Day Three , Sunday Sept 25, bottom of Hatton Flight to Rowington Hill Bridge, 27 lock miles (21 locks and six miles) in seven hours.
After a first-class night’s sleep – our guests on Molly May’s huge cabin bed at the front of the boat, and Sue and I at the back in what we agree is one of the most comfortable beds we sleep in anywhere – and on Sunday morning for Day Three, we gird our loins and head up the Hatton flight, teaming up again with a charming family who’ve had their boat for 25 years.
From my locking partner at the other tiller as we work our way up the flight side by side, (our guests under Sue’s expert guidance are doing the hard raising and lowering of paddles), I learn that the Matriarch of the family with which we’re sharing the locks unilaterally decided on the very early death of her husband to mortgage half the family home and invest in a narrowboat as a shared family resource. They never looked back.
Snatched conversations at the locks are priceless.
At this end-of-season time of year and with four of us working the locks, we’re able to set the gates perfectly as we glide up, and we complete the Hatton flight in an amazing two-and-a-half hours, feeling exceptionally pleased with ourselves. We’re we’ve been only 15 or so minutes slower than the record, apparently set by a group of Boy Scouts some years ago.
And this despite some quite busy dancing with other boats through the pounds, including Kate Boats’ Dorothy Constance coming the other way down the flight, as we amiably jostle for space.
It’s Sunday lunchtime, so after another spectacular Sue-soup, it’s time for our guests to leave for London, carrying their pillows, suitcases and regrets, and Sue and I move on just a couple of miles to another of my favourite spots on the Midlands canals, the high embankment just before Rowington Hill Bridge.
From here there are bucolic views south-west and north-east as the autumn sun sets in a bright orange glow, firing the autumn landscape with warm reds, yellows and browns.
The local ducks enjoy our presence as much as we do, and it’s impossible to resist their begging for biscuits. How canal ducks don’t end up obese I will never understand.