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Tour 2003

Index

37 - Hatton to the River Thames (Including the Pre GiG BBQ and GiG Cruise). Grand Union Canal, Southern Oxford Canal and River Thames.

Monday 11th August 2003

Rather a better day operationally. Neil started Hatton at 07:05, the first boat down. A few "down" stragglers did not join us and we exited the bottom at 11:05. We had the top gates shut on us at Cape Locks, by yet another hapless Anglo Welsh boat. They just "gave up" at Warwick, above Tesco's, floating into the side. God knows what they were doing, it was not an intentional signal to pass, so they drifted across the cut afterwards........strange!
Much phaffing about in Warwick so Neil decided to abort the Tesco stop and reschedule it as a Sainsbury's stop in Leamington. (10:20 - 11:10) During this Neil did an impromptu stuffing box tightening and oil change, coinciding exactly with the return off the provisioning crew. Amazingly no one past us during this, so we had a very clean run from then on. Radford Bottom Lock at 12:00, then solo for most of the locks, until we were joined by a boat which shoved off from a water point. The rather "coasting" crew carried on with us until the "Two Boats" pub, then we went up Stockton on our own.
There was MUCH phaffing about at Calcutt Locks. The slow Kate Boats hire boat had only just been picked up (had not done Stockton) so their boatyard helper, became embroiled in arguments with the four "Lock Instruction" community boats that were coming down. We just kept our heads down and came out of the top first.
Napton Junction at 17:15 and stopped at "The Bridge Inn" moorings at 18:30. After we all got showered we ambled down to the pub - total cock-up............it was closed all day Monday! So it was a hobble down to the "Folly" which was doing food, though somewhat under patronised earlier on. Pies were OK and chips done in fresh oil, so a bit of a change there. Warwickshire Brewery Ales were OK too. Neil and Martin wandered back to the boat and brought it down to the water point. After a fill up and rubbish disposal, we eventually got to bed around 11:15.

Tuesday 12th August 2003

We shoved off at 06:45, the first boat movement of the day this end of the flight. It was a dull and much cooler day. Clean run up the flight except for the last pound, which was dry due to some Wally leaving the top gate open. Out of Marston Doles Top at 08:10, no traffic picked up over the summit. We were rammed by yet another "plough on regardless" boat - the rather appropriately named "Buffers Lady". This was a single file bit, with moored boats, just above Fenny Wharf. "Buffers Lady" then really infuriated the moored boaters by grinding itself along side them. At 11:50 we were in a two boat queue for the Claydon Flight. Many boats were still left at Cropredy after Fairport Gig, but odd mooring places meant we could have stopped just above the lock. Bit of confusion below the lock as boats kept coming through the bridge and narrows, with nowhere to go.
We eventually moored up on the disabled moorings spot in the centre of Banbury, using Bill's blue badge. We were soon checked up upon by the mooring warden - so be warned if you try it on! After a clean up we went into town and found a Wetherspoon's - "The Exchange" - usual OK food and cheap (relatively!) plus well kept beer. By the time we returned - quite early - two or three 60ft moorings were now available on the towpath side. 
Fair bit of annoying noise from other boaters rather late into the night. NB Gelibean, one of our second HNC Standedge Tunnel passage boats was spotted moored just below us, complete with almost mobile BBC OB truck style of TV aerials.

Wednesday 13th August 2003

We cast off at 06:30, the first boat movement through Banbury of the day. We soon caught up with a few more "down" boats and spent a lot of the day following them, before they all pulled up for meals or because it was too hot and a shady mooring spot was found. Eventually we made some decent progress in the afternoon, stopping at Thrupp Cruising Club sanitary station for water 16:20 -16:45. 18:45 saw us at Dukes Cut and we took the "easy" way onto the Thames - easy, but in fact not much quicker than going to the end of the Oxford Canal and going onto the Thames at Isis Lock. 
At 18:50 we were out of the back waters and on the Thames proper. It is a VERY sharp turn to the immediately following Kings Lock and as usual we employed a lookout - just as well as a NB was just coming out. The Manual gates Kings Lock was half worked for us by the locky and his summer assistant - they then knocked off at 19:00 prompt and we finished the lock - the first of the non hydraulic locks. 
There was still much swimming going on at Godstow Abbey moorings, just above the lock and the ground was littered with a tremendous amount of rubbish.
Godstow Lock was self cranked - large wheels with handles to crank the hydraulics, when the lock is unattended and the power turned off. I still recon a fit crew of three can get a single NB through a smaller hydraulic lock, doing it manually, than a locky packing in a lock full of boats.
On passing Binsey we saw the Lord and Lady Mayor's posh Narrowboat "Lord Toulouse" along with some lesser craft (Tam -Lin and Feely Cactus), on their way to the GiG, but they were not onboard, obviously having quickly jumped ship to drink "The Perch" dry.
Linda and Wendy had decided to come out to Oxford to meet us for a meal, so were positioned at Osney Lock to pre self crank it for our arrival, seeing as they had reported that the official visitor moorings above the lock were all full. This somewhat confused another narrowboat, who cast off, expecting us to be waiting as we worked it for him - in fact when he arrived, we were all ready half way down. 
As was now getting the norm, we moored on the towpath below (20:15) - the Godstow Locky approves of this. Rather disappointing meal in the Indian restaurant down Botley Road. Now called the Samud - after a well known missile? Chilli infestation in all dishes - at least it was not chilli powder, so Neil did not get a hic-cup attack.

Thursday 14th August 2003

Provisioning at the corner shop just up the Botley Road, then shove off at 09:35. We had contacted Andy Dyke and were going to meet up somewhere that night for a pre-GiG BBQ. We moored up just above the melee at Abingdon, just past the Swift Ditch weir (11:35). Lord Toulouse was first down and temporarily moored up while the other GiG bound boats appeared - Mike and Wendy Stevens on Felis Cactus II, John and Gill Watson on Tam Lin, Stan and Judy Voets on Blue Heron and Sandy on Zephyr.
It was decided that the other boats would go down to Abingdon for dunny dumping and shopping and Earnest come down later and meet in the fields below Abingdon. After a while at our mooring we came down and took Lord Toulouse's mooring in Abingdon as it left, so we could do a spot of shopping. Eventually we all met up just below the downstream entrance to Swift Ditch - Culham Reach (18:40).
Good impromptu BBQ, being joined by Jan on Weyfly and Sandy on Zephyr. One of the highlights was a hot air balloon narrowly missing the power cables and landing in a nearby field.

Friday 15th August 2003

All boats left together at 08:35, so rather large queues at locks as we wended our way down to Beale Park and the upper moorings for the GiG.
Earnest left last but one, but rather predictably ended up first down to Cleeve Lock, where we stopped for the very fast water hose above the lock, for a top up - 14:40. We eventually arrived at the GiG at 15:20.

GiG

We will leave others to fill in the nitty gritty. Our first GiG and an unplanned entrance for Earnest. Superb event, expert GiG Meister in the form of Andy Greener, with much help from others.

Monday 18th August 2003

Having managed to position ours selves on the out side of a raft we shoved off in normal stealth mode at 06:50. It was back upstream to show Martin Clark the wilds of the Upper Thames. Water again at Cleeve Lock (15 mins) We were spotted by newsgroup lurker aboard NB Second Meadow in Culham Lock - we were beside this boat in the back of the lock - sorry we did not catch your name - maybe you can de-lurk to tell us!
We arrived at the bottom of Abingdon Lock at 12:40 for a 2 boat queue. Neil ignored stupid "Do not land rubbish" signs and did a locky avoiding route to the up stream wheely bins. Total mayhem above the lock, at least 15 narrowboats banging into each other, jockeying for position. Rather glad we were going the other way. Just above Wallingford we past the Faull's in NB Laura.
We were getting rather low on diesel, so phoned up Oxford Cruisers, above Eynsham Lock - 40p/L and Lechlade Riverside Marina - 36p/L, so decided we could hold out until Lechlade.
At 13:30 we spotted a rather sedate NB Draco coming downstream. Mike did wind up the handle as he past to give Draco her more normal plonky plonky sound. Out of Osney Lock at 15:20. Amazingly Tina managed to leg it to the Botley Road corner shop and back as we were locked through..........and this with out a queue! 
NB Nuggler spotted above Osney Lock on the Visitor Moorings. Onward and upward, eventually stopping above Radcot Bridge (19:30), for an excellent meal and pint in the Maybush Inn. This once posh establishment has recently lowered its prices and gone a bit more down market in it's food selection.

Tuesday 19th August 2003

07:45 start, after being woken up by rather speedy hire narrowboat, that started off just below us - we never caught them up. Nice, somewhat crisp morning cruise, through this the most remote and private section of the Upper Thames.
Lechlade, Ha'penny Bridge past at 13:00, then we did a rather off the cuff excellent reverse back in to the tiny Lechlade Riverside marina for a fill up of diesel. Off up again at 13.30. Past Inglesham and the now uncovered entrance lock to the Thames and Severn Canal at 13:45. The entrance cut has also recently been restored - you could now motor straight into the chamber, stopped only by a plank across the entrance. 
Once above we knew that any bettering of our 2001 passage up to Hannington Bridge would be out, but we carried on, interested to see the battle scars on the trees and rushes where Julian Tether had rather madly taken his bloody big barge up stream. We did a fair amount of pruning with the readied chainsaw - rather over the top in places!
We eventually totally ground to a halt on 2ft depth over gravel, just below our 2000 winding point, some quarter of a mile off Hannington Bridge - 15:35 (N51degrees 40.041minutes, W001degrees 42.225minutes) Looking at the bankside, the river looked some 1.5 feet of it's "normal" level. Disastrous attempt at a wind a bit below, only due to virtually no flow that we did not get stuck. After extracting ourselves we had to reverse nearly HALF the way back to the Inglesham roundhouse before we could wind, even here we had to chainsaw a hawthorn bush out of the way!
Back at the moorings below Ha'penny Bridge at 18:10. Rather cruddy mooring - bow in, but stern sticking out some 30ft! Nice simple well cooked pub fare in the Red Lion, not that expensive either.

Wednesday 20th August 2003

We left our rather bad mooring at Lechlade at 08:20, quite happy to work at least one of the finely balanced Upper Thames manual locks ourselves. Just as we were about to close the top gate, rather predictably, another narrowboat arrived. "Mr Geezer" as he became known, aboard NB Charlotte Rose stated he was in a hurry and could he go first?...........Neil was a bit miffed at this and said if he was in a hurry, then all he had to do was to
follow us!
At Buscot Lock - 08:50 - the locky was out early and worked this for us, "Mr Geezer" apologised for his "out of order" remark at St John's Lock, saying that he had to escape a woman that was after him, something about the lads mum that wanted to catch up with him............Such was the unlikelihood of his story, that we let him out first. "Mr Geezer" did indeed keep up good time and we followed him through a couple of locks until he tied up for a
cup of tea "seeing that he was now safe".
13:00 saw us pass Newbridge, then for a stop above Eynsham Lock for a water top up - 14:45 to 15:15. 15:50 saw us pass through Kings Lock and 17:10 we were tied up below Osney Lock. That night we made it into the Waterman's Arms for an excellent simple home cooked meal (the pie did NOT arrive in a truck!) and OK pint.

Thursday 21st August 2003

Shore leave for crew. Martin, Tina and Bill had a wander around Oxford, while Neil cadged a decent mooring above the lock and touched up Earnest's graunched gunwales. That night another evening in the Waterman's.

Friday 22nd August 2003

A 06:50 start to miss the last of the National Waterways Festival and arrive at Beale Park not too late on the first day. Osney Lock was self cranked, with no one joining us. At Iffley Lock we caught up with Kaycee 2, a rather smart 60ft R&D trad with HA2 in engine room. This boat certainly motored and we shared the lock cranking through Iffley and Sandford Locks, both of which we passed through before the 09:00 lock keeper on duty time.
Kaycee 2 stopped at Abingdon for water, so we went in on our own - the plague of narrowboats rushing to the National was over. Hardly any queue at any of the rest of the locks down to Beale Park. We adopted our normal procedure of letting a "must overtake the narrowboat" cruiser get in front, then motor on keeping it in sight, setting all the locks for us! Water stop above Cleeve Lock, on the fast fireman's hose, enabling us to keep our place in the lock queue. Finally arrived at Beale Park at 15:15.

National Waterways Festival.


Early Morning start down Hatton Flight. Grand Union Canal.


The Cape Of Good Hope pub. Cape Locks. Grand Union Canal.


Delta Marine Services - somewhat taken over the canal! Warwick. Grand Union Canal.


Ivor and Mel come barging through. Grand Union Canal.


NB Gelibean beats us to Banbury. South Oxford Canal.


Coming off the River Cherwell above Aynho Weir Lock! - Neil got bored waiting for lock, so managed to reverse up here. South Oxford Canal.


Pre GiG BBQ on the Thames below Abingdon. John and Gill Watson on NB Tam Lin.


Pre GiG BBQ on the Thames below Abingdon. Andrew and Wendy Dyke on NB Lord Toulouse.


Pre GiG BBQ on the Thames below Abingdon. Who can you spot?


Pre GiG BBQ on the Thames below Abingdon. Who can you spot?


GiG Cruise.


GiG Cruise.


GiG Cruise.


GiG Cruise.


GiG Cruise.


GiG Cruise.


GiG Cruise.


GiG Cruise.


Julian T and Caro inspect the boats at the National.


The EA have uncovered the Bottom Thames and Severn Lock at Inglesham. Upper River Thames.


As far as we got up the Thames this time. A boat length off the 2001 turning point!


The EA have uncovered the Bottom Thames and Severn Lock at Inglesham. Upper River Thames.

The Tour Continues...


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