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Day

From/To

Miles

Time

Locks

Notes

Day 1.

Rugby Wharf

To

Hillmorton

Rugby Wharf

To

Hillmorton (Oxford Canal)

 

 

 

5

 

2.5 hrs

 

 

3 locks

Depart from Rugby Wharf mid afternoon and head towards Braunston Junction.

Stop overnight either at Hillmorton Locks, The Lock Stop Bistro (01788 553562) or Hillmorton Wharf, The Old Royal Oak (01788 561401).

Day 2.

 

Hillmorton

To

Fenny Compton

Hillmorton

To

Braunston Junction (Oxford Canal)

To
Napton Junction
(Oxford & Grand Union Canal)

To
Fenny Compton
(Oxford Canal)

 

 

5

 

6

 

11

 

 

2 hrs

 

2 hrs

 

4.5 hrs

 

 

0 locks

 

0 locks

 

9 locks

Try to get under way promptly as you have a fair old journey ahead today. Firstly you cruise to Braunston Junction where you turn right and then out to Napton Bottom Lock. You can stop here for lunch either on the boat or in The Folly Inn (01926 815185) next to the canal by bridge 113. You now go up through the nine Napton locks after lunch, (which takes about 2 hours) with views of the village and the windmill on top of Napton hill. This puts you onto the eleven mile ‘summit pound’, which meanders dreamily through the quiet hills, with fields of grazing sheep, medieval field patterns and some amazingly tight bends!! Further on, keep an eye out for the medieval village site on the left between bridges 133 & 134. By bridge 136, at Fenny Compton Wharf there is a water point and small store and an ideal overnight mooring. The Wharf Tavern (01295 770332)

Day 3.

 

Fenny Compton

To

Banbury

Fenny Compton (Oxford Canal)

To

Cropredy

To

Banbury

 

 

7

 

5

 

 

4 hrs

 

3 hrs

 

 

9 locks

 

3 locks

Today you need to complete the run across the ‘summit’ to Claydon Locks, which mark the start of the descent to Oxford. On the way look out for Fenny Compton ‘tunnel’ after bridge 137a, (opened out in the 1850’s) Wormleighton reservoir, up the bank by bridge 139; the first of many Lifting Bridges (Bridge 141, Boundary); the feeder from Boddington Reservoir (Feeder bridge No. 142), and the old Stratford on Avon to Towcester railway line. There is a very interesting "Byegones" museum and tearoom at Butlin Farm in Claydon village. Open 10.00 – 18.00 daily. This has a large collection of memorabilia, old shops and interesting old engines, including a steam traction engine, tractors and stationary petrol engines. Access is a 15-minute walk up the lane from Claydon Middle Lock. Moor for this at the top of the locks. After Claydon Locks comes Cropredy, a brick built village with thatched cottages, a church and two pubs. The Red Lion (01295-750224) is opposite the Church, near the canal, The Brasenose Arms (01295-750244) is in Station Rd. There is a useful store by Bridge No.153 (Wharf Bridge). Here on the wharf is a water point and the Old Coal Wharf Tearooms. The Battle of Cropredy Bridge (29th.June 1644, a Civil War conflict) was fought over the River Cherwell Bridge down the lane from the store and garage.

Next stop is Banbury. Above the lock is the New Castle Quays centre. Lots of shops and cafés here and good moorings. The newly built Banbury Museum is here. This has a ‘glass bridge’ over the canal that contains the section dealing with the history of the Oxford canal and Tooleys Boatyard. Museum open daily Mon-Sat 9.30-5.00 Sun & B.Hol. Mons. 10.30-4.30 Infoline 01295-259855. Tooleys, a restored working boatyard, is also open for viewing and they have a café and chandlery shop. (01295-272917) The lifting bridge here is new but has been placed on the site of an old one, which was removed, long ago. There used to be one immediately below the lock. This needed raising in order to enter or leave the lock. It didn’t lift very high anyway, and the local kids used to offer to raise it for you and then – you guessed it – let it drop as the boat went under! This is now a fixed bridge! There are plenty more shops in town, so it is an ideal ‘stocking up’ point and there are also some good restaurants and plenty of pubs!

Since Banbury provides a wealth of options for the visitor, including the opportunity to catch a train to nearby Oxford, many customers choose to spend a day here before embarking on the return trip. The Day 4. Itinerary below therefore is an alternative option for those that would like to press on further.

Day 4.

Banbury

To

Aynho Wharf

To

Banbury

Banbury

To

Aynho

To

Banbury

 

 

7

7

 

 

3 hrs

3 hrs

 

 

4 locks


4 locks

You can take the opportunity to visit Banbury this morning and then continue with a leisurely cruise down to Aynho. From Banbury onwards you will notice that the locks have single bottom gates instead of the more usual doubles. This makes the gates heavier to operate, especially on the deeper locks that are to come at Grants Lock (the next one down) and Kings Sutton Lock. The presence of the new M40 motorway is felt from Banbury onwards, especially around Kings Sutton. There is an interesting old sign on the wall at Kings Sutton Lock – it's the old name board from the village station. You will have noticed the many small lifting bridges along the canal from Banbury. Most have no platforms now, but some still operate. Make sure that you send a strong crew member to pull the balance beams down and that, once pulled down (platform open) they sit on the beam to keep it open while the boat goes through. At Nell Bridge lock beware of the extremely low bridge when exiting the lock. The pound from here to the next lock, Aynho Weir Lock, is at river level, as the River Cherwell makes a ‘level crossing’ here. At times of heavy rain, Nell Bridge can have very reduced headroom. Also, under these conditions, the river runs very strongly, from left to right across the entrance to Aynho Weir Lock and can push the boat sideways onto the weir! There is a guard-rail along it but it can be scary if you are not prepared for it. Notice that this lock is diamond-shaped. See if any of you can guess why. (Answer upon your return if you can’t find out!) At Aynho Wharf there is a good pub, The Great Western Arms (01869 338288) a water point and rubbish disposal as well as a useful shop. There is a winding hole (turning point) here so you can turn the boat around and cruise back to Banbury for the night.

Day 5

Banbury

To

Fenny

Banbury

To
Cropredy

To
Fenny Compton

 

5

6

 

2.5 hrs


3.5 hrs

 

4 locks


9 locks

The rest of the journey involves retracing your outward journey and so we have only outlined from here on, the lunch and evening stops that you might well enjoy. You are of course free to vary this return trip in any way you like! Roughly 6 hours cruising brings you back to Fenny Compton via Cropredy.

Day 6.

Fenny

To

Braunston

Fenny Compton

To
Napton

To
Braunston

 

7

 

6

 

4 hrs

2.5 hrs

 

9 locks


0 locks

Today you meander your way across the summit pound of this wonderful contour canal, back to Napton Locks. If you make an early start you can take some time out to visit the village of Napton on the Hill. (Best access is from Bridge 113)

Braunston is the planned overnight stop, which allows you plenty of choice for eating and drinking ashore. The Mill House (01788 890450), The Old Plough (01788 890000) and the Admiral Nelson (01788 890075).

Day 7.

Napton

To

Newbold on Avon

Braunston

To

Newbold on Avon

 

 

10

 

 

4.5 hrs

 

 

3 locks

No real rush today as you head back towards Hillmorton, where you will find the Old Royal Oak (01788 561401) at Hillmorton Wharf, which could be your lunch stop. To make things a bit less frantic on the last morning, we recommend that you now continue cruising on past the entrance to Rugby Wharf to Newbold Village. Go on through Newbold Tunnel and turn the boat at Falls Bridge. (Follow the instructions in the Boat manual; by going past the side bridge, then reverse under it and pole the bows around) Go back through the Newbold Tunnel and moor up on the right by The Barley Mow (01788 44174) and The Boat Inn (01788 – 576995).

Day 8.

Return

   

1 hr

0 locks

On the last morning you will need to start at 8.15 am in order to return to Rugby Wharf by 9.00 am.
Please also bear in mind that you need to vacate the boat by 9.30 am.