It was a lovely warm morning when we left the mooring and started the Long Itchington Locks and our luck was in, they were set for us. The old narrow locks can be seen on the left, now used as an overflow weir. Just before the locks are the Two Boats Inn and on the opposite bank the Cuttle Inn.
The Warwickshire Fly Boat Company has its base at the top lock and down the Kayes Arm. The Company has a long history of specialising in the repair and refurbishment of working narrow boats. Latterly a number of new boats have been constructed incorporating the shape,character and good swimming and handling characteristics of the originals. Needless to say that the majority of the boats on their moorings reflect this.
At the bottom of Stockton Locks is the Blue Lias Inn. The inn was originally an 18th century farmhouse. It is said to be haunted by the ghost of a red-haired farm labourer who was killed by the enraged farmer who returned from market one day to find his wife in bed with the red haired farmhand. It first became an inn when the early canal travellers stopped for evening refreshment and overnight stabling for their horses. The Blue Lias Inn is named after the limestone/clay which is quarried locally and used in the production of cement. These rocks date from the early Jurassic period (just over 200 million years ago) and stretch in a band from Dorset on the South coast of England (where the blue lias cliffs are famous among fossil hunters), to the Cleveland hills in the north east. As well as canal side moorings the Inn has a nice caravan site with small lake.
At the top lock is a bench with a doorway in the backrest made to look like the stern of a narrow boat and inside is a dedication to Charles Pearson Brownlee of Nb Auld Areakie who went through his last lock on 7.2. 94 aged 62 years.
“May his happy spirit speed you on to a peaceful mooring, to a bright a morning and to many years of companionship of the Cut”
At Stockton marina Andy and Rose stopped for a pump out whilst we had a coffee and waited for them. We then motored on passed Willow Wren’s new Training Centre at Nelson’s Wharf, looks very smart indeed, and then passed the old working boats and the ex BW Tug Ruislip which has a Lister HR3 and can be seen in a battle with a similar tug, Slough, to see which boat is better at the Braunston Show.
On reaching Calcutt Locks we followed a single boat up and waited for two coming down the second lock. Two more boats behind us decided to come up so at one stage there were 6 boats in the first pound making for interesting navigating. The second pound was very low and a mud island could be seen between the main channel and some moored boats just waiting to catch the unwary boater.
All the way from Stockton we had seen runners on the towpath and support groups at the road bridges and it turned out that they were doing a Birmingham to London Run along the Grand Union Canal all 145 miles of it in a maximum time of 45 hours with many doing it in around 30 hours or so. Supporters would run with them at night to keep them company and out of danger.
I met a couple on Bridge 102 who were a support crew and they were going to do the running at night but Stuart with a partner was going to do an even more dramatic run in Scotland which will cover 680 Miles and 44 Munros over 34 days starting on the 13th July in aid of “Funding Neuro” and can be viewed on their website at www.WatershedScotland.com where their is a link to a just giving site to help support the charity.