Choosing a Worst Lock for Delays from yesterday’s short list wasn’t hard. here is only the one where we virtually always seem to get held up,
so the winner is Summerton Deep Lock.
Summerton I love you dearly,
your wharf is pretty
your meadows are a great place to moor
but your lock,
deep and interesting as it might be with that charming cottage alongside,
is a bit of a pain in terms of waiting times.
Now, I said I would choose some nominations for Alternative Moorings Near Hot Spots. Not just overnighters, but ones where you might want to spend a day or two to explore a bit. You’ll see what I mean when I describe my choices. Of course the rules state that they have to be somewhere Herbie stayed this year, so it’s a limited palette of places between Oxford and Milton Keynes.
1. Stoke Bruerne Brick Pits
Stoke Bruerne is a place people like to stop. Pretty cottages, two pubs, canal museum –what’s not to like? On arriving in Stoke Bruerne we also generally get to meet up with the lovely Kathryn for tea, cake and inevitable CRT gossip. Generally speaking, along with almost everyone else we try to tie up somewhere between the tunnel and the museum –that’s the hot spot. This year, on the way back up the locks, we decided to have a change and moor in the long pound below the second lock down where there is always masses of room. We happened to moor beside the gate into the Brick Pits Nature Reserve which I had never noticed before, so I had a walk round it and liked it very much. Very rough grazing for the small herd of Highland cattle and otherwise completely wild. They tell me this resident is called Harry. Surely that should be Hamish.
Just a minute or two’s walk up the towpath and you are at the top lock, the pubs and the museum. I think I like it more than the hot spot above the locks.
2. Aristotle Lane Bridge – Oxford
Arrived in Oxford to find no mooring space down at Jericho? Just nip back up to Aristotle Lane Bridge. There’s a nice little park adjacent to the canal where you can have a picnic or a BBQ (which is what we did with Bones and the Moomins and had a brilliant time.) Just over the bridge is a nice little Italian Deli. Wander back down to Walton Well Rd Bridge, turn right and you can stroll round Port Meadow and then find your way back to the boat through a little park and a quiet housing estate. So you have all that, and you can still get at the City Centre if you don’t mind a bit of a walk(or there are buses). Or it’s only ten minutes walk to the Jericho shops and pubs. Not only that, but the allowable stay time is separate from Jericho, so you can stay two days at one then another two days at the other.
3. Napton – above the bottom lock.
Most people moor round the corner below the lock and it can get pretty full up down there , but there are three or four spaces above the lock which a lot of folk don’t seem to notice. These are actually nearer the Folly and the village which are the two attractions hereabouts. For people with solar panels it’s also a lot less shaded.
4. Braunston –between locks 1 and 3
The hot spots in Braunston seem to be up by the Turn or down by the Marina, but these days we prefer to go up one or two locks where you can usually get in, especially in the first pound. It’s handy of course for the Admiral Nelson, which might have a bit to do with why we like it, or if you fancy an ice cream or need a bottle of milk there’s the little shop by lock 1. Over the bridge by that lock and a path across the field leads up to the rather splendid Butchers shop and the general stores, so it’s just as convenient as the hot spots.
I would like to recommend one for Thrupp as most people seem to like to stop there en route to/from Oxford, but as far as I can tell it’s one big hot spot and you just have to get in where you can. Maybe the one through the Bridge by the Jolly Boatperson is the least likely to be occupied and worth an honourable mention. There’s a bus stop near there too so you can get to Oxford if needs be and Bones tipped us off about a pleasant walk over the bridge. The downside is that the bank is soft and you might get your pins pulled out.
I’d also like to mention the embankment at Weedon Bec, where there is plenty of mooring. It’s not a hot spot in terms of getting very busy, but that’s probably because people don’t realise it has good access to the village and also because they don’t know there’s a very good grocery shop and a nice pub down there – plus a tiny bit past the pub a renowned embroidery/ haberdashery shop with an amazing amount of stock – they even do classes there – well worth a visit if you’re of that persuasion (which Kath is). While I’m on Weedon Bec – there’s also a big antiques centre near the bridge and if you need an Iphone fixed or you want to buy a proper refurbed one at a good price, there’s an Apple phone specialist – not many of them by the canal are there?
This is would be quite a handy topic for others to recommend places wouldn’t it? I’m all ears. My favourite from this year is already in the Golden Envelope for next time, when I’ll pose a couple of photo teasers for smarty Alecs to identify.