Sunday 28th June 2015 Black Bart has cruised 13 miles downstream, through the River Severn’s waters today, before we jumped up (twice) to arrive in the waters of the Worcester & Birmingham Canal. Immediately, we are passing by Diglis Basins, where we see a familiar green narrowboat, of a past (pre-Bart) cruise. Mary Gray was our likkle 45′ hired friend who took us from the Middlewich Arm of the Shroppie all the way to the Llangollen Basin (& back) in 2010. Of course, included in that wonderful trip be both the Fantastic Chirk & Pontcysyllte aqueducts.
A Fantastic narrowboat holiday experience. Even the Big BANG !!! in the tunnel didn’t detract too much. If you look carefully you can see Mary Gray there. She is a long way from home. Maybe she is lost & all alone. Not good. Hope she’ll be alrighty.
The 21 mile Mid-Worcestershire Ring combines a 9 mile length of the Worcester & Birmingham Canal, all 8 miles of the Droitwich Canals (Droitwich Junction Canal, River Salwarpe & Droitwich Barge Canal) & (to wrap it up) a 4 mile stretch of the River Severn.
We make our way, slowly through Worcester, ascending two (now) narrow locks. Money prevented this canal being constructed for wide beams. Bit of a shame that. After travelling along 1.5 miles of the W&B canal, although (very unusually) struggling for depth at the stern, we moor, by a lovely (perfect for doggies) play area. All the local doggies come here through the day. Loads of fun for Roxy.
Monday 29th June A lazy day is required after that very testing River Severn cruise. Slow morning, followed by afternoon walk into Worcester where we have a lovely time, buying a few tings, including four lovely ‘new’ dinner plates. The old ‘Jester’ ones from Woodfell (ah!! Woodfell) were starting to craze and discolour. Made your food look even stranger than it already was. The Wedgwood’s were a real find. The Cathedral may not quite have the grandeur of Lincoln Cathedral, but the visit inside proved how Fantastic all the stonework, marble, etc.. etc.. is. Then, those Marvellous Stained Glass Windows, with the light pouring in. A truly Wonderful sight. In fact many truly wonderful sights. A must, if you are ever in the local.
Unfortunately, didn’t take photographs inside, although they probably would not have ‘done it justice’ anyway. You will have to be a witness with your now eyes.
Tuesday 30th June A Very HOT Day (as most of you will already know). Walked to the very handy, local Aldi for Bart Goodies (just known as food by most people). Might not have been the best idea, but at 4.00pm we are pushing Bart back into the deeper part of the canal, as the old girl is ‘beached’ (not easy), cruising 5 miles & ascending, would you believe it, twelve locks. Yes, Twelve. Not eleven or less, but twelve locks.
Water levels through the latter flight of six Offerton locks are not good. Somehow we traverse them without getting stickety stuck. We are already sticky with the hot afternoon/evening sun, so no sticky/stuck Bart on top of that was a relief. With a sigh, we moor near Tibberton four ‘ers after leaving wee Worcester.
Wednesday 1st July Another Very Hot Day, although not particularly sunny here. The gas cooker has been sumwot annoying recently, so a bit of messing about improves to different degree’s the various gassy/flame thingemy-jigs. Will keep an eye, to see how it is over the coming days. The burners have been overly enthusiastic in their ‘pumping’ out the gas (& of course them there flames). Been a smite ‘hairy’ at times when lighting & the cooking of those foods.
Staffordshire Bull Terrier
Thursday 2nd July We is cruising again. Moving on, thru our Wonderful countryside, with, inevitably, the odd train here & there (& no locks, yet).
Dunhampstead Tunnel appears from amongst the undergrowth (or is it overgrowth). May only be 230 yards, but she be longer than those other recent(ish) dinky ‘tunnels’ we have crept through.
After 9 miles (4 today) of this here canal, and before we are turning off the W&B, although we require clarification of where the magic wet faucety thingy might be. We ‘know’ there be one sumwear. Not sure if it be before, after or round thy junction. Two lovely chappies at Hanbury Wharf confirm Mr. Droitwich Faucet is no moor. He hath passed away. They kindly offer us use of old Mr. H.W. Faucet (actually just for the local permit’s like) already with his (1st) Mate Monsieur Hosey already in attendance. After fun ‘swinging’ Bart across the (shallow ‘ere bosun) canal, with Roxy escaping Bart onto Towpath (East bank) as we are trying to arrive on the Wharf (West Bank). Naughty girl !! Very kind Mr. 1st Chappie runs over bridge to secure Roxy the Towpath girl, and returns her safely to Bart. Naughty Girl !! Again.
Just after we is safely tied-up & Mr. H2O is flowing them ‘cats & dogs’ is suddenly lashing down from those skies above. Lister is shut-down & all the ‘atches is closed to keep the internals dry. We stay ‘ere to sit out the heavy c&d’s, even after old Faucet & friends have successfully carried out their task. After a fair old while the weather improves a likkle and we waive the wharf a thankly goodbye. Just past Hanbury Wharf, almost straight away like, Bart quietly swims under Coffin Bridge, after witch, we redirect to a Westerly course, where our junction feeds Bart into the waters of the Droitwich Junction Canal (which in less than two miles will evolve into the waters of the River Salwarpe for a very wee while & then, the Droitwich Barge Canal). These waterway’s were only re-opened in their entirety in 2011, having been last cruised by working boats at the end of the Great War & unfortunately, officially abandoned in 1939. Through many people’s foresight & their very hard work, since 1973, we can all now enjoy these lovely waterways again.
We proceed through Br. 1 as we leave the junction, descending three deep narrow locks. A very Friendly, Helpful fisherman (returning home now) provides lock keeper assistant duties during our lock descents.
Bart waves to Droitwich Spa Marina as we creep by. Crew’s keen eye picks out a viable (slightly less) reed strewn patch shortly before the very deep staircase locks that be ahead. Pleasantly surprised the canal allows Bart to slip in. Not too far from the bank, particularly at thou’s bow. Beautiful quiet (except the nearby M5 ‘hum’) position. We will likely remain here for a wee wile.
Friday 3rd July Lovely warm, sunny day. A Walk is had by Black Bart’s crew of three. Retracing our last few ‘steps’ of yesterday, to visit Droitwich Spa Marina (opened in 2013). Looks pretty good. Worth real consideration. Then we all three (although, strangely, with eight legs, not as you might expect, six) head off, back past Bart (Roxy slightly confused) onto the place itself. Droitwich Spa.
And wot a Lovely place it certainly is. Only a third of an ‘er of walkies, and the delightful place of said Spa is there to behold. A small but lovely (Friday’s, by shear luck) market present’s itself. Colourful Scarfs & udder tings adorn trees, benches etc.. etc.. All pretty darned good. A Lovely mix of old & new, with (if required) great shops too.
Saturday 4th July
!!! !! ! Happy Birthday Darling Judith Honey-Pie ! !! !!!
Hope you have a Fantabulous Birthday. 1st on Black Black.
Black Bart & All Her Crew Wishly you a Most Wonderfully Birthday
Hip Hip Hooray ! Hip Hip Hooray !! Hip Hip Hooray !!!
A walk past the marina, to Hanbury for drinks at the Eagle & Sun. Jason (the boss) happens to pop out to our canal side perch, providing Roxy with fresh top water, and advise on ordering our preferred medium rare ribeye steaks when we return (Roxy-less) this birthday evening. Delicious & very Tasty is was too.
Sunday 5th July We decide on a likkle cruise today. Descending deep staircase locks & a single. Although. Before we set off, Bart’s roof layout is revised. The digital antenna ‘dome’ is disconnected & removed. Plants are relocated to the low forward roof (of the gas locker). Cooly hats removed from chimneys. Forward barrel repositioned to look after rear barrel. ‘What is going on’ I hear, not one person cry. Well, as you are so disinterested, I will tell you. The tunnel under the M5 is not a generous chap. Only aboat 1.9m (6″+ wee smidge) air-draught. Black Bart’s new ‘high spots’ creep through the tunnel with a few minimal inches to spare. Crew duck (quack-quack) write down, to avoid any upper body (even head) damage or injuries. Bart and crew make it thru without any incidents.
On we go, descending our final lock on the Droitwich Junction Canal, as was join the very calm River Salwarpe. a brief river cruise ensues. Many miles, & hours later (minutes actually) we sidestep the enormous wear to enter the wide(r) Barge Lock, after the over-lock swing bridge has swung.
The Barge Canal, dating back to 1771 (one of the oldest) was born, for the unusually wide 60′ long Wych Barges to sail from Droitwich ‘down’ to Gloucester & Bristol. The Salt trade barges were such, to carry up to 60 tons. When the Droitwich Junction canal was born (a short while later) in 1854 to permit narrowboats their travel between Droitwich & the Worcester & Birmingham Canal, the Wide Barge Canal locks were lengthened to allow 70′ boats to navigate all the way to the River Severn.
We glide sedately from Barge lock, thru Vines Park, two more working swing bridges, picking up water & then mooring in Droitwich Basin. Only short, floating finger pontoons, but not too bad.
The projected rain comes down, then starts to improve. Food shop in town, games with Roxy in the park & then we ‘Set Sail’ again at 6.00pm. Will see where we get to. Trying to reach striking distance of the River Severn as we are likely heading back North, early tomorrow for Stourport again. We need to find a chandlers (none found near Droitwich) where we can buy a new gas regulator. The gas rings/burners are NOT good !! Minimising hob/cooker usage & gas being turned off when not in use. Cold Meat tonight. Although there be wide locks, the mass of reed growth (8′ high & 3′ to 4′ wide) both sides of the canal make this twisty canal an interesting navigation for a Loonnngggg (although, narrow) boat.
Although, it has to be said, We do rather like this Droitwich Barge Canal. Even though there is a distinct lack of places to moor. Basically, there be none along this section. Only very short lock moorings. We only make & descend Ladyhood lock 1 at 7.30pm, so we is cheaky & moor on the lock waiting mooring. We haven’t seen any other boats moving during this late-ish cruise, so ‘we chance our arm’. We meet Owen who lives in the lockside cottage, after he plays assistant lock keeper. Owen likes Black Bart (& Lister, of course). We end up chatting about Gas problems. We suddenly have spares coming to our morning, from the garage. Unfortunately, none quite the right kit. But Thanks Owen. It was great to meet you.
Monday 6th July Up early & leaving the lock mooring at 7.30am. Don’t want to cause any trubble mate. We are preparing to call Stourport’s Lime Kiln Chandlers when they open at 9.30am, just before we is ready to leap down from the Droitwich to the Severn.
We cruise a pleasant three miles, descending Ladyhood locks 2,3 & 4 to the near end of this Barge Canal. The map identifies a boatyard on the short West navigable end of the River Salwarpe, within footsteps of the canal near Hawford Mill. We manage to moor past the bridge, fighting the under/over-growth. A phone call to George Judge Boatyard followed by a hop & a skip (no-one watching) (I think) provides us with a new regulator (& a micro-bore screw-on end cap). Phone conversation with a Stoves rep a couple of day’s earlier led them & us to think (hope) it was just such a problem. A patient wait for the persistent rain to finally stop & the regulator is fitted, adjustments made to strange pipework behind cooker & We have a magnificently operating, safe hob & cooker again. Fantastic. Anticipated return North on the River Severn is aborted. We pullout the mooring pins & escape the greenery after a mooring before the junction’s locks becomes apparent. These being the only viable mooring position since leaving Droitwich basin behind. Such a Lovely Canal. Sum-1 needs to do summit aboat that. We thinks. Other Boaters do too !!
Tuesday 7th July We stayiss ‘ere today. a mix of cloudy, wet & windy. We are still enjoying our lovely ‘new’ cooker. Roxy is enjoying her game – chase & overrun the thrown stick.
Wednesday 8th July Black Bart descends & departs the Droitwich Barge Canal via the Hawford Locks.
The South is creeping ever closer and we is downstream on the River Severn again. Our one (Bevere) lock today is soon allowing us to drop, slowly, by aboat 5′ and the odd millimetre.
As we swim into Worcester waters, starting to pass the Racecourse & the rowing club a late decision is made to moor. Some reversing (we like that) and the lower/shorter section of this particular mooring zone is nabbed by Black Bart before any other can snatch it from under our noses. A very enjoyable short river cruise today. Weather forecast is looking Really Good for tomorrow.
Thursday 9th July A Fantastic start to the day as expected. Mr. Sun’s Hat is Looking Good. A Stunning design. Bright Colours. We Cruise on, leaving those other horses behind. Lister has 18 you know. 21 when the old girl is pushed. We don’t like doing that too often. Pensioner now, you know.
at 11.00am we have slipped through the local waters of Worcester, passing our turning of Sunday 28th June when we started our journey round the Mid-Worcestershire Ring as we joined the Worcester & Birmingham Canal.
Black Bart advises you now ‘Go-Back’ to – #10 River Severn downstream – South. June & July 2015 – as we pick that old one up again, continuing our temporarily, part, postponed River Cruise. See you there. IF you want. If you don’t. Your loss !!
Black Bart has cruised all 21 miles of the Beautiful, interesting & obviously, varied Mid-Worcestershire Ring travelling thru 18 Narrow locks + a narrow, deep staircase of two, 9 wide locks & one BIG Lock.