We woke to sunshine, a much better day, a couple of boats went by earlier but they had been gone long enough to give a reasonable gap at the locks when we set off just before ten. What we hadn't planned on was a single hander leaving Hockley Heath visitor moorings just minutes before we passed.
At the first lift bridge I nipped off the boat and went ahead and worked the bridge for both boats, it turned out we knew the boat ahead. I said we would follow and get the next bridge as well, but then passing swallow Cruisers we spotted a load of sloes, so pulled over, I did leave Diana with the boat while I walked ahead to the bridge, but as I rounded the bend I could see it was up with a boat coming the other way, so I returned to the sloes. here I did a silly thing, I tied the boat with just the centre rope to a stay bar behind the piling, when the boat came by it cut one strand of or centre line on the edge of the piling, so a little splicing to do tonight.
We had a good run on the Lapworth locks which was just as well as there are 19 of them to Kingswood Junction. I think we met a boat at every lock, we caught Sheila up at about lock 4 and told her just to leave the bottom gates open and we would close them, as it turned out this wasn't necessary. Bridge 32 at lock 7 is interesting as it still has a wheel where the towing line would have passed round when the boats were horse drawn.
As we left this lock we encountered our first Volockie who was assisting a Narrowboat up the flight, after he had organised them getting past us he assisted us going down. There was a second Volockie working another boat up and the two couldn't decide if we should wait where we were or turn the next lock, we were happy to wait but he turned it so we went down one more before meeting the next boat. I suggested to him it might be more productive if he left us and joined Sheila who was single handing in front, which he reluctantly did.
We were going to stop at the visitor moorings between locks 14 and 15 for lunch, but as Sheila had pulled over and another boat came up we knew the next 6 were with us so carried on to the junction. With the new houses right beside the canal I wonder how long it will be before the visitor moorings are removed.
At Kingswood junction we left the Stratford canal and turned onto the Grand Union canal heading south, we were now on a broad canal where the locks can take 2 Narrowboats side by side. Bridge 63 was looking rather splendid with the red creeper covering the walls.
Next of note was Shrewley Tunnel, a bit unusual as it has a separate horse tunnel. As you approach the tunnel it looks very short, maybe be 50 or 70 yard, but it is actually 433 yards long with no towpath, so the boaters had to leg the boats through, extra hard on a wide tunnel as they had to lay on boards hanging out over the side to be able to reach the walls. The tunnel was quite wet and I got more than one lot down the neck.
Once clear of the tunnel we were looking for somewhere to moor for the night, this had to be away from large trees as we have storms forecast for tonight, even now it clouded up and the wind freshened.
We pushed on until we came to a nice section of piling to moor to with a thick hedge along the back of the towpath about ¼ mile before the top of the Hatton flight of locks, there are 21 wide lock in the Hatton flight and we have that pleasure tomorrow morning.