Saturday 12th May; Tewkesbury to Gloucester
I’ve posted this a bit late – I am usually one day behind but since leaving Gloucester we have had poor internet speed, not good enough to post.
This morning at 7 there was a gentle throb of an engine as the hotel boat Edward Elgar quietly moved off on her way back to Gloucester. Less than an hour later the time-share boat behind us left for the long trip upstream to Worcester. We didn’t hurry – Dave took Meg over the river for a decent walk while I wandered up to the town for supplies from Tesco and the farmers’ market, which is by the Abbey on a Saturday morning. As I returned I could see Dave had turned the boat ready for the off.
In the foreground is the mud that was dumped in the latest round of floods a few weeks ago, now dried out and starting to be broken down by passing feet. We were away by about 10 in warm sunshine, which made a nice change from yesterday. It wasn’t long before we were entering Upper Lode lock which is BIG. In the pic below we are already secured to the steel risers and the lock is about to be emptied.
The lock was specially constructed in 1858 to bypass the shallow sections of the river in this area. It has one very large chamber to cope with the steam tugs that were towing a train of narrowboats. It is very wide at the downstream end but I don’t know why. It stretched out behind us as we left.
The river was quite pretty in the sunshine and where the banks were lower there was almost a view. There are several pubs all with pontoon moorings, apart from the Red Lion which is by Wainlode Hill, just out of the picture on the left. There is so much erosion from the hill, causing extensive shallows where the mud and rock slips into the river, that barges have been sunk (with marker posts) to keep boats away. And it’s far too shallow for boats to moor for a pint!
At one point we heard a cuckoo on the west bank, then watched him fly across the river to start calling again on the east bank.
At Upper Parting the river splits into two channels, East and West. The East is the navigable one and seems very narrow after the expanses further upstream, though still much wider than a narrow canal.
Having called ahead, we knew the lock would be ready for us so had no worries about needing to wait by the long approach wall where the currents can be dodgy.
The restored and converted warehouses of the dock rise up beyond the lock. We moored on the finger pontoons for a cup of tea and to get our bearings before we realised there were notices posted that the pontoons were closed from 7am tomorrow … I had forgotten to update my stoppage preferences to include the Gloucester and Sharpness canal so we had no idea there was dragon boat racing tomorrow. Luckily there was a space against the wall further down so we will be in a prime spot to watch!
We took Meg and went for a wander round the docks before heading off to Alney Island, the open area between the two channels of the river, now a nature reserve with paths and cycle tracks running though it. It incudes the remains of Llanthony Lock. The interpretation board gives details of how and why it was used (avoidance of tolls on the canal being one reason). Click on the picture to enlarge, I’m not going to write it all out again!
You can walk through it now. It has been partially infilled as it was reckoned to be too deep for safety.
We were quite tired after two long days on the river, so we chilled out with a cup of tea, the paper and some lardy cake from the Tewkesbury bakery. We went down to Zizzi later on for a bite to eat, very busy on a Saturday evening. We hope the mooring is far enough away from the bars and pubs for a quiet night.
13½ miles, 2 locks