Friday, 31 August 2012

Back to the not so peaceful Severn.

Our stay over in Droitwich was delightful and if we had not wanted to get Emma back to Worcester we would have stayed over a day.  The surroundings of the moorings in the basin are good, plenty of park area for Barney once out of the security gates.  There is rubbish disposal and water available but sadly no Elsan point.  The town itself is lovely, a mixture of old and modern and all very clean and with two supermarkets, Morrisons and Waitrose.  The whole air of the place is of a pleasant place to live (unlike Kidderminster a few days ago).  The people of the town must have been so excited when the canal finally opened last year.  What a fantastic job achieved by the restoration Trust.  However would we do it again........the answer has to be `No`.   Both the junction Canal from the Birmingham & Worcester to Droitwich and the Barge Canal from Droitwich back to the Severn have their banks lined with reeds for 90% of the length.  Nothing to see and difficult when you meet another boat.  Apart from the basin at Droitwich (48 hours) there is nowhere else to moor.   The locks are generally in good condition although a lot of the paddles are very stiff.  The fact that we would not repeat the experience should not be taken negatively, it should definitely be done once.
Reversing out of our mooring (plenty of space available)
carefully avoiding the concrete obstruction
Today dawned bright but we had had a lot of rain since leaving the Severn so decided a phone call to the Bevere Lock was prudent.  At 8.30 they were still assessing the conditions so we decided to do our shopping and have a leisurely morning.  at 11.30 we were told it was in the amber but the lock was open so OK with caution so off we set.
 After about 3 miles there are 5 locks close together which the crew walked.   
At the first of these locks there was a delightful gentlemen leaning out of his cottage overlooking the lock who was drinking his mid-day aperitif!!!  He told us that he used to have a narrowboat and in the days when the canal was in disuse he kept it in the lock and used to use it to go up to Droitwich to shop.....obviously some parts were in water....or the whisky was talking.....
Emma found a shy friend hiding behind the hedge
Last but one lock before the Severn
Good job the crew were walking to the last lock as the waiting pontoons were flooded
Between the last two locks we met the green algae for the first time, was that the lack of reeds??
and so back to the Severn

We could immediately see a difference in the flow from when we left on Tuesday so in no time at all we were at Bevere Lock.  We had phoned ahead and been told that one boat was in the lock coming upstream but he should be clear and the lock open for us.  No problems here and then a very speedy run down to Gloucester with the flow.   We decided against the moorings at the race course as the water looked higher and we didn't want to be there if there was more rain and the level rose even more....chicken we are!
We decided to go for the safety of Diglis Basin.    This meant two  more big locks (manual), an exciting turn across the stream to the lock waiting pontoon (lots of wellie) and then even more wellie and adrenelin to make the turn into the lock.........but all achieved without a bump....well not much of one anyway...I did come into the pontoon quite quickly.   Once up and moored I was taken to the pub for a medicinal drink.   
In the evening we tried the American Diner, Detroits, which we found very acceptable.   The food and service were good, it was a little different and the music, which I initially quailed at when we went in, was very good...our sort of era....50's/60's Rock & Roll.
10.27 miles, 11 locks, 5 hours 13 min

Thursday, 30 August 2012

Droitwich town

The junction off the Worcester & Birmingham is at a wonderfully obtuse angle....
Junction hidden immediately under bridge to left
A bit of backward and forward shuffling was required
Soon after the junction was the rather barren looking and sparsely populated Droitwich Spa Marina
Staircase locks 4 and 5
very narrow passage through the reeds for long stretches.

and then guess what?
This small deer must have fallen in
We followed him very slowly for ages hoping he would find a way out but eventually decided to creep past him.  We just hoped that he could find a way out as we couldn't see a way to help him.

Soon afterwards we were approaching the very low culvert that has been dug under the M5
Would we fit underneath
bend ze knees.....
Not too long but very very low
Daylight and then another low one, but not quite so tight
Not so long and not so low
We then had the last run into Droitwich, another 2 locks and 3 swing bridges.  At the last lock together with swing bridge over we met a single hander going the other way.........and thought what a problem he had ahead of him.    One of the locks had bottom gates that refused to stay fast as Geoff left one side to open the opposite side, the other gate shut and it took a lot of manoeuvring to get out.  If Emma had been out of bed at this stage it would have been a lot easier..........
We reached Netherwich Basin in the centre of Droitwich and had a choice of several pontoon moorings.
The moorings are in a secure place (Locked gate) and pleasant surroundings.

Barney was initially not too sure about the pontoons but quickly got the hang of climbing out onto a not too stable platform......
3.72 miles, 8 locks, 3hrs 5 min

Wednesday, 29 August 2012

Onward to the Droitwich junction

Well it should have was certainly onward but rain stopped play!!!
Emma wanted to do a run as she is training for a half marathon at the end of October so she set off for the approx 4 miles to the junction (she read that and said that including the run back she did nearly 10KM!!!) as Geoff set off on Petroc and Barney and I set off for our morning walk.  It was already starting to rain as we all set off but being the intrepid travellers we are we were not daunted.....well not for a while anyway.  The rain grew heavier and big umbrellas were in use (not Emma!)
By the time we reached Dunhamstead where there were convenient moorings we decided to quit for the day. 
A phone call to Emma ascertained that she was on her way back to us and then we battened down the hatches and stripped off all our wet clothes.............
Later (it had cleared up a bit) Geoff and Emma took a walk to the junction, including climbing over the Dunhamstead tunnel.  

At the junction they sadly found it was too early for the pub to be they thought they would have a pre dinner pint in the pub near the boat.....only to discover that it was closed due to flooding!!!  C'est la vie......
1.56 miles, 0 locks, 56 minutes

Tuesday, 28 August 2012

Droitwich, here we come

After a domestic morning traipsing round Worcester doing various things I met Emma from the train just before noon.   The various visits included trying to pay our mooring fee for Worcester.  It is £3.50 per day, not unreasonable.  However we were not in when the man came so he left the bill on the boat with instructions of various ways to post or at an address in Worcester.  This same information is on several boards along the quay.   I duly located the building but was told the mooring fee place had moved and I eventually found the next place.   This was in an ultra modern building and housed the library and various council functions.   When I explained to the central desk what I was trying to do I was directed to join the queue for Position 10.   Whilst paying I casually mentioned to the lady that perhaps they should amend their notices.  She said they had been asking for it to be done but they had only moved 2 months ago!  
All that for a £3.50 fee!!

Still it  was a nice day and we were soon off down the river heading for the Diglis basin and the Birmingham and Worcester canal which would lead us to the Droitwich.

We stopped in the basin to water etc after going up our only wide beam locks of the year.   Happily they were incredibly gentle fillers so hardly needed the line on.
At the next lock (back to narrow) we met our first obstacle.   One of the bottom gates refused to close properly.  A lot of heaving and pushing and engine reversing to throw the water back was all to no avail.   By now we had acquired an audience.  Gongoozlers and also another boat waiting to come up and 3 waiting to come down.   One chap went to fetch his magnet bud had no success.  Geoff then remembered that he had a small grapnel anchor way down the bottom of one of the lockers.  It had never seen the light of day on Petroc but was from our days with our wooden catamaran Sisumari which we kept in the pool outside St Just Church near St Mawes!!  It was about to come into it's own..............
This is what it caught!
Before finding it I had called CRT as we didn't think we would be so successful.  Afterwards I called to report our success but suggested they needed to remove said article before someone threw it back in.......will it get done??
Going around the back of Worcester is not the most attractive.  This canal is very narrow in parts and extremely shallow.  Emma was getting her hand back in steering when she had to pass another boat (one of very few)  In moving over for him we went very firmly aground and it took a lot of pole work by Geoff to get us off again.
The paddles on all the locks today were excessively stiff, worst we have had all year.  
 Geoff was very glad Emma was there to share the burden.
Intrigued to know what the round hole was for
Although we did 17 locks today it was much easier and quicker with 3 of us.  In addition, for a change, every lock apart from the first 2 wide ones were set for us, no one ahead.  So we managed to reach Tibberton our intended goal in time for our pre supper drink at the pub.   Geoff recognised it from a previous visit ( June 2004 when we hired a Viking boat with friend Sue and Dave)  Needless to say I have no recollection whatsoever of being here before........
6.74 miles, 17 locks, 5 hours 56 min

Monday, 27 August 2012

Bank Holiday Monday in Worcester.

We are expecting Emma tomorrow so always planned to wait here.   The forecast rain is here but not nearly as bad as we anticipated.
We went up to the Cathedral this morning and took one of their guided tours.  There were only 4 of us going around and it was very interesting.

Ceiling in the Nave
Altar frontal depicting the liturgical seasonal colours
Magnificent flowers near our mooring
How kind of them to name a street after us

Sunday, 26 August 2012

Onto the Severn

A bright morning so we were off at 7, through the lock into the basin and to the sani point.   Whilst Geoff did all the necessary I walked up to town to buy the Sunday papers.
Then it was onward to the river.   There are two sets of staircase locks to negotiate with an extremely tight corner to negotiate between the two...........
Coming down first pair of locks, note kink to get into the next pair!
This is made more difficult if a boat has come up the first staircase and you meet in the confined space between the two.....and guess what........
Successfully negotiated, the other boat goes into the upper pair
Down we go
A helping hand from a passing gongoozler
River gauge is well in the green
,,,and onto the Severn.
We had a wonderful run down to Worcester.  The sun was shining, but sufficient clouds around so that it was not too hot.  BUT.......where were all the boats......we had thought to see lots of plastic gin palaces out for the bank holiday weekend, but all we saw were one or two narrow boats going in the other direction

We has 3 locks to negotiate but they were all large and manned by the resident lockeeper

We passed today's DES RES
Holt Fleet Bridge with Holt Lock in the distance
The Holt Fleet Pub...a slightly more desirable DES RES
We passed the entrance to the Droitwich Canal...we hoped to be exiting here in  under a week's time
As we reached the northern outskirts of Worcester we did meet some of the dragon boats but even they were not as prolific as we had expected.

We had no trouble fining a mooring alongside the race course.   There was a certain amount of moving our position to get the best TV picture. in fact a yo-yo comes to mind!!!    After Geoff had taken Barnaby for a walk all around the race course we went up to the Diglis Hotel and had an very good lunch in their conservatory overlooking the river, after which we went to evensong in the Cathedral.   Altogether an excellent day.

Looking back up river

12.89 miles, 8 locks, 4hrs 17 min