26th June 2020
We hadn't intended to cruise today as the weather forecast was for frequent thunderstorms. As we had ten locks to do we really didn't want to get caught in a torrential downpour! However after showering I rechecked the weather app and the thunderstorms were now predicted to be at the end of the day. As we were both up and showered by 0730, we decided to make an early start to get through the locks before it got too hot as temperatures were predicted to be in excess of 30 degrees C. We were planning to moor somewhere near Long Itchington as they have a local Co-op store there where we can pick up some groceries.
We leave our mooring just past Bridge 20 on the Grand Union Canal main line by 8am and cruise just 3 miles. We pass Nelsons Wharf, the home of Willow Wren Training before descending the ten Stockton Locks. Sometimes known as the Itchington Ten these were originally built as single locks but were modernised into wide locks in the 1930’s. You can still see the remains of the old single locks beside the newer wide ones.
As we approach the bottom lock a couple come out of their cottage to walk their dogs and kindly open the lock gates for us. This first lock turned out to be the only one in our favour, the remaining nine being set against us. As we travelled through lock 8, a viewer (Mick) of our YouTube channel came out of his boat and had a chat with us. We also purchased a couple of Magnum Ice creams here for later in the day, although they cost a whopping £2.50 each!
After descending lock 8 we filled our water tank at the water tap opposite The Blue Lias Inn, a well kept and attractive canal side pub, which is sadly closed due to Covid 19. The pub sign shows a picture of a dinosaur, which I believe is a reference to the many fossils found in the locally produced Blue Lias stone also used in the construction of the Thames embankment.
After descending the remaining two locks we moor up with some difficulty just past an old railway bridge near Long Itchington. The difficulty being that the pound is between two sets of locks and on our arrival was quite low, we moored eventually using our barge poles (only the third time having to moor this way, the other two times was once at Granary Wharf on the Leeds and Liverpool Canal and then at the end of the Lancaster canal) . However we soon found out that this pound continually fluctuated when the locks were in use. We had travelled three miles, we stayed for four nights and visited local Co-op to pick up some provisions.