Oxford Canal

Oxford Canal by Narrowboat

Whilst we attended the Crick Boat Show in 2018, we moored up in Wigrams Turn Marina for a little while. This marina has the benefit of offering three cruising options. We chose to exit and turn left onto the Oxford Canal.

History of the Oxford Canal

The Oxford Canal stretches from Oxford to Coventry. It was developed and opened in sections between 1774 and 1790. The primary purpose of this canal was to enable the transporting coal down to the River Thames.

The southern section remains mostly untouched – it was built following the contour method and it shows. Of course the benefit of this is that the canal calls at many small towns and required minimal building effort. This translates into lots of blind corners and narrow sections to navigate!

The canal itself is 75 miles long and passes through the popular villages of Cropredy and Thrupp to name a few. It has a total of 46 narrow locks, including a flight of nine at Napton, and the famous Hillmorton Locks – officially the busiest in the country!

oxford canal overview
Oxford Canal (image from Google Maps / Open Canal Map)

Our Journey

We started our journey from Napton Junction, turning left out of the marina straight onto the South Oxford. We spent a few days moored at the top of the Napton locks so had an opportunity to explore Napton village. After this we moved on to Fenny Compton and Banbury.

Whilst at Banbury, we had the opportunity to visit the famous Tooley’s Boat yard. This boatyard was the starting point of the canal journey of Tom Rolt, author of Narrow Boat and one of the founders of the Inland Waterways Association (IWA).

After the initial shock of the twists and turns of the canal, we very much enjoyed the countryside and exploring the towns and villages along the way.

The Oxford Canal was also where we started our popular 1979 series. This journey was from Fenny Compton to the end of the Ashby Canal. It saw us try to keep pace with Kath’s Mum’s travel diary of a hire boat holiday.

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