Open Canoe Trip Wolvercote to Kidlington

With heavy rain on Friday night resulting in red flags on the river, the open canoe trip on Saturday 6th looked to be a washout, had it not been for some quick thinking from Penny W and Penny T. The planned paddle from the watershed to the Victoria Arms was abandoned and instead Eniko, Adam, Michael, Penny W and Charlie arrived on a beautiful autumnal afternoon to trailer the canoes and take them to Wolvercote. Penny T's assistance in this was much appreciated as she cheerily waved us off in brilliant sunshine onto the Oxford Canal.

We decided to head up towards Kidlington, through two locks, to try out Adam's brand new and much admired windlass. Wolvercote Lock appeared quickly and with great delight we maneuvered our way through, learning new skills of working the locks, towing canoes and hanging on grimly to ladders, chains or each other as the water chortled away busily to lift us up or down.

The beautiful and surprisingly balmy weather continued all afternoon, making for a peaceful and serene paddle through the still canal. Blackberries were in abundance on the brambles overhanging the water and with some skilful steering (!) we picked our fill.

The serenity of the afternoon was only broken by two rowdy canal boat stag parties who first passed us on our way up; we caught up with them again on the way back down. Having all made it to Dukes Lock at the same time we agreed with Adam's wise decision to portage around it as the canal boats steered slowly in. It was a close run thing, but the hearty renditions of 'Sex on Fire' spurred us on to make this the quickest portage ever and we set off just as the lead boat started nosing its merry way out of the lock.

Clearly the excitable mood overtook us as we played a rather competitive 'Race and Bump' game through a lift bridge on the way home but as we entered the final stretch, peace was restored. We made it back through Wolvercote Lock as the sun started to go down, managing to put the boats back onto the trailer just in time for The Plough to open for us to pop in for a quick drink. Penny T collected tired but happy canoeists and we arrived at the watershed to unload the canoes as darkness fell. A great trip and many thanks to Penny W and Penny T for their organizational skills to make it possible!

- Charlie