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Lower Heyford


Route Highlights:

A fantastic starting location, perfect for those wanting to escape the hustle and bustle of London. With so many route options suited to beginners and experienced boaters our base near Oxford is ideal for those wanting either a truly rural escape or a city break. 'The City of Dreaming Spires' is only a 7-8 hour cruise from the base making it just perfect for a weekend cruise for groups of friends wanting pubs and clubs or couples wanting a romantic getaway. Click for suggested routes.

The sample routes below are merely suggestions. The age and nature of our unique waterways means that there may occasionally be a need for planned or emergency restrictions or closures and therefore it cannot be guaranteed that every route will always be available.
Lower Heyford map

Short Break Route Suggestions (3 & 4 nights):

Relaxed route: Banbury and Return – 26 miles, 16 locks, 14.5 hours total
A good option for a weekend route, travelling through rural picturesque countryside and small villages with country pubs. Depart the base at Lower Heyford and head north along the South Oxford Canal. Cruise through open farmland and water meadows through Upper Heyford, with its thatched houses and village pubs. Continue on through the village of Somerton and on through Somerton Deep Lock until you reach Aynho Wharf. Moor up here for a pleasant mile-long walk into the village or to stop at the canalside pub. Continue along a pleasant rural stretch, passing through several locks on the way to the market town of Banbury. Use the moorings available in the town centre to visit the Market Place, walk through the Old Town, or have a spending spree at the Castle Quay shopping centre. Turn at Banbury to begin the journey back to base.

Intermediate route: Oxford and Return – 29 miles, 20 locks, 16 hours total
A great weekend city break or more relaxed midweek break, allowing more time to explore the City of Oxford at leisure. Start your journey heading south on the South Oxford Canal from Lower Heyford, cruising through pretty farmland at first, heading into a deeply wooded stretch slightly further on. The canal meanders its way through pretty villages such as Thrupp, where there are pubs located close to the towpath at bridges 221 and 223. Lift bridges are frequent along the canal, however many are left open. Continue cruising down the South Oxford Canal to the moorings close to Isis lock for an easy walk into Oxford- the City of Dreaming Spires. Famous for being the home of one of the most prestigious universities in the world, Oxford hosts many museums, shops, pubs and restaurants to explore. Turn at the moorings for the return journey back to the base at Lower Heyford.

Active route: Cropredy and Return – 34 miles, 22 locks, 19 hours total
More suited to a midweek break, but can be done over a weekend with longer cruising hours per day. Start your journey heading north from Lower Heyford up the South Oxford Canal, passing through the pretty farmland past Upper Heyford. Continue through the Cherwell Valley to Somerton Deep Lock and onto the wharf at Aynho, where there is a canalside pub. Cruise through several lift bridges, many of which will be left open for boaters to pass straight through, and onto the town of Banbury. Use the moorings available in the town centre to visit the Market Place, walk through the Old Town, or have a spending spree at the Castle Quay shopping centre. Continue cruising through the peaceful countryside to the quiet, picturesque village of Cropredy- home to the annual Fairport Convention. Moor along the towpath before the winding hole and take a short walk into the village to visit one of the pubs for an evening meal, before turning your boat for the journey back to Lower Heyford.

Weekly Route Suggestions:

Relaxed route: Oxford, Lechlade and Return – 81 miles, 38 locks, 36.5 hours total
Start your journey heading south on the South Oxford Canal from Lower Heyford, cruising through pretty farmland to the pretty village of Thrupp, where there are pubs located close to the towpath at bridges 221 and 223. Continue cruising down the South Oxford Canal to the moorings close to Isis lock for an easy walk into Oxford- the City of Dreaming Spires. Famous for being the home of one of the most prestigious universities in the world, Oxford hosts many museums, shops, pubs and restaurants to explore. Cruise through Isis Lock, joining onto the River Thames- a licence will be required and can be purchased from the lock (roughly £80 for one week). Head north on the River Thames and travel through King’s Lock, passing the outskirts of Wytham Great Wood. Pass through Pinkhill Lock and scenic open countryside to the small hamlet of Radcot. Cruise under the oldest bridge on the River Thames – an impressive triple-arched 13th Century stone bridge and continue through beautiful countryside to the pristine village of Kelmscott. The river meanders its way to St John’s Lock, after which there are several mooring points to choose from to stop and visit the market town of Lechlade. The tall spire visible from the river belongs to the 15th Century church of St Lawrence. Take a stroll around this idyllic Cotswold town or sample one of the many pubs, cafes or cocktail bars. Turn either at one of the boatyards or at the Round House winding hole a little further on to cruise back to base.

Relaxed route: Oxford, Cropredy and Return – 63 miles, 40 locks, 35.5 hours total
A very picturesque route travelling past pretty canalside pubs and villages, whilst enjoying the quiet, peaceful countryside. Depart the base at Lower Heyford and travel north through the Cherwell Valley heading past the village of Upper Heyford, with its pretty thatched houses. Cruise on past the village of Somerton and through Aynho Wharf, where there is a canalside pub and continue along a pleasant rural stretch, passing through several locks on the way to the market town of Banbury. Pass by the pretty stone cottages at Cropredy and travel through the locks at Claydon, after which the canal meanders its way through the village of Fenny Compton and past the medieval village of Wormleighton. Cruise through rolling farmland through Marston Doles, where the windmill on Napton Hill will come into view. Travel through the Napton Locks, mooring by Napton Bottom Lock to walk into the village of Napton-on-the-Hill. The village has several shops and pubs, as well as a beautiful 13th Century church located at the top of the hill. Turn at the winding hole north of Napton Bottom Lock and start your journey back to Lower Heyford.

Intermediate route: Napton and Return – 70 miles, 58 locks, 39 hours total
A very picturesque route travelling past pretty canalside pubs and villages, whilst enjoying the quiet, peaceful countryside. Depart the base at Lower Heyford and travel north through the Cherwell Valley heading past the village of Upper Heyford, with its pretty thatched houses. Cruise on past the village of Somerton and through Aynho Wharf, where there is a canalside pub and continue along a pleasant rural stretch, passing through several locks on the way to the market town of Banbury. Pass by the pretty stone cottages at Cropredy and travel through the locks at Claydon, after which the canal meanders its way through the village of Fenny Compton and past the medieval village of Wormleighton. Cruise through rolling farmland through Marston Doles, where the windmill on Napton Hill will come into view. Travel through the Napton Locks, mooring by Napton Bottom Lock to walk into the village of Napton-on-the-Hill. The village has several shops and pubs, as well as a beautiful 13th Century church located at the top of the hill. Turn at the winding hole north of Napton Bottom Lock and start your journey back to Lower Heyford.

Active route: Braunston and Return – 80 miles, 58 locks, 42 hours total
Start your journey heading north through the Cherwell Valley , cruising past the village of Upper Heyford, with its pretty thatched houses. Cruise on past the village of Somerton and through Aynho Wharf, where there is a canalside pub and continue along a pleasant rural stretch, passing through several locks on the way to the market town of Banbury. Pass by the pretty stone cottages at Cropredy and travel on through the village of Fenny Compton. Cruise through rolling farmland through Marston Doles, where the windmill on Napton Hill will come into view. Travel through the Napton Locks, mooring by Napton Bottom Lock to walk into the village of Napton-on-the-Hill. The village has several shops and pubs, as well as a beautiful 13th Century church located at the top of the hill. At Napton Junction, join onto the Grand Union Canal heading east. Cruise through peaceful, quiet countryside to the attractive Braunston Turn junction, head east from here and head into the canal village of Braunston. Moor up along the towpath for a short walk into the village centre; set upon a hill, the village has a butchers, fish & chip shop, tea room and gift shop, along with a few local stores. The village is also home to several pubs and the historic All Saint’s Church which dates back to 1849. Turn at one of two winding holes at Braunston to begin your journey back to base.

Fortnight Route Suggestions:

Relaxed route: Warwick and Return – 99 miles, 108 locks, 58 hours total
Start your journey departing the base at Lower Heyford and travel through the little village of Upper Heyford, with its pretty thatched houses. Cruise on past the village of Somerton and through Aynho Wharf, where there is a canalside pub and continue along a pleasant rural stretch, passing through several locks on the way to the market town of Banbury. Pass by the pretty stone cottages at Cropredy and travel through the locks at Claydon, after which the canal meanders its way through the village of Fenny Compton and past the medieval village of Wormleighton. Cruise through rolling farmland through Marston Doles, where the windmill on Napton Hill will come into view. Travel through the Napton Locks, mooring by Napton Bottom Lock to walk into the village of Napton-on-the-Hill. Cruise on past the canalside pub and onto Napton Junction to join onto the Grand Union Canal towards Stockton. Navigate through the 10 locks at Stockton, mooring along the towpath if you wish to visit this largely Victorian village. Cruise over a small aqueduct and past a couple of canalside pubs at Long Itchington, before tackling a further set of locks continuing the descent into Warwick. Moor up either by Bridge 49B or 50A or continue to the Saltisford Arm for a pleasant walk into Warwick. Visit Warwick Castle, the 14th Century Lord Leycester Hospital and the Church of St Mary’s before turning your boat in the Saltisford Arm for the journey back to Lower Heyford marina.

Intermediate route: Cosgrove and Return – 136 miles, 100 locks, 68 hours total
Start your journey heading north through the Cherwell Valley, cruising past the village of Upper Heyford, with its pretty thatched houses. Cruise on past the village of Somerton and through Aynho Wharf, where there is a canalside pub and continue along a pleasant rural stretch, passing through several locks on the way to the market town of Banbury. Pass by the pretty stone cottages at Cropredy and travel on through the village of Fenny Compton. Cruise through rolling farmland through Marston Doles, where the windmill on Napton Hill will come into view. Travel through the Napton Locks, mooring by Napton Bottom Lock to walk into the village of Napton-on-the-Hill. The village has several shops and pubs, as well as a beautiful 13th Century church located at the top of the hill. At Napton Junction, join onto the Grand Union Canal heading east. Cruise through peaceful, quiet countryside to the attractive Braunston Turn junction, head east from here and head into the canal village of Braunston. Moor up along the towpath for a short walk into the village centre; set upon a hill, the village has a butchers, fish & chip shop, tea room and gift shop, along with a few local stores. The village is also home to several pubs and the historic All Saint’s Church which dates back to 1849. Cruise on through the Braunston Tunnel at 2042yds it is surprisingly not the longest tunnel you will travel through on this route. Continue to Norton Junction and cruise south down the Grand Union Canal to the Blisworth Tunnel (approximately an hour's cruise away). The Blisworth Tunnel is 3057yds long - making it one of the longest tunnels open for navigation in Britain. After successfully navigating this tunnel, you reach Stoke Bruerne which has a waterfront museum and pubs. Through the locks at Stoke Bruerne cruise through the varied scenery under stone bridges to Cosgrove. After working the Cosgrove lock you enter the Great Ouse Aqueduct, cruise to the winding hole at Old Wolverton to start your journey back to base.

Active Route: Hampton Court Palace and Return – 205 miles, 85 locks, 85.5 hours total
Start your journey heading south on the South Oxford Canal from Lower Heyford, cruising through pretty farmland to the pretty village of Thrupp, where there are pubs located close to the towpath at bridges 221 and 223. Continue cruising down the South Oxford Canal to the moorings close to Isis lock for an easy walk into Oxford- the City of Dreaming Spires. Famous for being the home of one of the most prestigious universities in the world, Oxford hosts many museums, shops, pubs and restaurants to explore. Cruise through Isis Lock, joining onto the River Thames- a licence will be required and can be purchased from the lock (roughly £80 for one week). Travel through the historic market towns of Abingdon and Wallingford, stopping at riverside pubs along the way for refreshment if needed. Continue on towards Basildon, where there are moorings for the Beale Park wildlife park. Travel through Pangbourne with its riverside pub and on through Mapledurham, where you’ll pass a cluster of period houses and cottages on the banks. Cruise on towards the town of Reading, mooring by Reading Bridge to visit the town’s attractions such as The Oracle shopping centre, the Abbey Ruins and Reading Gaol. Travel past the pretty village of Sonning and the attractive market town of Henley-on-Thames. Use one of the several mooring spots available close to the town to visit the fantastic array of independent shops, the River & Rowing Museum or some of the many pubs, bars and eateries. Continuing along the River Thames you’ll pass many attractive towns and villages including Marlow and Cookham, both home to a great selection of pubs and restaurants. Cruising on from here and onto the town of Windsor, stop here to visit attractions such as Windsor Castle and Legoland. Continue cruising through Runnymede and Staines-upon-Thames and moor at Penton Hook marina to visit one of the UK’s biggest theme parks- Thorpe Park. Travel on past the towns of Chertsey and Weybridge on the approach to Hampton Court. Moor up at the palace moorings to explore the home of Henry VIII, visit the grand gardens and famous maze and spend time walking the corridors steeped in Tudor history.

Suggested Guidebooks