Whatever one’s views on public services, some parts of the emergency service are still impressive.
Getting away from Napton promptly, we’d soon transited the Grand Union Canal to Braunston Junction, whereupon we were back on the Oxford Canal – the North Oxford Canal that is. This section is winding and rural, and normally rather devoid of drama.
But after lunch…
15:06 – Cruising along the canal in the remote countryside somewhere on the Northants/Warks boundary. Go under Bridge 80 and there’s a large field of cows and calves on the offside, and a calf in the canal in distress trying to get out, and getting spooked by a couple of passing boats.
15:07 – Slow boat up, determine no obvious exit point for poor calf, call 101 from mobile, and on being asked whether I wanted Northants or Warkwickshire polis randomly chose Northants (probably wrongly). “North Oxford Canal by Bridge 80, near Barby there’s a distressed calf in the canal, and it’s getting spooked by the boats” and after brief consultation told to call Fire service on 999.
15:08 – Call 999/Fire Brigade from mobile, “North Oxford Canal… etc.” – “OK, thanks very much, there’s someone on the way, please can we have your name?”.
With boats coming and going, decided we couldn’t usefully do any more so cruised on slowly to warn any other oncoming boats.
15:15 – Phone rings “Mr Walton, fire service” asking whether we knew the area and any likely access. Accepted I was a stranger on a boat, clarified problem was between Bridges 80 and 79, and the lady said “Looks like there’s a Barby Hill Farm nearby: perhaps we can get access over the fields from there”.
15:18 – Approaching Bridge 78, see a Fire Service Land Rover parked on the bridge, then further up the road, turning into the long track leading to the farm, two Fire Engines and another Land Rover towing a RIB.
Heaven knows where they came from, but I have to say we were pretty impressed!
I guess they use such incidents as training exercises, even if it seems a lot of time and effort for a solitary calf, but it’s nice to know some things still work well, even in rural England.
After all that excitement we eventually found some decent moorings below Hillmorton Locks at Rugby – 14.5 miles and 4 locks, a long day for us!
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