Sunday 13th May; Gloucester Docks to somewhere past the site of Hardwicke swing bridge
It turned out to be a very quiet night in spite of the proximity of several bars and restaurants. We were not expecting to sleep late this morning, as the setting-up of the Dragon Boat Regatta would be happening soon after 7. It was just far enough away to be a gentle awakening, together with the sunshine that crept over the high wharf edge into the windows. By the time anything had got going, we had finished breakfast, Meg had had her early morning exercise and we had left for a first foray into the city.
We got the paper, then strolled through the city centre, locating the cathedral where morning service was in progress. We took a few photos as there were so few people around, but it wouldn’t have been right to go inside as we hadn’t arrived in time to participate, so that is a treat for the future.
We hadn’t heard any bell-ringing, which was a disappointment. Cathedral ringing is wonderful to hear.
We went off to find Gloucester Park, which looked on the map as though it would be great for the dog. But the bits near the city centre had a cricket ground one side of the path and bowling greens the other, so we abandoned that idea and went back to the boat to enjoy the Dragon Boat racing. I should have taken a video as still photos don’t capture the drama – the drummer in the bow beats time and shouts out ‘One! Two!’ as the crew dips their paddles. One of the restored warehouses is in the background.
The most experienced teams chant too. It was noticeable that the fastest teams were the best co-ordinated. One of my favourite teams was dressed as ‘Where’s Wally’ but they didn’t make the semi-finals.
There was a good crowd behind the barriers that had been erected at our mooring. The event was paid for by Rotary, who forked out for the boats and safety equipment which seemed to be owned by a commercial company that runs the event. The teams are from local organisations and businesses, and I imagine they get sponsorship for the Rotary charities. It all seemed to run very smoothly. Our other favourite team, dressed as those annoying 118 118 characters from the TV ads, made the semi-finals, but that was as far as they got.
The final was hotly contested with all three teams very close at the finish line.
The morning’s regatta was finishing as we finished our lunch, so it was the perfect time to say goodbye to Gloucester for the time being and pass under Llanthony bridge to the countryside once more. We had to hang around while the bridge opened but were soon on our way ….
past the lightship Sula, which I read somewhere was berthed in Liverpool Docks until it was ejected for failing to pay the harbour dues. Update; this is not the case, see this info from Pip of NB Oleanna – ‘The light ship Sula is up for sale, currently used by a Buddhist group I believe. The light ship you are thinking of that was removed from Liverpool docks is actually down at Sharpness still with it's Foster banners on show, tucked into a corner’.
And then It was a swift visit to Sainsbury’s to replenish the
wine store cupboard before we headed off out of the city. The canal is very wide, completely unlike the narrow canals we are used to, with plenty of depth, no sticky-out bits of foliage to catch the unwary, and big wide bridge-holes where, if you meet anyone, there is plenty of room to pass. Though you do have to wait for some of the bridges to be swung for you, you can’t exactly say that is a problem and it doesn’t hold you up. The bridges aren’t all electric, like Llanthony – some are wound open and closed by the bridge-keeper. The photo makes it look easy but I think it’s quite physical.
At last we have seen a decent-sized brood of ducklings, by which I mean more than one or two chicks that haven’t been eaten by some predator. This duck appears to have 13 little bumble-bees surviving at the moment …
We needed a few hours cruising to recharge the batteries so carried on past Sellars Swing Bridge, which has one of the colonnaded keepers’ cottages that appear along this canal. A bit grandiose for a canal I would have thought?
We pulled in for the night on a lovely sunny patch, somewhere past the site of Hardwicke Swing Bridge. Out came the folding chairs, the Sunday paper and the tea and cake. Lovely!
The afternoon was warm and sunny with very few passers-by. We had the sun till quite late and just the birds for company.
5 miles, no locks, one bascule bridge (Llanthony) and some swing bridges for which we didn’t have to lift a finger.