Sunday 16th July; Kingswood Junction to Hockley Heath
We awoke to a grey day with occasional light drizzle, but the weather soon cheered up. We were away soon after 9 and I turned Chuffed at the junction with the Grand Union. Not the slick three-point turn as I had watched two boats do it yesterday, but I didn’t touch the banks or the brickwork. Dave nipped off to open the lock up to the Stratford canal, then left me to fill it as he went over to see what was happening at the next lock, as we wanted to take on water. A hire boat was there, but unfortunately another boat was waiting too. I handed over to Dave, as it was clear there would be quite a bit of manoeuvring, and decamped to the shop to get the Sunday paper!
As I returned, the lady from the waiting boat came up with a gift for Meggy. They had got into the habit of retrieving balls from the canal with their previous dog, but their new one wasn’t interested in balls; so they kept them for dogs who are! Isn't that lovely?
I steered for the first part of our ascent up the Lapworth locks. They have waterfall bywashes, which are easier to cope with than ones that come at you from the side.
I really enjoy doing the locks and was suffering from locking-withdrawal, so after a while I started opening the top gates while Dave locked ahead. He opened top paddles and left me to it, though he did come back to close the gate.
These gates aren’t too heavy so we swapped over for a while and I did a few locks before my leg started to ache again. Some of the locks have this lovely flowering rush growing in the side ponds.
The cut had been quiet since we left Bancroft Basin; I think we must have been in between batches of hire boats. We only met one boat this morning after our failure to get water. Thankfully there was no-one coming down lock 7, the one with the spindle affair on the footbridge – it was a very tight squeeze last time with a longer boat coming down.
We stopped for lunch above lock 4. The towpath is narrow here and it’s too close to the road to be a good overnight stop, but it’s fine for lunch. A very odd pair of boats went past as we ate.
The one being towed appears to be the domain of their daughter – at least, a girl of about 11 was sitting looking out of the front (there wasn’t a bow, as such, or at least not much of a point). The rail at the back looked like an iron bedstead.
We moored a few hundred yards past Hockley Heath, in the pleasant shady stretch we have used before. Dave got on with some touching up of the rubbing strake (can’t think why he needed to) and I made up a butter-bean and cheese bake. Shopping opportunities have been few and we are running out of fresh stuff! Later on we walked down to the pub for a pint. If the wait for food hadn’t been over an hour we would have eaten there and had butter beans tomorrow, but went back to the boat instead.
As the light faded there was a little flurry of hire boats before all was quiet.
3 miles, 19 locks, 2 lift bridges