Setting off for (eventually) Stoke-on-Trent on Thursday morning, the first exercise was to climb up the Claydon flight of locks just North of Cropredy. Although reasonably familiar, two things immediately became clear: the sun might have been shining, but the strong gusty wind was decidedly chilly. The last time we came this way we had overcast snows and skies, so no complaints, I guess.
They’d also managed a rather better repair on the locks. And after eight locks uphill, we made good time in the sunny weather, and trundled along most of the long and winding road – sorry – pound to get within easy reach of Marston Doles and the eight Napton locks back down again.
Last time, the weather was so miserable that we took the best part of three days to get back down to the level of the Napton Junction, but this time, despite the Baltic cross wind, we zoomed past the water buffalos and found ourselves at Napton Bottom Lock in plenty of time on Friday to have a mid-afternoon Guinness at The Folly Inn, and book a table for dinner: it’s always – justifiably – busy, especially at weekends.
Tomorrow, the Grand Union and Braunston beckon, then the North Oxford Canal.