Over the summit and on to new waters.
We had no real plan for today but our travel was shaped by others. We were woken at five thirty when the boat which had been tied in front of us set off in the direction of Great Haywood. We tried to get back to sleep but when twenty minutes later, the boat behind us set off in the opposite direction, we decided to get up and get going ourselves and we were underway by six thirty. We had the locks to ourselves until we reached Penkridge just after nine o’clock and although it was extremely windy and quite cool, we had a good time anyway. We made use of the services above the village lock before moving on a few yards and mooring on the towpath side. We then took a walk into the village and had breakfast in a café as well as paying a visit to the bakers and the butchers.
On our walk back to the canalside we caught up with a couple who were also walking back to their boat. We recognised them as the crew of “Stormin’ Norman”, a small cruiser that we have been leapfrogging since Saturday morning near Atherstone. We carried on the banter that we have been having with them along the lines of , “Oh no! Not you again!”
Once back on board, we prepared for the second part of our day’s cruise and then set off again. There were now enough boats on the move to make the lockwork easier, we even had crew members hang back and help close the bottom gates – much appreciated. Stormin Norman caught up with us a few times and by the time we had cleared Gailey top lock, we knew that the next time they passed us would be last time we would see them as they were planning to turn on to the Shroppie at Autherley junction. We said our goodbyes about an hour later as they passed us on a straight section of the summit.
We reached Autherley at four o’clock and made a brief stop to buy a couple of Pearson’s guides to help us with the rest of our trip. The last time we passed this way, we turned on to the Shroppie so from here on we are travelling on new waters. We carried on for another hour before taking the last mooring spot below the lock at Compton, our descent to the Severn had begun.
We did a little exploring, visiting the Oddfellows pub, the supermarket and the chip shop where we picked up some chips to go with the pasties from Penkridge which were warming in the oven, just the sort of food needed at the end of a long day when we covered 19 miles and worked 10 locks.