Our 8 o’clock departure this morning was timed to allow us to be the first boat through the swing bridges and all the locks before Droitwich Spa Marina.  It worked a treat but the hire boat next to us at Vines Park, aka Netherwich Basin, was not too pleased as they had to follow us all the way.

Our passage under the M5 bridge was uneventful. We didn’t touch the roof or the sides.

You have been warned
No problem

The Marina office was actually open when we arrived at 9:45 and so we were able to complete our pump out and be on our way again at 10am.  In the intervening fifteen minutes three boats got ahead of us and there were several boats coming the other way so the passage through the next three locks, before the junction was slow.  These were the first locks we have been through with side ponds, an interesting experience and one that reinforces the ingenuity of the Victorian engineers.

The scenery changed for the better after the junction.  There were no other boats in sight and pleasant countryside on both sides of the Worcester and Birmingham Canal.

We found an excellent countryside mooring just below lock 17, the bottom lock of the Astwood Flight.

No crowds here

The first task after stopping was to check the TV reception which turned out to be excellent.

We then walked to Hanbury Hall where we spent an enjoyable few hours looking around the house and gardens.  The front of the house was not looking its best however as it was being scaffolded in preparation for a new paint job.

Scorched earth on our walk to Hanbury Hall
Not at its best
Spherical apple trees!
The parterre
Astwood Bottom Lock

Happy Days

Last night another boat came and moored next to us it was named Oliver and Imogen.  I took a couple of pictures for the blog but for the first time ever they did not get recorded on the memory card.  Hopefully we will see it again.

The good news is I recovered my camera today.  After various calls to different police stations I was given the phone number of Colin, who picked my camera up at Nafford Lock.  He had very kindly left it with Wychaven Council offices at Pershore and they had not yet got round to sending it to the police at Worcester which was lucky for us.  A short taxi ride and it was back in my possession.

There are worse things that have happened at Nafford lock.

At least I was a bit luckier than this chap

Earlier we had given Oliver a bit of TLC, done some shopping at had a decent Italian lunch at Portofino.

Boats of all descriptions started arriving in droves at the basin around 17:30 and others were pulling up to replenish their water tanks.   It was just like a busy day at Clapham Junction.

Getting crowded

The bad, but not very bad, news was one again no TV signal.  When I saw how long the aerial poles on the nearby houses are I wasn’t so surprised.  I only used 2.2 GB of Romy’s 8 on her phone!  Plenty left for the England match tomorrow.

We topped up our water tank after the visiting boats had cleared the water point and then one of us settled down to watch the France Belgium football match while the other sat quietly with a Kindle.

We are now poised ready to leave whenever we wake in the morning but as the marina pump out is not open until 10am there is not much point in rushing.

Salt Workers statue in the town

An Unexpected Afray

We timed our departure from Worcester so that we would arrive at Bevere Lock soon after it opened at 8am.

Bevere Lock

We were off the rivers and back onto the canal system, on the Droitwich Barge Canal, just before 9:00 but not before a minor mishap.  It was lucky that Romy was only pulling Oliver onto the lock pontoon at Hawford Lock 1 relatively gently because with a loud ping the centre rope snapped.  Had she been putting a lot more of her weight onto it she would probably have gone over backwards into the water.

I’m afrayed this is knot what we expect from our equipment
Hayford Lock No.1

The locks were amazingly all empty except for lock 4 all the way to Netherwich Basin where we moored on a pontoon only half Oliver’s length.

There was only one boat travelling in the opposite direction and we met him just as he was coming down our next lock.

The Droitwich Barge canal seemed almost deserted.  It was quite a dramatic change in scenery from the wide rivers and into the narrow, reed lined, twisty canal.

A Change of Scene
Happy Days

After lunch on board we wandered into Droitwich and had a brief look around the town.  We aim to spend some more time there tomorrow.

Netherwich Basin
Droitwich clay mural by Philippa Threlfall

Wilting in Worcester

It’s 19:00 and still 31℃ in Oliver’s sitting room.

We spent today doing a few domestic tasks while it was cool in the morning and then walking to Thai on 7evern for lunch.  This was a recommendation from Laurie and Jill on “Mabel” moored just behind us.  It was one of the best Thai meals we have had in the UK and well worth the walk into town.

We ambled our way back to Oliver replenishing supplies on route stopping for a cooling ice cream at the café by the racecourse.  It was too hot to do a lot more so we didn’t.

Purple Loosestrife. One of our favourite riverside flowers.
Unusual heavily pollarded horse chestnut trees on the riverside walk.
Especially for Sarah – a Victorian Pillar Box.
Guilded decorations on the Guildhall
If you behave like that you’ll have to face the music.

Severn Herons

Late night football leads to late blog entry.

We were, unsurprisingly, the first boat into the Avon Lock this morning and it wasn’t long before we were passing under Mythe Bridge on our way to Worcester.

Mythe Bridge

Although it is a longish stretch on a fairly wide and straight river there is quite a bit to see on the Severn.  We spotted several herons and set ourselves a small challenge for the day.

Severn Herons

Romy phoned ahead, with plenty of time to spare, to let the lock keeper know of our arrival.  He had everything prepared but it took us a while to realise that, although the gates we could see were closed, there was another chamber with open gates just round the corner!  In our defence the bright sunshine made it nearly impossible to see the green arrow light. The Diglis lock was somewhat bigger than any of those we had encountered so far but we rose very sedately to the higher level.

Glad we don’t have to go all the way to the top

As we passed the cathedral we were surprised to see what looked to be a pitched battle between swans and gulls.

Feathered Frenzy

We were a bit horrified to find, as we approached our planned mooring, that there was a very noisy fairground on the racecourse.

Oh no!

There were also several boats at the mooring and only one good spot with mooring rings left.  Fortunately the fair packed up at 20:30 and we had a very peaceful night.

Also seen en route:

The Pepper Pot, Upton-upon-Severn
Sharing the water
No commercial traffic moving on a Saturday

Goodbye Avon

Ekington looked like a lovely peaceful spot as the sun set but it turned out to be quite a noisy morning.  The crows woke us up at about 5:30 and it became very difficult to get back to sleep as the traffic started crossing the bridge.

Sunset at Eckington Bridge

Another boat had quietly moored behind us and as we were about to set off at 7:15 its crew appeared and said they were planning to do the locks with us.  There was only one but as they went first and had six people on board they opened the lock so we only had to drive in and then suggested we left first.  Another free ride for us!

Another long, wide straight stretch of the Avon
A bird with attitude defending the bridge

It was a very pleasant voyage down to Tewkesbury where we managed to overshoot the first moorings.  After a chat with the lock keeper Chris we decided to reverse to the moorings before the lock and achieved this with relative ease.  It was somewhat challenging as one boat was exiting the lock, one was going in and one was manoeuvring for the water point.  As we were so close we topped Oliver’s water to the brim.

Close to the lock at Tewkesbury

Chris asked after Sarah and then told us that someone had reported finding Peter’s camera and saying they would take it to a police station when they could find one.

We had a stroll around the town looking for the Old Baptist Chapel, with its immersion pool.  The first door we tried turned out to be someone’s sitting room occupied by two ladies.  We don’t know who was surprised the most.  They put us on the right track but also told us it was closed.  In fact most things were closed; the abbey for a memorial service, the museum for a school outing, Prezzo, Ye Olde Black Bear (Gloucestershire’s oldest pub) and most of the restaurants.  We ended up having a very cheap lunch at The Bell.

Touching Souls by Mico Kaufman
The Old Baptist Chapel
The Abbey roof – we got in for ten minutes
There’s always something interesting to do on a narrowboat

Peter cycled to a nearby garden centre to get some bigger pots for his chillies and much more sensibly bought two magnums, which he put in bubble wrap, before rushing back to Oliver.

Naff Lock

We left Evesham at 7:45 and shared the first three locks with four Aussies from Perth.  The river continued to change from straight and wide to quite twisty and narrow.  In fact no sane person would choose our route between Evesham and Eckington.

What a Wiggly Way

We had a first today when we spotted a couple of paddle boarders coming towards us.

Am economic way of travelling

We also saw several large pumps sucking water out of the river to water the nearby fields.  One of them was actually watering a good width of the river so we gave it a wide berth.

Where does all our water go?

We checked out the Swans Neck Mooring with its board saying Birlingham Quay – what an exaggeration!  We could have moored there but it would have been less than perfect so we continued to Eckington Bridge next to a car park and quite a lot of picnickers.

Then horror – we discovered that Peter’s camera had gone missing.  We knew where it was, Nafford Lock, so Peter cycled back there but no camera to be seen.  I phoned the ANT and left a message and hailed passing boats just in case.  Some kind sole has no doubt returned it to one of the the ANT offices.  Perhaps we will hear tomorrow?

Nafford Lock – pity he didn’t stay on the boat!

Good job he had a spare.

Not up to Sarah’s standard.

It was VERY hot today.  Peter’s old umbrella from Yohan in KL was designed for the job with its silver reflective inner lining!

Is it big enough?

A Fishy Tale or Hair Today Gone Tomorrow

First a quick addition from yesterday.  Try as he may Peter could not get the TV to work so had to watch the footie on his laptop. England WON.

A signal failure

Somewhat surprising to see a lighthouse for ????

Offenham Lock Lighthouse

A rather late start today 7:50.  We read in the books that the Evesham Lock was manned after 9:00 so we thought we would time it to get there just after 9 so it would make our life nice and easy.  We timed it beautifully but there was no-one to be seen just a notice saying that it was set to manual and was up to us.  Never mind we managed OK.  If the water was flowing swiftly we could imagine this being quite a challenging lock entry!

We arrived in Evesham at 9:50 and found a very pleasant and convenient mooring opposite Abbey Park.  There were only two other boats here with one about to leave.  As we walked into the town “Down the Hatch” arrived and Nick moored up behind us.

Another lovely mooring

Our first tourist attraction was St Lawrence’s Church.  

Evesham Abbey
St Lawrence’s Church

Bishop Egwin was having a spot of bother with the locals so he decided to chain his feet together,  throw the key in the Avon River and then make a pilgrimage to Rome to seek the approval of the Pope.  While Egwin prayed before the tomb of the Apostles in Rome a servant brought him a fish they had caught in the Tiber.  While preparing the fish for supper they found the key he threw in the Avon.  So the Pope agreed Egwin must be a good’un.  He then returned to Evesham and founded the Abbey in 714.

Key Drop
Gone Fishing

It was such a nice day Romy decided to go and have her hair cut.

Which of the above fishy tales don’t you believe?

We had a very good lunch at the Royal Oak, re-provisioned at Aldi and returned to Oliver to catch up on blogs.  There we found Nick who introduced us to his wife Ann.

A natty looking bank in Evesham

‘Ware the Weir

Trinity lock was open and ready for us to motor in when we checked at 7:30 this morning so off we went.

With the vast majority of the festival boats having left the Avon looked very different and far more peaceful.

Peaceful Avon

There was also a big difference between the narrow Stratford Canal with its very narrow locks and the river with its comparatively massive structures.

The first one for us The Colin P Witter Lock had nice easy to lift paddles, although 36 turns explains why, but the downstream gates were extremely heavy and the help of a kindly fisherman was very welcome.

It is what it says

The guides seem determined to put boaters off with repeated warnings of danger.  The water was definitely low for our passage and the biggest danger was probably one of sunburn.  Nevertheless the weirs were certainly something to avoid.

Narrowboats don’t surf very well

At Luddington we joined up with Nick on “Down The Hatch” and continued with him until he stopped for lunch after Barton Lock.  We met up again at Offenham Lock in the late afternoon.  The first oncoming boat did not appear until 9:55, nearly two and a half hours after we first cast off.

Nick on “Down The Hatch”

It seemed slightly strange to be using one of the arches closest to the bank at Bidford-on-Avon but the sign is not to be ignored.

Bidford-on-Avon Bridge

At Harvington Lock we met Jan and Steve on Tiree, friends of Jane and Richard, whom we had met last year when we were coming up from.Bristol.  They very kindly helped us with the lock which was much appreciated especially as the gates were pretty heavy.

It was a really pleasant voyage down the Avon mostly quite a wide river but sometimes narrowing unexpectedly and quite twisty in parts.  There were lots of damsel flies, dragon flies and butterflies  to be seen en route but only one heron standing distantly on a weir.

Straight and wide
Sometimes twisty

A locky break

Enough to brighten anyone’s day

When the sun comes streaming through Oliver’s beautiful window it’s hard to stay asleep so  we were up and about bright and early and our departure from the Marina at 7:25 seemed to go unnoticed.

Romy steers a straight course over Edstone aqueduct

The first part of our journey was pretty slow as the water was rather shallow particularly around Wilmcote where we passed Casual Water’s mooring.

Casual Water at Wilmcote

The first three locks all needed filling so progress was still somewhat pedestrian.  However we struck lucky at Lock 43 where three volunteers were on hand to help us down the next five locks and Romy just had to drive out of one and into the next that had already been prepared – wonderful.  We had then started to meet all the boats returning from the festival so every lock was in our favour and there was usually someone to help with the heavy gates.  This was particularly welcome at lock 53 by bridge 67 (see entry on June 30).

We arrived in Stratford at 12:30 and moored under a shady tree just before the basin.  All in all we felt we had made really good time for the journey.

A bit of shopping.  A bit of a rest. A little stroll.  Dinner at The Opposition.  Afters at Hoorays.  All set for another sunny day tomorrow.

What a whopper!