This morning I set off for the Wharf in the car and then got a bus to The Boat Inn, Stockton via Southam. Getting there I had crossed the County border into Warwickshire and my Oxfordshire bus pass, valid on this bus from Banbury was not valid in Warwickshire because I was "twirley". I paid out the £2.70. The plan was to get a breakfast in Southam at the No19 Cafe where I have breakfasted between buses before. But today I was greeted by the sign that informed me "Closed on Mondays"! I was expecting to get a 1000 calories inside me to fuel a day in the boat precluding the need to stop to make a meal. So I went in the Co-op and bought some refreshments: BLT sandwich, pukka pie and scotch eggs. Handing my Co-op card I was told "you are in Warwickshire, those cards are not valid we have our own!" They took my Co-op credit card ok.
The target for the day was The Wharf at Fenny Compton. I had convinced myself that I had done this single-handed before. I am not so sure now. All went well as I approached Calcutt Locks as there was another boat, NB Albert, just ahead and I could join them to aid me up the locks. However, there was no water in the pound between the Bottom Lock and Middle Lock. Not even enough to get over the cill. So a crew member was dispatched to let some down from the next pound. Boats do move better on water!
Just after the flight I was hailed by a BCF member who had an AWCC Burgee for me. He had been asked to take it to Banbury but never got there so in seeing SONFLOWER in his windows shouted out. Just in time as they are moving to Wales next Saturday!
So to Napton Junction and a sharp turn onto home waters: the South Oxford Canal. At Napton a CRT employee was adjusting water levels at the bottom lock. He stopped what he was doing and emptied it to let me through and then told me that there were boats coming down who had been trapped behind a butty that they had just released from the notoriously narrow Lock 9. It had been stuck since 3.30pm on Sunday. Progress was slowed some more by a LNBP boat nb Lancelot which was moored in a very short pound with a central bridge between the third and fourth Lock. The crew had to abandon shop as they could not progress to the Braunston Base with the butty stuck in the lock. It was not a very good place to moor as two boats are unable to pass with ease with the bridge narrows and a boat on the lock landing. We managed, just.
The rest of the flight was slow and steady though I was pleased to have two of the locks set for me by oncoming boats and pleased not to have to shut the top lock top gate as a boat was coming in. I was not so pleased to stub a toe on the roof gangplank rack while getting to the ladder of Lock 15.
I cleared Top Lock at Marston Doles at 1520h. With the loss of the hour on Sunday, I would not have enough daylight to get to Fenny Compton but I pressed on. I did consider a mooring at Brige 131, close to the main A423, but there was no suitable piling here so I pressed on, the last two miles in darkness. The sunset was spectacularly beautiful but I would have valued it to be an hour later today!
I arrived at 1810 and moored by torch light outside The Wharf Inn. I am still "Sober for October"! I limped to the car which I was very glad to get into.
14 miles, 12 locks, 7h 40minutes