Where is the towpath!

Cherwell Valley from Aynho

Last week we decided to organise a walk for our local walking group involving the section of the Oxford Canal between Twyford Wharf and Anyho Wharf. Although we were generally pleased with the condition of the towpath one section of around 100 m length, just south of Kings Sutton lock, was in poor state with very large weeds growing in the margin near the canal and the hawthorn hedge on the field side encroaching well into the normal track. In places where the bank had become eroded it appeared that some walkers had slipped into the water.
Where is the towpath! Hawthorn to the left Burdock to the right

No much left to walk on!

As a result of this we contacted the Canal and River Trust. Their local office had the hedge trimming on their list for action in a couple of weeks but the "aquatic margin" was not due to be cut until November. However, a short email exchange brought the response that whilst cutting the hedge they would try and sort out the other weeds. The local  manager also stated " I think we need a towpath" - you certainly do.

Sloes (left) and Burdock (right) - both used to flavour drinks!
(Sloe Gin and Dandelion & Burdock)

The huge weed alongside the canal is burdock. Very impressive growth!

The rest of the walk was delightful with views across the Cherwell valley. Just by King Sutton I saw a mink or otter dropped into the water just ahead for me and made for the other bank underwater. I have looked on various sites that give identification clues and quite honestly I don't know if it was an otter or unfortunately a mink. On the balance of probabilities it was probably a mink but I remain hopeful.

Lift Bridge and Bulrushes, King Sutton

Aynho Weir Lock (diamond shaped)

The section below Nellbridge lock where river flows into the canal was benign and you could hardly discern a flow by Aynho Weir Lock unlike last October where there was a huge flow that made it difficult to get under the bridge (we bumped) and a standing wave below the weir. Also, last year all the surrounding field were underwater.

Aynho Weir Depth Indicator, August 2013 - little flow and well in the green

Depth Indicator at Aynho Weir, October 2012 - well into the red

Fields near Aynho, October 2012

As a postscript, I found the following image of an unusual use for burdock leaves on the web.