Worcester to Stourport
12.5 miles, 8 locks
First things first - around 8am Monty and I headed off to the racecourse for a long walk as he would be confined to the boat for several hours as we went down the river to Stourport. En route we spotted this - how many men does it take to launch a boat? Quite a few when they are of a certain age!
I have never really given much thought to the railings on a race course, but the fact that they are soft makes sense. They were busy watering the course and erecting the very bendy inner railings.
On the far side of the race track there is a well tended Teaching and Display Garden
Back to the boat and we were off soon after 9am and as we passed the rowing club the men (plus one young lady) had returned from their morning row.
Approaching the third and last lock on the Severn for us today at Lincombe. It heralded the end of the Severn - for us not the most exciting part of this river. The banks are high, so the views are limited and with only a very few boats moving it was quite lonely at times.
The first signs of sandstone cliffs which were to become a constant companion over the next few days
And so we arrived at Stourport to find a lot of small boats sculling around and signs saying there is a rowing regatta taking place! The lock landings were full - mostly of cruisers it has to be said! The narrow boat is on 48 hour moorings.
There was one space behind it, so we tucked in to have lunch and suss out the lie of the land before we tackled all those rowers.
Monty and I were the advanced guard and discovered we were wise to stop where we did as this is the narrow locks lock landing!
We reported back, had lunch and then went into Stourport for a few provisions. These two fish shops just a few yards apart caught our eyes.
The Tontine has a long history - details can be found here. This was it all boarded up in 2006 taken when we passed this way in a hire boat.
Thankfully it has survived plans to demolish it and is now residential town houses. I realise that the pictures are taken from a different aspect, but it seems strange that it appears to have shrunk!? Maybe it did not all survive? If we come back this way I will try to get a picture from the same aspect as the above shot.
Monty and I had gone ahead, so he could come straight in.
It is certainly public! A time to get it right.
Not only did we have the assistance of a very helpful voluntary lock keeper, but also four young lads very keen to open and close gates. Nothing like a bit of child labour.
I doubt that we will ever have a picture of our boat with a full scale fun fair in the background. The noise was horrendous and I did ask the VLK how he managed to cope with it hour after hour, week after week.
I wonder how much they paid to be swung and spun?
Once through York lock we decided to continue on and find somewhere quiet to moor. I am afraid that our impressions of Stourport were not that favourable - too much traffic and far too much noise from that fun fair. So here we are moored near the bridge of a disused railway before bridge 8 on our way north up the Staffs and Worcs. The boat behind us (nb Uranus) was a wonderful old (1935 I think) working boat. The lady on board heard me mentioning a walk and she recommended the disused railway.
So off Monty and I went and she was right - it is an excellent walk. Peaceful, with no bikes. Just the birds singing in the trees and the occasional walkers to say hello too.
The views were pretty good too as it is on a steep embankment
Sunday 14th August 2016
Stourport to The Lock Inn, Wolverley
5.5 miles, 5 locks
This morning's walk for Monty and I was the couple of miles to the first lock - Falling Sands Lock. One of the things I love about the locks on this canal (so far) is that they have bridges at the bottom with the double gates which saves a lot of walking around from one side to the other, or having to leap the great divide with one gate open. Something I will do, but these locks are a little too deep for me to risk it, so the bridges are really appreciated. Mind you Monty was having none of it - there is a gap in the middle and he was not interested thank you very much.
No whistle, but all of a sudden this came backwards across the viaduct, so of course Chris whacked the boat into reverse so I could take a photo. Well I was happy, however, the fisherman nearby was not!! The air was blue with very ripe language and he was so fed up, he packed up and went on his way! We are usually fairly considerate of fishermen, but although we could see why we upset him (we did apologise) we did think his anger was slightly over the top. I am sure we are not the first, now will be the last to stop for that Kodak moment - maybe he did not choose the ideal spot to fish!
I am sure many of you have seen these carvings a bit further along the canal
Well we came across the carver in mid creation.
I really did not enjoy working this lock (Wolverley Court) - to open the gate paddles you have to stand on the ledge. I felt very vulnerable, but all was well.
Uranus was moored below the lock for lunch and the lady kindly came to lend me a hand working the lock. They were then going up and on. I helped Chris moor up and then went back to lend them a hand. So here we are moored up as they go past. We spent a good hour chatting to Dave and Pam on nb Tui - an interesting couple. If you see this, I hope you enjoy the rest of your summer here in the UK.
And so to the pub for dinner - we had the prime spot right in the window. I was looking forward to roast beef and all the trimmings - it was all gone! My next choice was a venison burger 'Oh we have not had that for months'!! Third time lucky - Sirloin steak, medium rare. It was okay as was Chris' burger, but I am not sure we would go back again. I must say the service was excellent, so maybe we were a bit unlucky with the food. The pub was certainly very full all afternoon, so it is possible that Sunday evening is not the night to eat there. The kitchen closes at 8pm, so maybe that should have told us something.
We both avoided the house special - I don't think we would manage it between us, never mind on our own!
Monday 15th August 2016
Wolverley - Kinver
4 miles, 2 locks
We weren't going far today, so had a leisurely start and decided to walk in to look round Wolverley. We were back to clear blue skies and wonderfully warm weather allowing me to get this great picture of the St John the Baptist Church.
Certainly worth a visit
With a very well tended graveyard
And a great view down the hill back to the canal
and across to the Lock Inn
By the time we got back to the boat we were 'Billy No Mates'!
It was only a mile to the first lock today, so off Monty and I went to pave the way. What a pretty canal this is. It was a very peaceful walk with the occasional thrum of a passing boat, the birds singing in the trees and just one small plane buzzing over head. No traffic at all!
Our timing was perfect - they were coming out as we arrived and as we were ready to leave the lock another boat arrived to go down.
There is one very short tunnel on this stretch just before Cookley. This little family were in the middle. We went as slowly as possible, but there was a lot of squawking and mad scrabbling of feet as they paddled their way out ahead of us!
We moored temporarily just the other side of the tunnel so I could climb up to the village to get the paper from the Tesco Express - certainly a useful shop if supplies are low. The view from the top was good, but the descent had to be made carefully as it was loose gravel and it would have been easy to slip.
The peace and serenity of this canal continued.
And so to Kinver where we found a good mooring in the shade.
After lunch the three of us went for a walk along the towpath and then into the town itself and what a delightful place it is with some really old buildings
The poshest bus shelter I have ever seen
And an arcade that just had to be explored - mostly shut as it is Monday!
We bought some pork steaks and a scotch egg from the butcher and made our way back to the boat. These really are lovely moorings.
By early evening we were in the sun, so what better way to round off the day than with our first towpath Pimms and al fresco meal of the trip. The sky, we hope, is promising another good day tomorrow.