The Oxford Canal was one of the earliest canals in England. Built by Brindley, it slavishly followed the contours of the land, sometimes making long exagerrated loops to come back to within yards of its starting point. It was part of Brindleys Grand Cross – a master plane for transport infrastructure, to link our major rivers with our coal fields and industrial centres. In particular, this canal brought coal from the Warwickshire coal field to the capital, via the Thames which it joined at Oxford. In the 1830’s in anticipation of competition from a planned rival canal, the Northern section was straightened using embankments and cuttings, shortening it by 14 miles. The legacy of those old loops were crossed by graceful ironwork bridges, and many of them have survived until today, providing quiet, peaceful moorings off the main line of the canal. The Northern section joins the Grand Union canal at that wonderful old canal village of Braunston, once a hub of the waterways transport network, and still the gathering place of choice for owners of old and restored working boats. After sharing the bed of the Grand Union for 8 miles, the unstraightened Southern section climbs Napton hill and meanders South through the Cotswolds, with delightful picture postcard villages built of the gorgeous honey coloured limestone of the region. Eventually it arrives at the Thames and the great city of Oxford.