Thursday 25 October 2018


Today's Navigations - River Severn, Droitwich Canal

Today was generally overcast and very much cooler than the past few days. Extra layers were needed.

As we wanted to maximise our chances of completing the river section up to Hawford today we set the alarm early in order to leaver as soon as Gloucester Dock Lock was open. However there was enough time for Mike to pop to a nearby newsagent for today's paper even whilst the sun was rising.

We were joined in the lock by the cruiser which had also moored on the pontoons. Like us, they had intended to go upriver yesterday but were delayed by the tree clearance.

As we made our way along the East Parting we battled against a strong stream that reduced our downstream speed of near 6 mph to just under 3 mph. The wet banks also show that this stretch is tidal but the rise and fall is much less than below the weirs at Gloucester. As we just about at full moon the tides are high enough to overtop the weirs.

Just before rejoining the main channel we saw the place where the tree had largely been removed yesterday - still quite a bit left but that will perhaps have to be done from the bank.

At Upper Parting we returned to a much wider navigation and the flow rate was much less - our speed over the ground gradually increased and we managed most of the rest of the river at well over 4 mph. This gave us some hope that we night arrive at Upper Lode in time to pass through the lock. We did, of course, have to make sure we turned right - the photo is down the unnavigable section.

There are not as many grand houses as we expected, built to take in wide views of the river but Maisemore Park came into view just above the Parting.

From a distance we wondered if someone was about to hang glide off the cliffs but when we came closer it seems like an awning over a picnic table on the prominent viewpoint!

The former Coombe Hill Canal ran for about 2.75 miles towards Cheltenham and was opened in 1796 but was never as successful as its original supporters had hoped. The local geography prevented reaching near enough to the town for it to be of real use. It passed through several owners before closing finally in 1876 when its then owners could not afford to repair flood damage to its only lock, close to the river junction.

The tower of Tewkesbury Abbey came into view sooner than we expected- the result of a long stretch that happens to be appropriately aligned.

Lower Lode is at the confluence of the Rivers Avon and Severn - typically a pub was long ago built here and is still very popular to the present. It seems that on the Severn, the word Lode usually meant a river ford crossing, unlike the early English meaning of watercourse. Only much later did it take on its modern meaning. So, perhaps the pub began when this was a place to cross the river but which sometimes was impassable - what better way to wait our the right conditions that to prop up the bar!

After we passed through Upper Lode lock we were now back onto non-tidal waters.

Shortly after the lock we had a somewhat better view of the abbey from its side.

Much further up, as we passed the small town of Upton-on-Severn we were passed by a sand barge, one of the few continuing commercial uses of inland waterways. It was a surprise to see it here as when we have come here before the two wharves used for this operation were either side of the M50, several miles downstream.

We soon saw the reason, a new loading ;point close to a gravel pit that is quite new. The equipment looks as if it is designed to be moved to whichever party of the river it is needed.

This grand house at Severn Stoke is quite reclusive - at least it took a while to identify it but we think that it is Severn Bank. This reference says, "Severn Bank is an early 19th-century country house in the Gothick style built for Lord Deerhurst, the heir to the Earl of Coventry, as part of the Croome estate. There are several ornamental buildings and features. The property was used as a retreat for fishing parties."

As we passed under the modern southern Worcester bypass we knew that we were coming towards our goal with time almost on our side - so long as we passed through Diglis Lock smoothly.

Eventually we reached Diglis Locks. This picture shows just before the lock was full and the gates could be opened - however, during times of flood the water levels sometimes run right over the top of the lock! The keeper was most efficient but still keen for a chat whilst the lock filled.

In Worcester we passed the entrance to the Worcester and Birmingham Canal and Diglis Basin.

There were plenty of rowers out practising - they were all youngsters from one of the several rowing clubs alongside the river in the city.

This crew came out from the large Worcester Rowing Club facility.

We were still making good time and Christine rang to Bevere Lock, the last one before Hawford where we wanted to turn off onto the Droitwich Canal. We were by now looking at arriving by 15:40, just in time for the last locking before the lock closed at 16:00, winter times. Phew!

Only a few minutes after leaving Bevere we arrived at Hawford and returned to the slightly less challenging waters of a canal!

We came  up the first two locks as we knew that there was a good mooring just above. The Droitwich Canal has very limited mooring opportunities - almost as difficult as a river!

Alongside the canal is Hawford School, part of the Kings Worcester group and caters for 2-11 year old children. Its website indicates that it features outdoor learning: We believe that every child should experience the world beyond the classroom as an essential part of learning and personal development. The outdoor environment has massive potential for providing learning opportunities. Here at Hawford, we are extremely fortunate to be set in large grounds and surrounded by an environment rich in opportunities. We make full use of our local area, including the canal and the rivers, to enhance our educational provision. If only all schools were allowed to be so flexible in their approach to learning! Let's hope that they also learn to keep well clear of the large bonfire that seems to be being readied for a week's time and maybe also some of the real history behind all sides of the events being 'remembered'.

33.8 Miles - 6 Locks

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