We finally untied this morning!
Once the grey clouds had passed we headed off towards Dean Locks where we caught up with the three boats that had passed us earlier. Storm left me in charge of the boat as he and Max leapt off under the railway bridge. I pulled in under the M6 bridge behind a plastic cruiser. It was quite breezy but thankfully the wind was blowing the boat onto the bank as there was nothing for me to moor to so I just stood on the towpath hanging onto the rope.
Eventually the two front boats entered the lock after which we had to fill it again before we could enter. The plastic cruiser suggested I go into the lock ahead of him. He was probably a little nervous I might squash him. Having made our boat secure, he came alongside and we descended in the lock together. Storm waved him out of the lock and offered to close the gate for his wife so they thanked us and they sped off.
Once I picked up Max and Storm, we pootled steadily towards Appley Bridge where the chap on the plastic cruiser was waiting for us. He’d opened Finch Mill swing bridge and he waved us through. We hoped we’d be able to return the favour ahead, but they must have stopped there as we didn’t see them again.
At Appley locks, the two boats ahead of us were just entering the lock and we were pleased to see a boat coming towards us which meant we wouldn’t waste a lock full of water when it was our turn.
Storm was wearing a blue jumper (a similar blue to the CRT uniform) and we were surprised when the approaching boat just headed straight into the lock, making no attempt to put anyone ashore. Storm closed the gate behind him and then opened the paddles. The boat had its rear canopy up and it was impossible to see the helmsman until his boat had risen in the lock. As Storm opened the gates for him to exit, the helmsman asked if there were lock-keepers at all the locks. “No!! ”
The boat was new and we’re not sure where this guy had picked it up from, but he’s in for a surprise at the next lock.
We passed through the lock without further delay and soon arrived into Parbold where there was one Blackbird sized space left. One reason for stopping here is that there is a shop beside the bridge that sells chilled medication. However, today the freezer was faulty and there was none!
We had to make do with Magnums from the village store beyond the Railway Station.