A much better night all round meant that all three of is woke refreshed and ready for a new day. Sure it was still cold (we could see our breath inside the barge), but it didn’t set us back.
There was no need to rush this morning, so we had a leisurely breakfast and then made our way northwards. We had a certain distance in mind, and set off with all guns blazing.
Midshipman Jerry got straight onto his duties as chief squirrel scout, and let out plenty of warning barks to draw our attention to these pesky furry tailed menaces. Very helpful, as I’m sure you can imagine.
The long drag up passed without fuss or issue, but there was plenty of beautiful scenery to absorb.
We passed through a couple of locations that had suffered breaches in recent memory (within the last few years), and the reconstruction work was obvious, but well done.
Some parts of the canal are still being worked on. There’s definitely a feeling of renovation around here.
We stopped for water next to what sounded like a mobile disco, 1990s grunge blasting from one of the nearby houses at an extreme volume, which was presumably a breach of the peace? Unless there was a music festival going on in someone’s back garden?
Not wishing to hang around this “awful noise” as the Captain described it, we filled up and shoved off as quickly as possible.
The further north we went, the more idyllic the countryside became. Sadly it’s the sort of scenery that just won’t be given justice in a photograph no matter what I try. You’ll have to believe me that it was stunning, with sunlight pouring through the overhead tree canopy.
We were joined at one point by a couple of canoeists and their tiny dogs, and I’m sorry to say that they were quicker over the water than we were, until they had to stop to let the dogs off to answer nature’s call that is.
We overtook them and put the throttle down to give us a bit of room, which seemed to pay off for a while but it did mean that we caught up with some other narrowboaters before too long. The result was as we slowly passed them, they kept washing into the opposite bank as they over-revved their engines. At least, that’s my excuse for getting stuck on the bank several times.
We also travelled beneath some incredibly low bridges, so low that I’m not entirely sure how we didn’t knock the life-ring off the roof.
And then, finally, after many hours of travelling we came to our first lock. Actually it was a flight of five locks, which was very exciting.
The Captain was a little disappointed that it took her acting First Mate (that is, me) longer to operate the locks than it “usually” did. You see normally when we travel by canal, there’s a team of us working the locks, for this trip it’s just me. And clearly I need to up my game.
I did, however, get the opportunity to impart some of my hard earned wisdom to a couple who had approached the locks from the opposite direction, and had no idea what they were doing.
They seemed grateful for any advice.
And shortly after the five lock staircase (collectively known as Llangynidr Locks), we moored up for the evening, which gave me an opportunity to try my hand at maintenance – that’s right, I completed the “engine checks” all by myself.
I have to say that thrusting my hand into freezing cold water was quite a shock to the system. But it was worth it, As we’d picked up quite a bit of weed around the prop. Once that was cleared I locked everything up tight, and felt like I’d earned my roast lamb, and a peaceful evening watching the sun go down.
Another successful day.