Stratford on Avon to Cropredy near Banbury

Mooring in Stratford is time limited so we had to move on, but not far.
From the river there’s a lock onto the Stratford Canal and directly after is Bancroft Basin with pontoon visitor moorings, ideal to finish our visit to Stratford.
I couldn’t resist trying to take pictures of the Statues at night in Bancroft Basin.

This trip via Foxton Locks is a journey of 116 miles and 123 locks!
First though we travel up the Stratford Canal to Kingswood Junction on the Grand Union, 34 locks.
The Stratford Canals unique feature is of narrow bridges, no wider than the locks, so care is needed.
Onto the Grand Union and a 5 mile lock free section before the Hatton Lock Flight of 21 double locks. Our friends Jean and David came up from Banbury to help us through the flight, plus we doubled up in the locks with another boat so there was plenty of help. The worse thing about these locks is the amount of winding required on all the paddles to raise and lower them, good exercise though?

Through Leamington Spa and on towards Napton Junction, but not before calling in at Ventnor Marina to check out our winter mooring there.
Out of ventnor and the 3 locks again and turn left at Napton junction towards Braunston.
A turn right at Braunston Turn Junction and into Braunston. Another chance to stock up with provisions and take a break. Braunston is considered to be the hub of the canal network, and was once a very busy wharf for cargo. Just as busy today, but with pleasure craft instead.
Braunston Lock flight of 6 locks, again doubles, but traditional paddle gear.
No sooner out of the locks and into Braunston Tunnel, 2042 yards long, double width, and quite likely to pass another boat or two coming the other way, there’s a kink in the tunnel about halfway through and it’s not where you want to meet another boat.

Out of there and not far to Norton Junction where we turn left onto the Leicester section of the Grand Union towards Foxton Locks.
But Watford Lock Flight and Staircase come first. Always with volunteers to help here and a booking system for boats helps minimise water usage.
Some very pleasant cruising and overnight stops here before Crick Tunnel and Crick. Crick is always busy, especially late in May each year when the Crick National Boat Show is held at Crick Marina. A must visit for boaters, especially if buying or building a boat or just stocking up with chandlery.
Another great section now, past Yelvertoft Marina (where we collected out second boat Eliza Jane), before Foxton, no locks and nice country moorings.
We stay at Foxton for a few nights before retracing our steps back through Braunston and turning left onto the Oxford Canal. Narrow locks now and it’s not long before Napton Flight, 6 locks and 2 more in a short distance.
Folly Pub is a great place for a good pub meal before tackling the flight.
The Oxford Canal follows contours thus making a winding but very pleasant route.
Into Cropredy Marina on 5th October and a trip home by train.

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