Saturday, 27 February 2021

Better by water

I've had plenty to do but didn't fancy doing it, so wrote a lockdown blog instead.  After Boris’s announcement last Monday it doesn’t look as though we will be able to get to the boat till April at the earliest.  Not as early as we would like of course, but at least the government, having been bitten on the bum by twice messing up lockdown releases, seems to be taking a more measured view.  Better safe than sorry, and we'll be good boys and girls for the duration.

Apart from ensuring we get our daily exercise, we don’t seem to have achieved a lot since Christmas.  We had our first vaccinations three weeks ago, so that is good.  We try to get at least 3 miles walking under our belts every day, so that our locking fitness doesn’t entirely drain away.  Sometimes we go together, and sometimes we don’t in which case Meg gets 2 walks.  She’s 11½ now and as game as ever, though rather grey.

One of our local trips (less than 5 miles away, so “allowed”) is along the river Otter.  It’s not a canal but it’s the next best thing.  It’s good for a lockdown walk, always makes us feel better and there’s the chance to see some interesting birds.  So we walked the two-and-a-half miles to the sea before it all got too busy with half-term families.   The river was running high and fast, so there were no waders or ducks to see till we got closer to the coast.  

What looks like a horse just to the right of centre is a horse-sized piece of tree swept down the river.  The fields of the flood plain are often flooded and as well as the familiar Canada Geese, there were many birds we don’t normally see on the canals.  The geese were big enough to get a reasonable photo, but everything else was too far away for my phone camera.

A cormorant was fishing near the Canadas and would have made a good picture with them.  But it was clearly still after its breakfast because it wouldn’t stay on the surface long enough to be snapped.  We saw wigeon, curlews, shelduck, pochard, teal and sandpipers (we often see sandpipers on the Avon round Fladbury lock), lapwing which we do sometimes see from the canals, and several little egrets which are also present on the Severn.  In the photo below is a flock of wigeon, those blurry blobs in the water!

And in this one there are, somewhere, and maybe out of shot anyway, a redshank, a pair of goosander, an avocet all on its own and a pair of lapwing.

A cattle egret has been seen in the area, but not by us.  So on we went to the sea.  Meg had found a ball along the way, probably deposited by the recent floods, so she had a lot of fun.  Then it was time to go back home for a sandwich – fish and chips would be another mile to walk and we had no money anyway!  Half-way back we crossed to the lane on the other side of the river to avoid some of the mud.  The bridge is iron and known as Clamour Bridge – you can always hear it when someone is crossing.

As we reached the village we passed this sign on a fence.

Take 3 for the Sea is, as you might guess, a project asking people to pick up 3 items of plastic waste and bin them to keep them out of the sea.  Well, we’re used to that, as in common with many boaters we often pick up bits along the canal.  On this walk it included two unused poo-bags blowing along the path (they tend to escape when you get one out of a pocket).

There’s clearly some fitness work to be done before I tackle any locks, though sadly it looks as though I’ve got plenty of time ….

5 miles, no locks, 2 bridges, the sea

I took a video of the beach - the noise of the waves rolling the shingle about could be heard hundreds of yards inland.  Hope it works.




  1. Hi Debby, Good to see you posting. I think for most of us walking has been our main form of exercise over the last year. As we are local to the marina we are hoping we might be able to visit at the end of March, if not it will be after 12th April. Let us know when you are likely to visit and we might manage a socially distanced walk/chat. The video certainly worked - a wonderful sound. Jennie

  2. Glad the video worked, I just use the insert facility on the blogger new post page and it was very straightforward.
    We are desperate to get back to the boat of course, but it depends what the rules change to as we are also desperate to see family! Both our daughters (and family/partner) would have to stay so who knows when that would be - but family comes first of course.
    Glad you are both keeping safe,

  3. Hi, also doing the lockdown walks to keep up locking fitness, mine tends to be just along the coast path around Torquay. Isn't that bit of the River Otter you walked on where they are talking about returning it all to full-on wetlands? And further up the Otter, isn't that where the beavers are?

    Also looking forward to getting back to the boat, but not expecting to until late May (2nd vaccination due 5th May)

    john & Julia

    1. Hi! You're right about the Otter, work on removing flood defences starts soon - it will be very interesting to see what happens. Lots of disruption with re-aligning the road, new bridge and parking though. We haven't seen the beavers (with a dog it would be very unlikely) but seen a chewed tree and Dave found one of their dams - only a couple of miles inland.
      Best wishes

  4. Hello Debby,
    I was pleased to hear that you have plenty to things to do but haven't done them in Lockdown.
    I am absolutely the same, dusting for one thing but I have a patchwork quilt from two years ago that stares at me but it remains untouched. I could do gardening but Hells Bells it's too cold for me.
    I've brushed up on my Danish and French by watching The Investigation and Spiral respectively on iPlayer!!
    We didn't get back to WaL in the autumn but luckily the lovely staff at Great Haywood winterised WaL for us.
    Happy route planning for April!!

    Lisa x

    1. Hi Lisa, I glad I'm not the only one slacking on the domestic front! Dave started brushing up his French on Duolingo which is going well, and we are watching the whole of Spiral as we missed it first time round - just finished series 5. You don't learn the swear words on Duolingo!
      Fingers crossed for summer boating
      Debby x