All posts by Chris

The Bratch, The Anchor & Gailey we go home

Thursday 19th September

The route of our travels this summer

It was up and away at 9:35 am, but everybody else on the moorings had left earlier, so we expected all the locks to be against us… and they were, Awbridge, Ebstree, Dimmingsdale and Wightwick!

At Wightwick Mill Lock our luck changed as a boat was just exiting, and after another 20 minutes we were in Compton where we stopped for lunch.

 

We sauntered down to the Sainsburys Local for some provisions and  on the way back to the boat, picked up fish, chips & scallops at Pep’s Plaice;  when we were suitably refreshed we set off again.

Tettenhall former railway Bridge which now  carries the Wolverhampton Railway Walk

Just Compton Lock next & we were done with locks for the day, it was under the ‘Meccano Bridge‘ at Tettenhall and on to Aldersley Junction where the 21 locks up to Wolverhampton begin.

… but not for us though, onwards past Autherley Junction and through The Autherley Narrows where the canal cuts through a sandstone ridge and becomes a single track road canal with passing places.  We just got through in time as a boat with another in tow was waiting at the other end.

Another half an hour or so and we were tying up outside the Anchor Inn, we didn’t dine there as previous research showed that their fish and chips were £12.50 whilst Pep’s Plaice offered a lunchtime special at £4.00 which couldn’t be beaten.

Friday 20th September

Last night’s mooring was noisier than I remembered with the murmur of the M54 and distant trains. This morning they started cutting the grass outside the pub at about twenty to eight, no doubt to spite us for not patronising their restaurant.

So after a little bike ride down to Coven Co-op to buy some vinegar and oranges (unsuccessful on the orange front) we set off before 10 to cover 5 lock-free miles to Gailey and moored below Gailey Lock for the night.

This afternoon Joy made Green Bean Chutney hoping to emulate her late Auntie Avice’s recipe (Squashed Frog Chutney as our kids used to call it)

Saturday 21st September

… and they’re on the home straight! Just the four locks this morning our journey taking an hour and forty minutes to our home mooring.

It was a turnaround day for hire boats at Gailey Wharf and several passed us returning to base before we left.

Passing under Littleton Colliery Railway Bridge I was interested to find out more about it as when driving to the marina from Cannock the gates of a level crossing remain on the road belonging to the same line.

I was surprised to find that Littleton Colliery only closed 25 years ago as the track bed has all but disappeared.

Culture 24 reports: At the end of 1992, Littleton Colliery in Cannock, Staffordshire was designated as a ‘core’ pit by the Conservative government of the time, sparing the site from the fate of hundreds of other doomed mines across the country.

A year later, in December 1993, Littleton was closed, and 800 workers lost their jobs.

Arriving at the marina we got a pump-out, collected our post from  the office before slotting back into our space and being welcomed back by our neighbours.

This afternoon Jer, Louise & Iona brought our car back to us and stayed have a chilli with us. (It was’t hot enough for Jer & Iona so they added extra chilli powder… crazy people!

 

Kinver to The Bratch

Tuesday 17th September, 2019

We slept in a bit today and didn’t leave Kinver until 10:30 ish. So it was up Kinver Lock past The Vine Inn which has reopened but with no food, pending an allegedly much needed kitchen refurbishment.

After the services and long stretch of linear moorings we were at Hyde Lock followed by the diminutive Dunsley Tunnel, just 25 yards long.

Then it was onward to Greenforge Lock, resisting the attraction of The Navigation Inn, and avoiding the C&RT team who were cutting back the trees on the offside. We stopped at the services to top up with water & dispose of rubbish, and recycling bins were available too! We were going to have lunch here but someone else beat us to the single mooring place so we went on a bit further and found  spot near a ‘Mobile Home Park’

Ashwood Nurseries soon appeared on our right with the owner’s magnificent gardens to admire, see header photo too.

Just another hour and we were moored at Swindon (No, not the Wiltshire one where I spent much of my youth and met Maz & Marie whom I mentioned last week)

Wednesday 18th September, 2019

We departed from Swindon just on 10:00 am and found the lock set for us although a boat had gone up before us and logically it should have been against us??

At Marsh Lock we met a boat coming down as we did at Botterham Staircase Locks which is always a help.

We pottered along for a bit and found ourselves outside The Round Oak just before noon so we moored up and prepared ourselves some lunch on board which we washed down with some very pleasant Friel’s Cider  once the pub was open.

Almost immediately we were at the curiously named Bumblehole Lock and another half hour we were at The Bratch Locks (which look like a staircase, but aren’t!)

According to Wikipedia: The Bratch Locks are a noted feature of the Staffordshire and Worcestershire Canal, planned by James Brindley, and opened in 1772 as a three lock staircase. They were later re-engineered as three separate locks. They are served by two bridges, a toll house, and a keeper’s cottage. The whole forms a well-preserved example of vernacular Georgian architecture and design, built of mellow local brick.

There were three volunteer lock-keepers on duty and once one boat had descended the lockies assisted us up in short order.

Although it was only 2:00 pm we decided to call it a day and found ourselves a sunny spot opposite fields.

We have spent the afternoon chilling out, Joy finishing a jigsaw puzzle of Venice and I have been practising my new (old) accordion after taking it apart to free a duff note!

Stourport to Kinver

So, what have we been doing for the last few days?

Saturday 14th September

Today was a non-boating day, we walked down the Stourport High Street and caught a bus into Kidderminster and after searching for a suitable eating place we settled for a Thai takeaway from a market stall.

After our meal we went to the ‘Reel Cinema’, an odd little cinema which seemed to be housed in warehouse type of building.

We saw the new Downton Abbey film and thoroughly enjoyed it. After the film we caught the bus back to Stourport.

Sunday 15th September

This morning we first went to The Dolly Tub launderette and then set off for Kidderminster, we found a mooring outside the Watermill pub. We ordered two Sunday roasts which arrived very quickly, unfortunately they were very poor quality, tough meat, burnt and soggy roast potatoes and cold vegetables. To give them their due they did replace the meals and we ended up with fish & chips and a burger. Another plus was a nice pint of Brakspear’s Oxford Gold.

Falling Sands Bridge & Viaduct

The access to Kidderminster Lock is from under a modern road-bridge which is a bit dark and dismal, some murals try to brighten up the place, but emerging from the gloom to see  St Mary and All Saints’ Church makes up for it.

We also stopped to do a big shop in Sainsburys before continuing on to Wolverley Bridge passing our friend Penny on her boat at Wolverley Court Lock.

Monday 16th September

This morning we set off just after 11am and travelled on through Wolverley, Debdale & Whittington Locks.

Are these Guinea Fowl at Whittington?

The landslip at Wolverley has still not been rectified since March.

We cooked jacket potatoes on the way and had them topped with some chilli-con-carne for lunch after mooring at Kinver Visitor Moorings at 13:40.

Worcester to Stourport

We left Worcester just before 10 am and were at Bevere Lock with in the hour.

We spotted a herd of cows paddling and were overtaken by a C&RT launch (which we think was inspecting licences) just before Holt Lock.

The scenery was a bit more interesting today with a number of nice riverside properties.

Our last Severn lock was Lincomb which we passed through at 1:30 and then it was straight through to Stourport.

We passed Aston Manor‘s fruit processing and pressing facility and I reckon you could have got drunk on just the smell of cider if you hung about!

Soon we were leaving the Severn and ascending the staircase locks beside the fun-fair.

Through the basin and after Yorke Street Lock we found a sunny mooring by 3 o’clock.

Later a familiar boat arrived, it was John & Mel from our home mooring and we had a good chat and admired their new paint job & sign-writing.

 

 

Upton to Worcester

Last night I walked up the steep ramp from the pontoons into the town to get some chips, Upton is a pleasant little town and I love looking at the old recovery vehicles at  the Regal Garage (Panes).

The town clock was misbehaving striking the half hour at quarter past and the hour at quarter to, moreover the chimes were 3¼ hours fast so it struck 12 at quarter to 9, most confusing!

This morning the gravel barges started shuttling up and down river at 7 am but despite their size didn’t move us about much even when fully loaded (and I mean fully loaded). We soon passed their loading point which is an old barge modified to make a pontoon and a movable loading conveyor mounted on tracks.

We plodded on for another hour or so and then encountered ‘The Edward Elgar‘ hotel boat and we arrived at Diglis Lock just before 2 pm.

We were then in Worcester proper and Joy videoed the huge number of swans here before finding a mooring between the road and rail bridges before 2:30 pm.

 

 

Night view of bridge

Later we wandered up to the shops and Joy bought some new tops in Primark.

The TV reception was poor here so some recordings were watched before spending a peaceful night.

Despite our location between the two bridges, I guess we must have been tired because we didn’t hear the trains or they stopped running after we went to bed!

 

 

 

Gloucester to upton upon severn

Today’s journey:18.99 miles Time:5h33m

After filling our water tank this morning (and drenching Joy in the process as the extension was not on the hose-reel… Oops!) We phoned Gloucester Lock and were told we could head straight over as it was ready except for opening the gates.

The locky warned us another narrowboat was coming down the Eastern channel but that was no problem. We made slow progress to start with but once we reached The Upper Parting the river became wider and the flow was not as noticeable  and the engine found a ‘happy spot’ at 1700 rpm travelling at around 3.6 mph.

The river was very quiet, meeting only six boats all day, as I’ve probably said before, it’s a rather boring journey with high tree lined banks with only occasional glimpses of countryside.

We reached Upper Lode Lock by 2:30pm. We were a bit mystified that the gates were open ready for us as we rounded the bend of the lock cut so asked the Locky if he had CCTV, he said no,  there was just a gap in the bushes he could see through!

We considered stopping at Tewkesbury but since it was still early we opted to carry on to Upton upon Severn.

I was just taking some snaps of some desirable riverside residences when I saw a vessel gaining on us, it was the Conway Castle and so I pulled over to let it pass, no use arguing with them when the’re this big.

The MV Conway Castle is the largest passenger vessel on the River Severn, licensed for up to 195 passengers with 2 exterior and 2 interior decks, the lower of which being a comfortable and characteristic lounge bar

 

Gravel Barges

Before long there were even bigger vessels in view, but these were just gravel barges being unloaded.

We passed under Upton Bridge and found a gap just big enough for us on  the pontoon moorings.

Goodbye to the G & S

Tuesday 10th September

Our stay on the G & S  has come to an end, we have enjoyed meeting up with so many friends from this area and it would be difficult to list all those we have seen, so instead I’ll just mention the pair who have travelled the furthest to see us and another pair we haven’t seen for the longest time.

We have known our friend Marilyn since the 1970s when we lived in Wiltshire, but although she now lives in Australia with her partner Steve, we have stayed in touch over the years.

Last weekend we all met up in Cardiff along with another friend from those days, Marie & her daughter Zoe who none of us had seen for more than 40 years when Zoe was just two!

A lot of reminiscing took place including the admission of just who had been responsible for setting me up with an entirely unsuitable blind date back in the day!

After visiting Saint Fagans National Museum of History, Marilyn and Steve returned to Slimbridge with us on Sunday and after lunch we cruised down to see the Purton Hulks.

 

On Monday we travelled up to Gloucester, in the rain, Steve steered most of the way and said that he thoroughly enjoyed it.

We rounded of the day with a Greek meal at Greek on the Docks and said our farewells to them on Tuesday lunchtime to continue their holiday.