Worcester

We had a quite night in Tewkesbury by Avon Lock. We were to be the second boat down in the Lock today. We were preceded by a narrow boat called ‘Wide Man on a Narrow Boat’, it was also adorned with several pictures of Buddha. This boat turned left at the end of the channel leading to the river Severn, heading towards Gloucester Docks. This coming bank holiday, the Tall Ships are visiting Gloucester. We however would be turning right, heading north, against the flow towards Worcester.

Manoeuvring towards Avon Lock
Preparing to exit
Rear view of Avon Lock

Once clear of the Lock, we had a channel of about two hundred yards to navigate, before reaching the main channel of the river Severn. It was important not to cut the corner of the junction, to avoid the shallow silts where the two join. This can be done by looking for the Mythe Bridge in its entirety, before making the turn.

Mythe Bridge

Mythe Bridge was built by Thomas Telford in 1828, and is a 170′ single span, cast iron bridge. Now we were on our way. Not having experienced rivers before this year, we did not know how the flow would affect the speed of the boat. We set the throttle to 1500 rpm, and seemed to be cruising along at the same speed we had, when coming downstream on the Avon. It was 09.30. Our first major landmark was the M50 motorway. We passed beneath the high bridge, and the time was now 10.00. We had covered three miles in the first half an hour, at this rate the whole journey would take just under three hours. We were however to be proved wrong. We had now entered a stretch of river, which still operates as a commercial waterway. Barges laden with gravel and sand, are loaded and transported over this section of the river.

Gravel barges waiting to be loaded

The next landmark to be reached was Upton-upon-Severn, a pretty looking town perched on the banks of the river.

Upton-upon-Severn

That was another three miles ticked off the journey, but this took longer than the previous three. The engine was still chugging away quite happily, so no problem there, then it dawned, the river was getting slightly narrower, and presumably the strength of the flow was increasing. By twelve o’clock we still had a way to go, so lunch was had on the move. This is the first time since owning the boat we have done this, but on the river, places to stop are a lot more infrequent than on the canals.

Malvern Hills

Looking back we could see the Malvern Hills in the distance. On route we had seen several boats coming downstream, a mix of river cruisers and narrowboats. On the final two miles into Worcester, we were overtaken by a cruiser heading upstream.

Footbridge on the approach to Worcester

On seeing the footbridge above, we knew we were close to Diglis Locks. These Locks are huge in comparison to what we have been used to, and are all fully automated. We knew we would be directed into the starboard Lock, the smaller of the two, but we did have to wait a short while for the lock keeper to turn the Lock in our favour. The crew remains on the boat, and entry is controlled by traffic lights.

Diglis Locks

On a green light we entered the Lock chamber, and secured the bow and stern with lines threaded through some wire risers. Compared to the tiny Locks we are used to, the turbulence was minimal.

Mooring above Diglis Locks, Worcester

Once through the Lock we moored on the flood safe moorings, close to the junction with the Worcester and Birmingham Canal, and Worcester Cathedral in the background. Securing the boat we took four legs for a walk, and as he has been cheated out of his long walks recently, he got an ice cream as well. The journey had taken four and a half hours cruising, five hours mooring to mooring. Tomorrow we are back on the canals, our river experience over for now. We do have the Thames to look forward to sometime next month.

Totals 16 Miles 1 Lock

Running total 105 Miles 110 Locks 3 Tunnels

Tewkesbury

This morning we knew before getting out of bed, that the really good weather had returned. The boat began creaking due to the heat of the sun on the steelwork, long before we would normally consider rising. So not long after 8am we moved the boat forward to the water point, and then had breakfast whilst the tank was filled. It was then only a short hop to Pershore Lock. Part of the Weir stream at this Lock, has been adapted to provide hydroelectric power, using an Archimedes screw.

Archimedes screw at Pershore Lock

Once through the Lock, we had to navigate two bridges, very close together. When the water levels are high, it causes turbulence at the base of the arches. Today the passage through was uneventful.

Pershore Great Bridge, followed by Pershore New Bridge

We now had about four miles of cruising to enjoy before the next Lock. One thing we have noticed on our trip down the Avon, many of the trees lining the banks, have large ball shaped growths, in amongst the branches. On closer inspection they were found to be mistletoe.

Mistletoe growing in the trees

After about six miles it was close to lunchtime, so we stopped at Eckington Wharf and picnic area for about 30 minutes. So far we had seen very little river traffic, but this was soon to change. Strensham Lock, was the last of the Avon Locks the crew would operate, then we passed beneath the M50 motorway. Our final two miles to Tewkesbury, saw eight boats pass us. We hoped this would mean plenty of mooring space. We navigated through King John’s Bridge, then winded just beyond Avon Lock. Plenty of mooring was available, in the section where the Lock keeper receives three pounds for the night.

Moored by Avon Lock, Tewkesbury

After securing the boat, we wandered into town for a look. Both Tewkesbury and Pershore each have an Abbey. The one in Tewkesbury is the most impressive. We also had an ice cream, but four legs doesn’t know. He was left behind on guard.

Tewkesbury Abbey

We are now perfectly placed for our transit through Avon Lock tomorrow, and onto the mighty river Severn.

Totals 14 Miles 3 Locks

Running total 89 Miles 109 Locks 3 Tunnels