We set off at 11 am past the miles of moored boats with a steadily improving sun creeping from behind the clouds.
Bridge 44 has a stop gate under it in case the canal to the north breaches, but there is also a steel barrier to swing across the canal and towpath closing it off, the only thing is that the barrier would be on the breach side of the stop lock, so you would never get to the barrier by boat.
At the Norbury Junction moorings we passed a boat with what looked like an owl box on the slide like you often see in trees, imagine our surprise looking back and seeing a rather large owl sitting in it looking back at us.
Today we have seen 3 pairs of Dabchicks or Little Grebes, I must read up on these as you only seem to see them in the winter time, they are experts at diving and swimming underwater so I was pleased to get this snap of one of the pairs.
There were loads of vacant visitor moorings in Gnosall but even so, two boat felt it necessary to moor their bow to the last mooring and use a piling hook for the stern right against the bridge hole, well I suppose it does get you 60 foot closer to the pub door. As we approached Gnosall Tunnel it looked as if the cutting on the far side was full of smoke, but it was actually mist, only for about100 Mts As you can see the north face is cut into a solid piece of rock, there is also a towpath all the way through it on one side, I must admit I didn't bother putting the tunnel light on for it.
This morning we decided that we would go as far as Autherley Junction to wind and would still be back in Middlewich for New Years Day, averaging the days out tonight's mooring should have been a short way above Wheaton Aston lock, as we approached Wheaton Aston a hire boat was winging ready to return up the lock, so we followed them to the lock and Diana walked up to help and set the lock for us. Before the other boat left the lock she came back saying there were several boats already moored where we had planned to more and the towpath was very muddy. With this wonderful news I reversed back past the winding hole and we popped onto the end of the visitor moorings for the night, it will just mean an extra half hour tomorrow to get back on schedule.