Monday, 22 July 2013

Around and back again

Approaching the winding hole, somewhere among the swimmers and the trees
With the usual cataclysmic weather forecasts of thunderstorms and flooding on the radio, we thought it might be sensible to turn tail and head back towards the sanctuary of Oxford. But not before doing the final half mile of the navigable Thames to Inglesham. This is where the river meets the dormant Thames & Severn Canal which once provided a water route for cargo through the Cotswolds and on to London.
The hope is that one day the restored Cotswold canals will again link the Thames to the Severn (or at least its parellel man-made channel, the Gloucester & Sharpness Canal). One day!
For the moment you have to turn by the Round House - a former canal lengthsman's cottage - and the lock gates of the old canal. Apparently you can turn a full length 70ft boat there. Well it took me about 93 forwards and backwards manoeuvres to get 56ft Harry turned. I blame the shallow water and the overhanging trees. Others may blame the helmsman if they wish.
But round we finally got and headed back downstream on an energy sapping hot afternoon and on a river whose level seemed to have dropped even further. At least that's why I reckon we got stuck on a mudbank that stretched virtually into mid bend about a mile later. After much pole work and reversing we got ourselves off and I stuck firmly in mid-channel after that.
Rain falls for the first time on our trip
We finally moored up in the middle of nowhere and watched the long anticipated storms circle around in spectacular forks of lightning and distant rumbles of thunder. All we've had is a few short, sharp showers and sweltering humidity.

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