The North Oxford Canal skirts the northern edges of Rugby, and currently it’s a very pleasant rural route. However the urban scrawl is taking over with lots of new development encroaching the open fields and hillside. There’s a big road bridge being built, linking Clifton upon Dunsmore to the main town. There are towpath closures during November while they crane in the structure but canal traffic will be “managed”. There are also several miles of earthworks running alongside the canal after this, between Clifton and Hillmorton. We assume this is preparation for more housing. It’ll be interesting to see if the developers embrace or ignore the canal as an asset to this new community.In the mean time you cant beat a little red brick bridge at this time of year. We had a lovely surprise when we got to Hillmorton locks, our good friend Jo was waiting for us to lend a hand. Locks are always more fun with company, even if it was only a little flight of three. And it gave us the chance to share a bowl of soup for lunch. Jo and I then found enough blackberries hanging on to add flavour to an apple crumble and the feasting continued all evening when Jo prepared a delicious dinner for us. Topped off by the most spectacular sunset.Jo’s boat BluePearl is a year younger than Firecrest and it’s the first time we’ve really been able to spend much time on board. Jo knows the area quite well so we moored up and she took us for a cruise into Braunston and back. A nice experience to cruise on a different boat.