After some spectacular early starts….
….and one or two very late finishes, where Gordon was mooring up by torchlight….
….we made our way back onto the Trent and Mersey, our home canal.
On Wednesday evening, Dutton Stop Lock was a very welcome sight, as it meant only two more long days of travelling to reach the top of Heartbreak Hill and pass the lock which which is due to close on 2nd November.
The next very welcome landmark was lock 74, our first narrow lock in several months.
Narrow locks are much easier to operate than wide ones – I nearly fell over by putting too much effort into opening the first gate – but there were rather a lot of them between us and the top of Heartbreak Hill.
We were very glad to be joined, for the last 18 of them, by our friends Sue and Andy from nb Festina Lente! To drive for an hour, on a vile morning, in order to help us through the locks, was above and beyond the call of friendship!
Luckily, as the day progressed, the weather improved and the waterproof layers were removed.
With their help we zoomed up the locks and, by the time we reached the top and said goodbye to our assistants, the sun had emerged.
It was still only 1pm, so we headed on to get through the Harecastle Tunnel and moor up in Hanley. The boat in front of us in the queue for the tunnel was nb Mr T and Scary Too, a boat I’d seen moored in Stone. As I was chatting to Chris, we heard a cry for help from his partner, Sarah, who had managed to fall into the canal while she was brushing the leaves off the roof of their boat. Between them, Chris and Gordon managed to help her back on the boat damp, shocked but unharmed. That’ll teach her to be too tidy. They joined us later at the Holy Inadequate pub in Hanley and we had a lovely early doors Happy Friday drink and a chat. I’m sure we’ll get together again at some point over the winter.