For those of you that are continuing your journey, you will carry on north along the Cherwell valley and on to Napton where the South Oxford Canal ends – approximately another 12 hours’ cruising.
Your first port of call is Cropredy, there is a useful shop by the wharf bridge and you can get rid of rubbish at the wharf. The village is a sleepy affair but with lots of interesting things to be sought out. Good play ground a little walk from the canal, just far enough to make it a good surprise for smaller members of your crew who need a rest from the boat. Two good pubs The Brasenose Arms and the Red Lion [apparently a few ghosts have taken up residence here], both a short walk from your floating home, children welcome in both. There is a grand, interesting sandstone church with a fine clock. Although quiet, the village comes to life in a big way in august with the annual folk festival now apparently Europe’s largest and of course there was the Battle of Cropredy 29th June 1644. Cromwell’s forces under Waller attacked Cropredy Bridge in an attempt to open up a route into Oxford. The Royalists managed to capture Waller’s artillery and protect Oxford. So not such a sleepy place after all!! Well worth a stop and exploring. On leaving the village of Cropredy you will travel through the lock, one of the prettiest along your journey.
Travelling on, the canal is hidden behind a large hedge but you do get occasional views of the valley. After three locks you come to Clattercote Wharf, please do not turn your boat around here, you may get more than you bargained for. The next locks are the Claydon flight, as with all locks it is very important to try to conserve water, always make sure that there is no one approaching a lock from the opposite direction, before you fill or empty a lock in order that you may use it, and always make sure all paddles are closed when you leave. Locks are a great way to meet people so use the opportunity to have a chat. The Bygones museum is well worth a visit for young and old alike.
After Claydon locks the canal twist and turns and once again it becomes very obvious why it is called a contour canal. The hills begin to surround you, as the canal prepares you to travel through the cutting which was the course of the old tunnel. This is narrow and thickly wooded, at the end of which the canal sweeps around a large bend towards Fenny Compton wharf and The Wharf Inn, children and dogs are welcome.
From here the course of the canal is very erratic and meandering; you will travel under many brick arched bridges. The canal travels west, and then doubles back on its self flowing east towards Stoneton Manor. Here a steep ridge gets it back on course to travel towards Napton.
The journey towards Marston Doles the locks, and Napton travels through rolling Warwickshire countryside. On arriving at Marston Doles the countryside opens up and the windmill at Napton comes into sight. From here it is downhill into Napton so from here you can see for miles. At the Old Engine House Arm you can turn your boat around in preparation for your return journey back to Oxford, if you like a walk there is The Folly Pub at the bottom of the flight of locks. Or you can travel down the seven locks and turn around at the winding hole at the bottom, but at this present time with the worries of water levels we would prefer you not to do this.
We at College Cruisers hope that you have enjoyed the virtual journey along our delightful little canal and very much hope that you would now like to do it for real. If you have already chosen to join us we hope this has given you lots to look forward too. There is nothing better than messing around in boats and the canal allows you to see England from a completely different perspective.