Napton Locks

On Friday 14th July we left Weedon with the aim of putting some miles and locks behind us so we could make Lower Heyford the next Monday to pick up our friends Anne & Edward Winter and also meet up with another Parkin - Maddison who is my cousin's daughter. She normally resides in Nova Scotia but is staying near Oxford for few months. We chose to meet both our friends, and Maddison and her boyfriend at Heyford because of its great rail connections - the station is just yards from the canal. From that moment we had a schedule to keep.

We stopped off at Whilton Locks Chandlers to buy some hinges for our front locker and then met up with a hire boat for the journey up the locks. They had a keen energetic young crew and made it easy for us. Lunch was a quick pizza just before Braunston Tunnel and we quickly passed through the tunnel without any problems. At Braunston Top Lock we were joined by a traditional engined boat with two men as the crew. They had come from London, Little Venice in fact, and we efficiently went down the flight. The at the helm conversation with the steerer became fascinating as the descent progressed. They were on their way to Brinklow to have some work done on the boat. It turned out that this boat was involved in a curious incident that occurred in March 2016 in Maida Vale when a Mercedes 4x4 collided with their boat whilst it was moored up overnight. The incident is still a bit of mystery and the identity of the driver of the Mercedes appears still to be unknown. The report in the Evening Standard appears to be the most reliable story but there are still some big gaps.

Braunston Bottom Lock Mayhem

When the bottom gates of the lock flight opened up we were greeted by boating mayhem. It was not immediately clear why there were so many boats crammed into a small place. Whilst the main problem was just the number of boats waiting, and the fact that UCC hire boats were being prepared, a major issue was a pair of hire boats breasted-up and waiting to go up the flight. Maggie asked if one was broken down. The crews' response was "we thought it might be easier"! Maggie politely wished them good luck. A bit of common sense might have helped, particularly since the breasted-up pair were about to go up behind a single boat!

We pressed on to Napton with the aim of mooring below the bottom lock of the flight. However, it was busy. No moorings were available below the lock, and many of the lock pounds were also occupied. This meant we pressed on up four locks before finally mooring up. I fixed our front locker hinge and then we walked down the flight to The Folly for a good dinner and a drink in their garden. It is a great canal-side pub.  At one time there were four pubs in Napton, now there are only two. The Bridge at Napton, which we used to occasionally frequent, is currently closed.
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