Day One, Friday Sept 23, 2011, Stockton Marina to Long Itchington, 1.5 miles, 10 locks = 11.5 lock miles, 2½ hours.
Stockton marina is perfectly positioned for a (reasonably) leisurely week-and-a-bit-long meander round the Warwick Ring, so we allow ourselves an easy early-afternoon Friday start on the Molly May, which since spring 2010 has been our sponsored narrowboat with Kate Boats of Warwick.
The temptation, heading left and West towards Warwick, is to simply emerge from the pound and moor up even before the first of the Stockton locks, and enjoy the Molly May’s spacious kitchen and mega-comfortable lounge, with a cup of tea and a biscuit. Believe me, we’ve done that before, within a couple of hundred yards of setting off.
But this time, we have friends to pick up in Long Itchington who are joining us for the weekend from London, so Sue (whose passion is the Molly May) and I head off down the 10 locks of the first flight, nice and broad as they are but at this time of this very dry year, very short of water.
A few locks down, we have to manoeuvre our way past fellow narrowboaters caught in an older boat with deeper draught and stuck on the mud in the middle of the pound. We float them free of their misery by releasing a lock-load of water as we come down towards them.
We moor up just before The Two Boats pub in Long Itchington, one of our favourite hostelries on the canals. It’s a most aptly-named village, as the friend who joins us has just returned from, of all places, visiting mountain gorillas in Northern Congo where she picked up an itchy bug swimming in a lake.