We awoke to blue skies and knew it was going to be a scorcher of a day. We left Stratford and a family of swans and signets decided to hitch a lift up the next two locks which slowed us down a little. The Wilmcote fight was a doddle with five volunteer lock keepers due to the Stratford River Festival, they welcomed the Cornish farings on offer.
A quick stop for lunch and we found ourselves behind a hire boat which meant emptying and filling every lock, we struggled a little with low water levels in some of the pounds.
The highlight has to be the Antony Gormley statue overlooking the lock Lowsonford, I took quite a few pictures but attach a couple.
25 locks done today but sadly no day of rest tomorrow as we reach the Grand Union Canal and back to double locks and the dreaded Hatton Flight!
A rainy night and a drizzly morning led for a later than usual start, we enjoyed the rest and listened to the radio and the start of the Archers omnibus. The cooler weather was a welcome respite from the previous day’s heat and we made good progress on the River Avon. It was only after we had passed Bidford Bridge that we saw the extent of the lorry crash the previous week.
Peter was following our progress and saw that we were close to Binton Bridge that had a webcam, we had great fun trying to find it and waving at anything and everything that looked like it could be a webcam.
We seemed to slowly move away from the countryside and past some beautiful houses and gardens on our approach to Stratford. Sadly my karabinaeron a rope for Toby to pass the centre rope was left behind at Trinity Lock, all was not lost though as Richard on Casual Water kindly donated a proper karabiner – no pressure on leaving that behind then!
Leaving the River Avon and joining the Stratford Canal is no easy task as there is no landing station at the lock entrance. We certainly weren’t prepared for the number of gongoozlers that steadily grew as we entered the lock, it wasn’t something that either Toby or I enjoyed and prefer the peace and quiet of the countryside. Toby did a sterling job of reversing the boat on to the Pontoon and we enjoyed the evening view over Stratford.
Yesterday’s entertainment with the Pershore regatta continued this morning with more fun on the river, with the start line right next to our mooring.
We had a lazy morning (well I did anyway!) and later meandered up into town to see the old abbey and have a mosey around some of the shops. The jam doughnuts from the bakery on the high street were a definite highlight. We also liked the wood carving in the abbey grounds and the local toy shop!
We then set off mid-morning on a delightful sunny day up the river towards the George Billington Lock. The old rope-ferry across the river is still in operation, and kindly dropped the rope for us to pass over it.
The fishermen were out en-masse for a competition – we lost count but reckon there were well over a hundred of them lining one bank for ages. I managed one single friendly wave from the whole dour bunch of them!
After passing through Evesham we returned to the delights of the countryside
before eventually tying up just after George Billington lock, where there’s a lovely grassy bank perfect for sitting out on and enjoying a cold glass of wine with friends.
We had to navigate a pair of staircase locks – the pound between them was pretty small and they were at an awkward angle making the turn really tricky. Luckily nobody was watching as I made a hash of it on the first attempt, but we soon sorted it out and were on our way on the Severn…
Before long we hit our first lock on the Severn. We were well impressed as the gates were open before we arrived – turns out the lock-keeper has a webcam so he could see us coming!
As well as the steel cables, we also liked how calmly the locks filled compared to the Thames – you could literally hold the boat in with finger and thumb. All in all the locks were a dream.
before we knew it we were in Worcester
Sarah also couldn’t resist taking a shot of this old postbox
We awoke to clear blue skies and warm sunshine, I was keen to get going, Toby however, just wanted to doze! We ended up leaving at the same time as Casual Water, they’re a bit faster than us so we let them go in front at the first lock.
We continued on our way through the various locks as the canal passed alongside various rock formations including one with a little cave entrance. We went right through Kidderminster, it was quite a shock to see all of those people, cars and big out of town shopping warehouses after the calm of the countryside.
We arrived at Stourport just after 1pm and moored after one of the bridges, we walked down to the basins, the staircase locks and the River Severn entrance just so we knew what we were in for in the morning. There were some better moorings lower down so we went down the next lock, did a DIY pump out (never again, it’s no cheaper and it honks!!) and moored in the basin. A quick walk in to town for an icecream and then a BBQ on the marina with Richard and Jane.
Stourport eight…eight locks down today (it’s doing wonders for my bingo wings!!)
After an early start prompted by a 7am wake up call from yesterday’s swan (see yesterday’s entry ), much fun was had today at the Bratch set of locks. These were once a staircase of 3, but were long ago converted into 3 separate locks with very small pounds between them, that can’t even hold the water from one lock. They are carefully guarded by the lock-keeper who operates the red paddles to ensure nothing gets flooded, whilst us boaters do the gates and the blue paddles.
Sarah is, of course, super special though and soon had the lock keeper chatting away and next thing there she was running the show and operating the red paddles herself. Well, she impressed so much she was offered a job at the end of it – 8 ’til 8 with 3 days on and 3 days off! Tempting, but maybe not just yet.
We passed some lovely gardens along the way, and this lovely flowerpot lady doing some fishing
I also took some time at a waterstop to treat some of the rust where the paint has been flaking off due to all the hard wear and tear.
It rained over night and we were awoken in the morning to the tings and tangs of the water droplets from the over hanging trees. We made a quick exit as we wanted to get through the heart of Wolverhampton today. We made good progress through the various locks and stopped for some scrummy bacon butties. Autherley junction and our entry on to the Staffs and Worcester canal was somewhat underwhelming, and lacked the hustle and bustle of other junctions.
We moored up in good time at 4.30 and the arrival of a hungry pair of swans and two signets. We didn’t feed them and paid the price of one of the swans nibbling on the side of the boat (do swans have teeth?!). We tried hiding, Toby hissed and waved a big towel, we even banged ropes and fenders on the side of the boat…it was one nutty swan! Eventually it did leave us and tried it’s luck at Casual Water who moored in front of us.
We carried on down the Shroppie today, through some very impressive cuttings which must have been quite a feat to build back in Telford’s day.
We passed an old Cadbury’s warehouse – sadly no chocolate to be had, but there were some nice old boats similar to those that would have carried the milk.
We stopped at Norbury Junction for fuel – for both boat and human as there were some tearooms there as well as diesel. At 59.9 / litre the fuel was the cheapest diesel we’ve seen, so we topped up the tank to the brim. For Sarah and me it was cheese and ham toasties and a bowl of chips, yum. Just as we were finishing our food Richard and Jane from Casual Water turned up so we had a quick chat with them and picked up some tips for mooring on the Severn.