Friday, 23 June 2017

Three More Sizzlers

Monday 19th June 2017
Luddington Lock to Bidford
6.5 miles, 4 locks

We woke to another hot and sunny day.  We had been able to leave the side hatch open all night which kept us a bit cooler.  The first lock was within sight of our mooring, so we were soon in and dropping down to be on our way.

At the time of the restoration of the upper Avon (it opened in 1974) the lock gates and paddles were purchased second hand from the River Thames with the paddle gear on the gates.  Thankfully they are not hard to turn, but I reckon on average it is 35 turns up and down again on each paddle. We had read that they were French gates, but Pearson's Canal Companion definitely states they are from the Thames.

Once again, we passed some fabulous properties.

Next came this rather splendid bridge at Binton – the arrow gives a good clue on which way to go and which arch to pass through.

In around an hour we were are Welford Lock where there are some great moorings.  This should have been our destination the night before, but as there were a lot of boats on the move we stopped at Luddington when we saw an available mooring rather than risk moving on and finding Welford full.– I have to say it does look lovely and we will note that for future reference.

Looking the other way from the moorings towards the lock

The view across to the other side is also pretty good 

A deserted and very pretty river – a joy to navigate, particularly on such a hot day.

The height of the flood poles are indicative just how bad things can get around here.

But with the water well into the green we have no such worries on this trip

Then as we rounded a corner we were rewarded with our first sight of Bidford

With yet more properties to admire

I hope they have good ventilation in their summer house or I feel they would fry in such high temperatures

Then the church we caught a glimpse of a while back and 

next door THIS ONE is for sale for a mere £950,000.  I have to say I like it more than the one in Luddington that is on the market for offers over £1,000,000.

What a wonderful bridge to welcome you to the town.  It was built by the monks of Alcester in 1482. None of the seven arches are alike in size or shape. It has a real medieval look to it.  

There is just one arch that is navigable which, thankfully, is very clearly marked  

Mooring is quite limited, but there was just the one boat there when we arrived, so we tucked in at the far end leaving as much space as possible for other boats.

Our side hatch view

And behind us – Monty heaven – a whole meadow to play in.  Sadly, it was just too hot for ball games.  Another time maybe.

By the time we had had lunch and were ready to take a stroll into town there were six boats moored up with a bit of judicious moving, shuffling and breasting up.  

We are at the far end at the left hidden by our neighbours

Our walk was short – it was just too hot to go far or to leave Monty on a hot boat for too long.  Essentials bought we headed back to enjoy a quiet afternoon and for the first time this trip we could eat outside.  
As the evening got cooler Monty and I went for a long walk along the meadow and into the fields beyond, following the river bank.  And so to bed for yet another hot night.

Tuesday 20th June 2017
Bidford to Evesham
9.25 miles 3 locks

Our second lock of the day was Robert Aikman Lock.  Robert Aikman founded the Inland Waterways Association in 1946 and crusaded for the waterways for a further 20 years.  Returning navigation to the Avon was important to him and he was on the council of both trusts.
 The lock was against us, so I had to close the bottom gates and fill the lock before we could enter.  To be honest we have, for the most part, been lucky and the locks have been ready for us, so no problem.

However, at this lock there are two paddles each side to wind up and down, then the same has to be done at the other end – at a conservative average of 33 turns for each paddle up and down that is 33 x 8 at each end, so a grand total of around 530 turns!!

At least there is a nice bridge to make accessing each side easier.

Moving on we came to George Billington Lock (aka Offenham Lock) with this rather wonderful folly.

There were a couple of volunteers at this lock cutting the grass and tending the plants.  It was they that told me the ‘tower’ was just a folly, but very useful as it is above the flood levels and keeps their gardening tools safe and dry.

We were soon enjoying the serenity of this beautiful river once again.

As you approach Evesham poly tunnels and glass houses begin to make their presence felt

We could not quite make out what this large building is – a run-down hotel or just a very large house?

Whatever it is they have two horses in the back garden

At Evesham Lock – the first for us on the Lower Avon - we were joined by this boat crewed by four ladies.  We have seen many all-male boat crews of a certain age, but this was our first all-female crew, also of a certain age - the age most of us boaters are!  They were very efficient – we found out later that this was their fourth boat trip together.  It is not an easy lock to get into as there is a hydroelectric plant there and the water flow pushes you onto the wall.

With a bit of help from the lady who lives on a boat by the lock, they made it in.

There are many good moorings to choose from in Evesham just after Workman Bridge along what is called Workman Gardens

 Once again, we have a good side hatch views

Looking back at the bridge

With a very ornate Methodist Chapel on one end of it

A short walk into town after lunch was in order – we are fourth along on the left

There are a lot of interesting buildings round all sorts of nooks and crannys, but once again it was too hot to walk around too much or leave Monty for any length of time.  We mooched for a while and found a small brandy glass for 50p in a charity shop (they seem to have a habit of breaking!) before Chris headed back to the boat and I found Aldi for some much needed supplies.

Eating al fresco is becoming a habit!  A good one though.

Our evening entertainment – canoeists, rowers along with their coaches

And so to Workman Gardens – who was Workman – a Victorian Mayor.  The gardens made for a very pleasant shady after dinner walk.  Walking towards the bridge you will come across this Whale Bone Arch which has a rather interesting history.

In 1819 the Andrew Marvel sailed from Hull under Captain Orion on a whaling voyage to the Arctic.  On board was a Mr Stanton, who was formerly from Evesham.  Ten whales were caught in the Davis Strait that lies between Greenland and Baffin Island.  The jawbones of a Bowhead, caught in 1820 were sent by Mr Stanton to his friend Dr Cooper of Evesham as a gift.  They were erected as an arch at the entrance to the Mansion House where Dr Cooper lived.  In 1906 they were presented to the then Borough Council by Dr Cooper’s granddaughter Mrs Frances Edwards, and have been displayed in Workman Gardens since that time.  Although various techniques were employed over the years to help preserve the whale bones, sadly in July 2012, after 106 years in the Gardens the arch had become very brittle and was removed for safety reasons.  Its “new/old” home is in the grounds of the Evesham Hotel which was once the Mansion House.

The outline of the tail is quite an impressive sight

What magnificent use of such an old tree.

To complete the scene as we headed for bed we noticed the trees in Abbey Park across the river are lit up.
Yet another grand day messing about on the river.

Wednesday 21st June 2017
Evesham to Pershore
11.25 miles, 3 locks

At 07:20 when Monty and I emerged to go for our early morning walk the local swans had not woken from their night’s rest.  It was a little chillier this morning which was something of a relief, however it was not long before the sun was out and we were sweltering yet again.

We passed this house shortly after 8am – it is not that clear, but take my word for it that there is a gentleman enjoying his breakfast on that rather splendid balcony.

As you approach Hampton Chain Ferry the instructions are to sound your horn three times to alert the ferryman of your approach, so he can submerge the chain.  We did

but it was only when we were right by the ferry at 08:22 that we found it did not open until 09:00!

The ferryman’s house

Now this hot weather is wonderful, but there is a price to pay – we are covered in thousands of larvae of some sort.  Easy enough to brush off the towpath side when moored, but not so easy on the waterside.

As for the roof – well - it is covered in seeds.  Again they brush off easily enough, but we will need a good clean before long, but not until it is a little cooler.

Chadbury lock was our first of the day – as we arrived a hire boat was just leaving ahead of us, so once again we had to fill the lock before we could enter.  There was plenty to look at whilst we waited.  Most noticeably a watering can attached to the old lock beam with the instructions from the plants ‘that if we look a little thirsty, please water us’.  Someone had beaten us too it, so one job less to do.  Just as we were leaving the ladies from the day before arrived at the lock – bad timing all round with three boats so close and yet so far!

About a mile downstream of Chadbury lock we came across this tree which almost blocked the river

There was just room for a narrow boat to squeeze through.

Next came Fladbury Lock – one we were looking forward to having seen pictures from other boating blogs, so we knew we were in for a visual treat.  

What we also found was the telephone number for reporting navigation issues to the Avon Navigation Trust.  I called them and much to our surprise no one else had reported the issue with the tree.  To their credit it was only about 30-45 minutes after we called that one of their inspection craft passed us, presumably, to assess the situation for themselves.  

As we arrived the boat ahead was once again just leaving, so we set to - to prepare the lock and we waited for the ladies to come and join us – never mind saving water, it is so much easier with two boats with the added bonus that they were really interesting people to pass the time of day with.

It also gave us more time to savour the delights of this lock.  Were we disappointed with the views - not a bit of it.

The next town/village along the river is Wyre Piddle – such a wonderful name.  An even better name is to be found nearby - ‘Tiddle Widdle Island’!  The only mooring at Wyre Piddle is by The Anchor Inn which does look rather inviting

 Shortly after that we came to Wyre lock where both boats moored up to prepare the lock.

 And what a lock it is – the first one we have come across this shape – the burning question was ‘would both boats fit’?

Yes, we did.

Our first indication that Pershore was not far away

With two lads making the most of the wonderful weather

Then to our surprise we noticed a fellow blogger – none other than Marilyn and David on Waka Huia.  They kindly offered to allow us to breast up, but we decided to see if we could find a mooring of our own, before we imposed on their hospitality.

To say that mooring up was a marathon would be an understatement! 

  • Option 1 - it was on too much of a bend and the bow stuck out too far
  • Option 2 - it looked good until we noticed the jetty had a wire gridded surface, so hopeless for Monty
  • Option 3 - to breast up with the ladies we had been travelling with - we did. 
  • Option 4 - they were only stopping for lunch and a look round, so we moved in to take their place when they left - well it was a good idea in theory, but the stern went aground.  We could have turned the boat around, but we wanted an open side-hatch with a river view!
  • Option 5   We were about to turn around in the hope that the bow might not go aground, when a boat just past the water point left – we nipped in just in time as someone else was heading towards us trying to find a mooring.  I am glad to say they managed to get in where we had grounded.As it turned out it was a great mooring under a willow tree – more seeds to contend with, but we did need shade.

A very short trip into Pershore with a quick visit to Asda on the way back – the air conditioning was most welcome.

It does seem a shame to have just passed through so many lovely places, but it was just too hot to explore.  We live close enough that we can visit by car when we are not boating.

Once again it was an al fresco dinner.  The new BBQ is proving is a great success

 – the rump steak was from Aldi for the grand price of £2.99.  It was very tender with a great flavour.

We had plenty of entertainment whilst we ate.

And this family came to visit 

After dinner Monty and I went for a walk to the other end of the recreation ground to introduce ourselves to Marilyn and David who are travelling with two other boats.  They were kind enough to get me a chair and a glass of wine.  We have discovered that we are all heading for Sharpness, so we are likely to meet up a good many times over the next few weeks.

As I was about to say farewell for now, this craft appeared – the husband of one of the crew was standing nearby and he told us they had left Fladbury some three hours before and that he was not surprised his competitive wife was in the lead craft. 

They were well ahead of the remaining five boats.

Monty and I returned back to our boat and so to bed with, once again, the side hatch open all night.

1 comment:

Lynn said...

It is lovely to keep up with your travels and see the beautiful English countryside. Good to see you are enjoying the new BBQ. Have fun. x