By the time we had turned in for the night, we had decided to get up early and move on a bit. Six-thirty seemed reasonable enough to start, early enough to be useful but not so early that it would disturb the neighbouring boats. At Five-thirty, the engine of the boat in front started up and coupled with the sounds of piling pins being removed made sure that we were fully awake. Ah well, at least we had plenty of time to prepare for our own departure an hour later. By 7.30 we had worked up the lock at Compton, our third and final lock of the day. From there on in it was just another pleasant cruise in the early morning sunshine along the summit level.
There had only been one oncoming boat by the time we reached the narrow section at Pendeford Rockin’. As we approached, we joked that by the time we were out the other side, that number would be five. As we reached the first passing place we could see the distinctive yellow colour of a Viking narrowboat approaching so we tucked Caxton into place and waited for them to pass. The two lads on board told us as they passed that this was their first day but in fairness, they handled their boat perfectly. They were followed by a private boat which had taken the opportunity to ‘tailgate’ the Viking into the narrow section after the passing place at the other end. Fair enough but did they then have to dawdle along cutting overhead foliage as they went? I had visions of getting trapped in the passing place like someone who gets stuck in a shop entrance by holding the door open for an old lady who is followed by ten more shoppers. As we reached the end of the narrows, another Viking was waiting to enter and an Anglo Welsh wasn’t too far behind them.
From there on in it was plain sailing and we found a good place to moor between Coven Heath and Coven. This is the third time that we have passed this way but the first time that we have been into the village of Coven itself. It’s a small village but it has a nice centre with a few shops although the jewel in the crown has to be the butcher’s shop, Astons. Our visit there yielded a ‘catch’ of award winning steak pies, shoulder of lamb for Sunday dinner, a piece of steak and four sausages (award winning no less) to run a comparison test against the Kinver pre-war bangers.
As has been the case for the last few weeks, the sky was blue, the sun was blazing and the temperature was very high so it was another afternoon dossing in the shade of the cratch.