Sunday, 21 April 2013

Oxford to Napton

The Oxford canal

Still heading for Crick in the spring of 2013 we joined the Oxford canal at its southern end in Oxford.  It was completed in 1790 and runs for 77 miles from Oxford to Hawkesbury in Warwickshire where it joins the Coventry canal.  It is a narrow canal so only one boat can enter each lock and boats wider than ours (6’ 10”) cannot use the canal.  There are 43 locks and many lift bridges; these bridges are very popular on this canal and if you look you’ll see them as you go up the M40 to Birmingham:

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Consequently the bridge holes by locks can also be tight - this is Allen’s bridge at Allen’s lock near Little Heyford.

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Joining the canal at Oxford

A tiny cut called Sheepwash Channel runs from the Thames under Oxford railway station and comes out at the first lock on the Oxford - Isis lock with its pretty iron footbridge.  It’s hard to believe this is the middle of a city.  Halfway along Sheepwash Channel you go past an old swing bridge that used to carry trains through Oxford. Just north of here the canal enters Jericho, a rather upmarket area of Oxford with some lovely moorings and pubs.


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The trip

Oxford to Napton is 37 miles (by canal) and 38 locks.

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Heading up to Banbury

We had glorious weather in April 2013 even though many mornings were still frosty.  No better way to start the day than sitting on deck with coffee watching the mist burn off and the frost on the bankside.  Mind you no better way to end the day than doing the same thing with wine like here at Aynho on 20th April.

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The canal runs right through Banbury and a new shopping centre takes advantage of the canal unlike at Reading.  We were unlucky with pubs and only found naff ones!

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Cropredy

Soon after Banbury the canal goes through Cropredy which is famous for the annual Fairport Convention festival (we came back for the festival in the summer).  Nice pubs in Cropredy and typical thatched Cotswold stone houses.  A new marina was under construction although it was nowhere near meeting the opening date shown here!

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We went through some other pretty places:

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Further north the canal enters Northamptonshire and we hadn’t realised how beautiful the countryside was in this county:

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Oxford canal locks

Here are the 39 locks between Oxford and Napton junction.  Running from number 46 in Oxford to number 8 at Napton.

Locks 46 - 38

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Locks 37 - 32

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Locks 31 -26

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Locks 25 - 20

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Locks 19 - 14

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Locks 13 - 8

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