Meeting the locals

Wednesday morning and another early start as we were scheduled to meet Rosemary at Sandford Lock.  Abingdon Lock took a little longer than we expected as, even though we had discussed the workings with the Lock Keeper the previous day, the lights were a tad confusing and we were all on our own.  A steady red light next to an instruction saying “Close Sluices”.  What does it mean – actually it means Open Sluices they are already closed!  They then open very slowly (as the notice says) but even then it is surprisingly slow and in about 4 separate stages.  Phew!  Safely through after about half an hour and we were on our way.

The sign says Oxford 8½ and we took this to be miles but by the time we reached Thrupp it was around 8½ hours.

A sign of the times?

We passed an enormous motocross track that we subsequently found is called Culham Park and holds championship races.

Culham Park – an unusual sight from the river

We were just about spot on time at 10 am to meet Rosemary and were, of course, delighted to have a third crew member join us.  The day was really starting to warm up now.

It was too hot for this heron to bother to fly away as we went by.

Can’t be bothered

We took the Port Meadow/Duke’s Cut route to join the Oxford Canal and greatly enjoyed the very different scenery this provided.

The Camargue?

The Lock Keeper at Godstow managed to confuse us by saying he had heard from Sarah that we had some very tasty cookies.  He meant Sarah from the previous lock at Osney who had phoned him specially to make sure he was at the lock to get his cooky and not out mowing grass!

Although we were pleased to have chosen this route all the wiggles and sharp bends, some made extremely sharp by the placement of red buoys, meant we travelled pretty slowly after Godstow.  The numerous moored boats, some in a dreadful state, and a tree three quarters of the way across the river made the journey “interesting”!

Sharp practice

Duke’s Lock added two additional features.  A fox calmly walked across the lock gates while we watched and the lower gate would not open fully so we had to have fenders up to get in.

It really was HOT and it seemed to take an age to reach the outskirts of Thrupp where we started looking for a mooring.  We took the first one after bridge 244 but it was a bit scrubby and within yards of the busy A4260 so not very desirable.

Out came the bike and Peter peddled off along the tow path.  Things looked rather unpromising as there were long stretches with signs saying permanent moorings permit holders only.  The places where there were 2 day or longer moorings were all full.  Richard and Jane had suggested trying the Cruising Club to see if they had any spaces that we could use.  Peter found their office and an extremely helpful warden found that they had two spaces that were large enough for us.  This enabled us to move on to a delightful mooring just past the lifting bridge 221.

Another fine mooring

We met Toby and Sarah here later in the evening, divested ourselves of the anchor and had a very convivial dinner at The Boat Inn.  Thank you Toby and Sarah for dinner and thank you Rosemary for your company on this somewhat hot and tiring day.

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