Thursday, July 15, 2010

On the river.

Yesterday’s forecast was a bit grim, so we decided to stay in Stourport for another day. As it turned out it wasn’t as wet as predicted, but it gave me a chance to have a look around the town and the basins.

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The town has got pretty well everything you need, a couple of small supermarkets, a couple of butchers, hardware store and a chandler. But of course the highlight is the complex of upper and lower basins, the reason the town is here at all. Before Brindley decided to build the link from the Staffs and Worcs Canal to the river here, there was only a hamlet here, called Lower Mitton. Now there’s a small town, with a population in the region of 20,000.

Locking down the lower staircase.
There’re two double staircases of narrow locks connecting the canal to the basins and the river, and a pair of single broad locks.

Looking down from the top of the upper staircase.
We intended getting off early today having seen traffic building at York Street Lock yesterday. But on my morning run back up the canal towards Kidderminster I counted eight hire boats tied up, pointing in our direction. Now I’m not against hire boats at all, after all it was how we started. But not en masse…. So it was a quick shower, a quick “ablution walk” for Meg, and we were off at 07:45. (No, that’s not a typo…).
We still weren’t the first down the lock though, NB Bunbury just beat us to it.

Taking our turn down the deep York Street Lock.
We had to stop for water and the usual tank emptying just below the lock, and were overtaken by the first of the hire boats.

Going down the staircases proved interesting, complicated by a boat coming up from the river. The leading downhill boat had to pass in the awkward small pound between the two pairs.

Fun in the sun
We followed down without incident and were on the river by 09:00.
The windlass was stowed, we’ll not be needing that again for a couple of weeks, and we set off for our first river lock at Lincombe.
These are not huge locks like those up in South Yorkshire, or on the Trent, but you could breast up three full length narrowboats in the chamber.

Leaving Lincombe Lock.
Lots of trees
We had a bit of a delay at Holt Lock. BW were loading a barge with timber from a Jewson truck on the lock side, but it meant we could share the lock.

Three-quarters of an hour later we arrived at Bevere Lock. We had to wait here, too. Somehow a small cruiser had managed to insert itself between us and the boat in front and there wasn’t room for all of us at once.

Lock Dog unsure whether to bark or not.
Between Holt and Bevere Locks the Droitwich Barge Canal used to head off to….. well, Droitwich! Then continued as the Droitwich Junction Canal to link up with The Worcester and Birmingham at Hanbury Wharf. Both lengths are under restoration, due to reopen later this year.

Hawford Lock, Droitwich Barge Canal. Soon to see boats?
Something you don’t see very often, Mags on the tiller on a river!
We arrived at Worcester at around 13:30, and pulled up on a mooring alongside the racecourse. Had to shuffle around a bit to get a satellite signal, TV from the aerial is non-existent. Internet is cracking though.
We’ve spent the afternoon watching the boats go by.

Pride of the Midlands with a load of schoolkids
Seeing double, a breasted up pair of Black Prince hire boats.
Most of the hire boats today are from Black Prince at Stoke Prior, heading back for hand-over day on Saturday. They’ll turn off the river here and head up the Worcester and Birmingham Canal. Still a bit of work to do, 13 miles and 22 locks.

And finally I got a shot of a kingfisher. Then I saw there was not one, but two!
These moorings are run by the council and there’s a £3.50 fee. I was hoping we’d get away with it (tight or what) but a very pleasant young man tapped on the window not long after 4. Still, we got a map of the city off him.

Expensive Map…
Locks 8, miles 12

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