Heyford, Stoke Bruerne & Yardley Gobion

We had a pleasant trip down from Norton Junction and stayed over night at a quiet spot near Heyford. Met Mike Partridge on NB Jubilee at the bottom of Whilton flight and purchased a bag of coal and a bag of sticks. He was on his way to Braunston making deliveries to his "regulars".

On Thursday we travelled home via Stoke Bruerne and Blisworth Tunnel. As we passed Blisworth Tunnel Boats they asked us to take a set of lines (ropes) down to Stoke Bruerne for a boat that had left them earlier and left them behind. It appears they had a their hull blacked. So for a brief period we became canal carriers. The boat concerned, Kitty, was not where we expected (at the top lock) but as we went down the flight their crew appeared. It turned out that they had moored up at the bottom lock using their centre-line.

We also met Sarah McErlean and her family who were on an outing to Stoke Bruerne. We were able to take them down several locks and they also opened gates and operated the paddles. They appeared delighted. "Made our day!". Got back to our berth at Kingfisher Marina in high winds. Managed to make the difficult (135 degree) marina entrance no problems, probably because nobody was watching.

And what of Daisy, our cat? Throughout the journey she was fine. When the engine was on she stayed under the furniture, because she basically didn't like to sound of our Ruston & Hornsby. However, she was sociable and good natured in the evenings and when we were moored up. She particularly liked looking out of the windows and watching the ducks and moorhens. Now at home she is enjoying the garden and back to her usual routine, bothering the wildlife - so far without any impact.

Norton Junction

A day of two halves. We left Napton in sunshine with not a cloud in the sky and arrived at Norton in pouring rain. The trip to Braunston was delightful with lots of sunshine. We took on water at the turn and also visited Midland Chandlers.

Braunston was unusually quiet but we started the trip up the locks in the company of a community boat that was on its way to Camden. We met a single boat half way up and, because our companions went ahead we worked the last four locks alone. That's when it started to pour down. We had a very smooth passage through the tunnel with no boats coming the other direction and moored up in the rain just below Buckby Top Lock. We had to visit the New Inn again and have our usual half of Old Rosie and pint of Frog Island, but this time we had some of their good food.

Napton on the hill

Oxford Canal and Windmill, Napton on the Hill

You might have noticed that I used the full title of the village, more of this later.
We left Flecknoe mid-morning for Napton. We arrived about midday and turned at the winding hole just below the Napton flight then reversed onto a mooring just before the corner.

As we arrived at the mooring a Hebridean sheep was giving birth in the field opposite. The lamb took about an hour to arrive and we saw it struggle to its feet and take its first feed. We were privilaged to see it!

After lunch we walked into the village. We shopped in the local post office, visited the church, which sits on the top of the hill, and then walked up to the windmill. The views of Warwickshire and beyond from the top are stunning. Close to the summit is a rowan tree planted to commemorate a WWII observation unit that was based there and saw Coventry burn during the blitz.

Windmill at Napton

Went to the Folly Inn for pies in the evening. It was quiet, but then it was Monday. Their own brand beer was fine and the food was tasty. The bar had a collection of Estate Registers from Phipps Brewery in Northampton. The registers give details of all Phipps' property including pubs, and dates from the 1890s until the 1960s. Found out lots of details about pubs in our own village and others in South Northants and North Bucks. You would normally expect to find this sort of information in the County Record Office.

Flecknoe and Shuckburgh

Shuchburgh Estate

After a short trip we moored up at Flecknoe at exactly the same spot as summer last year. After lunch we went for a walk around the Shuckburgh Estate.

The walk involved a climb up Beacon Hill where there were spectacular views especially towards the west. The dark clouds provided some heavy showers but we appeared to miss the worst and saw some wonderful rainbows. We managed to take some great photos looking towards Lower Shuckburgh. Certainly we were in the right place at the right time.

Rainbow over Lower Shuckburgh

Braunston trips

Braunston Tunnel

Today we met up with our friends Juliet and Mike Peet at Braunston.But before that we took on water at Norton Junction and met fellow bloggers No Problem who were travelling to the Fens with Moore2Life. Had a good chat over the water tap, obviously the modern equivalent of the village pump.

We had a good trip through Braunston Tunnel and met up with the Peets at the top lock. Got down the flight quickly with lots of boats coming up including two boats with twenty four small scouts, or at least they said they had when they started! Mike spent some time taking videos of the action; we look forward to posting some of the footage.

We moored up near the Millhouse and went for a late lunch. Steve then cooked up a plan to take a late afternoon trip and bring the Peets back to their car which was in the pub car park. We went up the North Oxford to the outskirts of Hillmorton and then turned round and came back. It was a pleasant trip made exciting by heavy showers.

We then had another meal at the Millhouse; they did well out of us.

Norton Junction

Daisy on board


A day of sunshine and very heavy showers. We got to Weedon and the heavens opened and we had lightning! Steve got wet. We had earlier stopped at Furnace Wharf for fuel, coal and a pump out. After the rain stopped we saw a kingfisher. After lunch at Brockhall, where the trees were just breaking bud, we had an enjoyable trip up Whilton locks with Morning Mist, although the gusty wind made waiting in the pounds difficult.

Went to the New Inn for a drink in the evening; we can't pass this way without calling in. Maggie had half of Old Rosie which turns out to be not only the most expensive half they serve, but at 7.5% it is also the strongest! Steve had his usual pint of Frog Island. So what of Daisy? She gets more familiar with the boat every day but still does not like the noise of the engine and hides under the sofa when it starts.

On the move again!

After what appears to have been ages we are on the move again. We are going north from Yardley Gobion, perhaps to Napton. The weather has been good although it has became cloudy later on. We are being brave, or perhaps foolish, by bringing along our young cat Daisy. This is my first on the move blog using my new Nokia N95. I will try and incorporate an image tomorrow.

The trip up the Stoke flight was good with help from some gongoozlers. Stoke was busy with several historic boats still moored up after the recent rally. Blisworth tunnel was very wet and for the first time we passed another boat at the point where there is a huge waterfall at an air vent. With no way of avoiding it the steerer got wet! We are now moored up at Gayton watching the lambs gambol on the hill and are listening to the Archers.

Disappearing bridge numbers - Oxford Canal

I sent the text below to Narrowboat World - it's published on their site under Emails. Thought "Albert's" readers might like to read it.

I read with interest David Hymers’ piece about Oxford Canal Bridge numbers going plastic. In the mid 1990s I noticed a small item in Waterways World about British Waterways having to renew the bridge numbers on the Oxford Canal using original iron castings, or something very similar.

Given that bridge numbers often disappear, British Waterways thought that since they had a habit of 'disappearing' there might be a ready market for genuine Oxford Canal Bridge numbers. In the item they were asking the public for expressions of interest. They would make them up especially for customers to any number and provide a certificate of authenticity. I decided that the entrance to our house would be much improved by a large Georgian style number plate and ordered one. It has adorned our house since.

Given that the number we purchased could be 'real' (the bridge still exists) shortly after buying it I checked out the relevant bridge which is just north of Braunston. I fully expected either the original to be still in place or at least to find a new replacement. I was to be disappointed (or more accurately concerned) because no number was fixed, and up until this year this has continued.

I do hope visitors to our village don’t think that I was responsible for the lack of a number on that bridge. I didn’t remove it—honestly! I suppose I will now have to check out the new plastic variety unless it’s gone already.

Steve Parkin