Saturday, 11 June 2016

There and back again!

Thursday 9th June 2016
Droitwich Spa Marina to Netherwich Basin, Droitwich and Return
3 miles, 10 locks and 6 swing bridges

A reunion for us and 4 friends who all spent a year at RAF Cranwell from 1991 to 1992 had been planned.  We have met up as fours since then, but never all six together, so as you can imagine there was a lot to catch up on and a trip out on the boat in such perfect weather just seemed to fit the bill. This day trip is a good one as there is plenty of variety and lots to do.  The first two locks are a staircase - for those who do not know - this is two locks joined together with no pound between them. You go into the first lock making sure that the lock below is empty.  Open the paddles on the middle gates so the top lock half fills the bottom lock, open the middle gates and

move into the second chamber, close the middle gates and then open the bottom paddles to empty the half full lock into the pound below.  And no, it was not cold - this is a Blue Peter photo - ie one I took earlier!!

There are another three locks to negotiate along with three swing bridges, one of which is in the middle of the last lock.

Then there is the dreaded M5 culvert.  There had been a lot of rain the night before, so would we fit?  As it has been so dry and there were five of us to act as ballast in the bow we risked leaving the cratch up.  The water was certainly higher than it had been for a while.  Chris inched forward very slowly.  There is a gauging board at each end - hit it and you will have problems.  The board below is actually at the end coming from Droitwich and we reckon it's height is spot on.  At the other end the board is slightly low, so it swung as we went under it.  On Chris went inch by inch and phew - we made it with about 2 inches to spare.  I was too busy checking the clearance to take any photos! Without the extra people we would not have made it of that I am certain.  By the time we came home the water had dropped by several inches, so a much less stressful passage.

So who were the crew?  Well there was Gil complete with crutch as she has hurt her knee.  There was some doubt if she would make it, but thankfully things are improving and she coped valiantly.

Then Dee and her husband Steve (with the hat) and Laurie, Gil's husband.

Gil was determined to wind at least one paddle

Once safely moored in Nethewich Basin we headed to The Gardener's Arms for lunch where a table was booked for 1pm.  If you come this way and want to find the pub the alley way below is the one you are looking for!  Many hands really did make light work and we were an hour early.  No problem they said and we sat ourselves under an awning in the garden.  An excellent meal was enjoyed by us all along with a lot of chat.

Steve and Laurie both had a turn on the helm, however I failed to get a photo of Laurie in action (sorry!).

At the last lock we met up with some people Chris and I had helped on Tardebigge last week when they were on a hire boat.  We handed over the camera to get this shot of us all - well nearly all.  Steve had miscounted and walked on to the next non existent lock!

All too soon the day was over, tea had been drunk and our guests departed. All that was left was for us to pack up our bits and bobs (we had stayed on board on Wednesday night), lock up the boat, check there is enough money in the electric meter and head home to prepare for our trip to France (we leave on Thursday).  It will be a while before we are back on the cut in the UK.

Unusually Monty failed to get into any of the shots, so here is waiting patiently for Chris to come back with the car from emptying the toilet, so we can load and head home.

And finally the newest inhabitants of Droitwich Spa Marina


  1. You must explain the height problem when we next meet. Take care.

    1. In brief Les (I will have forgotten you want to know by the time we see you again!)- the M5 was built before the canal was restored. A culvert had to be built to cross Body Brook. The restoration society asked that it be built high enough to allow the eventual passage of boats when the canal was restored. To keep costs down it was built just high enough! Our boat is high at the bow particularly with the cratch up. Body Brook runs into the canal just before the culvert hence the water level changes considerably after rain. So it is always a bit of a gamble for us whether we make it or not. Soon after the canal was opened a boat was going through the culvert from Droitwich when there was a boat coming down the lock before the culvert. As the water poured out of the lock the water rose and the boat was smashed up onto the roof of the culvert. As a result one paddle on the last lock is permanently locked to slow down any increase in the water level. There are a lot of scrape marks on the roof, so I know we are not alone having problems. We did have to turn back once and abandon our trip to Droitwich - This shows the problem in a little more detail. Jennie