Friday 31 July 2015

Patch Swing Bridge Friday 31 July 2015

Not much to say really as the boat has not moved, it was a bit chilly last night with a clear sky and full moon, the lowest temperate I recorded was 4.3° C at 5-30 am this morning.

Although the boat didn’t move we did and at 9-30 am we were at the Slimbridge Wildfowl reserve as the doors opened, its only a short walk down the road from where we are moored.DSCN2117
Yesterday we passed nb. Pilgrim moored at Sainsbury’s so I gave them a ring to see if we could meet up sometime for a meal, as they were only a couple of hours behind us they said they would join us today and we could sort something out. 

After spending the morning at the Wildfowl Reserve we walked back to the boat just as Barbara and Malcolm were mooring up behind us and we have agreed to go to The Tudor Arms for a meal tonight.

It really feels like summer is here at last with bright sun and clear sky’s but there is still a cool breeze from time to time.

When we got back the Lady Elgar was moored opposite and proceeded to pump some very foul looking water into the canal which I suspect was the contents of their toilet holding tank. I was hoping that they wouldn’t be staying overnight with their generators running, but by 4 pm their guests had also returned from the Wildfowl Reserve and they were on their way towards  Sharpness.

Thursday 30 July 2015

Patch Swing Bridge Thursday 30 July 2015

Gloucester Docks are not my favourite mooring, the pontoons are very nice and so are the surroundings but not all the Seagulls that make a horrendous noise from dawn to dusk as well as carrying out bombing runs.

It was a late start this morning after a visit to the lock keeper to discuss the tides next week when we want to leave, they will be high enough to top the weirs so we need to be clear of the Upper Parting before the incoming tide reaches there. Its a 3 Star Bore on Sunday night. We then walked to Sainsbury’s for some odds and ends only to find we could moor outside.

We pushed off about 1230 hrs tagging behind another boat waiting for Llanthony Bridge to lift.G&S  Between Llanthony Bridge and the new High Orchard bridge there is a Light Ship that is up for sale if anyone wants an interesting vessel.G&S The new Sainsbury’s is right beside High Orchard Bridge and has 4hr moorings right outside the door.DSCF9748

Not long after this we came to our first manual swing bridge, some are mechanised but some still require the bridge keeper to put his back into it.

Some children were enjoying the afternoon sunshine, did i tell you the sun was shining today, no rain at all. They were on a short disused arm that use to be the crossing point for an old bridge. DSCF9756I am not sure what they had for a raft, probably something they shouldn't have.

I am not sure if this a floating work of art or a nursery for CRT to grow reeds to plant along the canal, or it may just be the case they never got round to unloading the dredging after last time they used it.DSCF9759

At Saul junction R W Davis are working on what looks a strange craft, I think its going to be a floating Cafe when its finished, I wonder where it will be moored?DSCF9762

Other kids were also enjoying the warm weather in a more official way, these ones were in their canoes where as these lesDSCF9765 fortunate ones where on a boat trip, I think they were all enjoying themselves with The Willow Trust. http://www.willowtrust.org/DSCF9767 We carried on a bit further to Patch Bridge which is close to the Slimbridge Bird sanctuary where we have actually got a BBQ on the go, first this year.G&S

Today’s journey map 12

11¾ miles in 3¼ hours

Wednesday 29 July 2015

Gloucester Docks Wednesday 29 July 2015

Swan Neck was a super little mooring for the night, absolute silence. There was a reasonable sunset, if you look closely you can just see the deer to the right of the shot. This was followedDSCN2055 by a clear moon  lit night but the temperature dropped to single figures, well it is almost August.

Today started fine and we set off about 10-30 am as the day progressed it got cloudier, windier and cooler before finally raining yet again.

Eckington Bridge only has one navigation arch and if you get itDSCN2058 wrong you are in trouble. I would imagine wide beamed boats find it fun with a bit of flow on, OK for us Narrowboats.DSCN2059

Looking ahead there were some interesting clouds with bright white tops and very dark bottoms.DSCF9719 We were also treated to a couple of fly pasts, well there was also a biplane but it was to far away.

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The Avon River Trust are busy installing new moorings at The Fleet which is a good thing, we have moored there a few times in the past and they were getting quite bad.DSCF9720 We arrived at Tewksbury at about five past one, the lock to the River Severn closes 1-2 pm so to waste a bit of time we continued down stream passed the old mill and under the bridge,DSCF9723 its quite plain from the other side, to the end of the navigation.DSCF9724 From here the river drops down a weir and then joins the Severn further down. We winded and headed back to the lock, there are some quite old buildings right at the very end.DSCN2063 

Back at Avon Lock we were invited to moor alongside the boat we had followed into Stratford Basin, I thought he was waiting for the lock as well, but no he was mooring for the night which would cost him £3. Dead on 2 pm the lock keeper came out of her bungalow and unlocked, we shared the lock with a small Narrowboat probably only 30 foot. Below the lock there are some pontoon moorings which can be used overnight but very limited hours.DSCN2071 As we locked down the Conway Castle came to moor just above the lock entrance so they hold us up at all. The lock keeper was opening the gates of Upper Lode Lock as we approached, the small boat taking the lead. This lock is huge with an extension onDSCN2073 the end. The keeper came out to speak with us and asking if we had been in to Gloucester before, we had several times but our locking partners hadn’t so we said we would stay with them taking the lead. From here its 14 miles to Gloucester Dock and it was 3 hours later when we locked up off the river with us travelling at a fast tick over. Most of the pub moorings we passed were empty, this is never the case if we are looking for somewhere to stop. At Haw Bridge the landing stage is an old Narrowboat hull wit a deck welded on it.DSCN2075 We passed a field of cows, I hope this one is as good at climbing up as he is down, I am not sure if the others are giving moral support or just come to watch the splash.DSCF9734 The caravan site at Haw Bridge is well prepared for the river flooding, we had seen other vans with floats under them the same as used to build the landing stages, I wonder if these wobble in a gale?DSCF9737

At the “Partings”, this is where part of the river goes off to the right and over a weir to join the tidal Severn, its also down here on  the tidal section where the Herefordshire and Gloucestershire canal joins the Severn. At one time there was a lock to drop boats from this part of the Severn to the tidal section so they could go all the way to Hereford. See www.h-g-canal.org.uk DSCN2077 I called the lock keeper at Gloucester to let him know we were on our way, in return he warned me that a dredger was working between the Lock and the Partings and I was to ring again when we were under the road bridge, half a mile from the lock. I now dropped back to tick over so that the other boat could catch up and I could pass on the information, I was doing 3½ MPH over the ground on tick over. Sure enough just before the road bridge we met the dredger, The driver is in a pusher tug at the back and DSCN2079 I am not sure he even knew we were there as his view straight ahead is very restricted sitting low down inline with a compressor and a JCB, eventually one of the crew instructed me to go the wrong side of them, the boat following was nearly in the trees and by now we were so close I had problems crossing in front of him to get to the wrong side of the river. The thing is called a dredger but what it does is suck mud off the bottom with a venturi action in a short tube and throws it out in suspension so that the flow carries it down stream and away. There is a high tide on Saturday and it will probably all come back again. I called the lock keeper again and he told me the lock was ready so I slowed to tick over and hung close to the left bank aiming at the left hand buttress of the lock going as slow as possible then at about a boats length from the lock I put the power on and slid in along the left hand side of the lock, probably my best ever entry. For those that don’t know the river flows across the mouth of the lock left to right and if you line up to enter the middle of the lock it pulls you round past it.severn

Gloucester lock is both large and deep with a road bridge across it, but it is big enough for several Narrowboats to enter it and be far enough forward so that the lock can be filled without opening the bridge and disrupting the traffic.

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  Once locked up into Gloucester docks we were quite surprised that there were a couple of vacant finger moorings, we expected them all to be full at this time of the day as it was now 1730 hrs. The weather was now probably the best it had been all day, lets hope tomorrow is better.


Today’s Journey map 11 22½ Miles, 2 rivers, I basin, 3 manned locks, 1 manual lock in 7 hrs

Tuesday 28 July 2015

Birlingham Wharf Tuesday 28 July 2015

Last night we walked to Rilys Indian Restaurant for a meal with friends who we haven’t see in some time, it is just across the road from the moorings and its an establishment that I would happily recommend.
I was a bit bothered mooring in a town, near both a road and a piece of park land with seats, but we had a very peaceful night with no problem. The nosiest thing was the road sweeper about  7 am this morning.

Today was dry but a good deal cooler, setting off at 10 am I let the bows swing round with the current before heading off downstream once more. It seems that Evesham has a now road bridge that wasn’t here last time we visited, so that’s a gain butDSCF9697 they have lost the free pump out facilities down by the railway bridge, really handy for giving the tank a good clean out. The first lock we came to was against us, not surprising considering the number of boats that had left Evesham ahead of us.

As we made our way downstream with both jumpers and coats on there was very little of interest to post on, We did pass this Cormorant who was displaying his skill at standing on one leg on top of a rotten tree trunk for us.DSCF9702 We stopped for lunch at the moorings by Wyre Lock, the moorings are just down the weir stream and moored opposite was this boat with their own floating BBQ area complete with Astra Turf.DSCF9703Several boats went both down at up the lock while we were there and when we were ready to leave there was a cruiser just turning the lock to go down, so I asked if he was happy to share which he was. I suggested that I went in first, this is not the easiest of locks for a Narrowboat as it is diamond shaped and only the bow and stern touch the walls, which makes it a bit difficult to a hold it with a cruiser beside you and also to climb back aboard when its time to leave as the steps ate half way down the lock in the angle of the diamond. I let him go out first before I loosed any ropes and reboarded, but we still caught up with him at the next lock while he waited for two boats to come up. There were free moorings in Pershore had we wanted to moor there, but I wanted to get a bit closer to Tewkesbury for the night.
Above Tewkesbury lock there were a couple of groups of canoeists, the first were in Canadian  Canoes on the main riverDSCF9704 by the end of the town moorings, but the second lot where in the weir stream so I suspect they had been shooting their way down to below the lock.DSCF9705 One of the views that is always with you on this stretch of the river is Parsons Folly on the top of Brandon Hills. As you makeDSCF9709 your way down stream this tower appears at every angle from the boat, from dead ahead to dead a stern both by the port side and the starboard. It is actually due south of Comberton Quay.

At Nafford Lock there is a swing bridge across the lock and this has to be left in the closed position when the lock is not in use but opened to use the lock. One side of the lock is the weir and the other side the sluice, the sluice is on the line of the river soDSCF9712 you have to do a dogleg into the weir stream you enter the lock, here we met a family on a hire boat doing their first river trip and they were very apprehensive of the whole thing, maybe that’s good. We only did about another half mile mile before mooring for the night on the outside of a very tight bend known as “Swan Neck” or Birlingham Wharf. You can see why its called “Swan Neck” from this piece from “Waterway Routes” map.swan neck Once moored Diana went for a walk and took this photograph of Harnser moored on the bend, which I might add is very wide and an official mooring place, from the other side of the river. DSCN2051For a change its Harnser’s better side.

Today’s Journey map 10  17 Mile, 5 Locks  in 5 hours

Monday 27 July 2015

Evesham Monday 27 July 2015

I think it rained most of the night, it was every time I looked out but miraculously it stopped dead on 10 am as we were about to set off and even the sun came out, so all the waterproofs were pealed of and we made our way down through Welford Lock (Cadbury), I had been to turn it in the rain ready. For some reason this lock has flowers on it, we have not seen this on any of the other locks.DSCF9680  Most of the locks on the upper Avon, above Evesham have overnight moorings above the lock at the end of the lock moorings and really in a lot of cases its the only place to moor. Some are 48 hr and some only 24 hr but they are very welcome.DSCN2042 After this we met a continuous stream of Narrowboats so all the rest of the locks were with us.
This is the first time we have been on the river since the upper and lower river trusts became one and one thing that is very noticeable is that the signage has improver.DSCF9681 Also the water level indicator boards are all very visible.DSCF9682

There was a notice at the lock warning of ongoing work at Bedford road bridge and to proceed slowly, when we got there the ongoing work was well clear of the navigation arch,DSCN2045 but even with the low water levels the flow still made the back of the boat twitch as we passed under the arch.DSCN2048 I think I may have had the coat on again now as we had some very fine drizzle and its easier to put it on sooner than later. Robert Aickman lock was looking very splendid, the new trust hasDSCF9685 stopped using the names like this given to the locks after restoration and only refer to them on their signs as Harvington New Lock etc. I suppose that it gives a better idea where the lock is situated. Some of the lines of approach to the locks on this river are shall we say, interesting.

Beside Offenham Lock ( George Billington) there is a somewhat interesting structure and I would really like to know what it looks like when its open, so if anyone can point me to a photo of it I would be grateful. DSCF9687

At Evesham Lock there was a boat approaching the lock from below so the lock was against us, I put the bows in against the top gates to let Diana off and the stern was immediately dragged down to the right. There is a small notice warning of a strong current and what I didn’t know was there is a hydroelectric generator in there to the right hand side of the lock and the flow is very strong. I managed to get the stern round a bit and reverse from the gates, once in line with the I backed up to the visitor moorings and waited there, It still took quite a bit of power to cross into the lock. The Trust assistant who was on duty checking licences told me that they had received a high water level alarm for Warwick from the EA this morning, but level here had not moved at all.
We have moored for the night against the gardens in Evesham where the town river festival is held each year.

Today’s Journey map 9 11¾ miles, 7 Locks in 4½ hours