Victor: The Oxford again

Published: Monday, 21 September 2015

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SO TO the Oxford Canal yet again—the eighth time since 1998—and there are still plenty of boats moving, but now a preponderance of hire boats.

One thing is definitely certain, that the number of boats that passed us on the Coventry Canal must have exceeded the number of visitors on the towpath, it being extremely rural, and even through Tamworth and Nuneaton the number of visitors only comprised of a few people walking dogs. No doubt others who have travelled this way will testify. And it seems to be the same on the Oxford.

Deserted

The picture shows the Oxford Canal towpath actually outside Brinklow Marina. Do you think this mile of the towpath takes 630 visitors every day as Cart would have us believe?  We moored at 12.35pm and during the rest of the day all that  passed on the towpath was a 'bunch' of five ladies and one solitary dog walker, as Rusty—who can recognise a passing canine at 50 paces—can no doubt testify.

We were going to take water at Rugby, together of course with a trip to Tesco, but luckily passing a water point at Newbold-on-Avon we decided to take it on there, and a good job too, as the water point at Rugby—you've guessed of course—was out of action.

Big mistake

Setting off from Rugby we made the error of allowing a pseudo traditional boat towing a butty to first go past, and a big mistake it was. In the past we have encounted many pulling butties, and without exception come a clear stretch the pair have waved us past their slow entourage.

But not this pair. Even when pulling over to allow boats to pass, they quickly took up the centre channel again, and should we make any attempt to use the space to pass, the fella on the butty arrogantly waved us back. It was the old problem of course—even on tick-over we were catching them up and had to keep knocking the engine out of gear.  And yet there was plenty of depth.

As to whether the boat, Zulu, pulling the butty was short of power or if just plain cussedness, there was no need for being so awkward for mile after mile. As neither of the men would look at us when they eventually moored, coupled with their attitude, we firmly believe it was sheer awkwardness—perhaps little people having a bit of power.

Permanent

As I mentioned, it is quite a while since we were down this-a-way, but I well remember those great orange weir buoys fastened to an overhanging tree stump  that needed cutting, and they are still there, with the tree stump still well in place. Trouble now is that one of them has 'escaped' and has been simply tied to a tree. I would have thought that leaving what must be expensive buoys tied up for the sake of a couple of minutes with a chain saw is not too good a way of looking after expenses.

Daft poetry

Most of us cruising boaters will have come across that daft poetry on lock gates, that was supposed to give inspiration to visitors.

There's quite a bit of it on the Hillmorton lock gates, but alas no admiring visitors, in fact none at all.

It wouldn't be so bad if the poet knew what it was all about and had not called a lock gate a door!  But I found out that each lock so inscribed, left unpainted of course, cost the old British Waterways upwards of a thousand quid each!

Yet again there were literally hundreds of moored boats all over the place, very many more than in previous years, and their method of mooring left something to be desired as other boaters must have discovered, forever slowing down for single boats that would be better moored together with others.  Yet as we all know there is that eternal problem of noisy engines.

At least all the vegetation prevented boats being moored.