Thursday 17th May; near Rea bridge to Gloucester
Why the capital B in the title? Well …….
It was a bright and sunny day, but not too hot as we walked up to Rea bridge to dispose of some rubbish before turning down the minor road towards the Severn and the small settlement of Stonebridge. There was a path off to the north along the river, and we followed that through fields full of cow parsley and buttercups to find a nice spot to sit and look at the river, quite calmly flowing.
See how wet the mud is on the far bank? The Severn is tidal as far as Upper Lode lock, so the river level fluctuates. At the moment it’s the time of the spring tides; twice a month, during the new moon and full moon, the difference between high and low tides is at its greatest, as opposed to neap tides, when the difference is at its smallest. So high tides are higher at springs. The tide comes in up the Bristol Channel, and then meets the narrowing Severn Estuary. All that water doesn’t just sit there – the tide keeps coming, up, and so does the river, down. In a normal tidal estuary the river level just rises, then the tide goes out and it falls again. With spring tides it just comes up higher. But as spring tides force their way into the narrowing Severn, there is too much water and the tidal wave known as the Severn Bore is formed. At some times of the year (not in May unfortunately) this can mean a tidal wave of six feet, sweeping all the way from Awre to Maisemore weir north of Gloucester. Then the roads become crowded with spectators, and surfers will try to catch the bore.
The tide times are known and the progress of the bore can be calculated. We sat, and we waited. And waited. We wondered if, on the later spring tides, it doesn’t come up so far. Or I could have misread the times, or the site I used could have got it wrong. After about 20 minutes we thought we’d start going back to the boat and were walking along the road beside a high hedge when there was a loud rushing sound! We belted along the road (in our walking boots) to find a gap and although we had missed the wave itself the aftermath was pretty amazing.
That turbulent water was not just washing about – the debris it was carrying showed the speed – much faster than a narrowboat – at which the river was flowing upstream! The pictures were only on my phone as my camera was telling me the card was write-protected and wouldn’t work.
Somewhere in those waves is the dog’s ball – when I work out how to get a video in these blogs you will hear me screech at her to stop her going after it!
The River Severn has the second largest tidal range in the world, after somewhere in China, and is one of only three surfable tidal waves in the world. We may have missed the main event but were still pretty impressed. And there will be another chance tomorrow.
Along this part of the canal there is a lot of wild comfrey. I though it was all white or a purplish-lilac, but there is a wide variety of blues too. I wouldn’t mind this in my garden.
We are able to get under Rea bridge without it being raised but Kernow, which we had seen leaving Sharpness, couldn’t.
We would love to see Netheridge bridge swung, but no Tall Ships are moving this week. The bridge carries a busy major road and the pivot is massive.
We moored near Sainsbury’s to stock up and had lunch before moving up into the docks, where we moored on the west side. We needed a couple of things in the shops – one was an unusual battery for the chronometer-style clock at the stern. We tried several jewellers with no luck, before we passed the London Camera Exchange – not only did they have one, they were also able to tell me why my camera was out of action. I didn’t have it with me but as soon as the salesman mentioned a tab on the side of the SD card which you slide to stop the images being deleted we knew exactly what he meant – it’s the same as was used to write-protect old-fashioned floppy discs to prevent the data being accidentally lost. Though the two chaps looked completely baffled when I said this – they were too young to know about 3” discs!
While Dave took Meg over the East Channel to the wild areas and woodland for a good walk, I took a few bits of recycling to slip into the bins down by Gloucester Quays, the modern outlet shopping area. it wasn’t a lot and the bins are quite large. On the way back I popped into the Mariners’ Chapel for a look.
(It’s not really built at an angle). It is a haven of peace and quiet amidst the bustle. When we got back we noticed that there are electric hook-ups along here, in anonymous-looking cabinets. We wouldn’t have realised but the boat which came in after us was plugged in. But only one of the two sockets was working, and the other cabinet was the same – a cruiser plugged in, the other one taped off. So I took my laptop which had run out of charge and we went to The Lord High Constable of Gloucester – a Wetherspoon’s – to charge it up and have a good value meal. Curry night.
3 miles, 3 swing bridges not counting Netheridge, 1 bascule (Llanthony).