Sunday 29th October; Hawford junction to Vines Park
The clocks went back last night so there was no excuse to lie abed this morning – besides which we wanted to get to Droitwich in time for Sunday lunch somewhere! It was cloudy and breezy to start with, though not particularly cold. We could see this attractive brick arch carrying the road over the river Salwarpe from our mooring
but the modern one over the canal was so ugly it was not worth a picture, though I took one of the towpath under it which was surfaced with metal panels. Meg took one look on her walk yesterday, turned round and went back to the boat! probably because it looks too much like a dodgy pontoon.
According to CanalplanAC the canal passes under the A449 in a tunnel but it’s really just a big bridge. Nicholson’s informs us that bridge 3, Linacre bridge, is ‘worthy of close examination’. It is a ‘rare surviving example of one of Brindley’s original structures’. So we slowed down and admired its graceful lines.
The marks left by the tow-ropes are clearly visible.
It’s elegant from the other side too.
We were joined on the mooring late yesterday afternoon by a hire boat, so the locks were in our favour. As I crossed the road over the bridge at Ladywood bottom lock I spotted a box containing water and a box of jelly babies. Ah-ha, I thought, jelly babies, essential fuel for a long run. One of the runners confirmed it was a local training run of 10 miles. A cyclist was enjoying his elevenses as he watched them go by. In terms of spectacle our ascent of the lock was a poor second.
There was a flurry of hire boats coming down this morning so we found every lock empty and waiting. We found out later that the canal had been closed yesterday at Vines Park as unfortunately a body had been found in the canal, so this probably explains the number of boats – if they had been delayed on their trip they would no doubt catch up some time on the river. At one of the locks a spindle tree had a good crop of fruit. The berries are very poisonous to us, but the birds will enjoy them. They are bright pink and will split to show orange seeds inside.
One of the bywashes of Ladywood locks has been cleared of vegetation, clearly showing its circular shape. One set of bottom gates has had metal extensions added, and the extra length makes the gates much easier to open.
Now there were nearly three lock-free but leafy miles to Vines Park. We had to go into neutral several times to allow accumulated leaves to drop off the propeller. And kingfishers too – Dave spotted SEVEN, though I only managed two. This blog post by Adam (NB Briar Rose) explains why there seem to be so many about this autumn.
By midday we were tying up on a pontoon at Netherwich basin. Last time we were here Meg took fright at the scary pontoon and had to be bodily hauled off the boat so she could be taken for a walk. This time she hopped off with no problem – she obviously recognised where she was and was impatient to get Dave to the park for a game of ball. The sun was out by now and it was a very pleasant walk through the park to get the paper from Waitrose.
We had an excellent Sunday lunch in the Gardener’s Arms, after which we relaxed with the papers as the sun streamed through the windows. But the clocks have gone back so it wasn’t that long before it was time to light the fire.
5 miles 6 locks