1979 Canal Holiday Failure – Day 3

We found day 2 hard going due to the heat so we took the decision to moor up well before the target overnight mooring spot. This meant we were already starting day 3 at a disadvantage. But we were optimistic – surely we could catch up to the hire boaters! Surely!!! Or will we have a canal holiday failure??

Day 2 we moored up near Bridge 100 of the Oxford Canal (affectionately referred to as “breakdown alley” due to our first trip on Ewart). My parents had moored near Bridge 85. This meant that we were a whole 3 miles behind – approximately 1 hour of cruising time. In theory at least!

Later start today, 9am. Terribly rough night last night. Torrential rain, but better this morning. Reached 1st lock about 11am (Hillmorton). Did some shopping at the little shop at last of 3 locks. 

Mum, Monday 21st May, 1979
day 3 1979 target map
1979 progress for day 3: 5 – start, 6 – lunch, 7 – tea, 8 – overnight mooring

This in mind, we started off early – after all we needed to give ourselves fighting chance! We found ourselves at Braunston Junction by about 8.30. However, as I also needed to buy some essential boat supplies at Midland Chandlers, I soon came to the realisation that we weren’t going to catch up. Midland Chandlers didn’t open until 9am…. I was straight in the door by 9.03! 

As any boater will know, a chandlers is like a santa’s grotto – a place where time means nothing. And somehow we didn’t end up casting off again until around 9.40. This was 40 minutes later than the 1979 holiday makers left their mooring, now putting us up to 90 minutes behind.

Still – the show must go on! And so we did. On and on and on. We enjoyed the beautiful scenery on the North Oxford and remembered the long straight stretches from our first (and only) narrowboat hire experience a few years back.

The sun was hot, and whilst there were patched of shade, these didn’t last for long. Whilst we are very much appreciating the warm weather, it does make cruising a little more of a challenge. That said, we ended up stopping for lunch just before Hillmorton Locks.

Hillmorton Locks

After a rest (which was really an opportunity to do some work because we aren’t actually on holiday), we dug deep and carried on with our journey. By this point it was close to 4pm – we were now 5 hours behind schedule.

Hillmorton locks was nearly the end of us. Well, one of us 😉 I was pretty wrecked too but being at the helm of the boat is by far the easiest job in high temperatures. We carried on for about another hour before ending our cruising day at Rugby.

Canal holiday failure
We failed!!

To put it in to perspective, the yellow section on the map is Newbold Tunnel – back in 1979 this is where they stopped for lunch. We didn’t even get this far in our day 3 adventure! Oh the shame – we had a canal holiday failure!

gunwale cat

On the plus side, the cats had a lovely time exploring the hedge as we took advantage of the shade (also the nearby supermarket).

It is important to be considerate of all crew members when going on a narrowboat holiday. For us, that means making sure the cats get some exercise and time on land. If we don’t, they become hard to live with – which isn’t fun for any of us!

The benefit of this canal holiday failure is that there will now be an EXTRA daily vlog. Tune in tomorrow for “makeup day”.


Mandy Smith
12/08/2018 at 9:12 am

I love the background you give us in the blog. Thank you!

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