Another journey's end – or is it the half way point? We left Gunthorpe at about half past nine, and as the stretch between Gunthorpe and Hazleford is pretty straight, really went for it here. It was exhilarating stuff, and the fact that the smuts filling my eyes and hair were dry and gritty, rather than oily, I took as a good sign. From Hazleford to Newark the river is more bendy and meandering, so I took it a bit more gently – although what seems slow now would have felt unimaginably fast just a few days ago. We arrived in Newark about three hours after leaving Gunthorpe, in time for a quick lunch and cup of tea before setting off to see if the town was as nice as we remembered. In short, it was. We stocked up on a few useful items (like a proper sleeping bag at last) in Millets sale, and more bits from the list (a funnel for filling the primus, and a thermos for making tea on the move) in the splendidly eclectic Boyes, and browsed happily at the market and in a few charity shops. Then it was time for more tea and a quick polish of the brass before Dave and Izzy arrived, bearing gifts of a water can, a handstart chain in an ancient Oxo tin (tenpence ha'penny), and plums from their garden. We went and had a Chinese meal with them, and rounded off the evening in the Castle pub (must check that's its right name) which has the most superior pub toilets I can recall ever seeing. Then back to the boat, moored just below the Town lock, opposite another pub at which much revelry is taking place – albeit safely on the other side of the river – and with, once again, a wonderful, illuminated view of the castle.
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