Sunday, July 18, 2010

On the Gloucester and Sharpness.

Gloucester docks is a busy spot. The restrictions on lock usage were lifted on Friday night, so the lock can be accessed any time. The lock keeper has been kept busy, although there seemed to be more boats coming up into the dock than going down onto the river.

A lock full of boats coming up on Saturday.A few go straight across the dock, but most scurry about looking for moorings on the floating pontoons or against the wall.

There’s a gap – go for it!
The docks is the northern terminus of the ship canal, but Severn trows (sailing vessels) navigating up the tortuous and treacherous section of the river below Gloucester, could also come through a lock on the East Channel then up into the dock area.

The old lock chamber on the East Channel.
The lock cut has pretty well completely disappeared now.
The area between the East and West Channels, known as Alney Island, has been drained and makes popular dog walking territory.

On Alney Island, Port Ham. Gloucester Cathedral in the background. Panoramic view looking south of the dock area.We’re moored to the left, below the tall warehouse.

Lots more (and much better!) pictures of the docks here.

The Gloucester and Sharpness Canal was officially opened in April 1827, and the dock area has been continually improved as trade developed. It was a popular port from the outset, enabling sea-going vessels to avoid the heavy tolls charged at Bristol, and giving easy access by narrowboat to the industrial Midlands via the river and the two main canals connecting to it.
It’s a typical “late generation” commercial canal, wide and deep, and reminiscent of the South Yorkshire navigations.

We moved out this morning. The moorings are strictly 48 hours maximum, which is fair enough considering the amount of traffic that’s passing through.

Heading towards Llanthony Lift Bridge.
This takes you out of the docks and onto the canal proper.
On berths either side are trip boats, one of which, the Queen Boadicea II, was one of the “Little Ships” involved in the evacuation of the BEF from Dunkirk in 1940.

Apart from those at either end, there are no locks on the 16 mile length of the canal, but there are several lift or swing bridges. These are all operated by resident bridge keepers, making cruising here a really lazy experience.

Leaving Llanthony Bridge and the docks.

The new bridge next at High Orchard.

Opened in November 2008, this carries traffic around south of the town centre.
There’s a handy Sainsbury’s right next to the canal here. The site used to be High Orchard Dock.

We cruised just 4 miles from the docks, pursued part of the way by a flotilla of boats from the Gloucester Rowing Club.

Come on girls, keep up!

A lot of the bridges have delightful keeper’s cottages, sporting Grecian columns and portico’s!

Rea Bridge Keepers Cottage
We finished up on the moorings near Sellars Bridge. The weather is supposed top be a bit unsettled, so we’ll play it by ear, moving on a bit when conditions permit.
Locks 0, miles 4

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