Tibberton

Tuesday 14/5. Throughout our night moored on the river Severn, our sleep was interrupted periodically, by a swan nibbling away at the algae, on the boats waterline. It sounded like a pneumatic drill, in comparison to when the ducks do it.

The culprit

On opening the side hatch, the culprit was still hanging around, no doubt waiting for any breakfast titbits. What was even more galling, was half an hour later, when we got underway, the swan had its head tucked under a wing, fast asleep. No doubt tired after its night time of feasting.

A short distance from the mooring is the entrance to the Worcester and Birmingham Canal. There are two wide Locks which lift you from the river, and into Diglis Basin.

Worcester and Birmingham Canal ahead to the right

We shared the Lock with another boat crewed by a team of bell ringers, then through Diglis Basin and onto the Canal.

Diglis Basin

The difference in steerage was immediately noticeable, and only three hundred yards on, approaching the first narrow Lock, the propeller became fouled with rubbish. Oh how I long for the deep clean waters of the rivers.

A last look back at the Severn

On we went passing The Commandary, originally a small hospital, then later the headquarters of Charles II, before the Battle of Worcester in 1651. This Canal is heavily locked as it climbs its way towards Birmingham, with 58 Locks over the 30 miles. It also has the longest Lock flight in the country, a joy we are soon to behold. The weather was warm, and after 16 Locks we called it a day by the visitor moorings at Tibberton. We secured the boat, and then popped along to the Bridge Inn, for well earned refreshments, which later became an evening meal. The pub is very dog friendly, with two of their own, so four legs joined us.

Today, 15/5 we had a non moving day. The crew went on strike, apparently there is a rule, that you can’t be made to do Locks on your birthday. So we walked along the Canal to the next village at Oddingley, and had a birthday lunch at the Fir Tree P.H. It was very nice. Tomorrow we head for Stoke Prior, a fairly gentle day before Tardebigge on Friday.

Mooring spot at Tibberton

Totals 6 Miles 16 Locks

Running total 111 Miles 126 Locks 3 Tunnels

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