Tuesday 26 December 2017


Today's Canals - Droitwich, Worcester and Birmingham

Having opted to stay in the marina yesterday, today we got up with the plan to set off on a three circular trip via Worcester and up the Severn to re-join the Droitwich Canal at Hawford. We have already booked passage through the Bevere, the one lock on the river that we will need to come up, for mid morning on Thursday. We will then have the challenge of making it all the way back to the marina that day so that we can pick up Alice and Jess at lunch time on Friday!

It was a brilliant morning - the air was mild-ish but everything else that had been outside overnight was cold to touch! There had been quite a bit of rain so most things were also wet.

After filling up with water and doing the usual disposals we were ready to unplug from the mains and set off out of the marina entrance, turning left to ascend the three top looks of the Droitwich Junction Canal (to use its proper title).

As we were working through, the local hunt came down the road - as this is a busy road they created quite a queue of cars. Presumably this is a group that like to keep the tradition alive if only in costume (as kit were) since foxes are nowadays save from the hounds if not the marksman.

At the top of the flight we turned right onto the Worcester and Birmingham Canal. At the former wharf, the New and Used Boat Co have a sales base and prominently on display is a huge wide beam boat, no doubt great for living permanently aboard but a sales demonstration trip could not take them very far as the canals here are all narrow!

It was a pleasant sunny winter cruise as we continued towards Worcester, passing only one moving narrowboat - but we did also have to avoid a kayak with a couple of canoeists who were kitted out in some very expensive looking cold weather gear.

As out solid fuel stove was still alight this morning, Christine stoked it up but turned it right down. As a result we kept the chimney on, something that we normally avoid as bridges and trees can be low obstructions and we do not wish to lose  the chimney overboard! Today we had to be especially vigilant although the bridges are quite roomy compared with some canals.

However, when we came to the short Dunhamstead Tunnel we opted for discretion and took the chimney down, only to put it back up once through. In fact the tunnel too has plenty of headroom.

With the low winter sun in our eyes (when steering forwards) spotting the low hanging branches was much more difficult - this one was much easier to see once we had passed it.

It was too early for a lunch stop when we arrived at the top of the Offerton Flight of six locks so we continued on downwards. These locks were quite easy to work - they fill very quickly but the top and bottom locks had plenty of overflow water coming into the lock chamber which slowed down the emptying phase.

By the time we arrived at the bottom and tied up on the lock landing (there was room for at least one boat to use the lock without hindrance, even if none did come by. But it did mean that mooring to the bollards was much easier!

After lunch we continued - alas the bright sunshine had now been replaced by dull, overcast skies -  and soon approached Tolladine Lock. Andrew jumped off at the bridge just before the lock so that he could walk to a nearby Tesco Express for some milk and possibly a newspaper. He re-joined the boat as we arrived at the next lock, Blackpole. Just above the lock is a splendid milepost - we have not seen another markers on this canal.

A short distance below the lock, alongside the railway bridge we saw what looked like a loading wharf. It was not entirely convincing but we took a picture anyway. Later we looked up what had been on this site. It seems that from 1917 there was a vital munitions factory here and the 1925 OS shows a landing stage at the canal alongside Blackpole Factory.

After the war the factory was handed over to Cadbury for an altogether more congenial purpose. However, in 1940 it was again requisitioned for munitions work, returning to Cadbury and cake making once peace came. It finally closed in 1974.


The Imperial War Museum web site shows this interesting picture of two women at work in the Second World War, standing completed bullets upright in perforated trays. No doubt they were keen to be making a contribution to the war effort but it does look to be the most boring of tasks!

Soon after we looked for a mooring with a satellite tv possibility - we were now just approaching the edge of Worcester's housing estates. We thought that we had found a good spot with some proper piling edges but alas, after several attempts, we cold not find a place where we could get the boat within a couple of feet of the bank, it was so shallow. So we had to continue under the next bridge and then found a place where we could come alongside and, fortuitously, also allowed us a tv signal. As we tied up, light rain arrived and, with the temperature quickly falling, we were quite gald to retreat into the warmth of the cabin and our splendid stove!

7.1 Miles - 11 Locks

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