Adrian picked me up from work just after 10pm last night, and we headed up the M1 to Rugby, arriving at Brinklow Marina just before midnight. We unpacked the car and went to bed.
This morning was very murky looking, but we were up reasanably early, prepared the boat, moved the car round to the car park, and set off at 8am on the dot. There were only a handful of boats on the move, but the pattern of moorings was unusual: Newbold was absolutely full, as were the moorings by the aqueducts at Rugby; the moorings by the park and Tesco's were almost empty. At Hillmorton, the offside locks were closed and there was a lock keeper on duty. We were slightly dismayed to see a boat going up in front of us, but the lockie said we should turn the lock and follow them, as there was no-one coming down. It was a similar story at the middle lock, but by the time we got to the top lock, the downward traffic had started.
Between Hillmorton and Braunston, there were a couple of attempts at rain showers, but they never lasted more than a couple of minutes. It was also quite warm, so it was a case of putting the waterproof jacket on, then almost immediately taking it off again.
We had lunch on the move on the approach to Braunston, where we stopped for a visit to Tradline Fenders. We were hoping to get new bow and stern fenders, but apparently they make them in the winter and sell them in the summer -- and they've sold them all. We set off for the locks, where there's a sign asking boaters to wait up to an hour for a locking partner. We had to wait half an hour for another boat to turn up, time which was spent browsing round the chandlers at the bottom lock. By the time Susie B had joined us, a boat was coming down the lock. It seems people coming down weren't bothering to wait, because we met three single boats during the course of the flight.
Our locking partners were very competent, and we made it up the six locks in little more than an hour. Again, we'd had rain showers and sunshine, so coats were on and off several times. At the tunnel, we followed Susie B, and passed four boats coming the other way, including a tupperware. On the far side of the tunnel, the weather seemed much better. Boats coming the other way had relayed stories of seventeen boats waiting to go down the Buckby flight, so we thought we'd better stop before Norton Junction. We found a nice spot, with mooring rings, just before Bridge 10, with great views across the Northants countryside and the Leicester Arm of the Grand Union.
I've got a chili on the go, and Kath and Neil from Herbie are on their way to share it with us.
16 miles, 9 locks