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thewomble

Week hire south from Napton questions

67 posts in this topic

We are a family of 4 hoping to fit in a narrowboat trip before we return to Australia. We did a weeks trip on the Llangollen in August.  Our kids are 9 and 12 and good lock workers.

Our only availability is next week and I have found a Black Prince boat that we can hire from Napton so we are thinking of going south from there.  As I am short on planning time and need to snap up the boat ASAP, can anyone give me advice on what this route is like?  Particularly after information on how far we should plan on going before turning around and where we would be able to stock up on supermarket supplies during the journey.  As funds are limited we can't rely on eating out so need to store enough food for the week (no mean feat with bottomless children to feed!) and I know from experience there is not enough room to store a weeks worth of food on the boat, so I need to know where shops are that we will be able to walk to so we can stock up along the way.  

Our other option is a hire on the K&A from Hilperton but comments on here have put me off this one a bit.

Any suggestions or advice gratefully received

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Having said that if it were me with a week from Napton I would do The Warwick Ring, it is not too challenging in a week and certainly very varied with town , country, wide and broad.

 

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The South Oxford canal from Napton is delightful most of the way. A nice old pub then a scenic and not too arduous lock flight to start with, then about six meandering miles without a single road crossing the waterway, good moorings, a pub and a chandlery at Fenny Compton, a slightly eerie tunnel which has no roof, a pretty lock flight down through Claydon, attractive village of Cropredy with two pubs and a well-stocked canalside mini-market, a fair-sized town (Banbury) with lots of shops and some historic parts, and that's about as far as you are likely to get on a week's hire unless you thrash the boat (difficult with all those sweeping bends). If this route is not canal boating at its best, it's pretty darned close.

 

Oh, did I mention, we moor on the S. Oxford so I am rather biased - but it's because it's so attractive that we chose to moor there.

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7 minutes ago, Athy said:

The South Oxford canal is delightful most of the way. A nice old pub then a scenic and not too arduous lock flight to start with, then about six meandering miles without a single road crossing the waterway, good moorings, a pub and a chandlery at Fenny Compton, a slightly eerie tunnel which has no roof, a pretty lock flight down through Claydon, attractive village of Cropredy with two pubs and a well-stocked canalside mini-market, a fair-sized town (Banbury) with lots of shops and some historic parts, and that's about as far as you are likely to get on a week's hire unless you thrash the boat (difficult with all those sweeping bends). If this route is not canal boating at its best, it's pretty darned close.

 

Oh, did I mention, we moor on the S. Oxford so I am rather biased - but it's because it's so attractive that we chose to moor there.

A good post but you could have added that it is far nicer than the Llangollen and not as stupidly busy.

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Yes, I could have: but I have never been there, so I'm not qualified to comment on it, and in any case the O.P. didn't mention a Llangollen option.

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Just now, Athy said:

Yes, I could have: but I have never been there, so I'm not qualified to comment on it, and in any case the O.P. didn't mention a Llangollen option.

The OP said they have done the Llangollen so thats why I said it and as you havnt done it I suggets you dont bother.

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Sorry, I got so carried away eulogising about the S. Oxford that I forgot they had already visited the Llangollen. I shall take your advice to heart, though.

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Ok, glad you see you all enjoying yourselves here :)

I have just committed to the boat, your arguments are persuasive.  By the by we thoroughly enjoyed the Llangollen so if the Oxford is better we shall be ecstatic.

So is Banbury as far as we should plan to go? As narrowboating is such a novel experience for us Aussies, we like to stick to the boat generally, rather than moor and spend the days wandering around visiting things, so we an put in plenty of cruising time.  How long might we expect to take to get to Banbury (and the all important supermarket), just so I know how many days food I need to take on board initially?

And I could be persuaded to investigate the Warwickshire ring also so feel free to pass on any information that might lead me in that direction.

 

 

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22 minutes ago, thewomble said:

Ok, glad you see you all enjoying yourselves here :)

I have just committed to the boat, your arguments are persuasive.  By the by we thoroughly enjoyed the Llangollen so if the Oxford is better we shall be ecstatic.

So is Banbury as far as we should plan to go? As narrowboating is such a novel experience for us Aussies, we like to stick to the boat generally, rather than moor and spend the days wandering around visiting things, so we an put in plenty of cruising time.  How long might we expect to take to get to Banbury (and the all important supermarket), just so I know how many days food I need to take on board initially?

 

 

 

Yep, canal boating is all about enjoyment!

Taking your point about putting in plenty of cruising time, in your week (which as you'll know is really about five-and-a-bit days of actual travelling time), you could push on down to Somerton Deep Lock; the part of Banbury just below the town's lock is depressing, but the waterway soon becomes pleasingly rural again. You can turn just above Somerton lock and there are good fieldside moorings there. That would be an energetic but not exhausting cruise.

 

Two days' worth of grub, I'd say, depending on how "bottomless" your offspring are. There is, as I mentioned, a good mini-market at Cropredy in case they eat everything by the time you get there, it is of course more expensive than the big supermarkets. Please note that all three of Banbury's supermarkets (big Tesco, big Asda or Morrison's, forgotten which, smaller Tesco) are a fair walk from Banbury centre, as the one which used to be in the Castle Quay shopping centre has closed down. You can get to the big Tesco by scrambling up a bank a bridge or two North of the centre and crossing a main road, however.

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The Oxford is our favourite canal - just as well as we have to travel up it to gain access to the wider canal system. The scenery's great and the locks easy to work. However, it's a rural canal so few villages or pubs to visit - apart from the one that Mrsmelly occupies (!)

The disadvantage for your hungry mouths is the shortage of serious food shops. There's really only one location and that's Banbury and there you're 'spoilt for choice'

So perhaps the Warwickshire Ring might be better logistically.

Have a look at    CanalPlan -   http://canalplan.org.uk/cgi-bin/canal.cgi though you'd have to motor on to do the complete ring in a week. Birmingham is well worth a visit and the Black Country Museum is a must - especially with kids.

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13 minutes ago, Athy said:

Yep, canal boating is all about enjoyment!

Taking your point about putting in plenty of cruising time, in your week (which as you'll know is really about five-and-a-bit days of actual travelling time), you could push on down to Somerton Deep Lock; the part of Banbury just below the lock is depressing, but the waterway soon becomes pleasingly rural again. You can turn just above the lock. That would be an energetic but not exhausting cruise.

 

Two days' worth of grub, I'd say, depending on how "bottomless" your offspring are. There is, as I mentioned, a good mini-market at Cropredy in case they eat everything by the time you get there, it is of course more expensive than the big supermarkets. Please note that all three of Banbury's supermarkets (big Tesco, big Asda or Morrison's, forgotten which, smaller Tesco) are a fair walk from Banbury centre, as the one which used to be in the Castle Quay shopping centre has closed down. You can get to the big Tesco by scrambling up a bank a bridge or two North of the centre and crossing a main road, however.

It's a Morrisons and quite a reasonable one. Your route to the Tesco is blocked or pretty well impassable last time we looked - but you can moor on the towpath side and take a very long walk over the bridge. Not fun with lots of shopping. It may be possible to moor in the trees opposite the car park entrance on the offside.....

 

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Do try and moor on the summit - I like the bit around Priors Hardwick, and here

If you are that worried about food you could arrange a Tesco/Sainsbury etc delivery?

Edited by Scholar Gypsy
Incompetence
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If you like travelling rather than stopping it is possible to get down to Oxford and back to Napton in a week. We did it in a Hire boat from Kate at Blue Lias which is further from Oxford than you will be. We went on to the Thames at Dukes cut, up a lock, then back down through the city and back onto the canal at Isis Lock.

Kate said we wouldn't make it but we did comfortably. We do however like the travelling rather than the getting to somewhere.

Bottom end of the canal round Oxford is not the best bit, far too many boats moored up on the side  and it's shallow so progress can be frustrating. However last summer we went from Thrupp to the Thames, whole day on the Thames, then back as far as Glascote in a week so it didn't slow us down too much.

I'd say see how far you get in 3 days then turn round and come back.

If you do get as far as the Thames then you'll need to buy a license at the first manned lock you pass through.

The Warwickshire ring is also good, but more locks and some of them are wide. Again easily doable in a week. If you travel long days like we do you can fit in the Ashby as well, at least part of it.

If you go through Birmingham on the warwickshire ring you can either nip through on the grand Union, or go up into the city center then come out down the Stratford.

I'd say it all depends on how long each day you like to travel, and how many locks you'd like to do.

For a really easy week, how about going up the North Oxford to the Ashby, then doing the whole length of that and back with a trip a bit further if you have the time.

I'm not sure if that is helpful or just more things to consider!

Sue

All good options

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10 minutes ago, Mrs Tawny Owl said:

 

I'm not sure if that is helpful or just more things to consider!

Sue

 

Both, I think - though it is worth mentioning that much of the North Oxford, unlike its Southerly cousin, is boring! At least it has a Tesco within a few minutes' walk of the canal, in Rugby. A footpath goes down from beside a bridge (53? 58?) and comes out in Tesco's car park. The Ashby is indeed pretty and pastoral but has even fewer shops than the South Oxford.

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South Oxford. Definitely.

dont speed past Clattercote Whatf. There's a good chance you'll get shouted at by a well established American pumpkin farmer. Eccentric? A little. But a nice bloke once you get to know him. Took us nearly nine years to get to know a little about him.

Edited by Nightwatch
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35 minutes ago, Nightwatch said:

South Oxford. Definitely.

dont speed past Clattercote Whatf. There's a good chance you'll get shouted at by a well established American pumpkin farmer. Eccentric? A little. But a nice bloke once you get to know him. Took us nearly nine years to get to know a little about him.

This is a reference to American ex-maths teacher Gregg Klaes who farms North of Cropredy. It's the farm with the row of scarecrows! I heard a few months ago that he had suffered a heart attack, so perhaps he shouts less vociferously now. I hope he's OK (we used to moor at his farm, as did Nightwatch).

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Sad to hear that Mike. I'll write to him.

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It has to be a choice between the South Oxford on an out and back or a trip around the Warwickshire Ring. Very different trips but both are amongst the best weeks hire you can do.

If I were to head down the Oxford Canal from Napton I would have reaching Oxford in mind (I have done this on a week's hire). It will be about 8 hours cruising a day on the basis you get above Napton locks on the first afternoon and moor below the locks on the last night.

Banbury and back is somewhat short for a week's hire as it is feasible that you could be there on your second night. If you head for Oxford and it starts to look a little challenging then Thrupp is probably the last place of interest but I think you may have to head a bit south of there to turn.

JP

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I think hilperton to Bristol and back is better, look at 'latelink which should be cheaper at short notice.As regards supplies find an easy access for a delivery van and order from the big supermarket chains to a pub car park etc the night before.

 

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14 hours ago, Athy said:

This is a reference to American ex-maths teacher Gregg Klaes who farms North of Cropredy. It's the farm with the row of scarecrows! I heard a few months ago that he had suffered a heart attack, so perhaps he shouts less vociferously now. I hope he's OK (we used to moor at his farm, as did Nightwatch).

That's a shame hope he recovers 110%. One of lifes characters. His office is just about the most perfect room I've seen to work in.

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Thanks everyone for the entertaining advice.

I am planning on going South towards Oxford. I have a couple of questions.  

I think it might be slightly ambitious to expect to get as far as Oxford as I think my crew will want to make the trip a bit more leisurely than our previous one, ie. have a bit more stopping time for "fishing" (sticks and string for rods :)). On our last trip we pretty much set early and cruised all day, eating lunch on the move etc.  

For the comparison, we went from Chirk marina to Wrenbury, then turned and went up to Llangollen and then back to Chirk.  Canal planner tells me this was a 76 mile trip.

I realise that with a different route it is hard to compare times and distances, but I am taking on board that someone said the Oxford is windy and so we are likely to be crusing slowly.

First quesion - we are hiring from Black PRince at Napton.   Using canal planner, do I put Napton Junction as our starting point?

As an initial plan I am thinking we aim for Thrupp which canal planner tells me is a 23 1/2 hour trip.  But it seems the nearest winding holes are Enslow (before Thrupp at 22 hours) or Hythe Bridge Arm which a fair bit further on at 27 hours.   That seems like quite a distance between turning points.  Is there anything I am missing in between those two?  Hythe Bridge seems to be only a stones throw from Oxford itself.   So would you perhaps recommend I am for the Enslow winding hole?  And then if we make it back to Napton with time to spare perhaps we could continue on past our hire base at Napton a bit further.  I will have to look into where we would be able to turn after that.?  

How does that sound?  I also heard that the Oxford is shallow and going aground can be a problem. Is this likely to be an issue for us on this stretch do you know?

Many thanks again

 

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If the OP wants to do the Warwickshire Ring in a week starting from Napton, this is exactly what we did last year -- see this posting for suggested stops:

Fairly hard work, but a great trip -- you have to like locks though (though not as much as on the Rochdale+HCN ring we're doing in August...)

Edited by IanD
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Thrupp Wide would seem to be the most convenient place to wind.

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You can turn at Thrupp - the section just before the lift bridge is called Thrupp Wide.  You can also turn in the section of the River Cherwell between Enslow and Shipton-on-Cherwell - indeed one of my favourite moorings is in the weir stream alongside Shipton Weir Lock.

You can also turn just below Dukes Lock.

 

ETA here is the mooring at Shipton - you can walk from there to Thrupp, and also to the very isolated church at Hampton Gay.

21164703a0525e534d63c4cbf8819dc2df3d996fd97450158411ffa7bed3fff6940e2516.jpg.01e47e4dde88cf27f42e0882fb88644b.jpg

Edited by Scholar Gypsy
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