Saturday, October 21, 2006

Oxford Canal & River Thames

The final 7 miles or so of the Oxford is interesting, following the contours but still with a lock every few miles going down to Oxford. Some of the bridges are quite small so we removed the chimney to avoid bending it! Passed through Thrupp with mile upon mile of private and long term moorings. First being exclusive and well kept boats then becoming much less so with many showing old licenses or none at all.


The river Cherwell is not far away and can flood at any time after rain. At Kirtlington the canal is in a deep tree lined cutting while approaching Kidlington it actually joins the river. We were thankful that it had become calm after seeing it in flood back at Cropredy and for a short mile we enjoyed following its almost hair pin bends past open hilly countryside. Eventually stopped at Kidlington for a rest.


It had rained heavily all night before we set off before breakfast heading for Abingdon. A mile or so to Dukes Cut where we turned off to on to the Thames. The waters surface seemed to be rippling with energy as we crossed over to the landing for Kings Lock. The keeper appeared eventually and after letting a narrowboat up it was our turn. I don’t remember seeing the yellow 'strong stream' advice boards here but they were at Godstow.

Under the A34

Between these two locks the river gently swings left and right through its flood plain. Once past Godstow the river heads for Oxford and becomes very restricted. Seemed calm enough under that low Osney Bridge but then a very strong flow at the weir just before the lock pulled at our boats. It turned into a serious situation and we were all shaken up by the experience. It seems that the entire river Thames is going over this narrow weir. It was the lock keepers lunch time so we had to wait for him to arrive at 2 o'clock. Giving us time to calm down before getting safely in to the lock. Once past this narrow section restricted by Oxford itself the river opened up and became calm again. Three more locks and eight miles and we arrived at Abingdon. The river here drops over a very wide weir and as we passed down the lock on to the river it became very choppy. The lock keeper advised us to moor on the town side by the park.

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