Sunday 24th September; Oldrington Bridge to Worcester Racecourse
We had a sunny start for our trip down to Worcester. The spot we chose last night turned out to have been the best possible between Kidderminster and Stourport – open enough to catch the sun, and away from traffic and industry. There were even some lovely reflections opposite as we set off.
On the way into Stourport there is an aquatic centre on the offside, with fish in tanks visible as you pass. I imagine the netting is as much to keep the herons out as water-borne human thieves.
We had a brief stop at bridge 5 for a few things in Tesco, before dropping down York Street lock to the sanitary station – to attach the anchor and get the lifejackets out as well as the usual reasons. Then it was right turn through the basins, then left to the first of the two staircases that bring you down to the river. Luckily there was a lockie on hand which made life a lot easier. There is a funfair here which, the lockie said, used to be a fairly small traditional affair. Now, even mid-morning on a Sunday, the lights were flashing to tempt punters. The old gallopers are arranged on the flat roof of the house attached.
There is an awkward turn to reach the second staircase, even if the gate is open for you. If the wind is blowing in the right direction that is not a problem – otherwise, as today, it is a two-stage process to get round. The lockie told us that the original entrance to the canal, via the double locks, is perfectly straightforward, and the single locks were built some years later to cope with the increase in traffic – but the best route had already been used. Narrow-boaters are asked to use the singles rather than the doubles. It became known as ‘Brindley’s Joke’, but actually he had died before the single locks were built. The bottom staircase is beside a dry dock through which the funfair is visible.
With the lockie’s help it didn’t take long to get down the locks, and then we were onto the river Severn as the lockie closed up behind us.
Now it was time for a lovely warm, sunny and calm river cruise. There were not many boats about. We saw some kingfishers and a couple of cormorants. There were no long waits at the locks either. Here we are coming out of Lincomb lock.
There are a lot of mobile home parks along the Severn. Their outlook must be wonderful, but it’s less lovely looking towards them! There are some very attractive properties though …
At Holt Fleet lock we could see activity high up on Holt Fleet bridge. Cyclists, literally hundreds of them! It was the inaugural Vélo Birmingham. This is a 100-mile sportive (a non-competitive long-distance cycling event) in which 15,000 riders took part – and we must have seen a couple of hundred in the time it took us to approach and go past. We had noticed signs warning of road closures on our travels, so guessed what it was.
They were whizzing over very quickly and of course I missed the biggest groupings. There was a drone above the river presumably filming the event.
We were not intending to try and find a spot to moor for lunch on the river; instead we munched the snacks I had bought in Tesco’s earlier. We maintained a good speed even with canal-appropriate revs and were soon approaching Hawford junction, where the Droitwich canal meets the Severn.
The Viking cruiser just emerging joined us for the final lock before Worcester. We let them pass and turned for our favourite mooring at the upstream end of the racecourse moorings. But it looked so scruffy, with a derelict building and a flooded section, that we turned back into the flow to moor nearer to the Sabrina footbridge. I took Meg off for a well-deserved walk round the racecourse. Poor Dave has finally succumbed to the rotten cold which has been creeping up on him, and stayed tucked up inside. We went up onto the footbridge to get this picture. There were no other boats for hundreds of yards.
11½ miles, 5 canal locks (including 2 staircases), 3 river locks