Quite quickly, there were two viaducts, one over the railway and the other over a river, impressive evidence of the toil, skill and vision of the canal builders back in 1929 when it was opened. It unites London with Birmingham, and is the longest canal by far in the system, at 461km, with 166 locks. Every bridge is numbered, although the one that carries the Fosse Way which I learned about in Latin classes back in school is disappointingly modern and concrete, and nowhere near as picturesque as the many arched brick ones like this.
We soon encountered our first locks, which turned out to be less scary than I expected, mainly because there wasn't much other boat traffic today and we were able to blunder through unobserved. The staircase lock was even so quite challenging, though: two locks joined together, the middle gates high and heavy, where the water foamed through very impressively when the paddles were wound up. After 18, though, things got easier, to the point where we - I! - were steering Florence through just one of the gates.
Our journey's first section finished at Itchington Bottom Lock, disappointingly not labelled as such but still a pleasing place to stop for the night near the Two Boats pub, and reflect on new skills learned which include a potentially disastrous disregard for vehicular bumps and scrapes.