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There were no other boats around to disturb us near Coven but we were still up and about at six. With there being more than five miles to cover before we reached the services and the first of the downhill locks at Gailey, we just took our time and enjoyed another leisurely cruise in the early morning sunshine. In reality, we didn’t have much choice but to take it easy once we reached the Anchor pub. There were boats moored for the best part of a mile along the towpath. Hotel boats “Duke” and “Duchess” had passed us yesterday afternoon and were also moored along that stretch, breasted up of course just to keep passing boats on their toes in the narrow channel that remained beside them.

When we reached Gailey, there was space on the water point so we were able to complete our services in good time. CRT were in attendance running water down from the summit to compensate for low pound levels below. The levels seemed alright to us as we made our way down through the five locks on the way to Penkridge but maybe the problem is further down. The Trent & Mersey canal is still more than ten miles away but we have heard reports of low levels above Fradley so perhaps there is a link there. It will be another week or so before we get there so we might find out then or maybe we will never know.

It was around eleven o’clock when we moored above Filance lock on the edge of Penkridge. Once settled, we took a walk into the village for a look around although being Sunday it was quiet with most shops closed for the day. In the late afternoon we had Sunday dinner, the lamb that we had bought in Coven the day before had been gently cooking in the slow cooker for a few hours as we travelled along and for the time we had been in the village. It was delicious, much as the steak pies had been on Saturday.

Penkridge is a place that we’ve visited a couple of times before and we quite like it so the intention is to stay for a few days before moving on again.


By the time we had turned in for the night, we had decided to get up early and move on a bit. Six-thirty seemed reasonable enough to start, early enough to be useful but not so early that it would disturb the neighbouring boats. At Five-thirty, the engine of the boat in front started up and coupled with the sounds of piling pins being removed made sure that we were fully awake. Ah well, at least we had plenty of time to prepare for our own departure an hour later. By 7.30 we had worked up the lock at Compton, our third and final lock of the day. From there on in it was just another pleasant cruise in the early morning sunshine along the summit level.

There had only been one oncoming boat by the time we reached the narrow section at Pendeford Rockin’. As we approached, we joked that by the time we were out the other side, that number would be five. As we reached the first passing place we could see the distinctive yellow colour of a Viking narrowboat approaching so we tucked Caxton into place and waited for them to pass. The two lads on board told us as they passed that this was their first day but in fairness, they handled their boat perfectly. They were followed by a private boat which had taken the opportunity to ‘tailgate’ the Viking into the narrow section after the passing place at the other end. Fair enough but did they then have to dawdle along cutting overhead foliage as they went? I had visions of getting trapped in the passing place like someone who gets stuck in a shop entrance by holding the door open for an old lady who is followed by ten more shoppers. As we reached the end of the narrows, another Viking was waiting to enter and an Anglo Welsh wasn’t too far behind them.

From there on in it was plain sailing and we found a good place to moor between Coven Heath and Coven. This is the third time that we have passed this way but the first time that we have been into the village of Coven itself. It’s a small village but it has a nice centre with a few shops although the jewel in the crown has to be the butcher’s shop, Astons. Our visit there yielded a ‘catch’ of award winning steak pies, shoulder of lamb for Sunday dinner, a piece of steak and four sausages (award winning no less) to run a comparison test against the Kinver pre-war bangers.

As has been the case for the last few weeks, the sky was blue, the sun was blazing and the temperature was very high so it was another afternoon dossing in the shade of the cratch.