When we moored last night, there was a boat, facing our direction that looked “Tardebigge ready”. However this morning we didn’t want to start the day all out of sorts, so we had breakfast and coffee. It was the earliest we had all been up this trip, but still the other boat just got away ahead of us. James was really upset, & I didn’t relish the idea of following a boat through that many locks, but that’s the way it goes sometimes. We pootled though the lower Stoke Prior lock, and saw the other boat pulled over to the side- smoke from the engine- Still, a stroke of luck for us and we cruised by and took poll position for the Tardebigge.
It took us an hour to get through the Stoke locks and we were at the T/B bottom lock at 9.15. The next 3 hours took pretty much the same format- push, pull, wind & unwind until we were finally at the top. The top gate paddles were so stiff it took both James & I to wind one between us! The boat that we’d passed had obviously sorted their issues out, as we could see them behind us steadily gaining- however, they did have a crew of 4, compared to our 2 and a half!! A few boats coming down made life easier for us and meant that the boat behind us never actually caught us and was always at least 1 lock behind. Towards the top, my arms were like jelly & Marcus hopped of the boat and helped us. However, by the time we’d reached the top, euphoria took over and I’m sure I could have done the whole flight again!
A housekeeping stop at the wharf above the top lock, as we needed water and to empty the toilet. The boat that we overtook passed us and we found out that they’d had to change their fan belt, then all was well. Leaving the Tardebigge, we headed towards Birmingham with a slight change of course- we’d decided to head down the Stratford & miss the centre of Brum out completely. Before the Wast Hill tunnel, we were not sure how much daylight was left and the fact that the Stratford was unknown- safe mooring wise; we decided to carry on and see what happened. In the event the Stratford looked quite rural and pleasant. Darkness fell quickly and we decided to moor near a hire boat that was also mooring up- safety in numbers!