#20 Oxford Canal – North. October 2015

Sunday 11th October 2015      Black Bart has swam from the cold dark wide Waters of the River Thames, cruising along Dukes Cut, locking down Dukes Cut lock & finally joining the narrow waters of the Oxford Canal at 3.00pm.

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We ascend Dukes Lock mooring for almost an hour while Bart drinks (sips) from the very slow tap. We are off again by 4.00pm, trogging along the Oxford for another couple of hours making our way under a lift bridge & climbing two moor locks as we make our past Kidlington and onto the wonderful village of Thrupp. Skippet walks ahead to hunt for a Bart like mooring after we struggle for depth at moorings just outside Thrupp. Our luck is in. One space is available. At 6.00pm. Fantabulous. Message received. Bart cruises on inta village & moors successfully. Yippee !!  Roxy relaxes after a very tiring day assisting with cruew-ly like duties.

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Very ladylike our tittle pooch. She is practising her moves, for who we do not know.

Monday 12th October      Bart & crew awake in Thrupp. No surprise there then. Slow morning for all. Lovely sunny day. Will stay here today. Skippet goes green today. final coat today. Diamonds on ta roof (if you didn’t know or understand) should be moor with it by now folks. Even greened lower part of the tiller. Bart is looking mighty fine. Skip takes to his favourite (almost) position & paints lower rear swim & bilge areas. Lovely ivory colour. Much easier to see down there now. Had become something like the black hole of Calcutta. Additional layer of protection to inevitable moisture, particularly in the winter. Bart, as with other narrow boats & the like suffers from condensation with all that cold metal. Also that calorifier pressure ‘overflow’ adds to the fun down there in the bowls.

Tuesday 13th October      Black Bart is moving on this morning after our day of ‘rest’. We take a very leisurely ‘stroll’ along the Oxford Canal, leaving Thrupp via the hydraulic lift bridge, back out into the wonderful countryside. It’s soo busy in that village. Just like being in ta middle of ta city. Quite unnerving. Soon after surrounding ourselves with greenery again we slowed down by the first manual lift bridge of the day, allowing the following hire boat to sneak through before the bridge comes down. We share the ‘diamond’ Shipton Weir lock, with the shorter hire boat entering first & moving over, to allow Bart in, down the middle. A short curvy wurvy section of the River Cherwell swims Bart into the more standard narrow Baker’s lock before we rejoin the canal, passing through Onslow & three moor narrow locks. A few cows are spotted. We are in the country you know. Where they have things often known as farms. And, yes, there are the occasional green wooden boat.

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After seven miles we delay our progress through Lower Heyford for a much earned liquid refreshment. Bart that is, not the crew. Finally cruising off through Upper Heyford, climbing two moor locks before we tie-up at Heyford common.

Wednesday 14th October     A nine o’clock start today. A tittle earlier than recent, past days. Bart’s first big climb of the day is soon standing there blocking our path. Do we go round ?  Do we go under ?  No, we shall go straight over the top. Rightly named Somerton Deep lock is dealt with efficiently by Bart & crew.

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Without delay we proceed to & thru Aynho Wharf before negotiating the ‘diamond’ Aynho Weir lock. Yes another one. Strange but true. They have to be seen to be believed.

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More locks are ascended & moor lift bridges are ducked underneath by Black Bart & crew until we finally lock-up the last chamber of the day, landing in/on Banbury. We like Banbury. A good station to utilise for the passing narrowboater (and other types too).

Thursday 15th October      A few bits & bobs are acquired on a foray into town before Bart makes a very wet (good timing) getaway, moving on back into the green world we often frequent. Varying rural scenes pass Bart by as we continue locking-up a further four (candles) chambers before mooring on the banks of the canal as it starts to think aboat leaving the northern reaches of the wonderful village known locally as Cropredy.

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We have frequented this delightful place a few times in the past. August last year particularly enjoying the live bands playing at the Brasenose Inn Fringe Festival. A fabulous addition to the main event in the local. That being the folk festival centred round the enduring folk rock group Airport Convention. This time we are just passing through with an overnight stop and nothing moor.

Friday 16th October      A slow morning takes us to midday. The cool cloudy weather of recent days continues. At least the rain stays away.

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Three chambers lead Bart onto the five Claydon lock flight.

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No more chambers today. Our enjoyable cruise slowly comes to an end as we creep through the waters of Fenny Compton ‘Tunnel’. A green tunnel passing through a deep narrow cutting. No brickwork here arching over Bart’s roof.

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Mooring position successfully acquired as we approach The Wharf Inn. The Barrels of various Ales are out ready & waiting.


No we didn’t get drunk. didn’t even go in there this time. Have been known to have frequented this building before though.

Saturday 17th October      As is extremely unusual here in Bart World, we are slow to commence that morning routine of ‘rise & shine’. Eventually Bart & crew are not only awake, but have progressed to the ‘up’ part too. Just to let any (unlikely) disappointed reader(s) (ha!! readers, plural. Me thinks not) know Bart has been in one of those weird parallel worlds again recently. Where, we do not k-now but what fun !!! Unfortunately for you (yes, YOU) we are back !!! Onwards my friend onwards. We is in the period know-n in there ‘ere local parts as ‘over the yard arm’. Just, mind you but yes, we are there. Bart releases those nappy pins (you may or may not understand) and were are finally moving. Three-ish hundred (large size) feet later Bart ‘lands’ again. Just briefly mind. We is restocking the fore liquid tank. The aft tank being the diesel so work id out mate.

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We is ‘soon’ off again meandering along the watery summit path. No locks today. Poss-eeb. Last locking-up being Claydon locks a few miles back & tomorrow (mayhaps) Bart be departing our ‘cruise de summit’ locking-down a famous flight that currently be ahead of us.

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Skippet leaps off Bart with Roxy for a towpath walk. Black berries are in bountiful supply so (clean) pooh bag is put into good use. Plastic tub is transferred to team fruit & the picking continues. After an enjoyable five ‘er cruise Skip decides this cool cloudy flat journey is come to an end. A pleasant spot with good grassy towpath & sufficient depth is sourced & nappy pins restored to their place of work, holding those fore & aft lines again. We are still on the summit. YEH !!!!! Just past the imaginary bridge No. 121, a tittle before Marston Doles. Skippet shows off those cooky skills again, creating a most scrumptious Black Berry Crumble. 10/10. Delicious.

Sunday 18th October      Bart & crew slowly awake from their slumber on this Sunday morn. The usual menu of country Ambridge folks & the soft goo-ey eggs & associated tings is enjoyed in the relaxing World of Bart. Crew decide to stay put. Static will be the name of this day. Static Bart that is. Crew is not static.


Small-ish tree sections are hoisted off Bart’s roof & where necessary, excavated from roof boxes. These strange constructions being of an almost rectangular, cube like shapes design positioned on the roof of our Bart. Quite an apt name ‘roof box’. Black Bart has two of these. Darned handy at times. Great for storing tings. Skips has digressed again. Sorry folk(s).


Bow saw is bought out of hiding & the fun begins. Smaller pieces of wood slowly start to appear around skips feet. Roxy is in doggy heaven. Endless choice of wood chews appearing all around. Quite a few become impregnated with teeth marks aplenty. Skippet suggests Chainsaw could be dug out of fore locker. Mean bit of kit. Electric mind. Not petrol or any other fancy technology. Not sure how old Lister & domestic batteries will feel about this. Shall try it & assess the situation. Lister is turned over. Chainsaw is plugged in & powered up. Minus amps is showing. Nothing worrying though. A test cut is performed. Still all OK. Fine to proceed. Don’t really want a petrol chainsaw so pleased this all works well. Skip proceeds munching through the rest of the small tree stuff. Then comes some of the biggy tree parts. Mr. C. Saw easily munches his way through a fair amount of Bart’s tree stock.


The woody monsters can wait for another day, as will the last few remnants of the almost biggies.


One of Bart’s three (three, is that greedy, I don’t know. I don’t even care) axes are signed out by the store master & the splitting fun can start.

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Bags of kindling restocked with backup supplies readied. Large wood basket over-filled. large wood bag filled & booth of those roof boxy things filled. Fantastic. Just getting dark now. Good timing, just. Time for aches & pains to start slowly creeping through-out Skips old skeleton. Summit to look forward to. Yes we are still on that summit. For now at least. Goodnight peeps.


Monday 19th October      We wake up, go outside & notice to our dismay that some scumbag has nicked a load of our wood off Bart’s roof while we slept in our bunks. Oh Skip how does your body ache. Ah, its OK. Just remembered. Someone played with the bow saw, chainsaw and an axe yesterday. That wood is still here, just slightly better hidden. The rest to be attacked on another day. We proceed from our recent mooring making for water, water buffalo (they be a tittle further on/down, but who cares) & then we is descending Marston Doles locks, which are soon followed by the Napton Flight.

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Over 55′ gone, just like that. The summit is now behind us. We track the course of the canal as it skirts the toes of Napton on the Hill. As Bart starts to creep from the old hill’s shadow, Wigrams Turn & Napton junction with the Grand Union Canal (to Warwick) are soon swished to behind us.

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No moor locks today, but the bridges keep sailing by, to the sides & above us. Even, slowly & sum mite say waiveringly, below us. They only be reflections on the water in which we & our trusty steed Black Bart do travel, so do not be afraid my friend. Friends even, but we may not know if there be more than one of you out there in the world of the blog follower. Soon after bridge 100 we spot a narrowboat. Not unusual in these watery landscapes that Bart travels. Friend or foe. Not sure. We recognise the subtle lines of a famous (in these ‘ere parts) boat. She is like one we already know in Yelvertoft. But, she is also strangely different. Cap’n Morgan’s boat will be what ever she shall be. Make any sense (if possible) of that if you will. Roxy meets a new lovely doggy friend Rosie. Much doggy play fighting goes on, and on. A tittle later, crews enjoy a most delicious shepherds pie. Top marks chief.

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Tuesday 20th October      The last week or so has been grey & cloudy, although mostly dry. Today we have a blue sky & glorious sunshine. Although the clouds do try to spoil it later Mr./Mrs. Sun manages to stay one step ahead for most of the day. A late brunch of eggs, bacon, sausages, tomatoe, baked beans & (very healthy) wholemeal bread is enjoyed by the crews of two. A Great, late start to the day. Doggies continue their fun play fights of yesterday. Crews are assigned to duties, including more blackberry picking. Jams may be boiling on the stove later. Yum yum. Curry is on the menu tonight. Smells Fabulous. Will let you know later how good it really is. Ah There you are. Well you may not be surprised to know – Curry was absolutely ‘top-hole’ as thee might be inclined to say. Top drawer as others might say. You get the gist. Or is jist ?  Not sure. We might try & find out. Believe that. No don’t actually skip cannee be bothered me old mucker. The food were great. That be all that is mattering here.

Wednesday 21st October

!! !! HAPPY BIRTHDAY MAX !! !!      Hope you have a Fantastic Day.

Cap’n Morgan and his extremely trusty Cap’n’ess join Black Bart and crew on a tittle cruise. We slip our lines, after that persistant rain has subsided. Now it just be grey and windy. Our convoy passes under bridge 99 proceeding to winding hole nr. bridge 98, perform an ‘aboat turn’ (almost in unison) and head back in a southerly direction. Confused ??  You and me (skip) both. We cruise for an udder ‘er or so before we site land on the horizon. Thank goodness. Those bottles of strange yellow tinted liquid will not drank on this (almost ill-fated) voyage after all. Those emergency rations can be put back out to sea for other to find and use when desperation is near. Close, even. Anyway, we have arrived safely in port. Bart successfully docks at Wigrams Turn and laughs in the face of that wind. Ha Ha Ha !!!. Our compatriots have also landed with aplomb. Fantsstic !!!  Diesel and water are bartered for and a deal is done. We all enjoy a much earned rest………       Some while later…..    Black Bart & crew must make the most of the clearing weather and the calmer sea out there.

Arrivederci. We have to say goodbye to our friends, for now. Places to go. People to see. You know how it’s like. Been in one of those slightly unnerving parallel worlds again. Not sure where thow has been, or for how long. Think we are back in Bart World 2015 now. Not totally convinced though. Black Bart & crew head North again retracing our recent waves. Small that we are, admittedly. Bridge 100 soon(-ish) reappears, leading Bart onto bridge 99 where crew pass hot (usually bestest) tea & cheddar cheese sandwiches to the man living on the towpath, under the bridge. He thanks us as we cruise on. We have been swimming along both the Oxford & Grand union Canals since Wigrams turn/Napton Junction on Monday. The same drops of water are shared for a few short miles in this ‘ere part of the world. The two canals waters part as Bart reaches Braunston Junction. The Oxford winds it’s watery way off towards Rugby. Although Bart & crew are now joining the Grand union Canal for a couple of days or so we are cheating on this blog of ours and foolishly (most cry, shout even) keeping these last few miles of Bart’s 2015 cruise within the Oxford Canal page. Get over it. Don’t go on aboat it. Need to save future pages for other journeys, other travels. It’s like the tv programme you do not like. Turn it off. Turn it over or just keep watching it. We do not care, but stop whinging. Please….     Back to the now….  We are turning East leaving the Junction behind us, slowly creeping through the busy boating world of Braunston. Team Bart are soon approaching & them climbing six wide chambers. The last wide locks of this long old journey my friends. Braunston’s ‘lovely’ Wibberly wobberly tunnel soon covers all of us in darkness. Scary !!!!   Skip is not the most tiller happy person in those long, dark dark (yes I know it is a repeated word) (if you had been in one of those places you might understand) holes. Safely through. Only passed one oncoming boat during our 2042 yard tunnel voyage. Two way traffic is allowed in these dark (very dark) waters. The tree lined (no tunnel now) banks take Bart onto Norton Junction. A tight turn for a long old narrowbart takes us off the main line into the wet ‘road’ that be the Leicester Arm/section. Bart’s Base is almost in sight. But not quite. A quite satisfactory mooring position is taken by Bart for the night.

Thursday 22nd October      Ciao blog readers. Mooring lines slipped sharpish like this morning. Only an hour and we is already booking in with the lock keepers at Watford locks. You may have heard of Watford Gap (M1). Well Watford lock flight was ‘ere first so stick that in ya pipe. And smoke it if ya like. Two narrow chambers & a tight bend is guiding Bart into the four staircase locks. The final lock is ready for flushing again in preparation for the next ascending narrowboat. Mr. L. Keeper lets us know of the cut wood stocks in the field just along from the locks so Bart pulls over for a few minutes while the roof is reloaded with more winter supplies. Onward we go, under the M1 (surprised you are, I bet) mooring two bridges on, near the Kilby road over canal pass. The carrier pigeons are sent on their way. Many hours later the wood cutting crew number two finally arrive. Two chainsaws make light work of the ‘new’ wood. Those chimneys may be a tittle smokey later. Thanks boaty neighbours & Good Chums. Moor stock for both Black Bart & Meanders. We settle in the for the night after waiving our chums a fond farewell. See you both (three actually) soon. Very soon.

Friday 23rd October      Hello. Today may be the last ‘day’ of Black Bart’s current adventure on our Wonderful inland waterways. Mid morning and Crew (& their favourite craft) are Listering (motoring) along. Less than two miles & the 1528 yard Crick Tunnel is approaching. A moor pleasant, straight darkness than the other recently travelled subterranean world of Braunston. Three (Yes Three) oncoming boats while Bart negotiates this short-ish dark hole. Into the light again, passing Crick marina & less than an ‘er later Bart is going round (the mountain) bend (really) onto the final straight. Yelvertoft Marina opens out before us in all it’s glory. Friends are out, waving & ready to enjoy the fun of a Black Bart ‘reberth’. These can be interesting. It’s not too windy today, so here goes. Fingers & toes crossed. All 20+ of them. Work that one out. Turning into marina entrance incident free. turning Bart as quickly as possible with a varying mix of forward, revs (not many) tiller & reverse.Lined up. Almost. Reverse back towards Bart’s pontoon. No. Just enough wind to move the fore out of line. Don’t want to be fighting the wood & metal structure or the (new) neighbour’s boat on the other side of our ‘parking’ slot. Move away, forward & re-align. Reverse again. Good approach. Stern line taken by Cap’n Anders. We’re in. Fantastic. That was moor pleasant than it can be sometimes. Moor by luck than judgement me thinks. Hello everybody. Lovely to see you again. It’s been ages. It’s been six months exactly. 23rd April to 23rd October. A Most Fantastic cruise of our Marvellous Waterways has been enjoyed by Black Bart & crew of three.

Saturday 24th October       Hello again. Still there. We’re not here. We are somewhere else now. No we’re not. We are still here at Base Camp. Only arrived back yesterday you know. Haven’t gone anywhere else yet.

3 thoughts on “#20 Oxford Canal – North. October 2015

  1. Hi Colin & Judith. Well they say an ill wind …. I was made redundant last month , so we thought let’s go cruising ! We are currently on the Grand Union between Napton and Braunston. We left Sharpness about 2 weeks ago. We are aiming to leave “Simba Dada” on a marina from the end of this month for 3 weeks whilst we fly to the Gran Canaria for Lorraine’s birthday ( the big 60 !) Our youngest daughter Cassandra and her family live in Rugby so we are currently not far from them. When we come back from hols we aim to return to Sharpness for the winter ( we are paid until the new year) via Worcester to see our other daughter. You never know if you are coming back up the Oxford canal our paths ( or wakes ) might cross. Enjoying your blog, all the best , Bernard.

    Sent from my iPad



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