Today has been a fantastic day of boating. We woke up early and found the sun splitting the sky, without a cloud to be seen. So, knowing we had a lot of work to do, we got up and were under way at 7.10, straight into the six Astwood Locks. A boat had gone up at 8 o'clock last night, but most of them had drained overnight. We completed the flight in about 50 minutes.
There's then a gap of a mile or so until the six Stoke Locks. Halfway up this flight we were joined by the cavalry, in the shape of Lesley and Joe from Caxton who'd come to give us a hand.
Their help was extremely welcome, as the next flight, Tardebigge, is the longest in the country, with thirty locks. We got into an excellent routine so that someone always went ahead to set the next lock, yet still managed to catch up with all Lesley and Joe's news. About a third of the way up we started meeting boats coming down, which also helped us.
With great company and glorious sunny weather, it was a joy to work the flight and we got to the moorings below the top lock at 12.15 -- a fantastic time for so many locks. We had lunch on the well deck before Lesley and Joe left to walk back down the flight to their car.
As it was still early and it seemed a waste not to make the most of the weather, we carried on up the top lock -- at 14 feet the deepest narrow lock on the system.
We stopped for water, then carried on through the Tardebigge Tunnel and the Shortwood Tunnel, mooring up for the night at Alvechurch. The moorings here are on a bend, so the bow is sticking out a bit, but it's a very pleasant spot. What's more, Adrian had his most successful attempt yet at lining up the satellite dish: it worked on his very first effort!
9 miles, 42 locks. (124 miles, 160 locks)