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Day 48 – Cropredy to Lower Heyford

Wednesday 12 August, 2009

The last day of Tardebigge’s epic voyage.

Bernard undertook another oil change whilst others slumbered in their beds and we eventually made the short journey to Slat Mill Lock around 8.30. A boat passed us heading in the same direction just before we set off. They were heading to Oxford from Fenny that day so they must have already been on the move for a few hours!

After two locks we hit a long queue at Hardwick Lock on the northern fringes of Banbury. We also had a sunken boat-cum-shed to manouevre round at the lock landing. Thankfully the majority of boats seemed totie up around Banbury so we were quickly through the town centre, lift bridge and lock. There were boats everywhere below the lock which we have never seen before. Just enough room to pass.

We pressed on. Michael was desperate for an ice cream since he’d only had a couple all holiday. There was not much sign of life at Kings Sutton Lock despite buying ice creams there before. We eventually found some (and a bottle of gas) at Aynho Boatyard. Michael enjoyed his mint Magnum in the light rain….

Somerton Deep Lock was the 500th of our journey. Griggs took a photo to mark the occasion which I’ll add when he sends it to me.

Our ambition was to reach Heyford in time for the 1735 train to Oxford. We were unlikely to make it. Remarkably we tied up just as it was leaving the station. Simultaneously Laura arrived to take Nick home and very kindly squeezed all of us into her car and took us back to Oxford. Our epic voyage was over.

I’ll do a separate post with journey statistics when they are worked out, but in the meantime, here are the last couple of pictures.

Day 44 – Fradley to Atherstone

Thursday 6 August, 2009

The day dawned with clear skies and the promise of fine weather which soon materialised. Michael wore his sunglasses for the first time in days and was soon forced to dig out the sun tan lotion which hasn’t been used for about three weeks!

With no locks ahead of us for several miles we expected to make good progress to Fazeley on the outskirts of Tamworth. Unfortunately the last couple of miles from Hopwas were delayed by a boater who seemed unable to go any faster than ¾mph. Even Tardebigge’s tickover was gaining on him! Thankfully he stopped for services at Fazeley so we made a flying visit to the Tesco Express before pressing on to avoid any further delays.

The Glascote pair of locks are slow fillers. We investigated the boatyard above for oil but there was no sign of life so we moved on to Alvecote where ten litres were bought. Light rain came down which worsened as we approached the Atherstone flight. After four locks we tied up at the optimal point: furthest away from the road and railway.

Menu: cooked breakfast or cereal and toast; cold lasagne or Scotch egg and pork pie salad; asparagus starter followed by Iri Dori.

In lieu of any photos here are a few stats: as of yesterday (the end of the sixth week) we have done 711 miles and 450 locks in 310 hours of engine running time. Our fastest average speed for a day is the Sprotbrough to Eggborough day when we averaged 3.69mph. The slowest was Slaithwaite to Marsden at 0.80mph. The most locks in a day was Wigan to Wheelton: 28.