Wednesday 13 July. 12 miles, 3 locks.
With a short day yesterday we need to reduce the distance to Oxford by quite a bit. Within a mile we have the 3 paired locks at Hillmorton to climb. I like paired locks as there is double the chance that one of the pair will be empty. As we come around the corner we see the gates open and volunteer lock keepers on duty. Next lock we are following a hire boat and one lock is set for him. He was making a pigs ear of it so the volunteer sent us through ahead. Third lock, straight in and out. Easy. Drifted on down towards Braunston with many sights bringing back memories of 2010. Turned right at the junction with little other traffic around and pulled in for lunch not much further on. As we hadn't done a village today we walked in to Lower Shuckburgh. I nice stone church with different styles of masonry made it worth the visit but not much else. Didn't get inside unfortunately. Moored up short of Napton Junction.
Thursday 14 July. 7 miles, 9 locks.
It is not long before we are on the Oxford canal. New territory for us. There are 39 locks to Oxford. the first 9 take us to the canal summit. A bit of a slow start as we pick up water before the first lock then while going up the lock Diana finds out from the lock keeper there is a nice village shop in Napton on the Hill so we moor up and walk up the hill into town. The shop does its own baking and serves coffee etc. Lunch is in order but they were a tad slow with service. While we waited we meet an older couple of cyclist who had just returned from a cycling tour of the Outer Hebrides. The village had a variety of cottage designs and ages. Eventually back to the boat with 8 locks to do. There was a stream of boats coming down so all the locks were set for us and extra hands on the locks. Diana finds out that the last but one lock had gate repairs being done to it and one boat coming down had a 4 hour wait. By the time we got to the top there were still 5 boats in the que to come down. I suggest that our time spent in a village was better than sitting in a que. Moored up near the village of Priors Hardwick. It was such a beautiful evening we walked the half mile across a farmers paddock to the village. We took photos of cottages, churches, manly old but a few new houses. There is a restaurant there which I had wondered if we might stop to eat but when I passed the car park it looked like it was out of our league. Jaguars, Audi's, Range Rovers fill most of the spaces. As Diana walks past the owner insists that she go inside as he has something for her. What an incredible place this was. Owned by a Portuguese, he had bought an old pub site unseen at 2am one morning many years ago and had turned it into a quality restaurant. There were pictures on the walls of many famous people and the motor racing elite had made it there place. Worth a look at www.thebutchersarms.com Back to the boat for sausages and mash.
Friday 15 July. 5 miles.
Looking to get a bit further down the track today. Stop for lunch at Fenny Compton. Read up about a village a mile to the East so walk up the hill for a look. Turns out to be heaped in history as the village of Wormleighton is the ancestral home of the Spencer's. Once again a variety of buildings dominated by the orange coloured Northampton Stone. Talked to a local and are told that only two buildings in the village are not owned by the Spencer's. Too late to move on and with a pub next door the choice for diner is obvious.