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