With a forecast of Scorchio and the prospect of doing thirteen locks, we boldly went! 0900 departure from near bridge 103, up to Wigrams Turn and a right turn into the Grand Union proper, noting that it was originally a narrow canal (Warwick & Napton) but got modernised back in the 30’s with giant locks but all with hydraulic paddle gear. This has two advantages: it is easier to use, just wind the handle and they lift very smoothly plus they are giant paddles, so locks empty and fill pretty pronto. Luckily for us we teamed up with other boats (a wee aluminium Otter boat, 30 foot? Called Dragonfly, nice folk, Graham & Josie) which makes the ten Stockton locks a pleasure, well almost. It was getting more and more Scorchio, with boat temperatures nudging 30! 😎😎☀️☀️☀️☀️.
At the bottom of this flight was the Blue Lias pub, named after the famous stone that was quarried nearby and used for most of the Thames Embankment. Our lock sharing chums decided that was enough, it was their first day out, but with just two more locks to do and a bigger choice of pubs, we pressed on to moor just before bridge 25 at Cuttle, near Long Itchington. Two pubs here, the Two Boats and the Cuttle Inn, which we visited for a pint of Timothy Taylor, Landlord. £3.70, to which i remarked, we obviously haven’t gone far enough north yet to get cheaper beer! It was a bit busy here and there was a river further on (the river Itchen), so we moved the boat all of 300 yds and gave the Boggle a run and a swim.
Too hot to mess about in the galley, so we investigated the village and decided to visit the Harvester. They had three real ales on plus a pizza oven out in the courtyard. Choose your toppings for £7.50, sorted. One Piri Piri chicken and one chorizo/chilli/mozzarella! Nice friendly place even if the beers were a little cloudy. We met Karen , a local lady, out on her own like us, not fancying cooking so we shared a table with her. Only a 4.2 hr sail but it felt a lot longer, the heat not helping at all. A pipe and a Black Grouse to finish, bed around ten!
Note the hydraulic winding gear and colour coordinated outfit (the only thing is coordinated!)
Six miles, thirteen locks, 4.2 engine hours.