Wednesday 23rd and Thursday 24th May; Bidford to Barton lock, then on to Stratford
While Dave and Meg had a lovely game of ball I went for a run along part of the Avon Valley Path which goes from Stratford to Marlcliff. It was cloudy and damp but very hot and humid. I was glad of all the dog walkers I met partly because it meant I had an excuse for a breather but also because one told me about the Marlcliff Loop, which is a lovely path looping away to the tiny settlement of Marlcliff and back to the sports fields. While I had a shower Dave went to get a paper and get his prescription from the excellent pharmacy – no trouble, no fee. What a great spot to moor! Convenient in so many ways – shopping, places to eat, dog walks, water, quiet and peaceful, and a lovely outlook too.
Bidford bridge was its usual attractive self in the sunshine as we left. I don’t know why my photos of bridges and other structures so often seem to come out a bit on the slant. Perhaps it’s just not so noticeable when there are no straight edges.
We went up the next two locks which are not deep and quite gentle, and pulled in on the ANT moorings above Barton (Pilgrim) lock for lunch. It was so beautiful we decided to stay overnight. The afternoon was hot but Dave cleaned out the engine hole, and I washed the roof to remove the mess from the Bidford ducks and the aphid honeydew from the trees. This is the view from a few hundred yards north up the Avon Valley path. Wonderful.
Futurest joined us later in the afternoon.
2 locks, less than 2 miles
Thursday morning dawned cool and damp, with intermittent light rain. The rain died away during the morning as we made our way through the deep Welford and Luddington locks with their fierce paddles. I was wearing too many layers to be comfortable climbing ladders with rope and windlass, so it took quite a time to get off on the lock landings, then for Dave to throw the ropes up so I could secure them. And of course both bottom gates had to be closed too. But we know how to treat these locks and if you do things properly you go up very smoothly. I still don’t like them though.
Between these two locks the river makes a big loop northward, crossed by Binton Bridges. With the gloomy conditions and drooping willows it was hard to see which side to go to start with (should have looked in Nicholson’s, it’s perfectly plain there).
Lots of arches to choose from ….
The navigable channel is on the south side of the island.
We filled up the water tank and emptied a cassette at Luddington then moored on the ANT mooring for lunch. Dave cleaned that side of the boat – the windows were covered in dust.
There are some smashing gardens on the run into Stratford. We have admired this pergola before, but this time we are just a bit early to see the roses in their glory.
We passed under the old railway bridge, which now carries a footpath (Monarch’s Way I think). The racecourse lies behind the old railway on the upstream side, but can’t be seen from the river.
At the last lock we had to wait for one of the trip boats to ascend, and I gave him a hand, while the passengers took pictures and waved.
Nicholson’s labels the Upper Avon locks using the names given for major players or donors in the restoration – various Billingtons, Robert Aickman, for example. Last time, I was chatting to an ANT man taking a work boat through a lock and he used the original names. We noticed this year that the ANT boards all use the old names too – has this changed recently or have we just not noticed before? Nicholson’s has the last lock as Colin P Witter, but not so the board.
We moored on the park (lucky Meg!) just before the water point. We took the footbridge below the lock into Bancroft Basin, and went up to eat in the Golden Bee, the Weatherspoon's – very disappointing after the excellence of the one in Gloucester. On the way back we walked round the basin and there were Cathy and Michael, the couple on the Angle-Welsh we had met before. We had an excellent evening enjoying their hospitality and discussing cruising routes and breakdowns (toilets were mentioned too, as they are proper boaters! I know there is much disagreement about what constitutes a ‘proper’ boater but boo to the stuffy ones who insist you have to have a certain type of boat to be ‘proper’ I say).
4 locks 6 miles