This is a tale of suspense, intrigue, high speed chases, and intruders… well, something like that.
Last year we set out from Rugby on a little yellow canal boat called Bryn, with the intention of tackling the Oxford canal from top to bottom. You may recall we had a change of plan on that trip, and ended up turning the boat at a random point and heading off in a completely different direction.
The place we turned was somewhere near Bridge 107.
Well, today we planned to get to that same turning point, near Napton but this time from the bottom up.
To have any hope of achieving our goal we needed to set off early. At 07:35 to be precise, and so that is exactly what we did. Captain’s orders.
The sun hadn’t quite risen over the horizon but there was enough light in the sky to allow us to travel, without putting the tunnel light on.
Before we could reach our designated turning point, we had several locks to negotiate, including the six that make up the Napton Flight.
An incident-free morning meant that we reached the lock flight in good time, and made our way through them without delay. The Captain spent half her time operating the locks, and the other half acting as a volunteer – dispensing much needed advice to a series of hire boaters heading in the opposite direction. She was in her element. All she needed was a life jacket and a blue CRT jumper.
The Security Officer was a little less in his element as he had to stay well within the boat. Why? Because a pack of rowdy four-legged friends were barking and bouncing their way around the locks, and taking great interest in our boat. They very nearly climbed onboard. A serious security incident if ever there was one!
We finished the lock flight with the help of a volunteer, who wished us well upon our way, and looked forward to seeing us on our return many hours later. He noted down the name of our boat and the time we went through.
We eventually made it to the turning area (it’s not officially a winding hole, but it’s big enough for a small boat like ours) and our return to Oxford began.
As we turned, another boat appeared behind us. This mysterious boat then began to pursue us, sticking to our stern quite closely.
In case you hadn’t realised, this is the high speed section of our tale. Enjoy.
I pushed the throttle and showed them our power as we chugged away at 4mph. They managed to stick with us for a while, but their boat was no match for our getaway vehicle. We pulled out quite a gap, and eventually lost them completely.
We were back at the lock flight rather sooner than expected, and the volunteer was there to greet us. I thought he was going to tell us off that we were back much sooner than expected, implying that he knew we’d been speeding. Instead he gave a friendly wave and ushered us through, no problem. Phew.
The Captain rewarded all of the crew with cake. The Sea Cadet appeared to enjoy it too, offering its thanks by squirming and wriggling.
We tied up for water at Marston Doles, where I had a shower and the Captain took the Security Officer for a patrol around the towpath.
I was happily splashing away, when I heard several loud clunks and bangs, and with soap still in my eyes the boat started to move!
I was being kidnapped. There was no other possible explanation!
I hurriedly dried, dressed, and stealed myself to face my kidnappers. I burst out of the bathroom and stomped towards the stern…
…only to find a set of six very familiar legs waiting for me. Four for the Security Officer, and two for the Captain.
I wasn’t being kidnapped at all. Phew.
After all this suspense we decided to moor up early, which had the added bonus of giving me some time to unwind and fly the drone.