Sunday, 14 September 2008

September Cruise - Day Three

Sunday 14 September

A misty start to the day. As it was Sunday, we treated ourselves to a cooked breakfast.

There were no other boats in sight when we left our mooring, and headed up the remaining 17 Hatton locks. The first one was empty, but most of the rest were either full, or had an annoying few inches in them, so a paddle needed to be lifted. We were four or five locks from the top before we met any boats coming down. Even then, the top gates were so leaky that the locks had begun to fill.

Although boats were scarce, the locks were busy with walkers, cyclists, and runners. Many of the walkers wanted to know about the locks. I felt like a tourist guide! We completed the 17 locks of the morning in 2 hours 20 minutes, which we thought was pretty good going.

We're always taken by surprise by how long it takes to get from the top of Hatton to Kingswood Junction. In our minds, the junction is much closer than it actually is. Just before we stopped for lunch, the sun came out, and the temperature shot up. Lunch stop was just beyond Kingswood Junction -- the start of the new territory for us. Each other time we've come this way, we've been turning onto or from the Stratford Canal; this time, it we were continuing on the Grand Union. The surroundings were much more pleasant than we'd expected (although we were constantly accompanied by planes taking off from Birmingham Airport.)

When we reached the Knowle Locks, a boat was just coming out, and a Kate Hire boat was going in. It took a couple of hoots on the horn to stop them closing the gates in our face, but then we joined them in the bottom lock. Fortunately, the other boat had loads of crew (mostly just visiting for the day), so the locks were set well ahead. I was at the helm for these locks, and I suggested to the other skipper than we do some synchronised boating: leaving the lock together, keeping close, and entering the next one together. It worked well, and is so much easier than going in one after the other.

Thanks to all the help, we completed the five locks in no time. It's a very pretty area, with well kept lawns, and well maintained locks. The flight, although quite short, looks impressive, as the locks are close together and quite deep.

We continued until Catherine de Barnes (very close to the airport), where we moored up at about 4.45. Not the most attractive mooring ever, but it'll do. There's a paper shop in the village (next to an art gallery!), and a 3G signal. Tonight, there's a chicken roasting in the over; tomorrow, into Birmingham.

13 miles, 22 locks. (Totals: 25 miles, 48 locks)

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