Having pottered around the Midland canals on holidays for many years, after thoroughly enjoying our sojourn darn sarf last year, the outline plan for Biggle’s 2015 cruise is to meander down from the winter mooring at Cropedy onto the Thames at Oxford, then down past Windsor onto the Wey Navigation and Basingstoke Canal. These latter two come highly recommended, but despite being so close to “home”, we’ve never explored them much at all. After that, who knows?
Anyway, we did manage a couple of exploratory research expeditions on foot…
The first was a winter’s day wander along the Wey Navigation near Ripley on a rather gloomy day – along past Newark Priory (with no public access, sadly) and Newark Lock. Let’s hope we don’t get any red boards when we come down on the boat. Mind you, the last time we walked down this way, the navigation was frozen solid, and the swans were have some difficulty learning ice-skating. Strangely, the boat Newark Priory was spotted on the outskirts of Banbury.
Biggles’ dear friend Emma (who lives just around the corner from here) came with us, stealing my hat for some reason. We also bumped into Paul, an old colleague from Fairoaks and Farnborough airports (and a locally based narrowboat owner); and Pauline & Alan, a couple of SWMBO’s morris dancing associates (who were also local). Don’t see people for ages, then bump into a string of them all at once.
The second ramble was on the Sunday between Christmas and New Year, when our dear friends Simon & Hilary rang up at about 11:00 and said “…’ere, do you fancy going for a walk along the river somewhere” before realising somewhat later that although a lovely sunny day, it was (a) absolutely Baltic by the water, and (b) Hilary had left her walking boots in Suffolk (don’t ask).
So, a pleasant if rather curtailed wander along the less boggy bit of the Thames-side path at Henley before beating a strategic retreat to the Rowing Museum for tea and buns. There were some nice houses that looked warm and comfortable: more than can be said for the intrepid boaters.
And just off the river, at a humble establishment called Henley Court, a fine indication that at least some people take their model-railway hobby seriously… the real buildings behind give some idea of the scale.