1979 Cruising Adventure – Day 2

Day two of our 1979 cruising adventure was always going to be a long one. It was the first full day of hire boating. However, back in May 1979, it was not boating weather, which impacted the cruising schedule slightly. Fast forward to August 2018 and the weather is still causing problems – although for us it was a heatwave!

Up at 7am, very grey and overcast. Set off just after 8. Through first lock by 9am and passed Napton Lower Lock by 11.30 (9 locks in all). Raining quite hard by now. Stopped at 12.45 for lunch. Soaked by now (bridged 107/8).

Mum, Sunday 20th May, 1979
Day 2 - target route
Day 2 – 1979 route. Shows start (3), Lunch (4) and end (5)

We really wanted to stay true to the diary timings. We woke up bright and early at 7am as instructed. Cat’s were surprised to see us so early! After some debate, we let them out for a run while we were eating breakfast. This was the first mistake!

Alice decided that she no longer wanted to travel. Surely as we had only just moored up, it was exploring day for her so why should she get back on the boat so soon after realising her freedom!

Delayed already, we were still optimistic as we started cruising at around 8.30. We had really enjoyed the evening cruise the night before and had found that early morning or evening was the best time to navigate the Oxford canal – fewer boats on the move!

We were lucky with the Napton locks – most were set in our favour thanks to other boats coming up the flight. Half way down, a novice hire-boater stopped us in our tracks. See the rant on the vlog! The short version is that he didn’t really understand the traffic system or right of way in a flight of locks and thought it would be easier for him if all the locks before him were empty…

By the time we got to the bottom of the locks, we were both wrecked – the sun was hot and there was little shade to shelter in during the journey. We needed to visit the Post Office and were lucky to get the last spot in the visitor moorings just past the Folly Inn. With a pub so close, it would have been foolish not to make use of their catering facilities – even though we later found out it hadn’t even existed in 1979!

When we returned to the boat, I think we both thought that we were staying put. We had a nice mooring spot and were both tired. The only issue was we didn’t feel comfortable letting the cats out in such a busy spot. There were lots of people and dogs passing so it wasn’t safe. So, to Annamarie’s dismay, after a little rest, we continued on our way.

Didn’t start again until 4.15 and we were cold, wet and miserable by the time we stopped at 6PM at Bridge 85. Still raining. Saw two herons where we stopped.

Mum, Sunday 20th May, 1979
1979 cruising adventure
Orange boats show our stopping locations vs Purple numbers showing our targets

At this point, we were quite sure we would be able to remain on target. After all, the family had a 4 hour break in 1979 and we were confident that we hadn’t stopped that long.

Cats on a narrowboat
Overnight mooring on Oxford Canal

The goal was to get from the Folly, through Napton Junction, through Braunston Junction and to find a suitable mooring spot near Bridge 85. This was approximately 8 miles of lock free cruising and should have taken 3 hours.

We had a few hold ups – like a widebeam boat blocking Napton Junction – and lots of moored boats that we slowed for. Otherwise, cruising was enjoyable. But somehow we ended up behind and took the decision to moor up before Brauston. The excuse was that the cats needed a run…. 

Find out what happened on day 1 of our 1979 canal adventure: https://narrowboatexperience.com/2018/08/1979-cruising-adventure-day-1/


11/08/2018 at 9:27 am

I’m thinking there were less boats and the hire boats went faster.

My mom lied about all of our vacations, so I have nothing to compare.
“Oh, we had such fun. Everything was perfect and your dad was a delight”.

🤔 Not the way I remember it at all.

Carry on,

Mandy Smith
11/08/2018 at 11:37 am

I’m loving the videos and the accompanying blog is brilliant. Thank you Kath

David Dougherty
11/08/2018 at 6:56 pm

Hints, hints, and more hints. 1975 was a very good year. So one of you was born in 1975, but which witch? Would parents take a 4 year old on a boat? Is it Annamarie who is 43? I am guessing so, and Kath was still an infant on the trip.

    12/08/2018 at 12:39 pm

    I expect they would if they wanted to go on holiday! But in this instance, all the children were over 8.

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