Kidlington Green Lock to Aristotle Bridge 240
Tilly got to have a little rummage around the hedgerows before we pushed of this morning. After an hour she came back in to warm up by the stove.
A boat had come past shortly before we pushed off, there was little chance of us catching it up before the first lift bridge as the going today was slow, despite the water running down bywashes the bottom was a touch too close to the top! After a mile we could see people at Drinkwater’s Lift Bridge. Two boats and two crews, one heading towards us the other south. The bridges from here on tend to be closed and they have a reputation for being b**gers. The boat heading towards us waved us on as they had grounded, it was a couple we’d seen a few days ago near Somerton. The boat infront of us closed the bridge to unlock their key and headed off to use the water point. So we were on our own.
The method used by the boats before us had been to unlock the bridge and raise it, then to use themselves as a human brace, keeping the bridge as high as possible so as not to drop on the boat. We pulled up and decided upon our tactics. It took a little while to unlock it with the key of power, a bit of extra time to read the extra instructions would have helped, only a quarter turn is required whilst pushing down on the bridge. The bridge then could be pushed up quite easily as it was weighted quite well. We decided that instead of me trying to keep the bridge up by acting as a brace that I would go and add my weight to the balance beam on the off side. Sitting down is far easier than pushing upwards and we didn’t think I was tall enough to make the clearance enough for our chimney to pass under. Once Mick and Oleanna were through it was quite easy for me to lower the bridge and lock it again. On we went.
Dukes Lock brought us down that bit closer to the Oxford level only one lock to the Thames if you turn right, two if you go straight on. Two years ago we came off the Thames at Dukes Cut which meets the canal below the lock here, but today we were going to go straight on, new water all round for us.
Wolvercote Lift Bridge was next. A man was sitting mid bridge taking photos and moved as we approached. Sitting between two high road bridges this small lift bridge was not going to be a push over. This bridge has instructions as to unlocking it, but the lock has been removed. The balance is such that it’s rather heavy to get moving and for myself impossible to get to the point where I could push down on it rather than pull down, past the point of no return. I signalled to Mick, but the photographer came to help, it just needed a little push upwards from the towpath side and then I could sit on it again ensuring it would not move whilst the boat came through. The two of us then lowered it and were on our way again.
Agenda 21 moorings now take over the towpath. These are residential moorings which came about after an agreement was made between British Waterways and The Oxford Boaters Co-op some years ago. Most of the boats have seen better days, many are colourful and have unique qualities to them.
Different hatch designs, rubbing strakes and paintings. At Perry’s lift Bridge I unlocked the bridge and gingerly stepped over to the off side, not knowing how well it was balanced. It was fine and I wasn’t going to be catapulted across to the nearby rail line. As Mick pulled out to pass through weed ensnared Oleanna’s prop so he slowly glided through. Once clear a rope was thrown to me on the towpath the pull the boat into the side as there was no steerage. As the water tank topped up Mick cleared the weed and we could carry on slowly past the moored boats in the shallow water.
Wolvercote Lock was the last to Oxford and no bridges would need lifting now. Many of the visitor moorings as you approach the city are alongside the railway and not very user friendly. We continued hoping for a space on the 7day moorings.
There were three boats moored here plenty of trees and back gardens for Tilly. Just a shame we couldn’t get anywhere near the side! I could hear and see boulders beneath the surface stopping us from mooring. On we went to Aristotle Bridge. Here is a designated quiet mooring, a bit like a quiet coach on a train. We’d made note of here when NB Chuffed had cruised to Oxford a month or so ago, it’s alongside a small park this would do us and we hoped Tilly. The only downside is that it’s only a 48 hour mooring.
I couldn’t wait. This Oxford outside looked good, all the requirements I want. I was given an hour to explore, but sadly that was too much! Bicycles, woofers, odd smells. There were these strange structures, I thought what a good place to sit and survey this outside, so jumped up, except it moved out of the way! No matter how I tried to get on it it would swing away from me. This outside is weird and needs C&RT hazard tape adding to it.
Once we were allowed to go off and explore ourselves we walked up to check out the deli by the bridge. Nice looking bits and bobs. Then we followed our noses into Oxford walking through Jericho. Neither of us know Oxford, I’ve been a few times with work but always been too busy to have a look round. Looking in estate agents windows we wished we could move our house here as the rents are astronomical.
In the city centre I got my phone upgraded to a sim only deal, saving me £5 a month. Mick checked to see if a new credit card had arrived at the bank, but it hadn’t and a visit to Whittards to stock up on my morning tea was scuppered by the shop being closed. Tomorrow we’ll return and be tourists.
We walked back along the towpath from Isis Lock, not what I thought it would look like at all, much shallower. We’ll need to descend the lock to be able to wind as we are too long for the winding hole here. On the way back to Oleanna we made note of other moorings we could move to as we’d like to stay longer than 48 hrs.
The back doors were open again when we got in, but the park was full of kids playing on the swings, so Tilly stayed close to home.
2 locks, 3 lift bridges holding 0 up, 1 lufted bridge, 1 straight on, agenda 21, 2nd mooring attempt, 1 deli, £5 reduction, £1,1million in need of work, 0 card, 0 tea, 2 much to see, 1 short list needed, 1 glove finished.