We had arranged a very civilised 10.30 start with our locking partners for the day, so plenty of time for breakfast, and the administration of tablets and wound cleaning that the furry crew requires presently. Once underway, it was only a short hop to the first Lock.

Approaching Stockton Bottom Lock
Nb. Full Circle close behind

The pub in the picture above is the Two Boats, and as previously stated, their steak and ale pie was very tasty. After completing the first two Locks, we met a few boats descending, which should have meant the Locks would be set in our favour, they were not. The mystery later presented itself in the form of a volunteer lockie, who was refilling the Locks. All the pounds were very low, so presumably an attempt to run some water down the flight. Once through Stockton Top Lock, our intended destination for the day, was only half a mile further on. We said our farewells to Full Circle, then slowly chugged along, passing the RYA training base at Nelson’s Wharf. When we came this way before, a pair of swans had made a nest in the reeds opposite. Today the nest contained two swans, and half a dozen cygnets. We found our spot between bridges 20 and 19 empty, and secured the boat. We are now only a mile from Ventnor Farm Marina, where we will visit tomorrow for services.

Mooring at Stockton, between Bridge 19 and 20

There are actually two Basins at Ventnor Farm, Sunrise and Sunset. We need to enter the first Basin travelling from Stockton, which is Sunset.

Totals 2 Miles 10 Locks

Running total 157 Miles 230 Locks 9 Tunnels

Long Itchington

Yesterday was wet, and a little windy, it also felt rather cold for late spring, and certainly not a day for cruising, so we didn’t. It was however a rather busy day for boat traffic, mainly hire boats, but not all. We felt very snug, or was it smug inside our warm dry boat.

Today was warm and sunny, so after breakfast we set off and ascended the Lock ahead. The water point was a couple of hundred yards ahead. We needed a good half a tank, fortunately this water tap seemed to have good pressure. We were not there long. Just as we we about to get going, another boat approached. These would be our locking partners for the remaining seven Locks of the day. It was narrow boat Full Circle, and we had seen this boat several times over the past few weeks, whilst doing the Avon ring, but we never met the owners. It transpired that they had played leap frog with us, all the way to Tewkesbury, where they turned around, when we went up the river Severn. The last Locks of the day were the Bascote flight, including the short two Lock staircase. During our conversation with Full Circle, they indicated they were also stopping at Long Itchington, and ascending the Stockton flight tomorrow. So we made a loose arrangement to set off at the same time in the morning. After securing the boat to the mooring rings, we wandered off to the Two Boats Inn for lunch. When we passed this way before, I’d had the steak and ale pie which was delicious, so I had it again.

Moored at Long Itchington, Full Circle behind.

Totals 3 Miles 8 Locks

Running 155 Miles 220 Locks 9 Tunnels

Fosse Locks

During our stay in Long Itchington, we managed to visit two pubs, and had a look at a third. The two we visited were the Two Boats Inn, where on Saturday I enjoyed a steak and ale pie, whilst the furry crew looked on licking his lips. Then on Sunday, we opted for The Cuttle Inn, where we had a very enjoyable three course roast dinner, which included a tasty nut roast for the first mate. This morning, we set off for the water and rubbish disposal point about half a mile away. Once the tank had been replenished, we continued cruising towards Bascote Locks. There are four Locks in the flight, two of which form a staircase. A boat had passed us whilst we were filling with water, but it was well ahead by now, so once again we were alone. The weather was warm in the sunshine, and the wind whilst a bit more blustery, has changed direction and is no longer cold. We had a couple of Locks in open country to navigate, before arriving at the Fosse Locks flight. On approach and before the first Lock came into view, there was a sign on the towpath warning of dredging ahead, and a possible 30 minute delay. Then we saw the dredgers at work.

Dredgers at work by Fosse Locks

In fact we were not really delayed at all. The workers moved their equipment quickly to one side, and then proceeded to help work us through the Lock. Exiting the Lock we then passed beneath the Fosse Way, a Roman road that originally linked Exeter with Lincoln. It was from this point on we were looking for a mooring spot. It came into view just above the next Lock.

Mooring at Fosse Locks No.22

We are fairly sure we are not in anyone’s way here. The Lock landing is to the right of the picture, and I dare say there would even be room ahead of us to wind a boat if someone was so minded. We now have only six miles and three locks to go before we arrive in Warwick.

Totals 3 Miles 8 Locks

Running total 23 Miles 34 Locks 2 Tunnels

Long Itchington

Today we were going to cruise the grand total of two miles. It would however include, a flight of ten Locks. By 9 am we left our mooring, and headed on tick over towards the Top Lock of the Stockton flight. The reason for travelling so slowly, was the hope another boat might catch us up, and we would then have a partner through the Locks. It was not to be. Luck however was on our side, as we descended the top lock, a volunteer lockie appeared, and proceeded to set every Lock ahead, in our favour.

Approaching Stockton Top Lock

During the course of the descent, we met two boats oncoming. It was not nearly as busy on the Canal as yesterday. Maybe it was due to the fact, that being Friday, it was change over day for the hire fleets. We decided that as we were not in a rush, (we barely ever are), the crew would only operate one side of the paddles. This did slow down the emptying process, but it also reduced the amount of hopping across gates.

Looking down the Stockton Flight

We still had a way to go, with all the Locks laid out like dominos ahead. Four legs was tapping his paw impatiently on the rear counter, wondering what the hold up was. This is nothing however compared to what awaits us in a few days, or if we are feeling lazy a week or more, (The Hatton Flight). Once through the bottom lock, the mooring we were aiming for, was only a few hundred yards ahead. On arrival we found it empty, and so picked up a mooring on the rings, near to the aqueduct over the river Itchen.

Mooring rings at Long Itchington

After lunch onboard, we took the furry crew for his exercise, walking up as far as Bascote Staircase Locks, about one and a half miles ahead. He insisted on taking his bright pink frisbee, but it was regularly dropped, whenever he detected an interesting smell. On one occasion into the cut, at which point he just looked at us, as if to say, ‘I’m not getting it, you’ll have to’.

Oscar’s playtime

Back from our walk, we settled down to an afternoon of relaxation, and research into which of the six pubs, located in the small village of Long Itchington, we are going to visit.

Totals 2 Miles 10 Locks

Running total 20 Miles 26 Locks 2 Tunnels