Wednesday, June 22, 2022

Old bridges, new(ish) locks

I have two sisters, one living near my Dad, and the other on the other side of the world with her husband in New Zealand. Well, the NZ one is over for a visit, after Covid put the mockers on the last 2 planned trips.

They are coming to find us, and I thought Stratford Upon Avon would be ideal. A call yesterday told us they are coming tomorrow (Thursday) and we were still 13½ and 8 locks away! So at half-one we untied and set off from Offerton Lock, leaving our friends Carolyn and Ian (and Milo) there.

A fine evening for a spot of ballooning on Monday.


Leaving Offerton Lock moorings.

I rambled on about the restoration of the Upper Avon yesterday, mentioning the fundraising and donations. These locks above Evesham have often been resited as the old chambers were in an advanced state of dereliction. They all have a secondary name to reflect these sponsors.

Offerton Lock is aka George Billington Lock, named for the chap who paid for it's construction. He didn't have long to live, the structure was completed by volunteers in six weeks and was opened just a week before he died.

Similarly Harvington Lock is also Robert Aikman Lock, one of the driving forces behind this and several other restoration projects.

 The river follows a fairly straight course for a while, passing under Cleeve Hill before heading east towards Bidford.

Shouldn't have left the sunroof open - it's wet through inside now!

Marcliff Lock aka IWA Lock was next, then we headed into Bidford.

Bidford Bridge with St Laurence Parish Church beyond.

The church dates from the 13th century, the bridge, which was built in the early 15th century has been rebuilt or repaired a few times since. Charles I's supporters demolished part of it to protect his  retreat to Oxford from Worcester in 1644, and more recently a tractor did significant damage to the parapet and central pier. It's a bit of a mixture in the style of the arches...

Out of Bidford we motored on for another half hour or so, but I called it quits above Barton (Elsie & Hiram Billington) Lock as it was getting very hot.

Moored at Barton, pleasant enough moorings but nowhere to walk... 

After yesterday's hot trip and wanting the option of heading all the way to Stratford we were on the move at half-eight this morning.

Leaving Barton Lock.

A bit narrow and overgrown along here...

Only a mile upriver is Bidford Grange (Pilgrim) Lock.

Financed by The Pilgrim Trust the lock chamber is of hand-laid concrete blocks, built by volunteers from Gloucester Gaol. Much better than the sheet piled sides of some of the others. Lovely 48hr moorings here too!

Welford Lock is 1½ miles further up, another lock with very pretty moorings above. Sorry, no photo, I was chatting with a boat crew waiting to go down.

The river does a long loop to Binton Bridges, passing lengths of moored boats, some of which haven't moved in a while...

It's worth having a look at your cruising guide as you approach Binton Bridges from downstream. The channel isn't immediately obvious, you have to keep to the right of an island, then take the left hand arch.

Another bridge built by commitee... "What shape shall we make the arches? I know, let's have one of each..."


I caught up with another boat at around the site of the old Luddington Lower Lock, the river is shallow with a rock bed along here, making the flow quite noticeable. We shared the new Luddington Lock (Stan Clover) but separated above. Amber needed a comfort break, I needed a brew and there are "facilities" here.

Luddington Lock.

I watered up and got rid of the rubbish and recycling, then decided it was too nice a mooring to pass by so pulled forward a bit and tied up for the rest of the day. I'd told the chap on Lazy Lad not to wait for us anyway.

With full batteries, plenty of hot water and bright sunshine I managed to get three loads of washing done this afternoon, all running off solar. In between washes the solar dump kept the water up to temperature. Win, win ! Most of it is dry too!

Into Stratford tomorrow morning, aiming to moor opposite the theatre. Our visitors are due before lunch.

Locks 6, miles 11.

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