On Friday we set out from Rugby to get to Braunston – one of the most central points on the canal network, where the Oxford and Grand Union Canals meet. I took the opportunity of walking to the Hillmorton locks, passing a boat with a wonderful bonsai display along the way.
There are only three locks at Hillmorton – well six technically but you only have to work three of them as, like Heartbreak Hill, they’re duplicated. There there are two sets of locks either of which can be used for going up or down. This greatly eases congestion when the locks are busy….
…as they were last Friday morning. With two locks available and a lock-keeper helping people through the second lock, there weren’t any delays. This didn’t stop someone from getting a grumpy with Gordon as he was leaving the middle lock, telling him that he’d ‘had to close the last lock for you!’. Strange – Gordon had left the lock open for a boat that was right outside the lock and waiting to come in.
We found a spot on what I consider to be the best mooring in Braunston, before the junction and right beside the path that provides the quickest access to the village.
It’s a beautiful spot with great views over the ancient ‘ridge and furrow’ fields that are so common along the Oxford Canal. It also has good phone signal on the three network which is good as Braunston has the reputation of being a bit of a mobile blackspot.
Not too long after we moored up Megan and Peter arrived on nb Moon Shadow. We hadn’t seen them since we got together in Lymm last year so it was good to share a cuppa and a natter on the towpath. This is their last cruising season as they’ve got Moonshadow on the market (Apollo Duck if anyone’s interested) and are heading back to Oz.
They joined us for ‘happy friday’ in the Plough and for the lovely walk back to the boat through the fields.
Today we’re heading south on the ‘narrow’ route out of Braunston on the single locks of the South Oxford canal. Our plan is to get to Kirtlington by Saturday to enjoy tea and cake in Jane’s Enchanted Tea Garden. We’ve actually planned this entire section of our itinerary around this as it’s only open every other weekend. Jane was a friend of mine years ago in Cornwall and I’m really looking forward to seeing her again when her lovely garden cafe is open. I do hope I’ve got my timings right!