Monthly Archives: October 2015

Nipping Along to Napton

After a sunny Friday morning wandering around Braunston, the Captain decided that it was about time the crew had a recurrent line check, to ensure they were still safe to operate his boat. Decamping from his usual position in the cruise (fast asleep in the crew rest area or the bed) he settled down in the cockpit jump-seat to watch proceedings.

The Comfy SeatExam Nerves

The Comfy SeatAviation experts will note that – like all good jet captains– he had ensured that his crew seat had the super comfy lambs-wool seat cover option.

It was quite a short and undemanding line check along the straightforward and wide section of the Grand Union that connects the North Oxford Canal and the South Oxford Canal. Even so, the chief cook, whose sector it was, looked decidedly uneasy at being watched so carefully.

She needn’t have worried: with bright sunshine, no locks and nice scenery, the Captain soon decided all was well, and took his well earned crew rest.

Grand Union, near BraustonGrand Union, near Brauston

Now much more relaxed, we made short work of this section of the Grand Union, which is very picturesque with lovely views over the nearby countryside, even if some of the bridges are not only minimalist, but have clearly seen better days.

Napton junction (aka Wigram’s Turn) where you can go South to Oxford or North West to Warwick and Birmingham, has several large marinas in very close proximity, and several hire companies that turn their boats round on Fridays and Saturdays. With the fine weather forecast to continue over the weekend and beyond, by late afternoon there were boats everywhere, and at the junction itself chaos reigned. Good job the Captain was still asleep.

The Cook's Next HouseLeaving most of the chaos behind, we skirted Napton on the Hill, and moored just below the Napton flight of locks, right by a pub called The Folly, and underneath a house that SWMBO has been eyeing up ever since we stopped here last year. It’s a good spot to moor, as the pub is decent, and there’s a shop within easy reach that is decidedly a cut above the usual small remote village Post Office store.

Steaks and Stanleys

The Admiral Nelson is a canal side pub towards the bottom of the Braunston flight, and we’d have stopped for a “just past the yard arm” Guinness had we not been working the flight with another boat.

Braunston Bottom LockBraunston Bottom Lock

Happily tied up at the bottom, we went for a late afternoon wander before putting the dinner on: the lady in the local chandlery suggested that The Admiral Nelson was not only the nearest pub but the best in Braunston and renowned for it’s food, so we continued our wander back uphill, eschewing ice creams at the well known Canal Shop just above the bottom lock.

Braunston Narrow House

The Grand Union may be a wide beam canal, but the house on the lock here is decidedly narrow…

Rosie and JimRosie and Jim

…and we found yet another p**s-take of the Rosie and Jim rag doll children’s TV programme, rather in need of a new paint job.

The Admiral NelsonThe Admiral Nelson

The Admiral Nelson was indeed a delightful pub, with plenty of room in the sunshine for that delayed Guinness, comfy sofas, a posh restaurant and friendly staff. A quick glance at the menu, and all thoughts of cooking back on the boat went by the board. If we weren’t too disreputable, scruffy and boating stained we were going to eat in their restaurant, despite filling the boat with half of Tesco and Waitrose. We passed the sartorial inspection.

Stanley Steam CarStanley Steam Car

Stanley Steam CarStanley Steam Car

And while waiting for what proved to be absolutely superb sirloin steak and to-die-for cod and chips, two immaculate Stanley Steam Cars turned up to decorate the car park. A better day!

A Daventry Morning, A Braunston Afternoon

The Quartermaster was severely disappointed at Tuesday evening’s shopping expedition, and Daventry had (speak it quietly) a branch of her favourite grocery emporium.  The local bus timetables are incomprehensible to visitors who don’t actually know the housing estate and street names, and they all seemed to wander lengthily around said places before ending up in Northampton. The locals we asked were equally clueless or reckoned it was almost certainly quicker just to walk into the town centre, so off we set on Wednesday morning for some retail therapy plus a free coffee and newspaper. Heavily laden with wine, a taxi back to the boat was the only option.

After lunch, the hatches were once again battened down for the transit through Braunston tunnel, then out into the sunshine where – teaming up with another boat – we made short work of the six wide locks down into Braunston – a major place in the history of the English canal system. We luckily found a suitable mooring right in the middle of the waterfront, outside the marina. There’s plenty to see, with boatyards, pumping stations and so on.


Despite her best efforts, the chief otter spotter was unable to locate any peregrine falcons on the church spire just visible in one of the pictures, unlike our visit last July.