Today we did battle with England’s second city, Birmingham, and the industrial heartland. We threaded our way through the traffic, crossed the city centre and then joined the canal tow path taking us north and out of the city.

The canal was in a sorry state – stagnant, oil slicked and the moor hens bobbed around amidst the cans, takeaway boxes and the odd rusting shopping trolley.

The rough surface of the tow path played merry hell with our wrists, arms and buttocks and we were happy to turn north towards Stafford.

For the final hour the sun blessed our backs and we were back in English country lanes, nestled between hawthorns and admiring the birds of prey scouting the recently harvested fields.

At last we pulled into the Red Lion at Bradley and rehydrated before gliding down to see Luke, Sarah and their lovely girls – our gracious hosts for the night. We are getting spoiled!

A big day tomorrow… so now to recover with a nice long sleep.