Today, with Alex as crew, and with the BEST MATE On nonagenarian mother-in-law duties we returned to the Top Lock LT moorings and took SONFLOWER down.
Getting there meant a car journey and a two mile walk up the locks from the layby. On the walk up we saw a CRT volunteer lock keeper and pointed out to him that the pound between locks 29 and 30 was about two feet lower than usual. He was not at that time letting water down but assisting a boat going up. He said he would have a look.
We set off and filled and emptied two locks before the volunteer popped his head over a gate beam and told me that he had let some water down and we would be fine now. He was on his own today. There were two other volunteers in the "Welcome Centre" but I could not see anyone for them to welcome at this point of the day.
At the start of the steep flight where the locks are close together and dead in line I noticed that the tower of the Collegiate Church of St Mary, Warwick is straight ahead. You have to zoom in quite a bit to see it so I have done it for you:
I wondered whether the engineer had deliberately made it a focal point. The church has been there since 1128. We had done about 10 locks with Alex on the bank and me on the tiller when we came across nb Lilly May who was moored in a very short pound between Lock 37 and 36. The crew said that they were having a half time cuppa. They declined to join us in lock 36. Alex and I changed roles. We waited at the next lock for them. There was a boat coming up the next lock so we had nowhere to go anyway. By now they had taken on board more crew including two tiny children, one toddling and one babe in arms. I looked the other way when the toddler was toddling along the top beams of the gates and helping with paddle gear and gate opening! Alex was boating at age 3.1/2 but never without a life jacket.
They shared locks with us for five locks and then moored on a longer pound between Lock 31 and Lock 30 that has a length of armco in the centre. We continued down alone but had the assistance of two boats that came up.
We moored just short of Budbrooke Junction.
2. 1/4 miles, 21 locks, 4 hours