Day 1 & 2
It’s not that I don’t want to write every day but I’m being honest with myself about what I can do. Boating is tiring, boating when you’re trying to fit in hours in your temp job is still tiring! With events still mostly off the table I decided to make another run for it this summer as next year, I think it’s gonna be bonkers and the window to enjoy bimbling my home around the country will disappear. So for this trip, it is becoming a weekly highlights blog with links to some of my fave photos on Flickr and of course, it wouldn’t be a trip without my little time-lapse video links.
Photo albums can be found here:
Due to set off Thursday night, I cocked up by taking a hygenist cancellation appointment for 6pm. I would have left it but I’ve spent 18 months working with my dentistry team to save a lot of teeth so I wasn’t gonna risk buggering that all up. All week the River Severn has been up and down, with bad rain during the week the lower reaches were still on ‘amber rising’, a status you don’t dick around with.
We spent a good few hours researching rainfall, tide times and current levels and called the Gloucester lockie for their opinion. We felt there would be a window if we could get on the River and past where the River Avon joins before Saturday afternoon. Taking a punt we headed down to the docks to moor up for the night to be ready for an 8am out the gates the next morning. Another call to the lockie and we were good to go, told to not dawdle and aim to get to Tewkesbury by the afternoon we ‘should’ be ok. With a steady but manageable flow coming out of the docks and then further up again at the infamous ‘partings’ we were on our way.
Finding the balance of enough welly to make headway against the downward stream but not too much to stress the engine is a fine fine line. Richard upgraded my control column this year to include a temperature gauge which came into its own. Much like the good old days when I had to turn the hot air blowers on in my Austin Metro (and the Skoda Favorit) during the middle of a hot sunny day to prevent the engine overheating, we found a bodge to keep us going safely….you do not want your engine to overheat and stop mid river!
So we let the temp creep up and once it reached the max, we ran the hot taps, dumping the 50L hot water tank and therefore filling it with new cold water from the hold. This new cold water then circulates round the engine and the temperature comes down to low. My water tank holds around 450 litres and although not ideal, it meant we got to Diglis Lock and our overnight stop safely. With a water point just after the lock to refill and a calmer river ahead, we were set for the next day.
Day 3 & 4
Leaving at the strike of 8am, we headed off the pontoon at Worcester and up the ways to Stourport, 4 hours was the plan and it was pretty much bang on. I think on the whole time on the river I only saw 3 other boats which is super quiet. I like the section of river from Worcester to Stouport, lots of lovely scenery to enjoy (including my favourite house). Setting the staircase locks at Stourport, there was a little sigh of relief as we were safe on the canal again, the anchor and the lifejackets safely stowed away. A few people were around the locks as the immediate ‘do you live on it?’, ‘do you work?’ questions began.
We had decided as we were a day behind that this was an easy place to make the time up. The trip has been planned around roughly 4 hours days moving with a couple of long days and plenty of down days so the sooner we could get on track, the sooner those days would come. We have a booking on 22nd & 23rd May that we need to get to, after that, the push reduces.
I bloody love the Staff & Worcs canal, it’s so pretty and a pleasure to navigate. Luckily the one bridge we caught a little bit right of centre with the chimney, the hat fell onto the boat, cue taking the chimney off while in the lock for future! We managed to do the 15 locks and collapsed in a heap arriving in Kinver. Booked for a morning’s work, it was a chance to physically rest then into the village for a lovely lunch and the rest of the day off.
Rested and ready to go we prepared ourself for another day of showers. It’s been going from stonking sunshine to hammering it down in seconds ever since we left off. The waterproofs are getting a good wear, thats for sure. Today was a gentle 3.5 hours to go from Kinver to Stourbridge basin. The Stourbridge canal is a new one for us, narrow and windy as we headed down to the end to moor for the night. Loving seeing all the animals again, the coots and ducks, swans and geese are all busy with their teeny tiny young. A very brazen heron was flying up to the back of the boat to catch fish we’d stirred up with the prop rather than being the typically nervous birds then are. It’s been a great start and I’m loving waking up hearing all the birds as I rise.
And because we have fun making them and we’re on waterways new, here is today’s time lapse video:
Big lock day today as we leave the Stourbridge basin, heading back up the arm to travel towards Dudley. It’s been really interesting seeing just how much last year has helped my boating skills. I now have zero fear steering her into the narrow lock entrances and got a thumbs up from one of the moorers as I gently turned her in the basin. Back at the junction we turned right and straight into a lock flight of 16 locks. I decided to be the lockie until the halfway point then swapped to be at the helm. No point breaking myself too early! Had an interesting time in one of the last locks as a log got wedged between the side of the boat and the lock wall but my prodding and a bit of water wouldnt clear it. Richard managed it in the end with a lot of brute force and managed to get it to the front of the boat so we could pull it out.
Only met a work boat coming down and another boat pass us just after we’d moored, very eerily quiet at the moment. I believe I’m near Brierly Hill tonight, I’m not familiar but where we are seems to be a safe mooring location, fingers crossed for an uneventful evening!
We’ve been caught in some epic downpours this week and today was no different. There was no let up today and it was cold. We started today off with the Delph Flight. Eight locks back to back, no-one coming and with most of them set in our favour. I was on locking duty as Richard was at the helm and we smashed through them in just over an hour! Thankfully it stayed dry for the locking (nothing worse than slippery ground when you’re trying to open and close lock gates) but as soon as we’d finished, the heavens opened.
The wind got worse as we plodded on towards our destination for the night, Bumblehole. With a couple of attempts and me falling over myself straight on my back on the grass verge, we were moored! We had hoped to have a little look around but it didn’t let up so I logged some hours on the job instead. A chilled night before a tunnel morning tomorrow.