We had two choices at Napton Junction. EITHER stick with the teamed Grand Union Canal – Main Line and the Oxford Canal OR turn to Port and be on the one and the same Grand Union Canal-Main Line cruising in the direction of Birmingham. This opens up the possibility of turning on to the Stratford Canal at Kingswood Junction. We turned to Port.
We are loving this Canal. There is little boat traffic and the Canal width is generous in comparison to the Oxford Canal. It is fit for wide beam boats but I've not seen any on the move, only a few moored ones on home moorings. The locks allow two Narrowboats. We had luck at the first of 2 flights of 9 locks to share the space. The people were newbies on boats and had loaned a relative’s boat for a holiday week. The Lock paddles are hydraulic and take a lot of muscle to get them moving. 22 ½ rotations to fully wind up a paddle. I have a painful memory of working the Hatton Flight in 2011 and I was determined not to let history repeat itself. I found that having a wide base of support (feet well apart) and bending my knees as I rocked with each turn of the windlass made a difference. I have been told that the lock takes 2 minutes longer to fill or empty if only one paddle is wound up. The gates are steel (not wood) and heavy, and the ‘bum’ push can be cold and wet depending on weather conditions and time of day.
The rural scenery is stunning and inviting with plenty of public footpaths to wander along away from the Canal. The blackberries are abundant and there is no excuse for not picking them for compost, jam, pie....! I say compost with a tongue in cheek memory of a friend who was not a linguist. The word ‘compôte’ didn’t fall off the tip of his tongue but he could swallow ‘compost’ with ease.
Our first overnight stop back on the Grand Union was at Itchington, a pleasant village adjoining Long Itchington where the steel shell of Nb DolcieBlue had been fabricated at Colecraft. Next day a friend met us on the Canal and to take the cruise and the 9 locks to Leamington Spa. A couple of Lock tales from that day....