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 followed 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 it wrong you are in trouble. I would imagine wide beamed boats find it fun with a bit of flow on, OK for us Narrowboats.
Looking ahead there were some interesting clouds with bright white tops and very dark bottoms. We were also treated to a couple of fly pasts, well there was also a biplane but it was to far away.
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. 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, its quite plain from the other side, to the end of the navigation. 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.
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. 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 on 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. 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. 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?
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 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 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.
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.
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 22½ Miles, 2 rivers, I basin, 3 manned locks, 1 manual lock in 7 hrs