Wednesday, 18 September 2013

The end of the Oxford

Wednesday 18th September 2013
We did sit still at Rugby yesterday, but I didn't go into town for a look at the museum.
Once again the weather forecast was a bit off. Several times on television, and on the web they were certain that by 10.00 o'clock it would be throwing it down. Well, it didn't! It was dry up until gone 2.00pm, but finally it did rain quite hard.
This morning we set off just before 9.00, the weather was set to be reasonable all day. The jokers got it wrong again. It rained a fair bit throughout the morning, but finally dried out around midday.
Our trip took us though some lovely leafy cuttings, where the new, straightened, canal was pushed through. Occasionally we pass bridges for the towpath where the old, wiggly, Oxford joins or crosses the new line.

We finally arrived at Hawkesbury Junction or Sutton Stop as it is known, because of the name of the first lock keeper. The lock itself is typical of the 'stop lock' type, that is it's very shallow, and only really there to stop one canal company from taking the water from another.
After using the services here we turned onto the Coventry Canal towards Fazeley Junction and have moored up for the night about 200yds from the turn.
Tonight we'll treat ourselves to a pub dinner at The Greyhound pub, which is right on the junction.
Now that we've finished the Oxford we look back at it fondly. This has been the busiest canal we have encountered all year. Right from its start in Oxford we have seen many boats moving. At most of the locks we have met people on the go, and it's been a pleasure. Sure, there have been queues, but that's what the life is about. A chance to talk and help.
The difference between the north and south parts of the Oxford are stark. The south is still an old fashioned contour canal, winding its way through the countryside. The north Oxford is an altogether different animal. Here the pressure of the commercial world forced the owners to modernize it. Out went the old wiggly contour canal. New cuttings were driven through the countryside, straightening and shortening the route. As I've said earlier, there are signs of the old canal, but this newer incarnation was more in keeping with the needs of the age. Luckily for us it hasn't ruined the route for the pleasure boater. There are still things to see, and the straights aren't so long that they become boring.

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