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Hi all. I am again looking at a weeks holiday but need some advice . As its likely I will be single I prefer only a narrow canal, so I am better able to handle the locks . I have previously hired on the L & L  Oxford and Grand union, but always with a mate . I would like to find a canal that is both scenic and with plenty of villages to choose an overnight stop/ ( with pubs  ). The Oxford I did only as far south as Cropredy. Does the southern section fit the description ?  Thanks for your help.

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Many hire companies will not hire to singlehanders,  Best phone around and find out who does, although in present circumstances they may be glad of any custom.

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I think it's a matter of insurance for the companies - single handing doesn't fit their insurers' profile.

Some hire companies are more savvy than others - and also may have smaller boats Try College cruisers in Oxford and Oxfordshire narrowboats in Lower Heyford. Both have train stations nearby.

 

The southern, southern Oxford is very 'nice'. There are pubs - if they've survived The Virus (we carry our own G&T, so can't advice. 

Oxford is well worth a more than passing visit with great atmosphere unique and interesting museums. Avoid the main streets and discover the architecture...

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I'm based on the South Oxford (Cropredy) and single hand all the time. My first trip after Covid will be down to Oxford and back. May even stick my nose out onto the Thames if I feel like it. Given that you find a company prepared to hire to a singlehander the biggest issue you will find is around pubs. Even before Covid most canalside pubs are not that welcoming to singletons. They are geared up to the food trade and often finding a suitable seat for a quick beer or two isn't that easy. It's o/k if you sit outside. I tend to have an early ( 4 ish) pint and go back to the boat to eat and have a glass of wine.

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Thanks for the updates . To be honest I had not even considered being alone would be deemed detrimental. Its not as if I am a first timer . Anyhow lots of time to arrange . unlikely I shall be travelling anytime soon given all the restrictions .  Many thanks

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5 minutes ago, pomkitanner said:

Thanks for the updates . To be honest I had not even considered being alone would be deemed detrimental. Its not as if I am a first timer .

 

The smaller family run hire companies are more likely to accept your experience as compensation for being alone, compared with the bigger chains. Worth ringing round a few in your preferred area to establish their attitude before embarking on booking. A straight online booking might well result in a computer-says-no response.

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The Thames is user-friendly when single-handing (unless it's a bank holiday weekend). Lots of lockies and volunteers (of variable competence) to help. Be prepared to do an orthicological manouevre into a tree with a rope when tying up.

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Oxfordshire Narrowboats don't accept single users, not sure about college cruisers but suspect that they also have safety and insurance issues as mentioned in above posts. You may have had luck using one of the smaller family run companies during a normal year and when the season starts or finishes, but I suspect this year due to Covid most people will holiday in the UK so these companies would not need to take risks hiring out to a single user

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On 19/06/2020 at 21:08, pomkitanner said:

Thanks for the updates . To be honest I had not even considered being alone would be deemed detrimental. Its not as if I am a first timer . Anyhow lots of time to arrange . unlikely I shall be travelling anytime soon given all the restrictions .  Many thanks

Try the "Wyatts" - ie Canal Cruising at Stone they have some great small boats - the Leek and Caldon makes a great cruise just the swing bridge that would be a challenge but make a brew and wait for help

Edited by Halsey

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I have heard mention of a fee to travel from the Thames to The Oxford via the Dukes cut . Is this a nominal fee or something considerable ?

Were I to base myself at Oxford and choose to travel to Lechlade, is this a route that might be of interest? I have never been on a tidal river, so unsure of which skills might be needed .  I gather from a previous answer that there are still locks to negotiate . Thanks

Edited by pomkitanner

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58 minutes ago, pomkitanner said:

I have heard mention of a fee to travel from the Thames to The Oxford via the Dukes cut . Is this a nominal fee or something considerable ?

Were I to base myself at Oxford and choose to travel to Lechlade, is this a route that might be of interest? I have never been on a tidal river, so unsure of which skills might be needed .  I gather from a previous answer that there are still locks to negotiate . Thanks

1. The Thames above "West London" is not tidal but like all rivers has a current flow. In a dry summer it could be  almost zero flow, in a wet winter the flow is downright dangerous for navigation. It can get hairy during the rest of the year after prolonged heavy rain but the locks display boards that advise when to tie up securely and wait the flow out.

 

2. Yes there are locks an din high summer many may well have a lock keeper in attendance but above Dukes Cut they are all manual and in my view usually easier to operate than the canal locks. downstream the locks are mechanised but as long as you read the instructions properly when there is no lock keeper on duty they are also easy enough.

 

3. You need an EA Thames license for the Thames and the backwater that leads to the very short Dukes Cut. Dukes Cut is probably all under CaRT so to use that plus the canal you need a CaRT license but both authorities offer short term licenses. There is also the Gold license that covers CaRT and all EA waterways. However going from the canal via Dukes Cut to the Thames without an EA license is unlikely to get you into trouble unless you try to go through a Thames lock and those locks either side of the cut can sell you a short term EA license. The other way round is more difficult because there are no CaRT lock keepers as such so they rely upon mobile license checkers. I don't know how fats CaRT move if they find an unlicensed boat but in view of the potential confiscation of the boat I would not risk not having a license. your hire fleet should sort out the licenses of tell you wast they want you to do.

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49 minutes ago, pomkitanner said:

I have heard mention of a fee to travel from the Thames to The Oxford via the Dukes cut . Is this a nominal fee or something considerable ?

Were I to base myself at Oxford and choose to travel to Lechlade, is this a route that might be of interest? I have never been on a tidal river, so unsure of which skills might be needed .  I gather from a previous answer that there are still locks to negotiate . Thanks

Most of the folks on here are based on the canal system and pay a licence fee to CaRT for the whole system.

 

  • The River Thames above Teddington "non-tidal Thames" is managed by the Envionment Agency and a separate fee 'registration' is payable. It covers the whole river from Teddingto to Lechlade.
  • The locks are larger than canal locks
  • Below Oxford-ish the locks are electric powered
  • Above Oxford the locks are more like a canal lock - with large balance beand and wheel operated sluices (=paddles)
  • There are lock keepers in attendance, but you may operate them yourself at any time.

 

Pause - now what did TB say...

 

OK much the same as I, but with a different emphasis, so I'll continue.

 

Above Oxford the river is very twisty and somewhat rural, thus shopping is not really an option until you get to Lechlade - which is a pleasant enough town.

There are a few official moorings (near locks), other wise you can moor anywhere sensible (e.g. not at the bottom of someone's huge garden) - if there are no notices

It's great - but the absence of pubs etc puts folks off as does the quietness.

 

That should be enough for starters...

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20 minutes ago, pomkitanner said:

Thanks . I note some locks on the Thames are manned. Is this the case for any Canal routes ?

In most cases, no.

 

CRT &  EA can't agree who owns Duke's cut. Neither want to do the maintenance, strangely neither want to collect mooring fees from the few boats that live there. Certainly you won't have to pay for that passage, but you will have to pay for the waterway you are licenced on and for the one you are visiting (except if you pay for both with a Gold licence)

 

Orthicological - is that a word?

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23 minutes ago, pomkitanner said:

Thanks . I note some locks on the Thames are manned. Is this the case for any Canal routes ?

In general, no.  Some busy flights have volunteers, some of the time, who can help you.

Only a very few locks on the canals are manned (usually where a canal meets a tidal river). 

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On 30/06/2020 at 10:44, Tony Brooks said:

The other way round is more difficult because there are no CaRT lock keepers as such so they rely upon mobile license checkers. I don't know how fats CaRT move if they find an unlicensed boat but in view of the potential confiscation of the boat I would not risk not having a license. your hire fleet should sort out the licenses of tell you wast they want you to do.

There are plenty of CART checkers walking the Oxford canal close to the Thames junctions. Don't be tempted to try to avoid a licence there. On the Thames, some people avoid a licence, especially between the Oxford and the K&A, by moving the boat outside lock-keeper hours. It's surprising how many boats you see at night. There are EA boat patrols but few and far between. I've never noticed an EA checker on foot (other than the lockies who keep an eye on their moorings).

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Thanks for all the advice . So now I have a few more questions  that have come to light . If we were to Begin our trip at Wooten Wawen, on the Stratford, is it feasible to travel on a 7 day hire as far as Evesham ?  Also is the Avon tidal ? and how much more envolved is it negotiating a flowing river ? I believe locks on this river may be manned, Correct ? My searches have identified a £50 river licence  fee, are there any other fees to consider ? Sorry for all the questions,

Derek Tanner.

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The upper Avon has its own navigation authority so it has additional licensing, actually I think the upper and lower Avon navigations are now merged into one but still another license. Once again your hire fleet should sort the licenses and it would be very unwise to take a CaRT licensed hire boat onto another navigation without asking the base.

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I don't think the locks on the Avon are manned. At least they weren't the last time we cruised the river.

 

Haggis

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Of the few that have been manned when we've gone through (not counting the one at Tewkesbury) they've nearly all been manned by volunteer jobsworths who think they know my boat better than I do and with whom we've usually ended up having a major argument.

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The Avon flow is far less well controlled than the Thames because many of the weirs are not much more than  a waterfall. It is likely to rise and fall quickly after rain and the current may be stronger.

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Update .  I have a second crewman .  So my choices have widened immeasurably. I still prefer a narrow canal but otherwise open to anything new . As stated , have previously done the Oxford/ Grand Union / and L & L .  so hoping for other suggestions .  I like open country ( not too many long stretches of tree shrouded views ).  Villages, Small towns and definitely not industrial.  Does the Staffs & Worcs  fit ?   I like the look of Napton Narrowboats  from Autherly Junction .  Thanks .

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