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

Saturday 15 July 2023

July 2023 - Goodbye River Avon and goodbye to our new friends, Steve and Tracey

Stratford-upon-Avon (River Avon) – Wednesday 12th July

This lovely house was across the river from us. I wouldn’t say no to it! 

We pulled away from the moorings and went under Bidford Bridge.  The bridge is a scheduled monument and is Grade I listed.  It dates from the early 15th century but has been repaired many times; in the 16th century stone from Alcester's demolished priory was used. In 1644, supporters of Charles I demolished the bridge to cover his retreat from Worcester to Oxford - this was repaired in 1650.   In June 2015, a farm vehicle passing over the bridge struck the parapet, resulting in "significant damage to the... stone parapet, spandrel wall and central pier" and the bridge's closure to all but cyclists and pedestrians.  Now, I found this bit interesting

The temporary access scaffold required to complete the works had to consider the ancient monument status of the bridge so could not be tied into the structure. Suspending a scaffold from the carriageway was also unsuitable because the bridge could not withstand the kentledge weight required. The chosen solution was for the scaffold to be founded on the river bed with tubes secured around piers providing anchorage. 

We found what is left of the tree that had fallen across the river yesterday.

Ted joined Muffin on lock keeper duty at Bidford Grange Lock, though they both look as if they want to be back on board. 

I just love this house which is below Welford Lock. 

Welford Lock always look nice with the flower troughs on the bridge. 

This is the new Shakespeare Marina which is just by Weir Brake Lock.  It has been open just over a year and there still seem to be quite a few spaces.  

As we approached Stratford the sky looked really threatening.  We have had a lot of these which come to nothing, this was no different. 

I always love this view. 

The final lock on the River Avon is the Colin P. Witter Lock, also known as the Stratford Trinity Lock.  This lock, because of its unusual depth and the unstable nature of the ground (silt pit) was the most difficult to build, which accounts for the unusual girders used to stabilise the structure.  The work was done by men from Gloucester Gaol and other volunteers.  I had to smile at this comment “Once famously described by a lady councillor as "Mr Hutchings' monstrous erection in the park."” 

There is less and less mooring on the park at Stratford as the geese are taking in over and leaving a dreadful mess, however we managed to get two spaces outside the Avon Bowling Club.

We sat out in the evening and only had to shelter under a tree once when a heavy shower came.  It’s strange as the sky turns black, and we think it is going to pour, but there are only a few drops.

9.56 miles
6 locks

Stratford-upon-Avon (River Avon) – Thursday 13th July

A day off today.

We caught the little chain ferry across the river to the “main land” and wandered up to the basin.  We decided to have an early lunch as the place was really busy but really pretty with lots of very colourful hanging baskets.  

We chose Carluccio’s as they had a spare outside table.  The service was very slow and then it started to rain, gently at first.  There were three tables under a sun umbrella but they were all taken but luck was on our side and one became free so we jumped under it.  The only trouble was that only 2 chairs were under the umbrella!!  As Richard and I had rain jackets with us we sat out in the rain – by this time it was pouring!!  

We shuffled around and managed to get Richard and my food under the umbrella but I was still sat out in the rain   Finally another table came free and we will able to sit in the dry.  I had Chicken Milanaise which was very dry and unpalatable.  The rain finally stopped and we popped into M & S for milk and fruit and walked back to the boat. 

We came back on the chain ferry too.  It opened in 1937, and was the last of its kind to be built in Britain. By 2006, the ferry was carrying 100,000 people a year, and it was proposed that it be moved to make way for a new bridge. However, in 2010, the ferry vessel resumed service at its original location after an overhaul and restoration work. 

We sat out in the evening for our last evening together and Steve even popped a bottle of champagne (the proper stuff!). 

The River Avon we are on is also known as the Warwickshire Avon or Shakespeare's Avon, to distinguish it from several other rivers of the same name. 

Beginning in Northamptonshire, the river flows through the counties of Leicestershire, Northamptonshire, Warwickshire, Worcestershire and Gloucestershire, near the Cotswold Hills area. It has traditionally been divided since 1719 into the Lower Avon, below Evesham, and the Upper Avon, from Evesham to above Stratford-upon-Avon.

Improvements to aid navigation began in 1635, and a series of locks and weirs made it possible to reach Stratford, and to within 4 miles of Warwick. The Upper Avon was tortuous and prone to flooding and was abandoned as a means of navigation in 1877. The Lower Avon struggled on, and never really closed, although by 1945 it was only navigable below Pershore. Restoration of the lower river as a navigable waterway began in 1950 and was completed in 1962. The upper river was a more daunting task, as most of the locks and weirs no longer existed. Work began in 1965 on the construction of nine new locks and 17 miles of river, using mainly volunteer labour, and was completed in 1974 when it was opened by Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother.

Featherbed Lane Bridge No 59 (River Avon/South Stratford Canal) – Friday 14th July

Oh dear – what a day!!!  We knew it was going to be wet but none of us knew how wet.  I walked up to the lock to set it, but it was ready anyway. 

It was even too wet for the ducks who were sheltering on the lock gate! 

Through the lock, through the basin and onto the first proper lock on the South Stratford.  The rest of the journey is really a blur of locks and rain.  We had 16 locks to do, 11 of which were the Wilmcote flight. 

We had help from some volockies on the middle of the Wilmcote flight and their help was very much appreciated, but as we were probably the only people using the locks today, they were probably grateful for something to do!

Somewhere around the middle of the flight, opposite the volockies office is this lovely garden, it really helped cheer me up. 

We pulled over not far from the top lock, but Over the Moon had another hour to go before they reached their marina.

I had been standing at the helm for 4 hours in the pouring rain and was so cold and my back hurt.  The rain had gone through my sailing jacket and trousers and when I stripped off only my knickers were dry!  Even my socks were wet, and I had had my wellies on.  Muffin had had his rain jacket on and had been shivering as the rain had gone through that too.  He would get off occasionally and run between the locks and at other times he was down below.  I took his jacket off, grabbed the hair drier and he just stood there loving every minute of its hot air.  Richard was just as wet but at least he had been moving.  We both had hot showers and did absolutely nothing all afternoon.

We didn't have chance to say goodbye to Steve, Tracey, Maggie and Ted which was a great shame.  We have so enjoyed their company this last couple of weeks.  I hope we can catch up with them next year.

3.66 miles
17 locks


  1. Great blog Linda! We had a great time travelling with you three and it’d be lovely to travel with you again in the future 😊

  2. Oh dear! And I'd imagined you both hunkered down for the day - all cosy and warm! Mad dogs and Englishmen!