Saturday 23rd April 2016
Stoke Pound to Netherwich Basin, Droitwich Spa
6 miles, 20 locks, 4 swing bridges
It was a lovely sunny morning, albeit a bit chilly, when we set off on today's trip which was planned to be to our berth in Droitwich Spa Marina. This is us approaching the first lock of the day.
It is here we get the first good view of the windmill at Avoncroft (local museum of buildings - see HERE if you want more information.
At the second lock we spied one of our local Canal and River Trust full time employees. We have got to know Chris fairly well over our years of volunteering for the Trust. He stayed with us to give us a hand which is always appreciated, but who needs a C&RT helper when
you can have an Army?! This extended family (Mum, Dad, two children and two sets of grandparents) were out for a good long walk before having a birthday lunch for Dad in the Queen's Head. They were delightful people and stayed with us and Chris making our journey down the locks a pleasure and also very easy. Thank you all.
This 'Grandma' owned a boat for 23 years so she along with the children was delighted to open and close gates
As a thank you to Luke and Emily we gave them a lift (with parental agreement of course) from the 5th lock to the 6th (and last) in the flight.
They left us at the last lock and we saw them a short distance later when they stopped for a well deserved rest and mid morning snack.
The next flight is the six at Astwood - in the middle of nowhere. Mind you there were a lot of walkers - more than we have ever seen before.
Through lock 18 with my favourite cottage garden - the pots have been planted and are looking good.
It is something of a relief to find a bridge at lock 17 (the last one) - it saves a lot of walking round the lock to open and close the two bottom gates - that or leaping across the gap when one is open!
This is the view from the last lock - it is a very pretty canal and these locks are amongst our favourites.
As I said above our plan had been to stop at the marina and journey on to the centre of Droitwich on Sunday, however, the sun was still shining and the forecast was not so good for Sunday, so we decided to keep going. My first job was to walk to the culvert that goes under the M5 - it is very low and we are high at the bow, so we always check the water level before we try to get under it. It was very low, so all looked good - we do, however, always take the cratch down just to be sure. As we left the marina (we called in for water, a gas bottle and coal) a boat left just ahead of us and when I got to the flight I found a boat coming up. I began to wonder if we had chosen the wrong time to go, especially when the boat coming up said there were another 6 behind them!! This is number three in the group of 7.
There were fun and games as the boat ahead of us left the first two locks (a staircase where the locks share the middle gates) as they tried to pass the second boat in the flotilla. It was all managed without any contact I am glad to say.
We made it through the three locks and sneaked through the culvert with a few inches to spare.
As we emerged we met number six with number seven right behind them. This is definitely a one way route and I am glad to say they realised that and held back until we emerged. I stopped to talk to a man in the last boat to be told that the 7 boats were indeed travelling in convoy - they were out celebrating the company's (he did tell me the name, but it was not one I knew, so the information went in one ear and out the other!) 25th Anniversary. They were on a long weekend doing the Droitwich Ring and were staying in Droitwich Spa Marina that night and going to Chateau Impney for dinner. I hope they had a good one.
Once under the culvert there are two more locks to negotiate, the second has a swing bridge in the middle that has to be opened before you enter the lock. There are then three more swing bridges to pass as you travel through Vine Park to the Basin. We met the Harbour Master en route and we squeezed ourself into the only space left in the basin - not ideal, but we would have managed. I then headed off to Waitrose and when I came back I found
the first pontoon by the water point. It has several advantages - we have an open aspect on one side (much nicer to wash up with a view rather than the side of someone else's boat), it is further from the trains and the very noisy gate and we don't have to move to get water! So this is us until next week. The Festival starts Friday evening and ends Monday around 4pm. We will be helping both as Canal and River Trust volunteers and members of the Worcester, Birmingham and Droitwich Canal Society. We might be a little limited as Chris fell in the bow when we were moving from mooring one to mooring two (see above) and has hurt his right knee (the non arthritic knee) and I am having some problems with my back, so we are a couple of old crocks at present. On my 'to do' list for tomorrow (Wednesday as I write this) is to contact an Osteopath in Warwick that has been recommended by Jaq.
Total statistics since leaving Droitwich Spa Marina on 2nd April to travel to Netherwich Basin, Droitwich via Stratford:
84 miles, 202 locks, 9 swing/lift bridges and 9 tunnels!
Had we come direct it would have been:
1.25 miles, 5 locks and 4 swing bridges!!