We're off! But yesterday, Adrian spent mostly working, sometimes in his company's office in Warwick. He also paid our bill at Calcutt Marina, which we'd happily use again. When I'd finished work, I drove up the M1 and we were both on board around midnight.
It rained in the night, and again at breakfast time. When we were ready to set off, the first problem was getting out of the mooring. Calcutt's visitor moorings are just a space, with everyone rafted up -- and we were in the middle.
One of the wharf guys came to help us. He moved a boat moored on the other side, we untied the various centre lines keeping the raft together, and we edged forward. The wharf guy then took our bow rope and pulled us round, while I pushed the boats outside us over a bit. By about 8.45 we were free, and leaving the marina.
When we got to Stockton Locks about half an hour later, two boats were just going down. But there was a single boat ahead of them who was also single handed. So the Kate hire boat with plenty of crew joined up with him, and the other boat waited for us. Ginger Bear turned out to be excellent locking partners, and we thoroughly enjoyed our time sharing with them. We met quite a few boats coming up, which was good because we'd certainly have kept catching up with the pair in front otherwise.
We last did this section four years ago, but as Debdale used to be based at Stockton Top, it feels a bit like coming home. As the morning wore on the weather improved considerably, meaning we went from waterproofs, to fleeces, to T-shirts. At the Bascote staircase pair, we caught up with the boats in front, but at least it meant the bottom chamber was empty. There's a wasps nest in the side paddle gear, with warning signs alongside.
We carried on through several more locks, until Ginger Bear stopped at Fosse Wharf. Some of the pounds along this stretch were very low, making for slow going. Last downhill lock of the day was Radford Bottom, preceded by a high old railway bridge.
Below the lock we passed Valerie moored up, and had a quick chat with Jaq. Les was away having a scan -- we hope it produces good news. It was 2pm by then, so we had lunch on the move. The section through Leamington Spa isn't very interesting, apart from aqueducts over the railway and the River Avon -- Warwick Castle is about a mile and a half further down.
At the blind bridge near the Warwick Tesco, the was a small incident. I was virtually through the bridge, but an Ashby hire boat was coming the other way. We were both going slowly, and if he'd just carried on with his course, we'd have danced round each other perfectly. Unfortunately he instead went hard astern, meaning he slewed across my bows, and reversed into the towpath quite hard. This left me with nowhere to go -- but we didn't actually touch each other.
Shortly afterwards, the sky on one side was blue and sunny, but the other side was dark and threatening. It began to rain a little while later, but not as hard as I'd feared.
We went up the two Cape Lock in light rain (another Kate hire boat ahead apparently didn't see us coming up the bottom lock), and we moored at the top. Then the sun came back out. We were tied by 4.30 -- so quite a long day. But as this section is very familiar, our thinking is to put some extra hours in now, so we have more time on the parts which are new to us.
13 miles, 22 locks.