When Janis caught us up in Cropredy on Tuesday, after work to ‘Roots and Wings’ had been completed in Banbury, we spent another day at this attractive little village that sits so quietly for most of the year except on the first weekend of August, when it goes wild with visitors at the Fairport Convention Festival.
Turnover Bridge at the north end of ‘Fenny Compton Tunnel’
We stayed the extra day so that on Wednesday we could have a meal with my friend Ann who lives locally. She recommended 'The Plough’ at the nearby village of Little Bourton and was happy to take us there in her car. The meal was delicious and the company delightful. What more could any man wish for?
Autumn berries and colours. A splendid year for berries.
On Thursday morning, though the early temperature was much cooler, the Sun shone magnificently in a cloudless sky. So we set off northwards in the direction of Fenny Compton and had a most pleasant passage finally tying up at the very rural mooring on an embankment above the flat Warwickshire plain and close to the well known radio aerial landmark.
This is a spot that I love very much. Rich farmland used both for the growing of crops and animal grazing spreads out to the horizon beyond a small copse of trees showing bright Autumnal colours enlivened by the Sun and in the distance to the north, about three miles away as the crow flies, the sails of Napton Windmill on its ridge glistened brilliantly in that same glorious sunshine.
In fact on the following day, because of the meandering nature of James Brindley’s canal in these parts, it would be necessary for us to travel six miles in order to cover that short distance to Napton.
We awoke on Friday morning at the radio aerial to a dismal climate. The sky was heavily overcast and a very light drizzle hung about in the atmosphere making everything very wet. But it wasn’t cold in the gentle south easterly breeze so we decided to make a move. The weather improved as we zigzagged our way slowly around the tortuous bends and by the time we arrived at Napton in the early afternoon, most of the cloud had disappeared. In between Locks 8 and 9 was where we moored; the usual place, as it gives one a beautiful view of the windmill and the church and village nestling on the side of the hill .….. And of course, the Sun always shines for me at Napton.
We remained there only for the one night and pressed on during Saturday to the moorings at Long Itchington, within sight of the tall chimney marking the position of the old cement works and on the following day cheered with the warmth of sunny intervals we set off for Leamington Spa.
Looking up the Stockton Flight of locks
The wind was light as we left Long Itchington but soon it began to increase in strength and before long we were battling through strong to gale force winds that caused quite a swell on the narrow canal. Getting into the many locks on this stretch took far more concentration than usual and the gale force breeze literally held us back when hitting us from straight ahead. Our engines had to labour far more than usual to make any decent headway.
‘Roots and Wings’ navigating out of Radford Bottom Lock
Showers were also hitting us frequently towards the end of our passage so we were grateful to pass the familiar landmarks of Leamington Spa and to be able to tie up at the Old Town Moorings in the early afternoon.
On this last passage we encountered many hire boats from Kate Boats, the site of our winter moorings in Warwick and many of them will not be expected back to base till next Saturday. So since it will be a busy day there most likely, we shall remain here till Friday before completing the last couple of hours of our eventful Summer Voyage.