Thursday 12th September
We set off from Banbury this morning with the intention of reaching the summit level at Claydon Top Lock. That's 20 lock-miles. It's more than we would normally do, but we wanted to get the locks out of the way, and the weather is a bit unpredictable these days.
Our first stop was Cropredy for services. This place is a nightmare for mooring. The service area is right on a winding hole, very close to a bridge. The canal is busy, of course.
We arrived to find a boat already on the one, and only mooring spot. As we approached a Black Prince boat came from the other direction, obviously hoping to fill with water. He stopped and reversed onto the side opposite the services. We decided to breast up to the boat already there, then offer the hire boat first take at the water when the one already there had finished. We would just chuck a can and rubbish and leave the water until the next opportunity. They declined our offer and decided to go on to Banbury.
Finally we got our turn on the water point, but by now there were 3 boats in the queue, and meanwhile a 65' hire boat came up looking to wind. Now, we're 60', and necessarily over hang the service mooring into the mouth of the winding hole, making life very difficult for anyone who wants to turn around. Fair play to the steerer. He made a very good job of it. I never believed he could do it, but he did.
With boats lining up waiting we decided to take only 30 mins. on the tap and pass it on.
At Cropredy the locks start coming regularly, 9 more to the top. As I've already said, the canal is busy, so we're straight into a queue.
By now the weather had improved a lot from earlier when it had looked and felt ready to rain. Soon the clouds thinned and there was even some blue sky.
We climbed onward for a further 4 locks before stopping for lunch. Afterwards we again joined the still queuing boats and climbed the last 5 locks up to the summit, and we're now moored up not far from the top lock.
Here we are tonight.