The day started grey again. I delayed setting off until the rain had mostly cleared, though there were still a few spots – not enough to get wet and it soon cleared. It was about a mile to the first lock, which Clare and Bryn made short work of. I remembered the next lock-free stretch from our journey in the other direction in August. In a field off to one side is a mooring for a narrowboat, and further up, a pair of lock gates – but no canal.
This time, instead of asking Clare to get ready to work the lock, I got her prepared with a camera. It all looked pretty similar to last time, though the cut-out goats or sheep on the lock gate were new. Also new was a “For Sale” sign – It looks like the house, field and lock gates are on the market, not sure about the narrowboat.
I was just starting to feel a bit chilly as we arrived at the top of Meaford Locks. Clare and Bryn worked us through those pretty quickly too. We moored up immediately beyond them for some lunch. Afterwards it was only just over a mile in to Stone, but the four locks there would have left us very hungry if we’d tried without lunch. Clare drove these while Bryn and I worked them. The last one had a strange shaped lock beam where the widening of the main road had been given priority over the ergonomics (and safety) of lock operations. The yellow sign warns you to try not to get squashed.
We filled up with water before pulling the boat forward to moor for the night. This was also in contrast to our summer experience. Back then we had to queue for water and drive on again to find a mooring.
We decided to have a carry out meal for Bryn’s last night with us. We ordered online from the “Best Chinese in Stone”, and set off to collect it. When we got there, a sign on the door said it was shut! We were more than a little disappointed. (We have since had an apologetic email and a promise of a refund.) We all enjoyed the pizzas we got instead.