Sunday 20th May; Tewkesbury to Birlingham Quay aka Swan’s Neck
We planned an early start but overslept! While we had breakfast the swallows were visiting a vacant pontoon to collect nesting material – it looked like grass stuck picked out of the duck poo, lovely.
It was already hot at 8.30 when Meg had her walk and I got the paper from the convenient little garage nearby. As there was little risk of rain I had put all the washing out last night to dry in the open cratch and stern deck, on the airers and various bits of line, so all that had to be dealt with before we could leave. But it was so hot that everything had completely dried by early afternoon, even cotton t-shirts.
There was no crosswind on this little marina so we made a stately exit around 10 am and set off to try and catch one of the plum mooring spots we haven’t managed to get into before. Lots of people were out enjoying the sunshine. This female paddle-boarder looked very tense and nervous while the man was more relaxed, but he was the one who fell in (long after we had passed them I hasten to add).
The hawthorns were at their magnificent best. Quite a few round here have pink flowers (not the pinky-brown when they are going over, a proper pretty pink).
The M5 near Bredon was busy on a sunny Sunday. We were happy, and smug, where we were!
When we were last on the boat (the beginning of April), there was extensive flooding on the Avon. From the motorway here we had a fine view of what looked like an enormous lake. The north bank was for a time completely under water – now the water is pretty low.
At Strensham lock we hung back, expecting the cruiser that overtook us before the motorway to go through on their own, but they beckoned us through and then joined us. They have a share in a narrowboat and reckoned we ‘looked as though we knew what we were doing’. Wasn’t that lovely of them? We were both tied up correctly and filled the lock gently, and it was fine.
We saw a rather unusual sight – a narrowboat and cruiser breasted up.
Sort of, anyway. Quite difficult for the narrowboat steerer I would have thought.
On the way to Eckington we passed asparagus pickers, at least we are pretty sure that’s what they were. They looked very organised.
We had to take a lot of care in places – there were kayaks and dinghies out, and with the lack of wind we just had to hang about while the dinghies moved to the edge.
The mooring at Eckington Bridge was completely full but we had a couple of spots still to check out.
And there it was – the coveted Swan’s Neck, properly known as Birlingham Quay, was entirely free, just in time for lunch. A footpath goes by from Eckington Bridge to Birlingham but we hadn’t booked a table so didn’t get Sunday lunch at the pub, but still, what a lovely spot.
There was plenty of shade to start with. During the afternoon Dave got on with a few little jobs and I made a banana cake. But after a while it was curtains drawn, all the window hoppers out for a bit of an airflow, and the black cratch cover drawn back to the top board as it was trapping the heat. I rigged up a way of propping the side hatch open while still keeping the sun out involving kitchen implements and a bit of string to avoid losing things in the water. Lots of kayaks and canoes with varying levels of competence went by. Narrowboats too; this is a difficult place for an overtaking manoeuvre as they were all going downstream. We don’t think the little tender made contact with anything but I heard a shout ‘it’s turning back towards us’. Which, paddle-board or 16 tons of steel?
And a shot of the bridge from the meadow. Every so often as we walked we saw heaps of plant debris and the occasional chunk of tree washed in by the floods – the meadow is very much on the flood plain.
This is a quiet spot with just an occasional walker on the land. Apart from Worcester and Gloucester most of the moorings on this trip have been very quiet.
8 miles 1 lock