This morning we made an early start leaving the mooring at 6.30am to beat the expected rain at noon. We passed a small group of moored boats just before the M54 bridge and they were offering pump outs for £13, not shown in the Nicholson Guide. Soon we were motoring through the narrow section of canal only wide enough for one boat and appears to carved out of solid rock.
Next came Autherley Junction and the start of the Shroppie Canal up to Chester very quiet at this time in the morning.
I had phoned ahead to see what time Oxley Marine opened and was informed that it was 6.30am and he was not joking. We arrived at 7.30 and he was straight out to greet us. We had a good pump out for £12.50 and were soon on our way.
Whilst we had difficulty with unlocking some of the paddle gear, you need a water conservation key, and a couple of gates which would not open because of under water obstacles, most were very good to work and although you are entering a city it is like travelling through a green corridor. There are even wild Cowslips growing on the lock sides.
In one of the pounds we saw our first brood of Canadian Geese swimming merrily along with not a care in the world.
Finally at the top after just over 3 hours we entered the town moorings and moored up with some of the BCN cruise group who we will sharing the next weeks exploration of the Northern Birmingham Canal Network.
We were welcomed by Stuart and Marie the leaders of the group and met up with some of the other boaters before enjoying a well earned lunch.
The next job was to sort out a vet for Ecco as she had started to limp very badly and was finding it difficult to walk. We arranged an appointment at St Georges Vets a short distance away and a Taxi to take there. The driver who picked us up had an aunt who had been a PW and it turned out we knew her as she was the previous editor of Puppytails from whom I took over the job, what a small world it is. The vets were marvellous and after a thorough check up decided that she had hurt her shoulder. Hopefully the injection, some pain relief, and rest will get her back in top form in a few days.
Later that evening we had a quick get together of the group to confirm tomorrows itinery and retired to the Great Western Pub to have a social evening to get to know one another.