Oxford Canal Days 2 & 3

Pictures and a review from our cruise on the narrowboat Morse, upstream on the Oxford Canal.

Here, we’re tied up along the towpath, setting up in order to go through a lock. The gates have to be opened on the near side and Larry usually does this while I stay with the boat. Larry comes back, hands off on the wrench used on the gates, and I go to the lock while he steers through the opening into the narrow lock. Then, I close the lock and open the other side.

Helpful young men

There are usually other boaters coming or going from the other side, so it’s rare that I have to work alone. (Here, there was a group of learners, with their instructor. I would like to arrange for that at each lock, please.)

Those concrete and metal posts on either side are gear systems that open the gates, allowing water into or out of the lock. When the level on each side of the gates is equal, it’s possible to move the 2 ton swinging gate in the middle.

Above is a screen shot from our travels, from the (free) app, Open Canal. We use the app or a book canal information book to plan ahead (and to know where we are and where we’re going).

Typical lock, with a bridge and narrow entrance

This is a typical lock, with a bridge and narrow entrance that barely allows our 6.5 wide boat. That huge beam is the top of the actual gate. To open or close the lock, first pull that handle away from the canal edge, move to the other side (when I feel certain that the gate won’t swing back on me), and push until the swinging gate arcs open or closed. Sometimes it’s easy, sometimes it’s hard.

Swing Bridge, usually open.

We often pass under bridges. Out in the country, there are a lot of these swing bridges, operated by physically pushing up or pulling on a chain. Luckily, they are usually left open.

Lower Heyford Swing Bridge

Another swing bridge. This one was wider, electric and required a key to operate.

We were advised to try the burgers at the Great Western Arms,at Aynho. This was truly the best burger I’ve ever had, enhanced by the tomato and pepper relish. (Sorry, Whataburger and Sonic.)

The Wharf at Bridge 190 Shop, a little bit of everything for the cruiser.

The Wharf at Bridge 190 , is also at the Aynho stop. We found a new fender, glue, milk, eggs, a couple of guide books, and candy. There was a wide selection of Chandler’s supplies.

The very nice lady who waited on us recommended a stop at the Pig Place, 2 locks upriver. She said they had great breakfasts. She was right.

And, no, she didn’t say, “Pink,” as I first thought. She really said, “Pig.” (I avoided the *live* stuck, but not the end product.

Breakfast at the Pig Place

King’s Sutton Lock, 10 foot deep

The deepest lock we’ve seen, at just over 10 ft. deep, was also the first without other, helpful boaters.

Larry at Town Centre, Banbury, UK

It took us about 4 hours to cruise from the Pig Place to the Town Centre of Banbury. We moored up at the Banbury Museum Bridge, after navigating one of the more complicated locks I’ve seen,followed immediately by a swing bridge that closes with a gear and wrench set up that is like the ones on the lock gates. Pedestrians had to wait until we passed and I arrived with the wrench to lower the footbridge for them.

After some shopping and wandering around a bit, we had a late lunch/ early dinner at the JT Davies Pub. The Sunday Roast with Yorkshire puddings (and a local cider for Larry, a gin and tonic for me), induced us to reconsider our first plan to continue cruising another hour or two.

We visited the local Tesco (and found some Diet Dr Pepper!), and settled down for the night.

Sunset at Banbury mooring, City Centre, at Castle Quay

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