We have been moored in Cropredy for a couple of days but they have been busy: on Friday we went home by train and collected the car and yesterday we went for a drive through the Cotswolds to Stroud and back. The trip round the M25 in the Friday rush hour reminded us why, even at its busiest, travelling by canal is infinitely more enjoyable than travelling by road.
Except for the rare occasion when we meet a water hog! As previously blogged we travelled for a very lengthy day, taking turns to steer through the long pound between the Napton and Claydon flights. It was my turn as we left Marston Doles. The Oxford Canal at that point has frequent very steep bends and the traffic was heavy. We seemed to meet at least two boats on every bend. After about ten minutes I had to stop and hover because an oncoming boat was passing moored boats and it would have been very dodgy and quite unnecessary for me to squeeze between them. As I went on, (slowly as passing moored boats on pins in a narrow stretch of canal), I noticed that a following boat, NB Tute’N’Kumin, had caught up and was pressing hard on our tail. I continued at a good speed, in fact virtually at full speed.
Round the corner was the mooring for Priors Hardwick where boaters moor to walk to the Portuguese restaurant: we have done that in the past. A boat was mooring with some difficulty and much shouting from the steerer to the chap on the bank struggling with the ropes; the stern had swung out across the canal. I slowed right down and then edged past carefully when it was safe. Meanwhile TNK nearly crashed into me and was continuing without pause despite the mooring boater sounding his horn in warning.
As we went on, travelling faster than I might have wished in the circumstances because of the pressure from behind, we met a hire boat on a bend. No doubt unnerved by both of us bearing down on him he misjudged the bend and went into the side so I slowed right down as I passed so he could extricate himself. I also committed the crime of slowing down to negotiate a particularly tortuous bend and bridge combo.
It was Alan’s turn to steer so we changed over and I, unnecessarily, pointed out the menace behind us. We continued with Alan being placed under the same pressure. Finally he shot through a bridge too fast and the bow went into the bank. This was just too much! He stopped under the next bridge and turned to ask them if they thought they were on a motorway, then pulled over to let them past.
As they passed the man said that he wasn’t supposed ever to drop under 600 revs. (Can’t imagine what havoc he causes getting in and out of marinas if he can’t go slow!) The woman screamed at me that I should let Alan steer all the time so we went at a decent speed! Can’t say that I have ever been accused of going too slow in the past and I noticed that I was travelling at the same speed, or faster, as every boat we passed. They tore off into the distance and we went on finally able to enjoy the peace of the Oxford Canal on a summer’s day. It’s worth noting that we covered the distance from the top of Stockton Locks to Cropredy in less time than Pearson quotes for that section of the canal so there was no dawdling on our part. Often we find it takes us longer and decide his times are unachievable by anyone.
We passed Tute’N’Kumin again after the Claydon Locks as we passed them at a slow speed as we normally do with moored boats. (That’s just because Alan was steering and he is a far nicer person than me, I would have sped past very close!) They then passed us the following morning at 6.30 a.m. when they sped past the long line of moored boats no doubt on their way to spoil more boater’s days further down the Oxford.
Statistics so far:-
2921.39 Miles, 1930 Locks, 177 Swing Bridges, 98 Lift Bridges, 57 Tunnels