Monday, 28 July 2014

Stourport on Severn.


This week we are moored in the upper basin at Stourport,just off the River Severn. We’re moored on the pontoons and we’ve got unlimited amounts of water and electricity and that is a bit of a luxury for the pair of us.Lisa can have all the Telly she can eat,we can have as many showers a day as we like and I don’t have nightmares at the thought of what is happening to my beloved batteries.The batteries themselves are having a treat with a nice trickle charge and I’ve got the Lappy and the MiFi on charge at the same time,what more can anyone ask for??.We’ve decided to give ourselves a bit of a treat while we spend a few days here and we can use this as a base to go to places in the surrounding area.More about that next week.

Last Tuesday we moved on from the mooring near Blackpole,North of Worcester,between bridges 18 and 19 on the Worcester & Birmingham,where we had spent Monday night.It turned out to be a little less of a good mooring than we had hoped.When we stopped we thought the nearby industrial estate would quieten after about six,wrong,they worked all night and,though we slept ok,it probably wasn’t one of the better choices that I have made.The next day we discovered that another half mile or so would have got us to what looked like a good place to moor.Still,that’s how things can be,in the past we’ve kept on going for hours before finding a place for the night,so,being a bit wiser now,we do like to take the first opportunity.

Take Tuesday for instance.We had only done 3 miles or so when we came out of a bridge hole,into a wide bit of canal with shortish growth on the wide towpath,and decided to stop.It was lovely,so good in fact that we stopped for two nights.It was just near Oddingley with the nearby Parish Church of St.James overlooking us,we couldn’t have asked for a better place to stay.

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The view from our mooring on Tuesday and Wednesday,with the Parish Church of St.James,Oddingley to the left.The house in the picture is up for sale at just £675,000,if your interested.Yours truly taking it easy before a gentle stroll to The Fir Tree Inn at nearby Dunhampstead after tea.

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On Thursday we did the next two and a half miles along the Worcester & Birmingham before turning very sharp left onto the Droitwich Junction canal just past Hanbury Wharf.Here’s the first of three locks we encountered after we entered the Droitwich.These are the first locks with Side Pounds that we have ever used,in fact they are the first that we’ve seen that work.About a third of the water at each locking is saved by diverting it into and out of the pound alongside the lock,hence,Side Pound.The paddles on the left are opened first when emptying the lock and then first when filling the lock.Clever.Volunteers from CRT were on hand to help us down the flight and show us how to work them.

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The locks are deep,each one drops you down about 11 feet.The Droitwich Junction Canal was reopened in 2011 after a lot of hard work from many volunteers.It was one of the last canals to be built when it opened in 1854 but was abandoned in 1939.

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A bit like a scene from The African Queen,it’s a bit deceiving though ‘cos there’s just about enough room for a couple of Narrowboats to pass with care through the reeds.It does open out a bit further on,here’s the Staircase Locks 4 & 5.

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Chyandour waiting to leave the staircase and Lisa working Lock 6 to get us down onto the River Salwarpe and the next obstacle to our progress.

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It says Limited Headroom and it means it.That Gauge was so low that it was scraping along the things we have on our roof but,it’s wrong by about 3 inches.We continued the few yards till we got to the M5 Tunnel,it’s a bridge really,and squeezed through with about an inch or so to spare,with full tanks our height is 6 feet 1 inch.I think that the recent dry spell made it possible for us to get through.From there we cruised into Droitwich itself where we stayed in Netherwich basin until Sunday morning and an early start,early by our standards anyway.There are pontoons in the basin and the moorings are gated so it’s a good place to stay to explore the town which has some interesting history.

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Droitwich Barge Canal,a broad canal,unlike the Droitwich Junction.This canal was one of James Brindley’s canals and opened in 1771,it too was abandoned in 1939.The end of the canal at Hawford Junction with the River Severn.I took this from our mooring on Sunday night,there’s a pontoon just downstream from the exit of Hawford Lock 8 onto the Severn and it’s not marked on any of the guides that we use.You can see the Lock Landing to Lock 8 on the right of the pic’.This morning we left Hawford junction to do the eight and a half miles to here at Stourport where,after a bit of umming and arring,we decided to leave the moorings on the Severn and come up through the two Staircase Locks and into the basin at the end of the Staffs & Worcs,below York Street Lock.

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The river this morning at something silly o’clock,I got up to use the bathroom but you don’t really need to know that,I looked outside and this is the view that I got.Chyandour heading upstream on the Severn,destination Stourbridge.

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Lisa as we waited at Holt Lock on the Severn,there’s a Waterpoint here so we made use of that while we waited.The last Lock of the day,the staircase locks leading to the upper basin here in Stourport.

That’s all for this week again folks,Since last week we have done 30 Locks and 22 Miles,giving us a Grand Total of 905 Locks and 1486 Miles since October 2012.Take care everyone.

Monday, 21 July 2014



This week we are moored about 3 Miles North of Worcester on the Worcester & Birmingham Canal at Blackpole as we make our way to the Droitwich canal,before heading back to the Severn and up to Stourport.We left the River Severn this morning and made our way through 4 Locks to Bridge 5A where we moored for an hour or so to do some shopping in Asda’s.Bridge 5A is a footbridge that takes you up to a Wickes DIY Store or over the canal from where it’s just a short walk to Asda’s.

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In the Avon Lock at the end of the River Avon in Tewkesbury last Tuesday,this lock takes us down to the River Severn.Bob the Lockie helped us through and warned us of the shoal as we enter the Severn,that’s shallow water if you want to know.Before we left,Bob showed us some pictures of the flooding in July 2007.The water would have been above his knees where he is standing by the side of the lock and his cottage was cut off from anything but a boat for 60 days.NB Morgana exits the lock behind us,another quarter of a mile and we’ll be on the River Severn.

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Looking back at the junction of the Severn and the Avon,it’s very shallow on the side nearest the bank.when exiting the Avon you have to wait till Mythe Bridge,that’s bridge we are just approaching,is visible for it’s entire span before turning upstream.It’s not difficult because,as you can see,the river has plenty of width.

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Heading towards the M50 Bridge that takes motorists from the M5 to South Wales,it’s been many years since I drove across that bridge.Notice we’re all ready with the Tea Cups,Lisa always keeps me well supplied on our voyages.One of the Boats that travel up and down the Severn carrying sand and gravel,operated by TR Transport.There are four of them,all named after a type of fish,this one’s Perch,they cruise the two miles back and forth from Ripple Wharf to Ryall Wharf,just a bit below Upton on Severn.

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Two more of the Sand Boats,notice how low in the water Elver sits with approximately 350 tonnes of sand on board.Upton Bridge that carries the A4104 over the Severn and into the town of Upton on Severn,a town that I’ve wanted to visit since we first got Chyandour.It’s a great little place with plenty of amenities and a host of pubs,I lost count of just how many there were when we stopped on Tuesday night.

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The “Pepperpot Tower” on the old Church in Upton,it’s an Ancient Monument now,having ceased to be a church when the nave was dismantled in 1937.There we are moored at the bottom of “The Steps”,second boat from the right,mooring breasted up like this is just about the only way to get a mooring on the river.That’s a different NB Morgana from the one we shared Avon Lock with,by the way.There are at least four pubs in this picture and the one we used,The Plough,is just out of shot on the right.We left Upton on Wednesday morning to make our way the 10 Miles to Worcester where we moored on the pontoon above Diglis Lock on the Severn.

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The approach to Diglis Lock below Worcester,we had to go into the one on the left of the picture,not the little one on the right that I expected.Inside the lock,a bit lonely but not bad,there’s not a lot of turbulence when it’s being filled,we did put our fore and aft lines through the wires on the lock walls though.

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The view upriver from our pontoon mooring,it’s a bit of a walk into Worcester but I felt it was the best of the moorings available,being out of the town.The towpath moorings on the Worcester & Birmingham canal were shaded and I do like to give my Solar Panels an airing.You can walk into town either along the canal towpath or on the riverside,the riverside being nicer.There’s Chyandour,as you can see it’s open and people only walk by on the embankment,not on the pontoon.We were moored with some people that we first met as we were approaching the Stratford River Festival and we had quite an enjoyable time with them again.Thankyou NB Tambourine (yes,it’s green) and NB Water Mist,enjoy your travels.We also got a surprise phone call from Val and Pete,the crew of NB Tadpole 2,who we haven’t seen since last August.They’re heading our way and it would be lovely to meet up with them again.

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Diglis Bottom Lock this morning when we left the river,there’s another like this and they’re heavy to work but Lisa made short work of them both,though she admits to getting a bit of a hand on the next one.An unusual designed railway bridge,it carries the Cotswold Line,between Worcester and Birmingham,over the Worcester and Birmingham Canal.The little arch on the left is the entrance to Lowesmoor Basin,where there’s a hire boat base.

Well that’s the lot again for this week folks.Since last week we have done 10 Locks and 20 Miles,giving us a Grand Total of 875 Locks and 1464 Miles since we set off on our travels in October 2012.Take care everyone.

Monday, 14 July 2014

Tewkesbury,the end of the Avon.


Well,here we are at the end of the River Avon in Tewkesbury and it feels like we have been on the river for ages.We’ve done loads of things since last week when we left Stratford and we’ve also cruised almost every day,which itself is unusual.

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In our first lock on the river,Stratford Trinity Lock or Colin P Witter Lock,we were in here with NB Gecko and her crew,who had been our neighbours while at Stratford River Festival,and who shared the first few locks with us.Following Gecko under the bridge with the Avon Trust Workboat coming upstream towards us.

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A couple of weirs on the river that are bypassed by the locks.The first is at Luddington or Stan Glover Lock,the second at Welford or W A Cadbury Lock where we moored on Tuesday night enjoying some of Ian and Jen’s,from NB Gecko,Sloe Gin and Blackberry Brandy.

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Sharing Barton or Elsie & Hiram Billington Lock with NB Gecko.Approaching Bidford Bridge at Bidford on Avon.You only use the arch we were heading for and not the others.A few hours after us a boater tried one of the others and got well and truly stuck for about three hours.They had to get a Widebeam boat to pull him backwards off the mud and he wasn’t a hire boater.We left our friends on NB Gecko here after lunch in The Frog.

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Three in a lock.This was Harvington or Robert Aickman New Lock and we shared with NB Water Music and NB Tambourine,two other boats that we had met at the festival.We stayed the night just below the lock,that’s the beauty of most of the locks on the Avon,there are overnight moorings both above and below them.Harvington Mill,a Grade Two listed building near the lock that sadly needs a lot of TLC.

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The remains of the main waterwheel at the mill and some of the gearing on the inside of the building.Sad to see something neglected like this.

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Just a small selection of pic’s as Lisa and I travelled,on our own,from Harvington,down to Evesham last Thursday.

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Evesham Lock,a bit tricky this one,there’s a weir to the left with a landing stage that isn’t quite designed for narrowboats,the metal landing is above the rubbing strake and gunwale so it will make a mess of the paintwork if you aren’t very very careful.To the right there’s a sluice that takes water for a hydro electric plant and the flow can be stronger than you expect at times.The Bell Tower in Evesham,part of the old Abbey.Evesham itself is well worth the visit.

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We didn’t stay long in Evesham,just long enough to sample the Old Hooky in The Trumpet as well as browse around the town.We left on Friday and cruised down to Pershore,then came back on the bus from there on Saturday,to have a quick look at the River Festival.There’s the BBMF Dakota on a flypast,some of the decorated boats by Workman Gardens and then two of the entrants in the parade.HMS Belfast and SS Great Britain.A lot of effort went into the River Festival in Evesham and it was very busy.

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Pershore Abbey and a tree sculpture in the Abbey Grounds.The moorings by the recreation ground  were where we stayed on Friday and Saturday nights,leaving on Sunday morning with NB Ryland to make our way here to Tewkesbury.Pershore is a nice place to visit and there’s an Asda just across the recreation ground from the moorings.

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Another Abbey,this one’s Tewkesbury and again the town is well worth a visit.Chyandour moored before the lock where you pay the Lockie £3 per night,it’s worth it ‘cos it’s about as close to Tewkesbury as you can get on the river.The Lock Landing with the Lock at 90 degrees,the Lockie helps to position you when you’re ready to go down.There’s the old Tewkesbury Brewery in the background and just to the right is the old Flour Mill,both looking sad and neglected.

That’s all again for this week folks.Since last Monday we have covered the massive distance of 42 Miles and 16 Locks,that’s almost the whole of the navigable River Avon.It’s been a fabulous journey,we’ve met an awful lot of new friends and had a whale of a time,just time now for a swift one in the nearby Bear Inn.Our Grand Total,since we set of in October 2012,is now 869 Locks and 1440 Miles.Take care everyone.