After the frost cleared on Wednesday morning, Buddy and I set off to get water at Calcutt. It really was a gorgeous day and just right for travelling really slowly taking in the views and watching the birdlife. Goldfinches seemed to be the commonest bird of the day - of course, it may have been the same charm following us along the canal.
There were hardly any boats on the move so we didn’t hold anyone up. As we were going to get water I put the washing on so it would be done by the time we moored up – we need the engine running when doing the washing anyway.
Turning right at Napton junction – straight on is the South Oxford canal which meets the River Thames down at Oxford
I was reminded of a very hot day in the summer in the middle of the two week heatwave when we went under this bridge. My eldest daughter, Sophie, and Yanos were staying with us and had to do some work whilst they were staying (both are PhD students at Reading university). Yanos was finding it so hot he took a chair to sit on under the bridge to do his work. Buddy was also very hot and laid under the bridge with him.
The bridge where Yanos and Buddy took shelter in the summer
Once we filled up with water I reversed back a few hundred yards to moor next to Napton reservoir. Narrowboats aren’t really built for reversing as the propeller is the wrong side of the rudder but I was doing OK and a resident I know leaned out of his boat and jovially told me I was showing off. That did it, everything went wrong from then on and I kept going off course and having to straighten up.
No one else was moored at our spot and when I’d hung the washing out and adjusted the solar panels for the afternoon sun I changed the engine oil. After lunch sun we went for a walk round the reservoirs and then across the locks and along the towpath towards Stockton.
Causeway between the two reservoirs – this’ll be Karen’s route to and from the car each day.
Nice empty car park by the reservoir – handy for Karen’s commute - we are now just over 13 miles from her office so we are getting closer all the time.
In the middle of the flight of locks is a hire boat company and it looked like nearly all their boats were in the yard. During the season this lot would be generating at least £15,000 a week for the hire company just for the basic hire charge.
Hire boats which will be hardly used until next Easter
During our walk we passed two marinas and it looked like the boats were all tucked away for winter. I cannot think we would ever want to live on a marina but these two are in nice locations.
Ventnor marina – 230 boats are moored here
Cacutt marina – 240 boats are moored here
With those number of boats it’s no wonder the canals are getting busy. There are also another three similar sized marinas within six miles of these two.
We will call into the yard to get rid of our old oil and top up with diesel in a few days. When we got back from our walk we detoured round the reservoirs once more and bumped into a lady we met last time we were here – her two Labradors seemed to remember Buddy and she remembered his name too. We let them tear around together for a while and then went our separate ways. Just as we got back to the boat I spotted a hedgehog in the undergrowth – not seen one for a while.
Hedgehog basking in the late afternoon sun
Sun setting on our mooring for the next few days at Calcutt next to Napton reservoirs
I may have mentioned that we have taken winter towpath moorings at Stockton for December, January and February. We don’t intend to use them much but see it as a way of being able to stay close to Karen’s work during the winter months without falling foul of the rules of our continuous cruising licence. My plan is that once we have stayed somewhere, say Radford Semele, for a while we could go back to the winter mooring for a weekend and then go back to the same spot at Radford the following week. As long as we don’t stay anywhere continuously for more than the 14 days limit then we should be OK.
This is the route we will travel up and down for the next couple of months. The red star marks the winter moorings; the yellow star is Karen’s office.
The route above is 18 miles long from Braunston on the right to Warwick on the left and has 23 locks. Going from right to left the locks are descending the whole way to Leamington.
After Christmas we will head off and cruise the Stratford canal between Stratford and Warwick for a few months. The Stratford canal is closed from now until the New Year for winter maintenance so that’s why we’re hanging around the route shown in the map above.