We were up in good time this morning, and set off from the marina at 8.30. Fortunately, it wasn't too windy, as that can make the turn towards Stoke Bruerne a bit tricky. It was overcast and chilly, though. Adrian stayed inside, making some oat biscuits.
There were lots of fields of lambs, including a couple for whom the field wasn't enough: they were through the fence and right next to the canal.
We got to the bottom of the locks at 10am, exactly on schedule, and we could see our visitors walking down the path. My second cousin, Catherine, her husband, Nigel, and their children Grace and Matthew, had come to give us a hand. Matthew, who's 4, was particularly keen to help.
There were quite a few boats coming down, so all the locks were in our favour; at several we could swap with the other boats. At one, we passed the steam boat, Hasty, who blew their whistle for us.
Near the top of the locks, just a few moments after the sun tried to come out, the hail stones started. Then there was a shower of sleety rain. In the long pound, we heard then saw a cat up a tree. A woman was coming down the towpath with a boat pole, saying she was going to try to rescue the cat, which was hers, and stuck. She was successful, apparently having given the cat a bit of a poke with the pole. The woman, her dog, the cat, and the pole, all crossed the lock gates while we were coming up.
At the top of the locks, we moored for teas and coffees before going through the tunnel. The tunnel itself was the source of great excitement. Grace and Matthew sat on stools in the cratch, and had a torch so they could look at the walls. Before entering, we had to wait for the trip boat to reverse out, and we also passed two boats inside. From the helm, I could hear lots of excited child noises echoing along.
At the Blisworth end of the tunnel it was sunny.
We moored and dropped off our visitors, who'd left a car in the village.
We had lunch, then continued northwards. Just before Bugbrooke, I spotted Baleine coming towards us. We both did an emergency stop so we could have a quick chat. We continued to High House Wharf, where Stanton sticks well out into the canal -- and is apparently a lot less loaded than normal.
We turned at the winding hole and returned half a mile or so to moor overlooking Nether Heyford. We washed one side of the boat, then had a cup of tea with a couple of the fantasic chocolate cakes that Catherine had brought us. Adrian started a chili which has been cooking all afternoon, so we'll have that tonight.
16 miles, 7 locks.