Thursday 29 October

It was raining when we woke up which didn’t encourage us to leap out of bed with enthusiasm so instead we stayed in bed reading. Eventually Max hinted that he’d like to get up.

I got togged up and took Max for a leg stretch, leaving Storm to deal with some emails.   Eventually the rain eased, leaving just a grey mist, and we decided to go for a walk back to the Hatherton Branch together and have a look at what was down there.

However, the bridge over the canal to the arm was blocked off and we had to turn back which was disappointing. There is a restaurant down the arm, but it isn’t accessible from the towpath – you’d have to reverse down the arm and hope there is somewhere to moor, or else pay for a night in the marina beside the arm.

As we turned back, I spotted a slight movement in the undergrowth beside us and I managed to grab Storm and we stood and watched as a fox lifted its head up to look at us briefly, before it scuttled off.   It was about 6 m away from us.

The rain was forecast to have cleared by lunch-time and at 11.30 am I thought the cloud was lifting and so decided to untie and head for Autherley Junction. However, I was wrong and I was soon steering while sheltering under an umbrella.

Despite the weather there was a steady stream of boats heading our way.   Invariably we would meet them as we approached a bridge, causing us to go into reverse as there isn’t room for two boats to pass under a bridge.   I also had to pull into one of the passing places on Pendeford Rockin (a narrow passage cut through rock) to let a hire boat through.

With the winter canal maintenance programme starting on Monday, I suppose like us, boats are moving to be on the right side of any closures, and half-term hirers are heading back to their base.

We turned onto the Shropshire Union Canal at Autherley Junction, on the outskirts of Wolverhampton, and through the stop lock there that drops you about 8” from the Staffordshire & Worcester Canal, making sure that no water is lost from the Shropshire Union, and moored up as soon as we were clear of the Napton Narrowboat base.

We spent the afternoon planning our movements for the next two months. We have a baby sitting date after bonfire night in Chester, a trip home at the end of November, as well as a couple of days out in between and friends to catch up with too.   Trying to work out the logistics of how to get from ‘a’ to ‘b’ and back again using only public transport is always fun.

(In Chester I’ll be able to collect my camera as it’s back from the repairers- I have missed it as my phone just isn’t the same).

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