Victor doesn't find Hillmorton welcoming

Published: Sunday, 15 September 2019


WELCOMING? Hardly, with four of the six locks out of order!

HillmortonFirstThe picture shows the 'welcome' to the second pair of locks on the flight, but luckily for us the right hand lock had only the lock gates walking planks out of order, so the lock could be used.  As to the other, this was caput, as was one of the first of the twin locks, pictured,  and as was the third of the twin locks!

What a mess

What a mess!  Mind you there were some lovely new blue signs showing the sunken tyre and of course that crazy poetry on the lock gate beams, with one stating This door that makes depth.

DoorMakesDepthWhich surely shows that whoever authorised it just hadn't a clue, not even knowing what a lock gate was.  It was all of course for the visitors, but I can't see any visitors being too enamored by so many of the locks covered in 'out of order' tape. 

Low pound

Needless to say the locks leak, so it was no surprise to find the pound above the taped locks rather low, so meant a walk up to the top lock—only one working rememberto let water down so that we could proceed.

HillmortonLowAfter the strange behavior of the volunteer lockies the last time we used these locks 16 months ago, we made sure we arrived before they did, or perhaps by now they would know to let a boat down then one up, when the lock is empty that they certainly did not last time, piling them all in one direction and wasting water in the process.

But I get ahead of myself, so back to Atherstone Flight, where alas we met too many boaters who had not much of a clue at working flights, so it took us just under three hours to do what is normally a two hour job.  Help as we could we just could not get one pair to understand that with a boat coming out of a lock there was no need to tie-up, but go slowly forward and in, and it was easier to get back on the boat by stopping it the top gates 'throat' instead of mooring and tying up . But they had been told how to do it so that was that.


At least there were four volunteers, with two permanently positioned at the top lock, one to work each side, methinks to impress the visitors, with the other two rather sparsely spread out over the rest of the flight.

Eventually to Hawkesbury Junction and its stop lock, and another volunteer (pictured). But I have to admit I do not care for this particular lock, as with the similar one at the bottom of the Shroppie, with so little depth not knowing if the damn thing is full, half full or empty!  At least Jan knows what is what.

BouysEasy passage indeed

Contrary to expectations, the North Oxford was not hemmed in by overhanging foliage, as the South Oxford, according to reports, but was very easy passage indeed with no dodging of trees and for us it was dredged enough.

But I do think it is about time those protruding tree trunks were disposed off, as it would certainty release the three buoys marking them, with one having escaped on its own. It was exactly 22 years ago when we first cruised this waterway, and they were there then. Seems a waste of buoys.

HoultonBridgeNew bridge

There's a brand new bridge across the Oxford Canal near Clifton Cruisers that is carrying a new road connecting Rugby with a massive 6,200 homes urban extension and running part way by the side of the canal. 

Named Houlton Bridge, as the picture shows, it will cause little problem for boaters.

Keeping check

An early short Sunday cruise and moored above Braunston, Jan is busy counting passing boats on this fine and sunny day, whilst I am keeping an eye out for visitors.

TowpathThis time Jan came out on top with a count at 4pm of 64 boats with 23 heading towards Braunston and 41 towards Hillmorton.  As we had fastened a 'string' to the boat we were not unduly affected.

Alas, I came way down the order with just four people walking dogs and just one cyclist on a mountain bike. The picture shows the towpath outside the boat, giving some idea of its use.

Rarely used

But as many boaters know, the towpath of the North Oxford is very rarely used with only a few hundreds yards in Rugby that is anything like a cycle trackthank goodness.