Tuesday 28 June 2005
We arrived at the boat on a hot, sunny afternoon around 3-30 and set off down to the top lock. The traffic up and down the flight was the lightest I have seen for a long time. It was so light that we were able to sit in the top lock and unload the car onto the boat and then lock down before another boat came into sight. About half the locks were with us so we had quite a good run. We had just passed the Folly when it started to rain quite heavily for a few minutes.
At the Bridge Inn, Napton we found their day boat floating at right angles across the cut with the front mooring pin acting as a mud weight. As usual all the moorings along this stretch were full, so we carried on to Wigrams Turn and swung into the Grand Union Canal. We moored for the night at the top of Calcutt locks in a spectacular thunderstorm.
Wednesday 29 June 2005
The morning was very still after last night's storms; the sky was overcast but the weather dry and warm. We up stakes at 10 and filled with water, whilst we were doing this a couple of boats came up setting things up nicely for us. We met a lot more boats today and most of the locks were set in our direction even though we were travelling alone for most of the day. We met Jim Shead at the bottom of the Stockton flight and paired up with a family of Americans on holiday for a few locks, we lost them at the Radford Bottom when they slipped in beside a boat waiting to go down. We had some heavy rain around 4pm when we had to stop at Leamington Spa to make a 0800 phone call, good old First Mates Guide telling me where the phone box was. We pushed on to Tesco's where we had to breast up, its a pity Tesco/BW can't put a few more short term moorings there. Just as we left Tesco's the Sykes opened as we pushed on to just below Cape locks were we waited until things improved a bit. We moored overnight just above Cape locks and went for a meal in The Cape of Good Hope. This is a very unspoilt pub with a room at the back where they serve freshly cooked food at a reasonable price; their beer isn't half bad either. It's the first time we have been there but I don't expect it to be the last.
Thursday 30 June 2005
We set off at our normal 10 am. and reached the bottom of the Hatton flight about quarter past. We set off up the flight alone and with the locks against us. We only met 4 boats all the way up so it was a case of opening and closing up each lock. Just over half way up BW were working on the bottom paddle gear of one of the locks. They were in the process of stripping the top gear through many years of paint. Chatting to the chaps the think that it's quite likely that some of the gear has never been opened since it was installed. The also said that they had the original working drawings back at the workshop. We cleared the top lock about quarter to two.At Kingswood Junction we turned off the Grand Union to go up the North Stratford Canal. In the first lock I had a weed hatch session removing a handful of black polyethylene that had probably been there for some little time. We only met one boat coming down the Lapworth flight so all the locks except one were against us. We moored for the night between the two Draw Bridges above the Lapworth flight at 7pm.
Friday 1 July 2005
We started a bit earlier today at ten past nine. There was very little traffic on the North Stratford and we only met 5 boats all the way to Kings Norton Junction, We caught up with a hire boat just as we approached the lift bridge at Shirley so we snuck through when they opened it and then followed them all the way to the water point at bridge 5 where we both topped up with water at the 6 available taps.We carried on to Kings Norton Junction and turned left onto the Worcester and Birmingham canal. A short way before Wast Tunnel a hire boat pulled out in front of us, but they made good headway until they caught up with a second boat that was on a go-slow. It took us 45 minutes to travel the 2726 yards, that's a tad over 2 MPH. Luckily both of them moored up before Alvechurch. We carried on to moor for the night in the top pound of the Tardebigge flight. Diana walked down to the Engine House to see if they were doing food. It listed all their events on a board outside, Friday night is an 80's disco with bar snacks, booking essential. 3 boaters in front of Diana asked if there was any chance of a table, the reply being they could but as there had been no bookings for tonight the disco was cancelled. Diana looked at the menu and we decided to eat onboard!
Saturday 2 July 2005
Last night after dinner we took a walk down the flight, the first 6 locks, that's as far as we walked were in our favour. Now I'm a boater who has a lot of problems mooring up facing a lock that's set for me, but as it was 9-30 and I new that if we started the flight we would have to continue for quite a long way before we could moor for the night again.
I woke early to a fine morning and at 7 o'clock said to Diana- "come on, lets get up and go" By 7- 30 we were on the move eating breakfast as we approached the lock. We had a good run down with all the locks our way, one or two had leaked but with Diana on the helm and me on the bike we made good progress, at the fifth lock I noticed another boat start its way down behind us. We met 2 boats in the flight, which took us about three and quarter hours. Lock 35 in the flight had two holes in the bottom gate big enough to put your hand in, so shall we say it leaked a bit. We carried on through Stoke and stopped for a bit of lunch meeting one boat in the flight. There were 23 Black Prince boats moored in their base so I was glad we had passed them.
At the lock cottage in the Ashwood flight a lady shot out of her front door as Diana drew the boat into the lock, she noted the name, number and licence details on a BW sheet. On the wall of the outbuilding adjacent to the cottage is a water tap. I asked the lady how long she had lived there and if the tap was originally for working boaters to fill their cans from. She had been there 20 years but said the tap was private put in by a previous tenant. As we continued talking and she realised I didn't want to fill with water she agreed it use to be a BW water point but because boats obstructed the lock while filling BW had installed two taps further up the flight. In the middle of Dunhampstead tunnel we met a family of swans swimming through. At Worcester we were about to enter lock 4 when I noticed a notice saying that the only visitor mooring were above look 3 and 4. Diana walked down and reported back that there were no spaces above 3 so I reversed out of the lock and back to the visitor mooring by the new Pizza Hut. Tied up at for the night at 6-30. Not a bad days boating.
Sunday 3 July 2005
The moorings proved to be very peaceful last night, probably quieter than if we had been between lock 4 and 3. The first job of the day was to rig the anchor ready for the river and then check fuel, water and oil followed by the weed hatch to remove all remains of poly bags. This completed we moved down to Diglis basin which is now full of long-term moorers. Access to the basin on foot is via a locked BW gate. I would be nice if when all the work is complete next year the permanent moorers moved and the gates remained, but I don't think somehow that will be the case.
We locked down onto the river, which was completely still with no detectable flow at all and headed down to Gloucester. On the way down we were doing a steady 5 MPH when Magic took an unplanned swim. I accidentally knocked him off the counter. His first reaction was to swim to the bank which would have made it very difficult for me to pick him up, but then he did a couple of circles and I shouted to him and he started to swim down stream to meet us as I reversed back towards him. He was soon back on board non the worse for his ordeal, I was wet through as well having dragged a wet Labrador back onto the counter of the boat. We timed both the locks on the Severn well, as they were both in our favour with boats having just left.
It wasn't until we were in the Parting on the way to Gloucester Docks that we noticed the flow starting to pick up but it was still very mild and gave no problem mooring while we waited for a boat to lock down from the docks onto the Severn.
We entered the dock at 3 pm and had to until quarter past for Llanthony bridge to open. By now we had been in contact with other Cutwebers who were attending the Saul Festival and it was decided that we should head straight down there and join them in a BBQ. We moored along side Thorn and Persephone a little after 5 pm and not long after that Lord Toulouse came on the outside of us for the night.
Monday 4 July 2005
No real plans for today, we started off late and then wandered round talking to old friends on different boats. The weather was unable to make up its mind with hot sun followed by sharp showers of rain. In the end we boated to Sharpness to fill up with diesel from John on Stokie. There were a couple of thunderstorms in the distance as we travelled down and a heavy rainstorm while we were moored filling with water before taking diesel. We then motored back through Saul to Sellars Bridge where we moored for the night before going to the pub to eat.
Tuesday 5 July 2005
We only did 4 miles today, most of it in the rain, from our mooring in the winding hole to Gloucester basin. We arrived at Llanthony Bridge about 25 minutes before the bridge was due to open. It seams that the bridge only opens when the trip boat wants to pass regardless of who else wants to use it. I wonder if there is any legal requirement for BW to open the bridge for boaters?
We have moored for the night on the finger moorings in front of the warehouses.
Wednesday 6 July 2005
We left Gloucester Docks at 11-30 locking down with two other narrowboats. One of them was "Raynard" with Peter and Lynn onboard. There was a little bit more water running today than when we came down but it was still very gentle. At the upper partings there was a narrowboat hard aground, they had already been there a couple of hours and were about 50 feet out from the west bank. We had an uneventful trip up the Severn to Tewkesbury where we locked up to the Avon. There were 6 of us waiting to lock up and we were in the second pair. We moored for the night about 2 miles up the Avon at The Fleet public house at Twining. There was already a narrowboat on the moorings when we arrived so we have moored on the outside of them. The other boat is an inspection launch style narrowboat so we have moored bow to stern so we can cross his rear deck from our fore deck.
Thursday 7 July 2005
Last night we ate in the Fleet Inn as we were on their moorings. We had just finished our meal when Guy, Connie and Maurice turned up to eat. Guy arranged to leave his car there for the night to do a car shuffle up from Saul today. We set off at 9-30 this morning so as not to hold our neighbours up. They said last night that they intended to leave at 9-30 but there was no sign of life when we pushed off. We were hoping to fill with water at the sewage works but the boat that was there told us the tap was u/s so we will have to be a bit careful with water use until we can fill up tomorrow. Nicholson's indicates that there are moorings at Birlingham Wharf in the "Swan Neck" but we have never been able to find them. They have now been restored with 4 new blue mooring posts and just enough length to get a 60 footer in. We stopped for a while to take the dog for a walk and then continued on to Nafford Lock where there was bit of a queue, with 2 cruisers and 2 Narrowboat in front of us. By the time we were due to lock up there were 4 behind us, but non of them would come in with us because "they were travelling together" By the time we had locked up there was a fifth one waiting. As we wanted to get a few hours cruising in tomorrow before we arrive at Evesham we have moored at 2 o'clock at Comberton Quay which is about 140 foot long. As there were two boats there already we moored on the outside of one of them. As we walked the dog along the river bank the boat moored in front of us moved off so we were able to moor Harnser against the bank which made life much better for Magic as he can now get on and off as he pleases to lie on the bank or in the boat.
Friday 8 July 2005
We left our very peaceful mooring in the middle of nowhere at about 11AM and motored slowly upstream to Pershore. Pershore Lock was manned by volunteers from the LANT to help us through. Once in Pershore we moored to do some shopping for an hour or so, just as we were casting off Thorn and Persephone came into view so we waited and completed the rest of the trip with them. The next scheduled stop was Evesham sewage works to pump out the loo and fill with water. As we arrived we spotted another narrowboat already using the facilities, it was Lord Toulouse, so we drew along side them and Thorn and P came along side us. We caught up with Lord Toulouse again just as she was leaving her mooring in Evesham so we sailed in convoy to the River Festival site in the town centre where we were ushered into our allocated mooring, Lord Toulouse by the bank, then us, Pengalanty and on the outside Platypus. Much to our surprise we found that Sean had brought his steam boat Laplander down for the weekend.
Once everything was shipshape we all went to the local Indian restaurant for dinner.
Sunday 10 July 2005
We left Evesham at 2 PM with Lord Toulouse heading for Pershore for a BBQ travelling together. At the first lock Lord Toulouse went in with a very small dory, unfortunately the dory's length plus ours was about 18 inches more than the length of the lock, so we had to back out and let them go without us. We caught up with them again at Wyre lock where they were waiting for the lock to fill. When we arrived at Pershore all the moorings were full and several boats were already breasted up. Wendy asked the first cruiser if they were staying overnight and as luck would have it they intended to leave shortly, but as we were waiting they would go now, which was very good of them, This left just enough space for us to get in along side the bank and Lord Toulouse to get on the outside of us.
As we were cooking or BBQ we saw a blue and yellow hot air balloon travelling almost parallel to the river about a couple of miles to the west. It was Guy, Connie and her brother Maurice who were taking the flight that they had won last time they were in Evesham.
After an excellent BBQ we returned to the boats for the night leaving all the hatches open, as it was so warm.
Monday 11 July 2005
By 9 am it was already uncomfortably hot and after buying so fresh fruit in town we set off alone for Twyning. The first thing we had to do was to move Lord Toulouse who was lying on the outside of us. This would have been easier if there hadn't have been three plastic cruisers moored directly downstream of us and Andrew and Wendy had still been about to drive their boat instead of us manhandling it.
We had an uneventful run down to Twyning arriving about 2 30 pm. When we arrived at the pub the mooring was completely free so we were able to bag a pot and wait for Lord Toulouse, Thorn and Persephone to arrive at about 6. We were well entertained all afternoon by the local youths frolicking in the river from the far bank trying to keep cool.
Tuesday 12 July 2005
We slipped away from the Fleet at Twyning a few minutes after 8-30 after saying goodbye to Guy, Connie and her family on Thorns deck. We were under the impression that the Tewkesbury Lock opened at 8, it doesn't open until 9 but we needed some water so Andrew filled his tank while we waited.
The flow on the Severn was again very little and we turned upstream towards Worcester. One of the loaded sand barges pulled away just as Andrew passed it and we met a light one coming down. We followed the loaded one until he moored up to discharge his load. We saw several Buzzards again and one swooped across the river just in front of the boat before being mobbed by crows. I also saw a Mink scurrying along the waterline on the bank. One or two large cruisers came passed us as we were only doing 5 MPH.
At Worcester lock we met up with a couple on a Stratford Court Cruiser time-share. When he locked down onto the Severn he had to buy a BW short-term licence, as the boats that are now kept on the Upper Avon are not licensed for BW waters. This means that if one of their boats goes onto the Severn the person onboard has to buy a Lower Avon Licence at Evesham Lock and a BW Licence at Tewkesbury Lock, which I believe they get reimbursed for, but if they go up the Avon to Stratford there is no one to sell them a BW licence so if they are not stopped by a BW inspector they don't have to buy a BW licence. This makes the odd boat on the system who has not licensed their boat a bit more insignificant compared with the number of Stratford Court boats coming out of Stratford.
We locked up into Diglis Basin and stopped for water. The water point at the Sani Station has very good presser and by the time Lord Toulouse had locked up through number 3 we were on our way. The afternoon was very hot so we decided to stop in the shade for a bit, when we set off again it was still just as hot and we stopped for the night at The Bridge, Tibberton. There are very good 48 hr moorings here with lots of mooring rings. The pub does very good food with good-sized portions over a wide price range. We had whole Sea Bass with potatoes and vegetables which was at the top end of the price at £23 we could have had a 32 oz. steak for £25 but they also had much cheaper options. The food was all very hot and freshly cooked, on top of which the service was first class as well. As it was Wendy and Andrew's 30th. wedding anniversary there 2 sons met us there for a celebration meal as well. After which we retired to the boat for Champaign. We had been discussing a very early start for tomorrow like 6 o'clock but in view of the time we went to Bed. We thought 8-30 might be better.
Wednesday 13 July 2005
We set of a 9 am on a slightly overcast but warm morning. As the day progressed things got hotter, we stopped for a short time at the Droitwich canal to wander down the flight. After this we met a couple of boats, we didn't see another one until the top of the Astwood flight. The next one was at the top of the Stoke Prior flight just before we stopped for the day at Queens Head at a little after 2 pm. As we were about to go in for diner we were told that foe security reasons it was not possible for us to moor on the pub gardens over night so we had to move the boats across the cut before going in to eat. Having said that I would recommend this a good eating pub.
Thursday 14 July 2005
We started a bit earlier today to try to avoid the worst of the heat going up the Tardebigge flight. 6 o'clock in fact.
We did half the flight before we met another boat coming down and that was Maximus with the Fords onboard and we had to meet them in the pound that has 2 boats moored, breasted up, in it. We then met 2 boats about 5 locks before the top. We left the top lock at 10 am. After filling with water, diesel and emptying tanks etc. we continued on to Lower Bittell Reservoir to moor by bridge 66 in the shade. Later we sat on the bank and had a BBQ followed by an early night.
Friday 15 July 2005
Bit of a lay in today and when we did emerge it was much cooler and fresher than it had been for several days. We bid farewell to Andrew and Wendy on Lord Toulouse as they were heading to Birmingham and set off at 10-40 through Wast Hill tunnel at a more respectable speed than last time and turned into the North Stratford. There was very little traffic about but we did pass the other Harnser a Steve Hudson boat shortly before the Lapworth flight. In the top lock at Lapworth I did log on to an open Wifi connection, but lost it as we locked out so I think it must be the house beside the top lock. There was an awful lot of water running down the flight, so much so that it was topping the lower gate paddle gear, which made opening some of the top gates very difficult. We have moored between the Stratford canal and the Grand Union at 7pm.
Saturday 16 July 2005
Back to our normal start time today, setting off just after 9 am. Several boats had already passed by now. As we approached Hatton top lock we passed Laura moored facing the lock, we had moored alongside her on the Avon. Tom stuck his head out of the cratch and asked if he could share the flight with us so we set off together. Just in front was a Davis boat Sabrina with a 3 cylinder Kelvin popping away single-handing down the flight. When we caught him up around the 4 locks down Laura breasted up to him and they went ahead while we followed down alone. The back set whenever they could and we met a few boats in the flight. One of the was the IWA boat Jubilee with Bungle at the helm assisted by some charming female wrg. She said that she lived a few doors down from the pub The Wood and that boaters were still very welcome with three real ales on and a good selection of food and a wide selection of prices. When we reached The Cape at Warwick we saw Ayton moored with George and Ruby on board. We were in Portugal with them and Ruby is 90 and George 87 and they still cruise. We stopped Tesco’s so Diana could top up some of the essential supplies, i.e. food. I got talking to a chap who came down to the moorings on his invalid scooter, this turned into a dodgy operation one of the reasons he is disabled is because he now has tunnel vision. He used to have a boat on the K&A but now flies his K & A flag from the aerial on his scooter.
Just as we were about to leave Tesco’s 2 Kate hire boats came passed and we followed them to Radford Bottom Lock where a chap was waiting for them to instruct them on lock usage. This kept us hanging about for some little time, but he did a good job and after a couple of locks they started to pull away from us.
We moored at 8pm for the night just above Welch Road Lock.
Sunday 17 July 2005
We made a late start today as Sunday is lay in day, we finally set off at 10-30 after Diana had been to explore Welsh road to see if she could see who was fitting out narrowboats in the farm by the towpath.
We met Havana with Simon onboard, his engine looks clean now and he has his advertising board up offering carpentry and joining. There have been quite a few boats about today. We stopped shortly after the Boat at Stockton to have lunch ourselves and wait for some of the heat to go out of the day. Things didn't improve much so in the end we made a move, just as we were about to push off a narrowboat followed by a cruiser came into view so we waited until they had gone and tagged on the back. The cruiser was itching to pass the narrowboat but there were moored boats every 100 yards or so half way to Ventnor farm where he steamed quite slowly passed. At Calcutt the NB turned into the marina and as the cruiser was only slightly faster when we weren't passing moored boats he was just entering the lock, so he had the pleasure of sitting looking back and watching 18 tones of Harnser sliding in beside him. At the next lock he suggested I went first but in the last he offered to leave first, which didn't bother me as I was stopping for water. After filling up we headed back to Napton. On the South Oxford I spotted a snake slithering along he offside foundation wall of one of the bridges. I stopped the boat and backed up to get a photograph of it but this operation scared it and it dropped into the canal. All the Napton flight was set right and we met 4 boats coming down. Once at the top I had to set new moorings as in our absence everyone else has moved back about 2 feet and we are on the end. 8-45 saw us wrapped up and supping a beer.
A very enjoyable 3 weeks out with wonderful weather for over half the time, good company all the time and doing over 276 miles, 280 locks and 136 engine running hours without any problems or incidents.