Sunday, 16 April 2017

Week 9 - This really is our last week on the Thames!

Monday 10th April - Radcot to Lechlade

We woke to another sparkling spring day and began our journey towards Lechlade. The bridge at Radcot has only one arch which is quite narrow.  This is the Canal Bridge, the Radcot Bridge has three pointed arches.

The river to the right flows under Radcot Bridge and is now a backwater used mostly for moorings.

The river becomes even more windy with lots of sharp bends and once we had arrived at Lechlade we decided to moor up and stay for the night.  

Lechlade Bridge was once upon a time a toll bridge, the little toll house is visible on the left of the bridge.  

Under the bridge you can just see Ella at the furthest point of the river.

We walked along the river to the Roundhouse.  This building was probably a former canal and lock keepers house, standing at the junction of the River Thames and the Thames and Severn Canal.

The Round House marks the upper end of navigation on the Thames. To the right of the building is the entrance to the Thames and Severn Canal. This canal linked the Thames to the Stroudwater Navigation at Wallbridge, near Stroud, and thence to the Gloucester Canal and River Severn.  The canal is currently undergoing an intensive restoration programme managed by the Stroudwater and Severn Canal Trust.  Usually there is enough space to wind a boat of our size, but owing to the low water we were advised not to attempt it as we might get stuck in the mud!

The church in Lechlade has a very impressive spire and can be seen from miles around.  The walk through the churchyard is known as Shelley's Walk after the poet Shelley stayed in Lechlade in 1815 and wrote the poem 'Stanzas in Lechlade Churchyard'.

We shared our mooring with some very inquisitive cows who took a lot of interest in our ropes!  Unfortunately, Toby didn't take to them and he would bark constantly when they were around.  Very noisy!

We are very proud of ourselves for getting this far, as river novices we have learnt a lot and feel more at ease on the river now.

Tuesday 11th April - Lechlade to Eynsham

This morning we cruised through Lechlade Bridge and turned the boat before heading back downstream towards Eynsham.

St. John's Lock is the highest lock on the River Thames and is home to 'Father Thames', the famous statue made in 1851 for the Great Exhibition in the Crystal Palace at Hyde Park. After the palace burnt down in 1936, the statue was moved near the river's source at Trewsbury Meads in Gloucestershire. Unfortunately, the statue was vandalised there so was moved to its current location in 1974.

Unfortunately we had a slight accident on one of the very tight bends between St John's Lock and Buscot Lock.  The boat got caught beneath some low hanging tree branches and although we didn't lose anything off the roof, the branch managed to snap the solid oak flag pole off the stern of the boat and was last seen floating away with our Hampshire flag attached.  Neither Dave or I were hurt at all, as Dave could see what was going to happen and we ducked and kept our heads down.  All the same it was a shock to see what could ohave happened!

After a long day and a record number of miles, 20 in total, we moored up at Eynsham at a lovely spot in front of the lock and spent a quiet evening and a meal at the Talbot Inn.

Wednesday 12th April - Eynsham to Thrupp

This morning we left our mooring, made our way through the last river lock and headed for Duke's Cut and our passage back onto the Oxford Canal.

The river flows to the right of the picture and we follow the backwater to the canal.  I felt quite sad to be saying goodbye to the river, but we shall be back another time.

Duke's Cut Lock, a narrow lock, quite shallow and for the first time in four weeks we had to use the windlass to operate the lock.

Once through the lock we turn left and begin our journey back along the Oxford Canal. The pace of travel is so much slower and less frantic than on the river, and I have to say I am pleased to be back on the canals.

We moored up for the night in Thrupp and spent the rest of the day out with Toby and giving the inside of the boat a good clean! 

Thursday 13th April - day in Thrupp

Today Lizzie, Rachel and Bea are coming to visit!  Bea has been on the boat as a baby and was very excited to visit again.

We went on an Easter bunny footprint hunt. Bea had to find six footprints and the treasure at the end.

They were all along the towpath, this one was beside the River Cherwell.

When she had found them all she won a chocolate Easter Bunny lollipop!

We all had a lovely day and it was a great treat to see them all again!

Friday 14th April (Good Friday) - Thrupp to Lower Heyford

We set off from Thrupp and put water on at the services there.

Today we go back along the stretch that merges with the River Cherwell.  This time we weren't in the least bit nervous!

Since our last visit, they have improved the locks and installed these wonderful boards that show you how strong the stream is. Today the green lights are flashing, so we are safe to proceed.

At one of the locks was a field of cows and their babies, they did look very sweet.

We moored up for the night at Lower Heyford and went for a walk along the towpath, passing Muddy Waters, the boat featured in the series of books by Dan Clacher, lovely stories and adventures based on the canals and waterways.

As we are getting nearer to Easter, the hire boat trade is picking up and we saw four boats set off on their holiday from the nearby boatyard.

Saturday 15th April - Lower Heyford to Aynho Wharf

We set off from our mooring, very peaceful. not another boat in sight, and headed for Aynho, a short cruise which was just as well as the wind was quite cold!

Perched on the towpath was a young heron concentrating on its next meal. We were able to pass it without making it take off!

Further on we went through Somerton Deep Lock, one of the deepest narrow locks on the system at 12ft.  I decided that I would do this lock as Dave did it on the way down.  I was able to open the gate, but I couldn't close it once the boat was in the lock.  So Dave had to climb out the lock using the ladder on the left off the lock, help me close the gate and then climb back down to the boat.  All this from someone who isn't keen on heights!  Very impressive!

We got to Aynho Wharf and moored up in front of the bridge and saw our first ducklings of the season.  These look quite big but I am sure we shall see even more tiny ones in the next few days.

We have also seen our first swallows, darting over the canal, but they are not so easy to photograph!  So summer is on its way!

Sunday 16th April (Easter Sunday) - day at Aynho Wharf

Today, as it is Easter Sunday, we decided to give ourselves a rest day.  This is our back garden for the day, very pretty and we don't even have to keep the grass cut!

We went for a walk into the village of Aynho and found this rather strange church, the facade added to the nave side of the church makes it look like a house!

Many of the cottages have peach trees trained up the walls and they were just coming into leaf.

We returned to the canal at Nell's Bridge and then walked back to the boat passing fishermen and lots of moored boats.
This evening we shall have our Easter Sunday meal in the Great Western Arms, where the food is very good!

So this brings us to the end of week 9, in another three days we shall equal the amount of time previously spent on Ella for one trip, and we shall begin to explore the northern stretch of the Oxford Canal.

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