Saturday 14th April 2018
Droitwich Spa Marina to Queen's Head, Stoke Pound
4.5 miles, 15 locks
At last everything was on board and it was time to begin our escape for the next six months. We all know what a miserable winter and spring we have endured, but this morning dawned dry and bright with a clear blue sky
With a strange shining ball in the sky
We certainly chose the right day to set off, but not quite the right start time. As we wanted to end up with the car at home, I set off first, parked up and walked down to the three locks at Hanbury. As I arrived I could see Chris approaching the bottom lock with a boat (lock operator in red) just coming up that lock ahead of us! A chat ensued and yes, they were going all the way to Stoke Pound! So lots of locks to empty before we could enter. They were a very efficient crew, so all was well,
We ended up moored in front of them that evening and discovered they were taking the boat (nb Araf) north as they had just sold her.
Into the first lock and it became obvious that the centre rope should have been left inside the boat over winter rather than neatly 'cheesed' on the roof! A job to do once we moored.
Once out of Hanbury Monty and I headed to Astwood by car, parked at lock 18 and walked down to meet Chris at 17 - we beat him to it - he is a speck in the far distance!
As I arrived at that lock a group of ladies were having a quick coffee break before heading off again - they were walking from Worcester to Birmingham in aid of Breast Cancer.
Lock 18 and one of my favourites. With the weather so wonderful both occupants of the house were out. The gentleman used to be the lock keeper along this stretch for many years and he was out painting the fence round the cottage (he is at the far end)
and his wife was sat outside enjoying the sun busy with her knitting.
Monty nearly got taken off with the 'collie running club'!
I left Chris at the top of Astwood to collect the car and drive to the bottom of the Stoke Prior flight. We knew there were going to be 2 volunteer lock keepers on and lo and behold we found 5! Two (Viv and Roger) were returning VLKs mentoring 3 newbies. It is all our fault that Viv and Roger ever got involved - we met them when they were out walking some years ago whilst we were either lock keeping or litter picking, talked to them about the opportunities available and the rest, as they say, is history. Anyway they kindly volunteered to see Chris through the locks (goof training opportunity) whilst I moved the car to the top of the flight and walked down to meet them. We were very grateful to them all and wish all five a very good summer.
Safely moored just below the bottom Tardebigge lock Viv and Roger came to call when they finished their stint and we then went across to the pub for a swift drink and a catch up. The end of a really good first day.