Friday 26 October 2018

Droitwich Spa Marina

Today's Canal - Droitwich

After the early starts of the last two days we were not in any hurry to get away today! We found ourselves with a very bright and sunny day (although the morning forecast did claim that there was a strong chance of some rain).

We set off by 9.30 - ish and headed to the first of the locks for the day. The sunshine meant that the views of the surrounding countryside ere realy dramatic. We did feel that the maintenance of the banks and balancing the needs of the wildlife and boaters was much better and that a few more mooring places have been reserved and kept clear of reeds. We were not, however, able to assess whether there is adequate depth to come alongside.

After the first single lock we arrived at the Ladywood flight of five locks. Although they were set against us we made good progress. The top lock, however, was empty when Christine walked ahead to set it. As we filled the lock we discovered why - one of the bottom paddle was leaking rather badly as if something was caught in it. Not much that we could do. The top and bottom locks both have cottages, once for resident keepers but the locks in  between were covered by one or other keeper walking in between - just as we do today!

The promise of rain came true just as we completed the top lock the dark grey sky can be seen in the photo above. However, it did not come to much - the real rain fell somewhere not too far away.

We continued into Droitwich town centre - Christine detoured to Waitrose for a paper and a couple of other items, leaving Mike and Andrew to come through the two swing bridges. By the time they had finished the Barge Lock she had returned. During this time there was another somewhat harsher shower but the sunshine quickly returned for our final push to the marina. As sometimes is the case, the river and the canal were at a level but we still had to open and shut the gates (but none of the paddles) as well as the swing bridge that crosses the lock.

As we left the town we came up the first of the four new locks that had to be built when the canal was restored. This one marks the junction with the River Salwarpe which comes the navigation between here and the Barge Lock.

One of the significant challenges that the restoration engineers faced was how to get a way underneath the M5 which whilst the canal was closed had been built over the top. However a modest stream had been culverted nearby and it proved just possible to divert the navigation this way. But the result is that there is very limited headroom and when the stream floods it is not possible to go through. It felt to us today that it was just the opposite - we scraped the bottom and had much more space above our heads.

The other side is where the other three new locks were built, the final two together form a shirt staircase. From the top there is a good view back down to the tunnel.

Only a short distance from the top lock to the entrance to the marina and, after a brief stop at the office to check where we were to moor, we reversed onto the longer term home for the boat. For various reasons we have reverted to a permanent mooring although we still hope to be away around the canal system next year just as much as this!

After a rather late lunch, Mike drove Andrew back up to Fazeley Mill Marina where he had parked his car. The journey was rather more complicated by the sat nav than the straightforward route we would otherwise have expected as there were several very slow section as a result of lane closures and road works. The return route was quite different!

6.8 Miles - 11 Locks

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