I am Linda and along with my husband Richard and our dog Muffin we enjoy our summers on the UK's canal system

Tuesday 13 September 2011

Monday 12th September

Oh dear a rough old night which wasn’t good as we had an early start going through Gloucester Lock at 8.45 am (they are only opening at certain times to conserve water). The pontoons in the basin aren’t really long enough for a 60 foot narrow boat so our bow was beyond the end. We didn’t move about too much until the wind got up in the middle of the night and then we seem to rock a lot and I could hear a banging. I knew it wasn’t a fender so I didn’t bother to get up – I had a good look this morning and couldn’t see anything so just assume it must have been the waves, yes waves!! We have taken all my plants off the roof and put them in the front well which doesn’t make it easy to get around - the marigolds are coming off worse as their stems are so brittle. We got through the lock and set off up the Severn. My GPS gizmo said we were doing 3.3 mph but that soon changed to 5.5 mph as we were pushed along on the tide. The tide makes a difference up until Tewkesbury and we could see the water level rising over the muddy overhanging trees. Richard started to count floating gas bottles and got to six before we got to Tewkesbury Lock! I’m glad we aren’t on a fibreglass boat! The lock and weir were built in 1858, the lock being designed to allow the simultaneous working through of a tug and its train of barges, which might explain the strange shape of the chamber. The river is tidal up to this point, but only when the level at Sharpness is 7.8 metres or more at times of spring tides. We pressed on to Upton-on-Severn where we stopped on the way down. Last time the pontoon was full but this time there was only one other boat. It was still quite windy but we were under a high bank which sheltered us nicely.

One thing I forgot to mention about the Gloucester and Sharpness Canal are the strange lock houses. Eight of the bridges have classical-style bridgemen's houses nearby. These were built in the 1840s when competition from the railways made it important to have men on hand to open the bridges at night so that vessels could meet the tides at Sharpness. At that time, the other bridgemen lived in existing houses that were close enough to their bridges. Most of the houses are now in private ownership and are not occupied by current bridgemen. The classical-style bridgemen's houses were originally symmetrical in plan with gables on each elevation. Each had a living room, one bedroom, a scullery at the back and a porch with Doric columns at the front. In later years, the houses have been extended to provide more accommodation and modern facilities. From the canal, however, Fretherne Bridge House has hardly changed, as the alterations have been confined to the basement and the rear.

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