Of course, we survived the night at "unsuitable" Autherley Junction with the only incident of note being Bernard finding a £5 note on the towpath in the morning. I hope it was dropped by the angler who came past with his fishing trolly bumping along the towpath at 03.30!
We'd agreed an early start and let go at 05:45 starting the climb up the Wolverhampton 21 ten minutes later. Below the third lock we passed the very surprised crew of local boat "Solstice Bell" who were up and about; but still tied up and without their engine running they couldn't really complain when we took the lock. We did agree not to re-set the anti-vandal locks to save them a bit of time and I did raise a few bottom paddles for them until I realised they were catching us up. The ascent took 2h 54m, which isn't my fastest time, but we did have a couple of low pounds to contend with. Then it was straight on to Tipton along a very weedy Main Line that required three weedhatch visits. Between Wolverhampton and Birmingham I'm usually tempted to use the Old Main Line or some of the loops such as Soho or Icknield Port and I realised that I hadn't just blasted straight along the New Main Line for ages, so that's what we did.
Bromford Junction: The New Main Line continues to the rightWe stopped briefly in Birmingham in the early afternoon and then carried on through the Worcester Bar and on to the Worcester & Birmingham Canal. Crossing the new aqueduct at Selly Oak we soon arrived at Kings Norton Junction - a very deceptive junction for boaters turning left onto the Stratford Canal.
Kings Norton Junction: The Stratford Canal goes off immediately after the bridge
Bernard hadn't been this way before and was almost caught out, but made a splendid recovery, taking Starcross round in fine style despite my telling him at one stage that he'd never make it.
Although we'd now been on the go for almost twelve hours, there was no thought of stopping. Bernard can only be with me for one more day and we aim to get down the Hatton flight on the Grand Union before I'm left to carry on single-handed. In fact, we covered a further ten miles eventually stopping at Hockley Heath at 20.50 having covered 31 miles and 24 locks in a 15 hour day.