Wednesday, 1 November 2017

Slow going on the Severn

Saturday 28th October; Diglis Basin to Hawford Locks

Considering we were only a few steps from the pub, it was remarkably quiet overnight.  After a clear night it was chilly first thing and overcast with a cutting wind.  I set off at 8.30 to trot along to Pitchcroft Park, aka Worcester racecourse, where I joined the Saturday Parkrun.  A carthorse performance today rather than racehorse but never mind.

After a lovely hot shower and a cup of tea we got the anchor and lifejackets ready.  Before we left the marina we hadn’t anticipated coming all the way down into Worcester but with the weather set fair we decided to extend our trip to encompass the Droitwich Ring.  Before we set off down the Diglis locks to the Severn, Dave checked the weed hatch.  He had to pull a load of cut reeds off the day before, so thought it wise to check again.  In the pic below I had the bottom lock all ready but Dave was otherwise engaged with members of  Meg’s worldwide fan club.  They were on holiday from somewhere in Europe. 1 megs fan club diglis locks

We were warned when we first got her (she is a rescue from Blue Cross) that she was obsessive about balls and sticks.  If there is no ball she will find a stick and pester people to throw it for her (we never do, but it doesn’t stop her trying other people).  When there are no sticks she tries bits of reed instead and today she found a bit of dried-up leaf, which the children happily ‘threw’ for her.  She brought it back on the boat with her.

2 with her silly bit of leaf

At the bottom lock the river level indicator was just above the green. 

3 just in the green

In the summer the volunteers tell crew to get back on the boat and then they look after the the bottom gates.  This is very useful as if no volunteer is on duty, crew must be picked up from the pontoon which is a way downstream from the lock.  It would be a real nuisance for a single-hander.  With normal river flow Dave would have headed downstream before turning back to collect me.  With the stronger flow at the moment he would have been carried a long way down towards the weir and river lock, as had happened to a boat yesterday, so he turned upstream straight away and the current brought him downstream as he made the turn.  He was thus able to get to the pontoon relatively quickly.

It was just after midday as we passed under the main road bridge, and we stopped for lunch on the racecourse moorings a bit further on and for Meg to have a comfort break before the long slog against the current up to Hawford junction.  The scullers were out for our lunchtime entertainment.

4 scullers

It is less than two miles to Bevere lock from the racecourse but the flow held us back to canal speed.  The current was noticeably faster on the outside of the bends so Dave had to keep his wits about him to select the slowest flow while ensuring he kept to the channel.  We saw several kingfishers and some posh properties.

5 posh property

About half a mile from the lock an enormous cruiser swept by, followed quite a while later by a narrowboat, much slower but still zooming long with the flow.

6 big cruiser

The lockie saw us in good time and we didn’t have long to wait.  Above the lock was a narrowboat waiting against the wall on the west side and another who hadn’t realised there was a boat coming out, and he was all over the place trying to pull in on the east side.  But that was a mistake as the flows towards the weir made it very difficult for him to get off again.  But I was happy as Hawford junction was in sight and we could get back to the calm of the canal.  And the sun was shining too.

The Droitwich Barge canal (from the Severn to Droitwich) has broad locks and those gates are very heavy.  I had to get Dave to help close the bottom gate of the first lock.  Here he is on the way to the second.

8 back on canal betweem hawford locks

I had help at the second lock too; a family was out for a walk, all dressed up in Halloween costume and make-up.  So I had three chatty little ghouls helping with the gates and their witchy Mum nattering away.  It was three o’clock by now and we decided to stop on the good moorings here; there is virtually no other mooring all the way to Vines Park which is about 3 hours away.

9 mooring above hawford locks

There is some sort of holiday place on the other side with a large tepee, but we didn’t see anybody about.  It soon got cold once the sun started to go down so we lit the fire.  It was however a beautiful clear evening.  My sunset picture isn’t too impressive – it was much pinker than this - but I was quite pleased with the one of the moon I took a couple of hours later.

10 pink sky

11 half moon

Quite a nice one for Halloween, though it is dead leaves in the tree rather than bats.

3½ miles, 4 canal locks, 1 river lock.

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