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

Monday 10 July 2023

July 2023 - River Severn and onto to the River Avon

 Worcester Racecourse (Staffs & Worcs Canal/River Severn) – Thursday 6th July

We decided last night to set off at 9am.  I woke up at 6.45 with cramp in my leg so decided to make the tea and get the day going!  Sadly, there was no TV signal so we missed BBC Breakfast.

We left our mooring and went down to the lock which leads into Stourport Basin.  It was pretty windy, and the wind just caught the bow and into the trees I went!  Once upon a time I would have panicked, but I got out of the trees quite easily 😊  

We used the services then swapped sides for diesel.  The chap doing the diesel had the most adorable puppy.  Ted is a 8 week old Jack Russell who only left his mother yesterday.  He is unusual as he is chocolate. 

The locks leading down to the River Severn are two sets of staircase locks.  The first two are fine, but then there is a nasty dog leg to get to the second set.  I got in but it was a bit of a mish mash!  I’m glad there wasn’t anyone watching me!!  An interesting overflow from one of the staircase locks. 

Out onto the river.  I just love Rivers, especially the big wide ones like the Severn.  C&RT are short of volunteer lockies, so Bevere and Holt locks have some odd opening hours.  To get to Bevere for 2pm we pulled over on a mooring pontoon and had some lunch. 

Tracey took this video as we came out of the bottom lock.

We passed the junction with the Droitwich Barge Canal, and then everything went wrong.  We got to Bevere lock with us in the lead.  Richard got confused with the signs and ended up heading towards the weir.  He quickly realised his mistake and turned round.  Then it got even worse.  He cut the corner at the top of the lock island and we ended up firmly wedged on a sandbank.  He tried desperately to get the boat off by reversing and then in forward, me clinging to the side, but he had to give in.  I had already messaged Steve who then told the lockie.  He suggested a salvage (!) guy who had a RIB and a BIG outboard!  I rang him and he said he could come down, but that it would be about 2 hours.  We settled down at an angle of about a 5° list.  The only good side was that we had good phone reception and 5G, I had a number of phone calls to make and was able to do them all.  Steve took this photo.  

After about 1½ hours we could hear our knights in shining armour – well three men and a dog in a RIB – coming down the river.  They had had to come all the way from Stourport and had to argue with the lockie at Bevere Lock that they needed to get through even though it was just about to close.  One guy got on Mary H while we were instructed to stay below just in case the rope broke.  I managed to pop my head up and take a photo though!  They pulled us off with no real problem and took us to the lock and tied us up.  We were told that we were the second boat this week to get stuck there!  They agreed that the signage to the lock is misleading and that they have complained to C&RT on several occasions.  We were lucky that they got us off as with some boats they have to set up a vehicle in the field opposite and winch the boat off from there.  How lucky were we.  They were a real nice bunch of blokes especially as they had missed the last locking at Holt Fleet and had to leave the RIB at Bevere overnight.  It cost us £600, but apparently we won’t have to pay VAT as it is put down as salvage.  How horrible that word is.  We counted our blessings though as the repair to Clarence’s bow thruster is going to be £3,000.  

The dog out of three men and a dog!

We were ready to go through the lock at 5pm, the next opening time and then headed off down to catch up with Over the Moon who was moored at Worcester Racecourse.  We arrived, got the chairs out and sat down with a large G & T!

Mary H feeling safe if the company of Over the Moon. 

A thought crossed my mind in the evening.  When Clarence had damaged her bow thruster and Over the Moon had had her cratch damaged, I said that things always come in threes so it must be our turn next!  At least it has happened now.

12.45 miles
6 locks

Tewkesbury Marina (River Severn/River Avon) – Friday 7th July

I was so tired last night that I actually fell asleep listening to my book – most unlike me.

We had planned for a 9am start as we had been told that there is a Medieval Festival taking place in Tewkesbury, so we wanted to get there as early as possible to try and get some moorings. 

It was down to Worcester, where we both have happy memories.  Back in 2011 we met up with my sister, Penny and her husband, Jim in Worcester on the boat they had at the time, and did the Worcester Ring with them, but before that we had a very happy day with my Mother and Stepfather (both now gone) on the boats with both boats tied together.  It was a beautiful day, and it was so lovely to think back on it. 

It also reminded me of a card that I altered to send to my Mother as a reminder of the lovely day.

We had one more River lock to go through, then we had the long slog down to Tewkesbury, but it is a really lovely slog and, for the first day in ages, we had a beautiful day.

While we were travelling down the Severn, I thought I would do some research.  Here are a few points. 

  • The Severn was formed 15,000 years ago when ice melt over the North Shropshire plain creating a new route from the River Dee and this became the River Severn as we know it today.
  • The River's drainage basin on the Bristol Channel covers an area of three hundred and forty six square miles.
  • The River is known by two names, the Afon Hefren in Welsh and the River Severn in English, before these names become common place, the Romans had named the river Sabrina after a mythical, water nymph.
  • The River Severn length is 220 miles long and is the longest river in the United Kingdom.
  • Historians say a band of Vikings sailed up the River Severn and fought against the Anglo-Saxons in 894 AD.
  • The River Severn linked the coal and iron fields of the Midlands with the Bristol Channel, by the end of the 17th century, the river had become the 2nd busiest in Europe.

We turned off the Severn and up the Avon.  We arrived at the lock at 12.51 but the lockie said that it would 14.00 now.  Lunch is clearly marked as 13.00 to 14.00.  14.00 on the dot the lock gates started to open.  We had to get our licences at the lock which took for ages as you have to do it yourself online and then give the lockie your number.  I guess the system works however Over the Moon and Mary H have the same licence number!! 

There was no mooring on the river as expected so I phoned the marina and booked us both in there.  £20 a night which includes electricity which we didn’t think was too bad.  

It was very hot in the marine but there was also a nice breeze which helped cool us down.  We sat out and chatted.

17.70 miles
2 locks

Pershore (River Avon) – Saturday 8th July

What a night.  I woke up after an hour’s sleep to Muffin doing little yelps.  I woke Richard up and he took Muffin to terra firma and some grass.  We are moored about as far as we could be away from the land.  Richard went back to sleep, but I couldn’t.  About an hour later he started again and this time I took him, just in my nightie and bare feet!  I still couldn’t get back to sleep and, lo and behold, he did it again.  I woke Richard up and said that it was his turn, he told Muffin to get back on his bed and promptly turned over and started snoring!  So, I made my second trip down the pontoon.  And, yes, there was a third time (for me).  This time I didn’t even try to wake Richard.  Fortunately, it was a warm night, it could have been pouring with rain.  This time, when I got back to the boat, I made a slice of toast and a cup of tea and sat and waited, but there was no more – I finally got back to sleep at 4am.  Muffin started again at 6.30am, but this time Richard took him as I really couldn’t wake up.

I felt really rough all day and struggled.  I can survive on 6 hours sleep, but I’m usually a 7 hour person - 3½ hours is just not enough.

Strensham lock was quite straightforward, as was Nafford.  However, I had told Tracey to look out for a sunken boat just after Nafford Lock and she told Steve who was desperately searching for it in the lock channel in case he ran over it!  It is just before the weir and has been there for years.  I have to admit that this is an old photo I took, now all the paint has gone and it is looking a real sight.  

We stopped at Comberton Quay for lunch but decided not to stay the night there and to go on to Pershore.

As we approached Pershore Lock there was a hire boat on the waiting pontoon.  There was a hire boat in the lock and they seemed to be in there for ages but eventually got out and then we turned the lock for us.  It is a rather complicated lock as it has a ground paddle on the lock side.  The instructions are quite explicit but when you approach it for the first time you have to read it and then re-read it.  We went into the lock with the hire boat as, by this time, there was a queue of boats behind us! 

We got to the recreation ground at Pershore and moored up.  The sun was shining so out came the chairs for about an hour before the rain came.  It poured with rain plus thunder (which Muffin is terrified of) for most of the evening.

13.77 miles
3 locks

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