Normally my posts are about trips on our own boat, but recently I did a boat moving trip, mostly on the midland waterways, from Eynsham to Tardebigge. Purpose of the trip was repositioning some hire boats – so a bit of a free holiday.
The route took us down the Thames, via Mill Stream and Duke’s Cut and onto the Oxford Canal. Then onto the Grand Union, the Stratford and finally the Worcester and Birmingham.
A lot of locks! 103 in total – including the Napton Flight (9 locks), the Lapworth Flight (18 locks) and the dreaded Hatton Flight (42 Locks).
It took us a week of relatively hard boating. Being middle of winter, the days were short so we ended each day in the dark.
And it was cold! And wet! And muddy!! I think my overiding memory is of endless muddy towpaths.
This trip nearly did not happen. We arrived at the start point in Eynsham, but due to the heavy rains the Thames was “red-boarded”. Fortunately, 2 of our team were really experienced boaters, and had done this trip at this time of the year many times. So with the blessing of the lock-keepers at Eynsham, we set out. The Thames was definitely “lively” but not as bad as reported, and we had no problems at all.
We had planned to overnight each night by a handy pub, but some were closed due to covid.
We did have good evenings at The Navigation at Kings Norton, and The Cape of Good Hope on the Grand Union.
Having been born in Cape Town in the Cape of Good Hope South Africa, I was interested in the derivation of the pub’s name. Apparently the original owners hailed from Cape Town.
We negotiated a number of tunnels and swing or lift bridges as well – including the Branchwood and West Hill tunnels.
It was great to visit other waterways – I have never boated on any of these canals before.
The other new experience was “breasting up” 2 narrowboats in a lock flight.
Would I do this again? Of course!
The boats we moved were for Anlgo Welsh, who are probably the largest hire-boat company in the UK.