Tuesday, 23 August 2011

Back on The River, and a Newly Re-opened Canal

(Boat Chalice - posted by Alan)

Moving in to the lower chamber of the upper Stourport staircase.

There is something fairly special about Stourport, and the complex basins and locks where the narrow Staffs and Worcs canal joins the River Severn.  I first came here not by boat, and was fascinated by the place, only to shortly after manage to bring Chalice here, and to work through it.

Leaving the lower chamber of the first staircase.

So it was a real pleasure to know we were coming back here.  But first we had been struggling with a leaking stern gland, but had very little grease left to put in it, so we filled with water, disposed of rubbish, and emptied toilets while we waited for the local chandlers to open.


The staircases don't align. so a bit of "to and fro" is needed!

Soon we were on our way, and descending the final two pairs of narrow staircase locks onto the Severn, an experience slightly tainted by the knowledge that a child had recently managed to die here having tried to cycle over a narrow bridge clearly unsuitable for the purpose. (British Waterways have now encased this bridge with much protective scaffolding, whilst near identical bridges on the same canal are left in "original" condition - apparently a repeat incident at these locks is felt possible, whereas an equivalent one elsewhere is not ?)

Waiting to leave one of the big manned locks on the River Severn.

Last time we did this trip we were complete "river novices", and urgently seeking advice about traversing the Severn.  Now it all seems rather tame, although the anchor is still made available, and life jackets put on, including Charlie's.  Even at what is near the limit of navigation for even boats of our size, it is still one big old river, with some quite big boats on it.  I'd not necessarily fancy swimming to a nearest bank unaided, if I went in.

Even this can make you feel quite dwarfed in a narrow boat.

Apart from one big "mobile hotel", I think everything we saw on the river was narrow boats - different from last time when there were some seriously large and expensive "plastic" boats.  This time we only planned to go through two of the big Severn locks, and making nearly 6 mph at other times, we were not on the river that long.

Charlie in "river mode".

Sharing the first lock of the Droitwich Barge Canal

Last time we came down the Severn the first place you could rejoin the canal network was at Diglis in Worcester.  But that has very recently changed as two restored canals passing through Droitwich have re-opened.  This was our target this time - to enjoy canals only opened less than 2 months ago, so we knew we would be turning off sooner than last time.

Unusual bridges and long reeds are features of this canal.

We also know that a couple we knew of through the Canal World Forum were following the same route as us, but were far enough ahead we had not expected to see them.  So we were not a little surprised to see their boat entering the first lock of the Droitwich Barge Canal just as we  were about to turn to join that canal ourselves.  The explanation proved to be that they had gone down to Worcester and back on the river, resulting in us catching them up.

Alan and Dave compare notes about their trips so far.

We didn't really know Dave and Jan well up until this point, having, I think, only met them briefly once.  However our meeting resulted in us being able to share the restored double locks that run all the way up to Droitwich.

In Droitwich - Charlie was really fazed by the floating pontoons!

We had been undecided about what we were going to do, and whether to carry on right through beyond Droitwich.  Finding some very pleasant moorings in the centre of Droitwich, (it would have been very hard to moor anywhere else on this canal), we decided to stay and try and find somewhere to eat with Dave and Jan.  The answer proved to be "Rossini", a rather more "posh" restaurant than our normal canal eating places, but which served us an excellent meal.  "Rossini" is currently offering a 20% discount to visiting boaters, (you need to show a BW key!), and we can highly recommend it, based on our experiences.

We very much enjoyed our evening, and the the opportunity to spend time with other boaters.

Stourport to Droitwich

Miles: 14.7, Locks: 15

Total Miles: 294.2, Total Locks: 225

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