Company on board

Norton Junction to  Onley (North Oxford Canal):  7.5 miles, 1 tunnel, 6 locks
          Godmanchester Friend came to call today. There had been a late evening phone call last night. “Where are you? Where will you be tomorrow? I have too much to do, I shouldn’t , I can’t, I think I will…! And where is Braunston?”  Self-respecting canalaholics will know that it is in the heart of the country, the junction of the Grand Union Canal going north to Birmingham via Warwick and the Oxford Canal linking places like Rugby, Banbury and Oxford.
           This morning Cleddau left her overnight mooring and headed the straight mile or so towards Braunston Tunnel.

What boat should be emerging but nb Tegg’s Nose, though its owner appeared not to know where Tegg’s Nose is!  Only one boat was approaching in the tunnel

and there was easy mooring on the other side…
             Aided by an unfamiliar Satnav Godmanchester Friend had set off from home; she is very familiar with the A14 and the A45 but the Satnav took her through unexpected territory. There was a phone call: “I am at Northampton, I think I may be late.”  Then another: “I am near Daventry, I think I may be close!” Mid-morning there she was striding along the towpath, her car parked at the Admiral Nelson pub.
             Coffee; talk; 4 locks descended and a mooring found.

Appeasing a conscience about car park use for patrons only the trio trudged back up the towpath to the pub.

Untidy hay bales were stacked in the garden; a long open trailer was parked on the track; a long outside bar graced the side of the building. There was somehow an air of fatigue about the place – and no food, no food left at all after Saturday’s hugely successful all day and evening live music festival. The staff were exhausted – and so too was the supply of toilet paper – but the cider was good!  
              After lunch back on board, more talk and two more locks

Godmanchester Friend returned to her car and headed back east. Unusually the long pound through Braunston, hugely popular as a place to moor, had plenty of mooring space.  A herd of goats, it would seem, had  bagged a good mooring spot too, despite the notice!

 At a water point a little drama had taken place: there was earnest searching through blades of grass for something precious, a loss apparently caused by a fall into the water and a teenage tantrum…  A gap in the hedge gave a view of Braunston’s church,

often described as the Cathedral of the Canals, its spectacular church spire visible from miles around.
              Late afternoon there was a right bearing at Braunston Turn,

the boat now on the North Oxford Canal. To the right on the hill was the church.

From here on the field patterning clearly shows the straight lines of medieval ridge and furrow.

The canal weaves on, in Northamptonshire, in Warwickshire, in Northants again… There are fields, occasional bridges, but no roads – and it came as a surprise to come across this mass of lavender on a garden wall.

Not far away, but totally hidden from view by a high hedge is Onley Prison. Maybe there’ll be a glimpse of it tomorrow…
                                  Tomorrow: through Hillmorton Locks to Rugby

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