Monday 7th to Sunday 13th May 2012
Monday – Upton on Severn
The rain on the hills takes a couple of days to drain off into the Severn, so they said.
Although Diglis and Gloucester locks are no longer restricted due to high water we still have to negotiate Upper Lode lock which lies between the two and is currently closed for the sake of 4 inches of water.
4 inches shouldnt take long to go should it? Well it all depends on how the Spring high tides at Gloucester effect the flow.
Tuesday the river at Upton has dropped a foot so were popping down to Upper Lode, feeling confident well soon be on our way.
Was it an omen I wonder, when a departing hire boat whacked us on the bow after messing up its 180 degree turn in the river. Normally Id smile and let it go but theyve ripped the cratch canvas and repairs are beyond my capabilities so were chasing the hire company. Im told that the hirers insurers will pay for repairs once an engineer has been down to inspect the damage.
But it was bad news at Upper Lode, 4 inches of water isnt going away, in fact its rising again because the River Avon, just upstream, is dumping her excess and now we cant even see the weir at UL.
Because of the tide effect the river is at the same level both sides of the lock. I did all I could to get us through including talking to the supervisor but to no avail. We have wait.
Worcester sounded better than Upper Lode lock so we popped back upstream and turned into Diglis Basin (Birmingham and Worcester Canal).
Moorings on the river outside Worcester are a mix of chargeable space by the racecourse and what looks like an old dock with a floating pontoon that has no access to the land. Theres no ladder within reach of the pontoon so youre stuck in this huge concrete hole with sides too high to climb. Its marked outside as visitor moorings.
But there are new floating pontoons outside on the river, separate from the lock mooring and perfect for those taking a break on the river. As yet there are no signs saying who they are for and for how long. We could have stopped there but V chose to get off the river and climb two locks to the boat basin where 48 hour moorings are plentiful, well they are plentiful when its cold and wet.
Wednesday and Thursday brought rain, just what we didnt need, so we used the time to visit the cathedral and saw the 800 year old King John and further down the road we saw the 6,000 year old creatures of the carboniferous period in the museum above the library.
There are still signs of commercial traffic on the Severn, aggregate is still shipped by boat.
However, we saw virtually nothing in the way of plastic. A lock keeper told us that only narrowboats come out to play when the Severn is running high plastics are scared of hitting trees, planks and pallets.
Friday was bright and breezy, so we chugged off down the Severn again, back to Upton which has a lovely atmosphere and a tiny museum in what remains of the church (the Pepperpot) by the bridge. The guy behind the desk made us chuckle when, after a warm welcome, he told us to browse the exhibit and ask questions to which he would make things up if he didnt have the answers.
Lizzies supplied our lunch, the bookshop produced two of my favourite books and both hardware shops an item each from my list of necessities.
Upper Lode lockie must have recognised my voice when I phoned him at midday because I got a sigh followed by a groan when I asked what chances we had of getting his gates open.
Another twelve inches, he said. No need to expand on that, we havent a hope. I thanked him in my well practised depressed voice.
I didnt like to call the lockie on Saturday, the water was still very high and I sensed he was already suffering a bad case of reflux.
Sunday Two inches to go, Lockie said. By the time you get here it should have gone down enough, he added. Emphasis on should.
We did the fastest cruise ever from Upton to Upper Lode and were met on arrival by a green light. A few minutes later there were smiles all round and we shot out of the lock towards Gloucester before anyone could change their mind.
Everything went according to plan. The three hour cruise took less than two hours and there were no incidents worth reporting.
As the lock opened into Gloucester docks we walked right into a full blown Dragon Boat Race.
Paddles thrashing, drums beating and crowds cheering greeted our entrance to the Gloucester and Sharpness Canal. While V took the applause I swept into the middle water and reversed nicely onto a finger pontoon. Well I thought it was nice until the wind caught the bow and it was down to the fella next door taking our rope that we didnt suffer the embarrassment of mooring over two pontoons instead of one.
Big on stained glass and cloisters this was the stage for Hogwarts in Harry Potter.
As youd expect there are plenty of recumbent royalty but this guy, Robert son of the Duke of Normandy, has his legs crossed which begs the question how did he die? He was a prisoner of his younger brother Henry I and died in Cardiff Castle but whats with the leg?