The most surprising thing about this voyage, continued to surprise us today: and that is how few moving boats there are on the system. On the first day, between Loughborough and Shardlow, we saw NONE. Today it is Easter Sunday, and even though it is dry and sunny, like most days this Easter holiday, we have probably seen less than 12. One hire company we passed, have only 2 boats out - of the 10 that could be. This means that for so much of this journey we have had the waterways to ourselves.
Stoke was grim, of course. We knew this was going to be an ever worsening industrial wasteland. First mate worked at the university for 6 years. It's an area where the main employers were finished by cheap imports and inspite of serial redundancies, the people continue to be sound.
The final lock in the Stoke flight caused us a flutter. It was a beast, 13 feet deep and Lucy Belle just could not keep off the front gates as the water came in. First mate had steered into this bastard, but kept her nerve.
I'm not sure exactly where we are moored, but we are about half a mile south of Middleport Pottery, on a strangely beautiful length of canal. And we are, once again, alone.
No shame - or harm - in nudging right up to the gates in front of you and staying there. Enjoy Harecastle - it has the great advantage of being one-way traffic. We, by dint of excellent timing, spent the duration of the most recent royal wedding in there. Don't go too slowly in there.
Why would you want to keep off the front gates?
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