Approaching Marston Doles, 10th April 2007

Wednesday, 25th April 2007: Cropredy

We now have an official British Waterways mooring at Cropredy Village, just north of Banbury, on the Oxford Canal. We moved to Cropredy on Sunday, 15th April after some interesting and enjoyable local excursions over the Easter holiday - our current plans are to remain at Cropredy until Thursday, 10th May - when we shall be setting off up the Leicester Arm of the Grand Union Canal to enjoy the annual Crick Boat Show which takes place over the Bank Holiday weekend between the 26th and 28th May. After Crick we shall return to Cropredy for a while before setting out for the Saul Canal Festival  in Gloucestershire at the end of June. There is some maintenance work to be done on the boat and we will try and get most of this done before we set off for Saul.

The run up to Easter was a time for travelling and meeting old friends - an invitation to attend a very special day on the Welsh Highland Railway provided an excuse to take a short break with our 1967 MGB GT up to Beddgelert in North Wales - Graham has written a separate report about our visit to the Welsh Highland Railway which can be viewed by following this link. Then we drove down to Hampshire and Wiltshire to visit family before returning to our boat. Our 'Winter Mooring' permit expired at the end of March so we left Napton for a short cruise to Braunston and then on to Leamington Spa in the company of Graham's former boss at Whitbread Inns, Ian Coote; Ian was enjoying a weeks holiday cruising round the 'Warwickshire Ring' with his family on a 70ft boat hired from Viking Afloat - as can be imagined there was much to discuss about old times and the state of the British pub industry in general. We bade farwell to the Coote family as they set off to tackle the Hatton flight of 21 broad locks and we turned back towards Long Itchington - where we were joined by another old friend, Mel Holley with his son Martin - they helped to crew for the day as we negotiated the nine miles and 22 locks between Long Itchington and Marston Doles.

Marston Doles is isolated hamlet, that existed originally as a stabling point for boat horses and it marks the start of the Oxford Canal's remote and meandering summit level - we spent a pleasant week there, enjoying the excellent weather, before continuing through Fenny Compton and Claydon to Cropredy.

We were really pleased to receive the letter from British Waterways confirming our mooring at Cropredy - we had been on their waiting list for nearly two years and we though that we would have to wait a lot longer for such a choice location. Cropredy is a delightful village complete with its own shop, Post Office and two pubs - in addition the resident boating community has made us feel extremely welcome.

The photographs on this page, with the exception of the one immediately below, were taken by Mel holley. The photograph at the top of the page shows 'Alnwick' with Graham steering on the approach to Marston Doles from Napton - the scenery is typical of this delightful section of the Oxford Canal. The picture immediately below shows Graham's former boss, Ian Coote, resting on a balance beam at Radford Locks on the Grand Union Canal near Leamington Spa on 9th April. The final two pictures show 'Alnwick' ascending the Napton flight of nine locks on the Oxford Canal the following day - the bottom one is at the top lock (Marston Doles) and shows Graham struggling to prevent 'GC' the cat from 'jumping ship' while Jane and Martin look on . . .

Ian Coote at Radford Locks, 9th April 2007

Ascending Napton Locks, 10th April 2007

Graham prevents 'GC' from jumping ship while Jane and Matin look on, 10th April 2007

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