Friday, 30 June 2017

To the end of the line.

Well the canal!

Tuesday 27th June 2017
Gloucester to Saul Junction
8 miles, 5 swing/lift bridges

My start to the day was a walk round Alney Island Nature Reserve with Monty, then we bade farewell to Marilyn and David on Waku Huai - David was hiding somewhere!

Whilst the rain had not arrived yet it was not warm enough for a swim! They are heading back to Worcester, but will be there for a while, so we may catch up with them again.

Our first stop was just a few hundred yards down the canal at the water point which was made more interesting by having to work round men at work – in the end they kindly took a coffee break and let us continue unimpeded.

The junction on the left above leads to and from Victoria Dock – just as we were about to go these two boats pulled out

In the ordinary way of things that would not have been a problem, except they moored at Sainsburys not leaving enough room for us to fully moor – just one ring back and all would have been well.  Were they there to shop?  No, just for an engine service!  We managed to secure ourselves sufficiently so we could go in and make the most of a shop where you can wheel the trolley to the boat.  Whilst we were there Chris noticed that there is an Argos store at the back of this Sainsburys.  A catalogue was collected for our perusal.  What might you wonder were we after?  Well, just over a week ago our television died – one minute it was fine and the next it was dead!  We need a television that is the same size and that works with the swing out arm we have as the TV lives in a cupboard.  We would have managed quite well until we got home, but with an Argos so close we thought we should see if they could help.  The answer is yes they can, so I ordered one on line and we will collect it on the way back.  A cocktail stick has been broken to make the third breakage (camera and TV) and we hope that is the end of our run of bad luck.

Fully provisioned and we were on our way.  You don’t often see steam powered craft – you could smell the coal smoke!

Now there is a hair do to conjure with

There are no locks on this canal – just a succession of swing/lift bridges that are operated for you by bridge keepers.

It was not long before we arrived at Saul Junction

 Where we found a most unusual craft complete with a couple of pirates.

 The moorings are good here

 and it was not long before we had a visitor to the side hatch

When we were here in 2015 someone was making good use of the remains of this boat

Sadly, it is looking rather sad and unloved just now

For Monty’s walk we followed part of the route of the Stroudwater Canal.  We did not do the round circuit that Patrick and Angela (nb Chouette) took us on two years ago as we were not 100% sure of the way.  It is a very pleasant walk with a lot of contrasting scenery.

There are plans afoot to restore this canal.  Sadly, this lock was replaced some time ago and has become overgrown again.

Wednesday 28th June 2017
Saul Junction

The forecast was dire for today and we certainly woke to heavy rain.  We had made the decision to stay put and have a ‘pottering day’.  As it turned out the rain did stop, but it was certainly cold, grey and miserable.  Apart from a couple of Monty walks between the showers I caught up on the blog and a few domestic chores and Chris did some jobs with varnish and then did some rope whipping.  The highlight – well just the one – two weed cutters came past mid-afternoon!

That, we thought, was that.  Well it was until about 20:30 when we became aware of a very persistent police helicopter circling above the canal.

Then a police car arrived and two PC’s got out and ran across the bridge.    They returned to the car and left – I am glad to say that despite being occupied and in a hurry the driver noticed the little dog (white arrow) and managed to stop as it ran across the road in front of him.

The car went to the next bridge along and drove down the tow path on the other side and the PC’s got out to resume the hunt. 

Another couple of cars arrived to join in the search.
It was obvious they were looking for someone – was it someone on the run?  We found out later that it was someone who was threatening to drown themselves in the canal.  We don’t know the outcome, but as things went quiet we hope they were successful and that the person was found and given the help they needed.

Thursday 29th June 2017
Saul Junction to Sharpness
8 miles, 7 swing/lift bridges

Another very grey and dismal day, so unlike the weather when we were here two years ago.  The views along this canal are far reaching, but the grey cloudy skies do not do them justice.

It is as you approach a place called Splatt Bridge with its rather pretty church

that you get your first views of the River Severn

Yet more swing bridges – most of them are electronic and all the gate keeper has to do is push some buttons.  A couple, however, require a bit more effort!

I really do hope the owners of this boat do come from Peckham!

We thought these two were quite big

Until this came past us

And here we are at Sharpness (the end of the line) about to wind (turn around) before finding a mooring for the night.

The Upper and Lower bridges that lead to the tidal Severn – we are not going that way this time.  To be honest even if we had planned on doing so, I think the weather would have held us up as you need a good, calm, wind free day.  Another time maybe – who knows?

As you wind there is an arm leading down to an old sea lock.  The arm is now used for private moorings.

Safely moored

With these views of the River Severn

Just as we moored this happened!!  Inside for lunch and to try and warm up.  

The rain came and went and came again, but Monty does not understand too wet to walk, so we set off to walk to the end of the mooring arm where we were rewarded with a view of the Severn bridges that we sailed underneath on 23rd June 2015 if you want a reminder of that awesome day have a look HERE 

The tide was probably at its lowest by this time

Neither of us remember this, so we suspect it is new.  It is certainly huge and dominates the area.

We spotted a couple of birds on our travels - firstly this cormorant

and drying his wings after a lengthy dive

And a couple of these tiny Reed Warblers???  I am sure someone will tell me if I am wrong.

Dinner was eaten to the accompanying sound of rain beating down on the metal roof - not the most melodious of sounds and as I type this at 21:00 it has not ceased for several hours.  Hopefully tomorrow will be better as we start our return journey.

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