Sunday 31 March 2019


Today's Canal - Droitwich

Overnight the clocks changed, leaving us with an hour's less sleep than usual! We set the alarm so that we would be up in time to go to the 9.30 service at St Peter's church. This gave us enough time to fill the water tank and also to dispose of rubbish.

The people at the church were as welcoming as we have found them before and one or two seemed now to recognise us. As we wanted to make a good getaway from the marina before lunch we did not stay after the service for refreshments.

Back at the boat we changed and there was not much else to do (except brew a mug of coffee!) before we could unplug from the electricity, start the engine, cast of the mooring ropes and make our way out to the canal.

After the bright, sunny day yesterday it was a bit of a disappointment to have grey skiers and a chilly wind with us for our first real cruise of the season. However, it brightened somewhat before too long and we were generally sheltered from the wind.

After leaving the marina we came under the Rugby Club bridge (an important element in the negotiations that enabled the last part of the canal restoration and is now the access to the marina as well).

That was immediately followed by the staircase pair, the next lock down to the motorway and then it was heads well down to pass through the low culvert.

A the next lock took us down to the level of the River Salwarpe and we were pleased to see that the river level marking showed almost as much green as it is possible to see and still be able to navigate!

At the Barge Lock in Vines Park a young family took an interest and one of the young girls was very keen to help, pushing the swing bridge, opening and shutting the gates and finally closing the bridge. Although the fall was hardly noticeable, we still had to work both sets of gates as normal. She also walked down to the next swing bridge to help with that one.

Alas, we were on our own for the final swing bridge. It played 'hard to get' and Mike had to enlist a dog walker to help hold the bridge fully open so that he could get the padlock off.

Shortly after that we reached Netherwich Basin where we moored alongside the towpath to have lunch.

The railway bridge is constructed (or perhaps re-lined) with circular corrugated sheets which means that the canal is very shallow apart from in the centre. This time we scraped the bottom whichever alignment we took.

We had seen posters in town advertising the fair which we cold just see through the hedge and the grounds of the leisure centre. Not sure if they were actually open for business but we could not see great crowds.

It was just before two that we continued our journey, passing around the edge of the town to the left and playing fields and a community woodland to the right.

We began to notice a gradual increase in floating weed and by the time we arrived at the top of the next lock it was clear that blanket weed is taking hold in a big way. With not too many boats on the move (we did not see any outside of the marina) and a quite warm spring, conditions for surface weed seem to have been optimal for its rapid growth - alas.

We were a bit concerned for this pair of ducks lest they were trapped by the strong flow of water but they were unfazed and continued to feed from the bottom of the channel. At a later lock a swan entered the chamber just as the boat was leaving and seemed disinclined to leave so Mike left one gate just ajar so that it would not be trapped until the next boat comes along.

The reeds at the bank edges are not problematic yet (we could just see new green shoots which will soon narrow the channel probably to a single track) We hoped when we saw this work boat in the distance that it might be a reed or weed cutter but alas no. Not sure why it was moored her, just on a sharp bend before a lock.

We had six of the wide locks to do before we could look for our mooring. Just below the last one we saw that a landowner is cutting a new track into the bank above the canal. With no chance yet to weather, the geological structure was quite evident (but sorry we failed to get a really clear photo - this is the best of the bunch) Puzzlingly, the track suddenly came to an end in the middle of the woodland - perhaps it further yet to go.

We moored where we have stopped before, just above the second lock up from the river. It is one of the few decent places complete with mooring rings and an edge that we can come right alongside. Shortly before, one boat was moored and the gap between it and the bank showed just bhow shallow it is.
6.7 Miles - 11 Locks

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