Sunday, 31 July 2011

The Droitwich, part three.

I hope nobody is getting bored with the Droitwich? Good.
We're now up to Wednesday which was set aside for a look at the town. It has a reputation for crooked buildings,

it turns out to be well deserved and the villain of the piece?

This is Tower Hill brine pump, brine has been taken for centuries from below the town which is now subsiding into the empty spaces that are left.

The boys were more impressed with the playground in Vines Park, once the centre of  salt production but now a lovely open space with the canal running through it while the church,                                                                                                              

blackened from centuries of smoke, overlooks park and town. Even the tower of this august building has a bit of a lean to it.
The bad news is that the Barge Lock that is situated in the park has been adopted by the local youth as a playground and while we were there a boat that chose to moor in the park rather than the basin was set adrift over night.
Thursday morning saw us set off through the park and the Barge Lock,

this has a footbridge across it that needs to be swung before you take your boat in. We had no problem negotiating the lock as the river was so low it was making a level.
We were now on the River Salwarpe

and nigh on scraping the bottom.

Not the most attractive stretch, the river was used to connect the Junction and Barge Canals as the original cut was built over during the time the canals were closed.
You now come to the high (or low) light of this stretch, the M5 culvert.

When they say it is low they are speaking the truth, if the water had been another inch up we would not have got through. Once through you come to the new locks, they are stark concrete

with no wing walls, best make sure you line up properly or it will be a nasty crunching noise. Nature hasn't started to cover the scars left by construction

but it's not long before you return to a more mellow set of locks at Hanbury.

These locks have working side ponds that the lockie works to save water, definitely needed when we were there. Just beyond you come to the junction,

under the bridge and you are on the Worcester and Birmingham.
As for the Droitwich; it's a lovely canal even if the middle bit is somewhat bare, don't miss it but do make sure you are low enough to get through the M5 culvert.
We are now at Oddingly, scene of a gruesome murder in the 19th C. More about the Oddingley murders soon,

Watch this space.................

The Droitwich, part two.

Above lock two there is a plentiful supply of duckweed,

although it doesn't go on for long because,

once under the main road you find that

the duckweed has been replaced by reeds,

even the bridges are hiding in them. Although it is called a barge canal I wouldn't recommend it for wide beam boats, they would have trouble getting through the reeds, let alone passing anything coming the opposite way. this does not stop this being a lovely stretch of rural canal, we were well taken with it.

The wildlife has it well colonised, we saw plenty of dragonflies, small brown birds in the reed beds and numerous anglers hunched over their rods, these are not an endangered species.

At Salwarpe there is a surprisingly sharp left turn and then what must be the highest road bridge on this cut, if you are gawping at the local church,

as I was, it can catch you out, nearly didn't make it.
As you approach Droitwich there are two railway bridges close together,

the second of which is more of a pipe than a bridge,

the offside continues to curve below the water so your best bet is to stay tight to the towpath or else you will be scraping along the bottom.

The mooring basin at Droitwich is spacious, pleasant and secure, B.W. key required for access. It was also half empty of boats, with all the hype I thought it would be packed.
We tied up to one of the jetties and the boys insisted, once again, on a spot of the piscatorial art,

there are some nice roach in the basin.
After dinner we had a few hands of Happy Families and they were packed off to bed, determined to explore the town the next day.

Watch this space...............

Saturday, 30 July 2011

The Droitwich, part one.

The grandsprogs arrived and after a trip to the fair, compulsory once they spotted the big wheel, we went back to Armadillo and settled down to a spot of fishing,

then we decided on an early night and an early start.

Bright and early we were off down the locks into the Severn, they call the basin between the two staircases Brindley's Joke because you cannot do a straight run from one set to the other, well he had a good laugh this morning.

  Soon out on the river and down through

Lincomb Lock, this bit of river is beautiful, wooded and secluded

although Edward Elgar takes up a bit of space.
Turning onto the Droitwich was a doddle but if there was a bit of current running it could be a bit problematic.

Above lock #2

we were met by a B.W. worker who passed on the good news that the idiots had drained the five and half mile pound on the Worcester & Birmingham, effectively shutting the top end of the Droitwich. This presented us with a real zugzwang, go on and possibly be unable to get out the top or reverse down two barge locks and back onto the Severn, we decided to head on.

Watch this space..............

Saturday, 23 July 2011

Stourport bursts into life.

As the grandsprogs are arriving on Monday we decided to stay put at Stourport, well there are many worse places to idle away a few days. Up until today it had been a peaceful sort of place, apart from the traffic, crossing the road anywhere around here is a gamble, whether you reach the opposite pavement or the great beyond is a matter of speed and luck. But today was the first day of the first weekend of the school holidays and suddenly

the car parks were full, the bouncy castles littered the park and

the crazy golf heaved with trippers.

If you wanted a balloon

or an ice cream they were there,

while the scent of hot dogs wafted along the waterfront.

Some went for the fun of the fair while the more contemplative

settled for a trip on the Skylark or

hired a drive yourself motor boat.
We felt that a quiet walk was called for so we set of, hopefully leaving the fleshpots behind us but the riverside path took us through

packed camp sites, past the quaintly named

Well it's different. As we approached yet another caravan site

We decided that enough was enough and that it was all a load

of old bull anyway so we retraced our steps.

I was pleased to get a photo of this small copper on a patch of ragwort.
Back at the basins the gongoozlers were studying the skills

of the boats transiting the staircase locks while in a quiet corner

a corvette was ensuring that no U-boats were lurking.
Stourport has certainly woken up.

Watch this space..............