adults kept a close eye on us as we passed by. Our first mooring spot this evening near a pub turned out to be a dud as that pub was under renovation and the second, not far from where we had stopped for lunch two days previously was also fruitless as we were too late for meals by then.

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We returned to Conquerer to cook up the buffalo burgers (oh my,  very tasty!) we had bought from the shop here at Napton-on-the-Hill and as it was quite late by this time, everyone was quickly into bed and asleep not long after dinner.