We were awake early again, and set off at 7.30. We passed several boats moored at the bottom of the Hatton Flight, but no-one rushed out to say they'd join us up the locks. But we took our time with the bottom lock (which had to be turned in any case), and dumped rubbish at the bins there. And just as we were leaving the lock a boat arrived below. I lifted a paddle for them and we waited at the second lock. It turned out to be Merlin, a Stoke boat on the way to the Russell Newbery rally at Stourbridge, with a lovely couple on board. I'm not sure that teaming us with them saved us any time, but it certainly made the journey more pleasant. They even made us tea, which we drank at a pause in a lock half way up.
Towards the top end of the flight we began to meet boats coming down, sometimes indiviually sometime in pairs. We got to the top at 11am, by which time the sun had come out, and carried to to Kingswood Junction, where we moored before the turn and walked into the village for the shop. We made it a circular walk by going up to canal and walking along the Lapworth Link.
We had lunch in the cratch, then set off again at about 2pm, turning onto the link, then left onto the Stratford Canal. We were following a boat down, so had to turn all the locks, and memories of how slow they fill and empty, and how heavy the gates can be came flooding back. However, it's a very pretty canal and worth the effort. It's quite heavily locked, and I ended up walking all the way from Kingswood Junction to Lowsonford.
We knew Sanity Again was moored at Lowsonford (thanks to twitter), and arrived there just after 4. Bruce and Sheila pointed out that we were a bit late for a mooring, as the last one had just been taken. They suggested we go down one more lock and use a space on what are technically long term moorings (something they'd never do themselves, obviously!) Bruce and Sheila walked down with us, and we chose a length which wasn't marked by a name plate. Then they came on board for a guided tour and a drink, and ended us staying for dinner as well -- resulting in a very pleasant evening, all the better for being unplanned. With Bruce and Sheila's experience with Sanity, built straight after Briar Rose, we learned a lot. The time flew by, and it was 10pm before they made their way back to Sanity Again.
10 miles, 31 locks. (38 miles, 59 locks)