The weather forecast for the day was rain coming in at about 11.00 am so we decided as we were awake to make an early start and so left our moorings at 6.20 am. Just after we cast off we passed a boat going the other way with the same idea. Other than that one we did not see another boat until we were going down the Napton flight and caught up with a single hander going back to Knowle Hall Wharf. As we came into the Napton flight we spotted a couple of fields of Water Buffalo grazing on the Alsop family farm at Chapel Green in Napton. After several generations of milking Friesians in Napton, they decided to diversify into milking Water Buffalo. At the end of 1999 they had 20 milking cows and a bull. In 2007 they increased the Buffalos to 80 milkers and have since grown and are now milking approximately 140 cows with around 100 young stock. The Buffalo are a well known sight to boaters on the Oxford Canal. The farm produces Buffalo Cheese, Ice cream and Buffalo meat.
At the penultimate lock in the flight the volunteer lock keepers came on duty and one of them helped us through the lock with his dog, Nala, who would help him open and close the gates.Apparently on their trip to London she had been the most photographed dog on the cut.
As we passed Wigrams Turn Marina we saw our first Signets of the year, they were enjoying themselves on the bank at the entrance.
We moored up at one of our favourite spots just passed Lower Shuckburgh at a convenient bridge for long standing friends Sue and Pauline to come for lunch. We had a great afternoon chatting and putting the world to rights.
The evening turned out much better than forecast so I took a walk up to the village of Flecknoe which is about 3/4 of a mile from the canal up on the hill and is a mixture of new and old properties. It has the Old Olive Bush pub which hosts a quiz on a Thursday night and we were tempted to go along but as we were up so early we did not think our brains would work well enough. Next to the pub is the Old Post Office and a little further on is the Manor House with its pillared entrance gate.
Flecknoe stands on a hill between 450 ft. and 540 ft., from which the ground falls steadily to about 270 ft. on the northern edge of the parish. It was presumably on the summit of this hill that the windmill stood which is mentioned as belonging to the Manor of Flecknoe in 1587 and 1687
I was pleased to see that in 1987 the village introduced a set of stocks opposite the pub as a deterrent, this has long been a method of punishing wrong doers that I have advocated. It must be working as they did not look as if they had been used in a long time. The views from the hill top over the Warwickshire countryside were truly amazing both in beauty and distance one could see. Walking back to the canal across the fields on a bridleway I came across several Owl Boxes so we will keep a good watch out towards dusk. I was intrigued by the cast iron sign still fixed to the bridge warning that it should only be used for “Ordinary Traffic of the District”, by order of the Company.