Canal boat holidays—Oxford Canal

Published: Wednesday, 19 January 2011

THE Oxford Canal is another that is very popular, particularly with holiday makers, being a narrow lock canal that is not too difficult to work by canal boat hirers, though some locks are quite deep.

The exception however is that some locks have a single gate at the bottom end of the lock as well as the top, so being much longer they are of course harder to operate than the normal ones with two mitre gates.

The Oxford has a bit of everything, a tunnel, aqueducts, river section, the twists and turns of a Brindley waterway combined with the straights of a Telford waterway. It must have the most varied selection of paddle gear of any waterway. Newbold Tunnel is lit by multicoloured lights, but alas these are failing and are dirty, so not as dramatic as when first installed.

The entire Oxford Canal from Hawkesbury Junction to the Thames was constructed by Brindley as a contour canal, known as the North Oxford from the junction with the Coventry Canal at Hawkesbury to Braunston, and as the South Oxford below Braunston. Being a contour canal it had time-wasting twists (the original line is shown in the above picture) as it followed the contour of the countryside, so Telford was brought in to construct embankments and cuttings to straighten out the waterway.

This can be experienced above Braunston, which only has the three Hillmorton Locks, that are twinned to ease traffic flow. Straightening out the many bends of the original waterway has left various arms and sights of the old course that give the canal added interest.

Much of the Oxford Canal winds for mile after mile through remote countryside, which is its great attraction, with just an occasional village, so gives plenty of choice of remote mooring.