We knew a lot of rain was on its way today, so when we woke up early and it was lovely and sunny we decided to get up and go. Consequently, we set off at 7am heading towards darker skies. In fact, you could see the weather front advancing.
At Napton Junction we made the turn onto the Grand Union proper. A boat was just going into the top lock at Calcutt, and with a bit of hooting of the horn and waving, they waited for us to join them. As it happened, they were doing just the one lock as it was based at Calcutt and was returning to the wharf. The pound below was a bit chaotic, as Calcutt were moving boats about.
Below the locks we'd spotted a Viking Afloat hire boat some way ahead, and hoped we could time it right to share the Stockton Locks. As it happened, they'd moored up just above the locks and said they'd be there for a bit of a break, so we did the top lock alone. But as we were leaving the lock they set off behind us, so we waited for them in the second lock. They turned out to be excellent locking partners -- three generations of a family from the local area. We cross with a boat in the next pound, but then had the flight to ourselves. We were able to lock ahead, so I suggested that we do a bit of "synchronised boating", where the two boats leave the lock together, stay just inches apart across the pound, and go into the next lock together. It always saves a lot of faffing about, and worked very well.
Consequently we flew down the locks. It was raining, but not heavily, and a bit cold, so between Itchington Bottom Lock and the Bascote Locks I lit the fire. The Bascote staircase pair is the only one of its kind on the Grand Union.
As we were making such rapid progress we all agreed to carry on, finally stopping for lunch below the bottom Fosse Lock at 1pm. This was actually our planned overnight stop, but we decided that as we were doing so well time-wise, we'd do another couple of hours this afternoon. We're not pushed for time on this trip, but we've done this section lots of times, and it's nice to have the flexibility to spend a bit more time on the parts of the trip that are new to us.
In hindsight, this was something of a mistake, as the rain this afternoon has been much heavier than this morning. We finally moored up at 4.15 above the Cape Locks, both soaked in spite of our waterproofs. Still, thanks to the fire we've warmed up, and there's a roast going in the oven.
16 miles, 25 locks. (28 miles, 28 locks)