We are going to be slowly cruising the Gloucester and Sharpness Canal over the next few weeks and meeting up with many friends in this area, I won’t be posting daily but will update this page with photos of the places we visit.
Shepherds Patch (Slimbridge)
Swan & Cygnets
The Black Shed
Splatt Bridge (Frampton on Severn)
Severn view, looking across to Awre in the Forest of Dean
St. Mary’s Frampton
Moon at Splatt Bridge
Our mooring for the last few days
One of the neighbours (Chainsaw Sculpture)
Sandfield Bridge & Stables Cafe
RW Davis & Son Ltd
Crane Barge (Used to repairs to Gloucester Lock)
Nice to see some businesses remaining from my fork lift service engineering days
Another early start for us, leaving Worcester at 9:10 we passed Worcester Bridge and the resident colony of swans below it.
At Diglis Lock we followed another narrowboat in , they were headed for Upton on Severn for the Jazz Festival so they let us go first.
The scenery on the Severn often consists of tree covered banks which don’t afford much of a view, occasionally there are caravan parks often accompanied by moorings; more cruisers than narrowboats of course.
As we were travelling with the flow we could make good speed but nothing like as much as the narrowboat coming upstream with it’s Lister engine happily flat out; we rode it’s wash for what seemed like half a mile.
Severn Bank House is visible in the distance for quite a while.
The house was built for the Earls of Coventry. The present house dates largely from around 1830 when it was rebuilt on an 18th century core. [according to Geograph]
Also near here is Severn End, but we didn’t get a photo so here’s one from Geograph.
Of particular interest to P.G. Wodehouse aficionados [me included] as according to Pearson’s Guide, it was “the model for ‘Brinkley Court’ the country seat of Bertie Wooster’s Aunt Dahlia…. Wodehouse’s real aunt was married to the vicar at Hanley Castle”
Shortly after a gravel barge was loading and it was interesting to see several more working the Severn commercially. As we went through Upton-on-Severn we met one of these who sounded it’s horn imperiously as it passed the entrance to Upton Marina.
Upton seemed quiet despite the festival, and very few moored boats, perhaps they were busy preparing for the main events on the weekend.
Soon Mythe Bridge came into view signalling we were at Tewkesbury, we had intended to stop here overnight but since it was only just after mid-day we decided to press on.
Upper Lode Lock, I believe, is the biggest inland lock in the UK but it was very gentle in lowering us down a couple of feet hardly needing us to tie up. By now the temperature must have been in the 30s.
The Yew Tree Inn
Wrens-Nest from the pub garden
We plodded on for another half an hour and then stopped for lunch at The Yew Tree Inn, a Cheese and Onion baguette and Cheesy Chips.
As we left a gentleman was coming into the sailing club next door [see header photo]
The Yew Tree proved to be a good choice as although there are a number of riverside pubs most of their moorings were occupied. I would have liked to visit The Boat Inn at Ashleworth as back in the 1970s I used to have lunch there when servicing the forklift at Permali’s outlying factory in the village, along with Ted Watkins the factory stores foreman. I recall a proper ploughman’s lunch, a thick chunk of bread, a generous piece of cheese, pickled onions and an apple, (no poncey salad to fill up the plate) Ted always used to produce his penknife to consume his!
By quarter past three we were at The Upper Partings, where we had to bear left and ring Gloucester Dock to let them know we were arriving and sure enough, half an hour later the lock gates were opening ready for us. The lock raised us up to the Gloucester and Sharpness Canal and after filling our water tank we moored up on one of the pontoons, opposite ‘Greek on the Docks’ restaurant.
Later Jeremy, Louise and Iona came to visit and we enjoyed endured a meal at the Lord High Constable of England, the local Wetherspoons, it was a busy evening and despite ordering via their app, the service was slow and the food arrived before our drinks so we had to go and chase them up, only to find our tray was sat on the bar!
Never mind, we’ll try the Greek restaurant tomorrow.
Total distance:29.93 miles
Average speed:4.35 mph(4.78 lock/mph)
We made an early start from Stourport this morning as the moorings all filled up last night and we thought it might be busy, there was one Black Prince hire boat who followed us down the staircase locks, but we didn’t see them again until Worcester and only 2 or 3 boats coming up-stream.
The staircase locks are a bit difficult as the two sets don’t align and the wind wasn’t helping either, those are the last locks we’ll be operating ourselves for a while.
Once we were out on the river we enjoyed the glorious weather and made good progress downstream through three big, power operated locks, all with cheerful lock keepers to help us.
When we reached Worcester, there were plenty of moorings to chose from and we picked one between the rowing club and The Sabrina Footbridge. We had to buy a ticket from the car park machine to pay for our mooring.
We had our tea out in the cratch (or pointy bit as Joy calls it) with a glass of Spritz for Joy (a taste picked up in Venice) & an elderflower cordial for me.
Unfortunately there’s no TV signal here and poor internet so I’ll add more pictures tomorrow; still there are swans to feed and rowers to keep us amused and last night’s episode of ‘Summer of Rockets’ which we recorded, to watch.
Yes, we did have a ‘rest day’ yesterday, or rather a non-boating day as our son Jeremy and his partner, Louise came to see us and we did some car shuffling. He took us back to our mooring and then we drove down to his mooring where we left our car for the time being, and then they took us back to our boat, so not much rest really!
This morning our Morrisons delivery arrived just on time, but a can of Coke had got punctured in transit and leaked over the rest of the order so we had to sort all that out before we left.
So we were away at 10:35 am about about an hour later than planned, but we were in Kidderminster before 12:00 and had lunch and visited Sainsburys to top up with supplies we couldn’t get from Morrisons.
By a quarter to two we were off again and entering Kidderminster lock soon after. This lock drops down to under a modern road bridge and it’s only as your eyes become used to the gloom are you able to see boats waiting under the bridge to come up.
The water level in this pound was very high, lapping over the towpath and lock landings in places. We passed through a redeveloped area with Tesco, Boots and other major stores including Debenhams in a re-purposed factory building along with it’s adjacent factory chimney.
After Caldwell Lock the water levels returned to normality and we were out in the countryside once more, passing under Falling Sands Viaduct (no Severn Valley steam trains seen today) the new(ish) road bridge and through
Falling Sands Lock which has an entrance at 90 degrees to the approaching canal just to make things interesting.
Another hour and we were mooring up in Stourport, and after a cuppa we walked down the town and against Joy’s better judgement, Chris bought a gingery/orange jacket (which Michael Portillo would be proud of) at the Red Cross charity shop.
After a brief rest, while Joy cooked the tea, Chris went to Dizzy Dolly’s laundrette (just across the canal) and did a load of washing. We then enjoyed the roast vegetable tagliatelle before settling down to watching TV for the evening.
Well… so much for the forecast thunderstorm and rain! Just a few spots this morning, so we decided to travel a few more miles to find a brighter mooring as we were next to an enormous Leylandii hedge.
It was straight into Whittington Lock and onwards toward Austcliffe. Over the last couple of days the scenery has changed to wooded areas, with the canal winding around sandstone outcrops, hence “Rocky Lock” yesterday and today at Austcliffe the canal narrows to single width as it clings to the hillside with the sandstone cliff towering above.
There has been a landslide just around here , closing the road above, and naturally this was were we met an oncoming boat!
On through Cookley Tunnel with houses perched on the top.
At Debdale Lock there is a fair sized cavern carved out of the sandstone but my photography doesn’t really convey the size of it.
In just another 40 minutes we were at Wolverley Lock Visitor Moorings where we tied up and had lunch at The Old Smithy Tea Room which is run by The Lock Inn, just across the cut.
Being such a pleasant spot we will stay here to sit out the expected rain tomorrow, if things don’t change, actually we have now placed an order for a Morrisons grocery delivery, so we’ll have to stay.
The header picture is one of those circular weirs I mentioned yesterday.
Last night we bottled some elderflower cordial which Joy had made.
So today we set off at about 10 am, through Hinksford Lock to Greenforge where we filled our tank at the waterpoint. I was puzzled for a few minutes as conventional taps were fitted AND the normal lever valve under the locked cover.
Greenforge Lock is very near the waterpoint but the armco type barrier is in poor condition here and proceeded to scrape the side of the boat as we moved along to the lock. The Navigation Inn is alongside the lock to provide refreshment for boaters past and present.
After Flatheridge Bridge we passed the beautiful private garden belonging to the owner of the adjacent Ashwood Nurseries, just as I was sneaking some photos a smiling face emerged from under the tree on the left where a lady was doing some pruning.
Passing through five more locks our journey took us past ‘The Devils Den’ which is a bit overgrown now (follow this link for a story back in 2008 and some history about it) and Dunsley Tunnel, which is carved through the rock, except for a brick portal one end, and on to Kinver, where we had been forewarned the Vine Inn, by the lock, was now closed.
We stopped below the lock for lunch and as we wanted to have a couple of days off wondered whether we could stay on this 24 hour mooring but decided that it would be a bit naughty so we moved on to Whittington where we are moored next to an attractive property adjacent to the next lock.
Another 9:30 start this morning, but not early enough to be away before our overnight neighbours and another boat who passed us just before casting off. The latter had a large crew and seemed in a hurry and soon disappeared out of sight.
The Staffs & Worcs (Staffordshire & Worcestershire) is a nice canal, pictureque, well maintained, with interestingly designed locks & circular overflow weirs like giant plugholes and we seemed to have it to ourselves for most of the day.
We completed the first three locks in under an hour and at Awbridge was pleased to see that the remaining original lock-tail bridge (for all the world like a couple of shelf brackets, with a gap for the horses tow-rope between them) had been stripped of its hideous Elf & Safety scaffolding hand rail which was present the last time we travelled this way and has been replaced with a more sympathetic design, but it still smacks of architectural vandalism to me.
Original Bridge Deck
Ornate ‘Shelf Brackets’
As seen in 2016
Another hour’s gentle cruising took us to The Bratch, a set of three locks telescoped together with side ponds to economise on water usage and which still have a lock-keeper in attendance (to make sure boaters operate them without flooding the neighbouring garden!
Here we caught up with the ‘Boat in a Hurry’ who complained they had been waiting half an hour already. The lock-keeper explained that the procedure is three boats up then three boats down. Apparently, they, like us are headed for Gloucester and the Locky observed wryly that two days of rain were forecast and the Severn would probably be closed again by the time they reached it. “What shall we do then?” they asked, “Well I suppose you could always catch a bus or a train.” he replied. We have already factored in a couple of ‘rest days’ to coincide with the forecast rain. [writes he, smugly]
Waiting for our turn
‘Orange Tree’ (Mobile phone mast)
Onwards to the curiously named Bumblehole Lock, then a stop at The Round Oak pub for a ‘2 for a Tenner’ lunch in their garden, good value although the Black Country Faggots were not entirely to Joy’s taste however my steak, ale & mushroom pie was fine.
It was then time to tackle the Botterham Staircase, just two locks joined together, Marsh Lock & Swindon Lock after which we found a sunny mooring.
Later I made a start on washing one side of the boat & the roof, now it’s bound to rain, isn’t it?