Monday, May 30, 2022

Off down the big cut.

We left Gloucester Dock on Thursday morning, after just the one night. Unfortunately it's not very Amber friendly, and a bit too busy for Mags and I too! 

Heading out onto the Gloucester and Sharpness Canal from the dock.

We passed through Llanthony Bridge which marks the end of the dock and the start of the canal, used the facilities there, then moved on out of town, mooring for a couple of nights just past the southern bypass bridge, Netherbridge Swing Bridge.

Llanthony Swing Bridge

Moored for a night or two.

When the bypass was built they wanted to construct a bridge over the canal with enough headroom to allow most traffic to pass without having to open it. So they changed the line of the canal here, leaving two short stubs of the original line. A family of swans had made their home in one of them...

All of the bridges crossing the canal are movable, even the largest. But the first three after we left on Thursday are high enough that us little boats can get under. 

Rea Swing Bridge, 7'7" air gap so plenty for us.

All of the bridges are staffed, no self-service along here. The original bridge-keepers houses are delightful whitewashed bungalows with a pillared entrance. All sold off now of course.

This does mean that it's a lazy canal to cruise, and also that there's nobody on the water after tea-time.

We pulled in after less than 2 hours just before Saul Junction, a popular spot for long-term and visitor moorings, and day trippers too.

Saul Junction is where the Stroudwater Navigation joins and crosses the larger canal, the western branch dropping down to the Severn, through two locks with the lower being tidal, and the eastern line running to Stroud where it made an end-to-end connection with the Thames and Severn Canal which linked up to the Thames at Lechlade. The western branch is pretty much filled in. Both canals heading east are now partially derelict, but restoration is proposed. 

A quarter mile of the Stroudwater is used for moorings up to an impassable road bridge.

This morning, after a chilly start and under grey skies, we headed off past the junction with it's swing bridge.

We pulled in to make use of the "boaters facilities" and got caught up by the two large charity trip boats run by The Willow Trust while we waited for Sandfield Swing Bridge.

Once through the bridge I was going to wave them past as I was pulling in for a quick trip up to the little shop in Frampton, but there was something coming the other way...

This is the brig La Malouine, first of the ships heading up to the Gloucester Tall Ships Festival over the Jubilee Weekend. There'll be some more, not sure how many though, over the next day or two. 

The canal becomes more remote as it heads down to Sharpness, the only settlements appearing around the bridge crossings, including the delightfully named Splatt (should really have an exclamation mark like Westward Ho!...) 

Splatt Bridge.

Looking out over the Severn estuary.

That's Hereford over there.

We pulled in soon after Patch Bridge, not far from the Slimbridge Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust reserve. And the hamlet of Shepherd's Patch.

In between the showers tomorrow we'll just have a short cruise to Purton, a mile or two this side of Sharpness.

Locks 0, miles 12. 

Wednesday, May 25, 2022

In the dock.

 A short day today saw us leave Haw Bridge at 10 and tied up in Gloucester Docks before noon. I was quite glad it was a short trip, most of it was into a fresh wind, and it was decidedly chilly!

Wide waters and grey skies as we set off this morning.

I had a welcome respite from the wind as the river was turned to the west under the lee of the appropriately named Sandhurst Hill...

...but then we were right into the teeth of it as we swung around the end, heading south.

Just over an hour after setting off we reached Upper Parting, where the river splits into the East and West Channels. We turned left here, down the East Channel which heads to the lock up into the docks about 3 miles downstream.

It's a half-sized channel now, seemingly strangely constricted. 

It's amazing how quickly you get used to cruising wide water, even though we only left the narrow canals less than a week ago.

Under the ring-road at Westgate Bridges.

I'd rung the lockie from Upper Parting to let him know we were on the way. It's difficult to hold off below the lock with the weir stream going off to the right.

He'd obligingly opened the gates ready for me, so I could cruise gently in. 

A lot less relaxed the last time, with an outgoing spring tide running rapidly off to Llanthony weir past that concrete wall to the right and one gate obstructed by a tree! 


The lockie gave us a very gentle fill taking nearly 15 minutes, then we were up at dock level.

There was quite a bit of space on the visitor moorings, but I struggled to get onto one of the pontoons with the wind blowing down the open water. I'd have been better off aiming for the mooring to the left out of the lock.

Still, we're tied up and we'll only be staying one night anyway. It's not good for a dog that'll only "ablute" on grass... 

Locks 1, miles 8¼

Tuesday, May 24, 2022

Slight change of plan...

The last time we came this way we stopped at Worcester the first night, then ran all the way downriver to Gloucester. It was a long second day, 29 miles which took 7 hours or so. We had to contend with a Spring Tide below Upper Lode Lock, which didn't help matters.

So this time I thought we'd split it into three, with stops at Worcester again, but also at Tewkesbury. It didn't quite work out that way...

Anyway, we left the pontoon mooring at Stourport yesterday morning at around half nine. Amber and I had spent some time mooching around the historic basins over the weekend.

The Severn is low at the moment, but that's not always the case...

These are mounted on a wall just here...

And we're off, heading towards our first Severn lock, Lincomb. Some big boats down here!

Lincomb Lock

There's not much in the way of settlements along the river, but there are regular riverside pubs, most with customer moorings.

The Hampstall Inn

The next lock down was Holt, and, like at Lincomb, I'd called ahead to the lock-keeper so it was ready for me. In and out in 10 minutes.

Leaving Holt Lock

Bridges are few and far between, so passing under one is event worth recording!

Holt Fleet Bridge, carrying the A4133.

Lookout duty...
After passing the entrance to the Droitwich Barge Canal at Hawford Junction, and Bevere Lock, we came into Worcester.

More bridges here...

...and the iconic cathedral.

  Started in 1084 and finished in it's current form in 1504, it's an eclectic mixture of architectural styles.
We'd passed the moorings near the racecourse, hoping that there was space on the pontoon near Diglis Junction, and by golly there was!
Diglis Junction is just out of shot to the left. It's the connection to the Worcester and Birmingham Canal, one option for us to head back north.
We had a quiet but wet night here, but the rain had cleared by the time we got going this morning. A boat had left the moorings just ahead of us, and they were already waiting in Diglis Lock when we arrived.
Past the Oil Dock where tankers discharged fuel for after coming up from Gloucester.

The dock was made redundant with the construction of a pipeline, but now the storage facilities are gone, replaced by blocks of apartments.

Diglis Lock.

Today's plan was a bit weather-dependant. Heavy showers were forecast, so we decided to see how it went.

Carrington Bridges.

Below Worcester the river banks pull back as the valley flattens and broadens. The Malvern Hills were sometimes visible in the distance.

The clouds have started to build now as well, heralding the start of those heavy showers...

The Edward Elgar hotel boat, one of the few boats we've seen today.

I was trying, unsuccessfully, to find out what this large house on the hill, is. Any suggestions? It's a mile or two upstream of Upton.

There was space on the pontoon at Upton so I took advantage of it to get Amber off for a comfort break and to put the kettle on for a brew. Then we pushed on again.

 Unloading sand at Ryall Wharf

The M50 crossing.

Another bridge, another age. Mythe Bridge, upstream of Tewkesbury.

Arriving at the confluence of the River Avon we turned off the Severn, planning to moor below Avon Lock for the night. The moorings were a bit grim though, a high wall so I had to lift Amber up, and a sticky, muddy path. I had a word with then lockie with a view to spending the night above the lock, but in the end decided to have a bite of lunch then press on.

Back out onto the Severn.

Upper Lode Lock is only a quarter mile downstream, a huge lock built to accommodate a tug and train of barges.

Big lock, little boat.

I thought of pulling in at Lower Lode or Yew Tree, but the pontoons here are really for customers of the adjacent pubs, so we pushed on, finding an invitingly empty pontoon at Haw Bridge.

Wide river, bright but with a cool breeze picking up.

Typical on the flood-prone Severn - rise and fall pontoon moorings and park homes on stilts!

Haw Bridge moorings, facing upstream.

We should be in Gloucester Dock by lunchtime tomorrow.

Locks 5, miles 33¾