Thursday, July 29, 2010

Day 1 on the Avon.

Know why there are so many River Avons knocking about? Avon is the Anglisized version of Afon, Welsh for river. Though why this one Welsh word crops up so frequently across the country is beyond me. So, welcome to the River River….

Our first day on the river hasn’t been very auspicious. Low grey skies, a cool breeze and spatters of rain don’t show the river at it’s best.
Still it’s better than 3 years ago – where we moored last night was under water then, linked to the Severn with no sign of the lock or The Ham where I walked Meg this morning.
Some excellent aerial shots here.

Leaving the Avon Lock moorings today.
Tewkesbury Marina and it’s rows of moored boats is the last you see of the town.

Tewkesbury Marina.The river widens as it escaped into open country, remote from any roads and buildings for a couple of miles, before making a sharp right turn at Twyning.
The Fleet Inn must be a popular spot at weekends, situated where it is.

The Fleet Inn, Twyning.Pity about the moorings, though.

The M5 crosses soon after, intruding into the peace and quiet.

Bredon Hill is on the left, the pointy thing on the extreme right is the spire of St. Giles’ church in Bredon.
Just below the bridge there’s a couple of tents, surrounded by bullocks.

Odd place to camp….
The river is popular for sailing, with a couple of clubs passed on today’s trip.

This one’s the Severn Sailing Club.
Maybe they should swap names with The Avon Sailing Club, near the Yew Tree Inn downstream on the River Severn….

Our first (and only) lock of the day was at Strensham. There was a boat coming out and one ahead of us waiting to go in, so we joined them.

Strensham Lock.
We’ve got to use a different technique on the river. Normally a centre line (or nothing at all!) suffices to hold the boat, careful adjustment of the ground and gate paddles preventing too much movement. But here the Bye Laws clearly state that fore and aft lines must be used. Most of the locks have gate paddles only, which cause considerable turbulence if opened with too much enthusiasm.
So Mags holds the stern in with a rope around a bollard, while I control the bow and wind the paddles.
Unlike on BW waters, the gates are to be left open when the lock is exited. You’d soon get shouted at if you did that on the Trent and Mersey!

As this is a river rather than a canal, crossings are a lot thinner on the ground, and consequently tend to be busier and older. The bridge at Eckington was built over 400 years ago, the red stone mellowed by age.

Eckington Bridge
There’re moorings provided just upstream of the bridge, but there’s a car park alongside and the road above is quite busy, so we pushed on another ½ mile to Swan’s Neck, a tight, almost 180°, turn. There’s a Seyella sized bit of bank here, grandly known as Birlingham Quay. That’ll do us for the night.

Birlingham Quay
Strange, this internet stuff. Yesterday evening, on the edge of Tewkesbury, I spent 2½ hours posting on a very unreliable GPRS connection. Today I’ve got a good, stable 3G signal miles from anywhere.

If you're on the canals between Oxford and Foxton in the next three weeks, keep an eye out for this pair. I hope the weather improves a bit for them.

Locks 1, miles 8


Anonymous said...

I'm so enjoying your posts - we're not likely to come west again for a few years so it's good to join you on your virtual cruise.

Sue, Indigo Dream

Anonymous said...

Both Severn and Avon Sailing Clubs were closed down during WW2.
When the clubs were revived, the only locations available were on the "wrong" rivers.
We looked at doing a "name swap", but it was more complicated than you would think due to issues such as land ownership.
It was only going to make the lawyers richer!