Bumbling and Bimbling to Banbury

Leaving Dashwood’s lock on a much gloomier and colder but dry Thursday morning, we ambled along back through Heyford, then up through Somerton Deep Lock for an overnight stay. Stopping at Heyford for provisions we had coffee in the Oxford Narrowboats cafe, where David Dares (a significant player in the hire boat world hereabouts and on the K&A) was in serious discussions with two chaps from the Canal & River Trust. Wonder what was being discussed…

Friday, fairly miserable weather again, and the by-now familiar run through Aynho and its lozenge shaped weir lock onto the Cherwell again, then back up past the Pig Place (nowhere to moor). We had vaguely thought we might make Banbury for a Friday night on the tiles, but the weather was closing in, and misjudging it slightly, packed it in for the day by Biggles’ swimming pool just outside town, when it was already starting to rain significantly.

During these two days, we’d come to realise that it was not only the bird life that seemed to be much more prevalent this year, but also the bees. We were frequently buzzed by large bumble bees, and can’t recall really noticing any in previous trips.

And although the weather was a bit dour and cold, we had a splendid flypast by a low-level Curlew (now worryingly on the red list), and a ten minute period when a Kingfisher kept sitting on its perch until we got very close, then zoomed down the canal for just a short way before posing again. They really are beautiful birds.

Another first for us on the canal system was a lone Common Sandpiper, as well as a heron dive-bombing the water from the air like a tern or a gannet. We also saw one landing on the water and paddling around like a duck. Odd herons they have around here!

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