Welford-on-Avon

This morning after an early breakfast aka 8.30 am, we untied from the mooring rings, and manoeuvred downstream, about 200 yards to the water point. About 40 minutes later, with a full tank we were underway, heading for our first river Lock.

Colin P. Witter Lock

The Locks appear to be more robust than those on the canals, but then they are not nearly as old. On exiting the Lock, it is possible to see the river level gauge. Green is good to go, orange is ok but look for a mooring, and red, abandon ship. Well not quite, but certainly not ideal cruising conditions.

River level gauge below the Lock

As can be seen in the photo above, we are well within the green zone. Not having been on a river before, we are unsure how the levels change. On Wednesday we are forecast some fairly prolonged rain, so it will be interesting to see, what effect that has on the river. A few yards beyond the Lock exit, and you see what you would have encountered, if you had taken the wrong channel above the Lock.

The Weir

Fairly benign in the current conditions, and shooting some weirs can be fun in a canoe, but not a 20 ton narrow boat though. Initially we were aiming for Bidford-on-Avon, but the weather was cold, so on arrival at Pilgrim Lock, a mile and a half beyond Welford-on-Avon, we found a mooring spot and stopped for the day.

Mooring Pilgrims Lock

As can be seen the mooring is equipped with long poles and rings. The lines from the boat are attached to the rings, which can then slide freely up and down the poles, corresponding to the changes in water level. Let’s hope we don’t ever see the rings at the top, as that is some serious flooding. The moorings provided by the Avon Navigation Trust, are identified by the blue hoops painted on the poles, and are mainly located above the Locks.

View from the side hatch

The mooring is adjacent to a large field, which is also used as a camping ground for the caravan club. Currently the field is empty, bar one caravan some distance away. This is a nice quite rural mooring, with an open sky view for the satellite dish, and reasonable phone signal. We will stay put for one night, before heading towards Evesham tomorrow.

Totals 6 Miles 4 Locks

Running total 55 Miles 97 Locks 3 Tunnels

Stratford-upon-Avon (update)

During our stay in Stratford upon Avon, we have enjoyed a bit of sightseeing, and eating at a number of the restaurants within the town. After three days in Bancroft Basin, on Saturday 5/5, we plucked up the courage to drop down onto the river. The Basin had been fairly empty during our time there, but we timed it to perfection, as later in the day, it filled to capacity.

Our riverside mooring

We are moored adjacent to a park area, opposite the Royal Shakespeare Company, and this is first time on a river for the boat. We have enjoyed several walks with four legs, both up, and down stream of our current location. Later in the evening we made our way to the Swan Fountain, for a night time of entertainment, courtesy of our guide Vincent.

Our storyteller Vincent

Our walk around the streets of Stratford upon Avon, was accompanied by spooky tales of witches and plague, ghosts and ghouls.

Today the town hosted a vintage car show, and a street market of crafts. We had a wander round, and then a warming cup of hot chocolate at the RSC, overlooking the river. At lunchtime, we visited Loxleys restaurant in Sheep Street, for a Sunday roast. It was well worth the visit.

A number of other places we have seen, include Shakespeare’s birthplace, the Guildhall where he was schooled, and his final resting place, at Holy Trinity Church.

Shakespeare’s birthplace
Statue in honour of the Bard
The Guildhall
Holy Trinity Church

Just some of the impressive stain glass windows
William Shakespeare’s grave

We have enjoyed our stay in Stratford upon Avon, and I’m sure we will return at a future date. Tomorrow, we begin our journey down the River Avon to Tewkesbury. We have a fourteen day river license, so no rush.

Stratford-upon-Avon

Prior to departing Wilmcote, we had the opportunity to walk past Mary Arden’s Farm, thought for many years to be the home of William Shakespeare’s mother.

It has recently been established that this Grand house, actually belonged to a neighbour, and that Mary Arden lived 30 yards away, in Glebe Farm. Both buildings are however, managed as a working Tudor farm.

Monday the 29th, the crew returned from their shore leave, ready and rested to resume Lock duties. The port side of the boat was given a wash down, removing the last remaining tree sap from our stay in the Saltisford Arm. Tuesday 30th was bright and sunny, the forecast later in the week was looking changeable. A decision was made, we would go all the way to Stratford upon Avon in one hop. Firstly we navigated the eleven Locks of the Wilmcote flight, broken into groups of three, five and three. Once through the bottom lock, we found the water point and stopped to fill up. The tank was nearly dry, so this would take between forty minutes and an hour, depending on the water pressure. Plenty of time for a quick lunch break. By 2pm we were underway again, with two miles and five Locks to go, before reaching our destination. We were soon into the semi industrial outskirts of the town, which quickly became more residential, the closer to the centre we got. Once through the final lock and an extremely low bridge, we emerged into Bancroft Basin, right in the heart of Stratford upon Avon. We had been informed that it was fairly empty, and so it was, we had a large choice of spaces to choose.

Moored Bancroft Basin, Stratford-upon-Avon

Next on the agenda was a visit to the narrowboat William James, tucked into the corner of the basin. This is used by the Avon Navigation Trust as their office, and it where we will need to buy our license, before we descend onto the river. They also produce a guide book, similar in size to the Nicholsons guides, but it contains far more detailed information and pictures. At only four pounds, it is well worth the cost.

Avon Navigation Trust Information Centre

After that we took four legs for a walk, across the tramway bridge, and then down the river to the first lock. On the way back, we stopped for ice cream and cake. Later in the evening as a treat we had takeaway Chinese.

Today Wednesday 1st May, we followed our usual morning routine, taking Oscar out for his ablutions, before having breakfast. It was only 9 am, and already teaming with tourists. Back on the boat I settled down to my usual bowl of muesli, at which point four legs began barking furiously, unusual for him. Looking out of the boat my second Chinese encounter, a cheeky tourist, not content with having his photo taken next to the boat, decided to clamber across our polished bow, and I had not stopped him, would probably have sat himself on top of the cratch board. Needless to say, with me and four legs bursting out of the front door, he got the shock of his life, and quickly and apologetically removed himself.

Before heading off to explore the town, four legs needed his exercise. We had received a stoppage notification from the Avon Navigation Trust, informing us of a Lock closure at Weir Brake Lock, a mile down the river. We wandered off to have a look, and it appears one of the paddles is jammed. A diver was in the water with lump hammer and crowbar, attempting a delicate repair.

Weir Brake Lock closed to Navigation
Attempting the repair

Speaking with the engineers, they hope to fix it, but if not the lock will reopen with only one paddle in operation, as the alternative is removing the gate with a crane.

Four legs was dropped back at the boat to perform his guard duties, whilst we sauntered into town for a look a round, and a spot of lunch.

Totals 4 Miles 16 Locks

Running total 49 Miles 93 Locks 3 Tunnels