Boat work and around and about in Droitwich

We have come up to the boat for a few days, I have some boat work to complete, we are fitting a battery monitor, but more on that in a later post as I also wanted to touch up the paint from the few scrapes we have had over the summer.

Battery Monitor Display
Battery Monitor Display

While I have worked on the boat Sonia and Mary have been on a trip by train to Birmingham New Street Station and the Bull Ring Shopping centre, for both of them on the train was about £12.50 off peak return, much simpler than driving and trying to find parking.

Droitwich Lido
Droitwich Lido

They also tried the Droitwich Lido an open air pool, which is a rarity these days, when I was young we had one in Camberley, but it was very run down and soon closed, but it seems the Droitwich Lido is a bit of a find, very clean and tidy, I am sure we will be back and bringing the grand kids.

My thanks also goes to the very helpful Facebook group “Droitwich Spa Marina Friendly Forum“. A quick post as I needed a hole cutter, and within the hour I had two offers of one on loan. Thanks to the owners of NB Cedrik, it was a tool my wife was very pleased I did not have to buy.

The Avon Ring Travelogue – Part 3 back to Droitwich Spa Marina

6th August – Today we waved good bye to the crew of the Harry Hudson, I held centre line and they slipped away to go into the last lock and onto the Seven to continue their journey. We will miss our brief time as lock buddies, they have a way to go back to Kate’s boats in Warwick.

Coffee was the start of the day for me with a quick trip to Costa while Sonia cooked breakfast, bacon and sausages in the long roll. Then a trip to the poo bin with the dog, and we are off to explore.

Mary initially stayed on the boat, but when I called and explained we had found a few book shops and cafe called “Cafe au Chocolat” she was soon with us.

This afternoon we are being visited by Jason and Alfie. They went with Sonia to the park while I cleaned up the boat, we had a little water collecting in the bilges.

We finished the day with a takeaway from The Great Wall Chinese, far more that we could eat.

7th August – We were going to send another day in Tewkesbury, but looking at the weather forecast, it was not looking very dry for the next few days, so we decided it was time to head to Worcester, as there was more to do there in the rain.

Tewksbury Lock with Arthur Owl
Tewksbury Lock with Arthur Owl

We backed out of the mooring and waited for a boat to exit the lock, then at 9:30 am we joined another Droitwich Spa Marina based boat Arthur Owl in the lock. It is a very smart looking hire boat from Cafwin Cruises. This was the only time we had our Avon River Licence checked, so glad we had printed it out.

After the lock we took the link to the Seven where we turn right towards Worcester. I had planned on this being a one or two day trip to Worcester, but we did not see any public moorings and we made excellent progress up the river. We soon lost Arthur Owl into the distance, our engine has many hours on the clock, so I did not want to put it under too much pressure and the river was not flowing fast.

The Seven is a wide river and a few hours later we were passing Upton upon Seven, which looked very smart, at the time they may have had some public moorings, but if they where, they already had a collection of narrow boats there so we motored on.

Diglis Bridge
Diglis Bridge

At about one thirty we could see the Diglis bridge coming into view and just past this was the River Seven Lock 5 Diglis, we held station a few hundred yards before the lock and then the green light appeared on the right hand lock and the gates opened.

Diglis Lock on Seven
Diglis Lock on Seven

This lock is massive, the lock keeper advised that we should be OK just using the stern rope, and the gates closed and we very gently rose about 8-10 feet before the north bound gates opened and we slipped gently out of the lock, a much nicer experience that any of the Avon locks.

About ½ a mile upstream is the entrance to the Worcester and Birmingham Canal, these two locks lift you up to the Diglis Inner Basin where we moored up to the water point, we had run out of water during the trip up the Seven, so that fill took a while.

A quick hop passed the Mill Street bridge where we took the last set of rings to moor up for the night.

8th August – Not an early start, so we walked into town and had breakfast at “House of Coffee”, I had the Mr Worcester which is their take on a full English and that set me up for the day, then back to the boat.

We planned on doing two locks, locks 3 and 4 and then a quick trip into ASDA for supplies, before setting off again, very quiet on the canal today. We only saw a few other boats and then mostly at just one lock, after that we got into our stride and we seemed to be at lock 16 very quickly before passing under the M5 motorway.

In the past we would have tried to moor near bridge 25 so we could frequent The Bridge Public House, but this time we continued to just before bridge 30 so we could breakfast at the Fir Tree Cafe and Farm Shop.

9th August – After walking the dog, we headed to the Fir Tree Cafe, which is just a hundred yards to the left in Trench Lane. This all looks very well kept, the Farm Shop is a little small, don’t expect to much, but the breakfast was excellent, all good quality fare, the only disappointment if any is the Cappuccino which tasted a little like filter coffee with a little froth on top. Still highly recommended and good value, we even took some extra cakes for later.

Fir Tree Cafe and Farm Shop
Fir Tree Cafe and Farm Shop

Just a couple of hours and not a boat insight till we reach the turning for the Droitwich when another boat appeared, very kindly they waited before the bridge, as the gap was very narrow with boats moored on either bank.

A multi point turn and then under the bridge that I seem incapable of getting through without tapping the side we arrive at the last three lock before the marina. The excellent volunteer lockies make this complicated set of locks with side pounds very simple and 20 minutes later we are turning into the marina to pump out and refuel. Diesel for the trip cost us about £100.

Getting into our mooring is always interesting, we have never made it look simple, the wind always makes me give it at least 2 attempts, but we are now tied up and secure, we have completed the Avon Ring.

We have travelled over 109 miles and been through 130 locks.

I am glad we have completed this our first ring, the only thing I did not enjoy was the locks on the Avon, the rest is a great way to unwind. While this could be done in a two week trip, we had up to 3 weeks to complete the trip and if it had not been for the rain we would probably taken all three weeks and stayed longer in Stratford, Tewkesbury and Worcester to soak up the history.

The Avon Ring Travelogue – Part 2 to Tewkesbury

1st August – We are staying in Stratford for a few days, and today (Sunday) they are setting up a market by the basin, lots of hot food and market stalls, all very upmarket Sunday in Stratford fair.

Today we meet up with Sonia’s Youngest boy and his family, and then had an early dinner with them in “The Encore”, most of us select the trio roast, which was excellent.

Being just outside the Red Lion, I did expected it to be a bit noisy, instead it was quiet but still busy, most of the noise we could hear was traffic going over the bridge just ahead of us.

2nd August – Much quieter in Stratford today, the market and crowds have gone. A McDonalds breakfast was the start of the day. Just after 9am I started the engine for a bit of a battery charge and to get some hot water. Then it was mopping the areas of hard floors and the rear deck while Sonia and Mary walked up the canal to the Maybird Shopping area for some more clothes for Mary,

With the engine on I also switched on the inverter and charged the laptop so I could type this entry and go online and purchase our licence from the Avon Navigation Trust. We do not know how long this trip was going to take us so I selected the 7-day licence for £50.00, this arrived a little while later by email. I also ordered a PDF version of their map, which was on special offer of FREE.

Sonia did a second trip out to M&S for supplies, and when she got back we walked the dog around to Stratford Footbridge Marina that is behind the Clopton Bridge to see about a pump out. They are very helpful and explained how to get the boat around. That will be our first port of call tomorrow.

3rd August – We are off on to the Avon, via the lock in the basin, we then turn left to go upstream and through two bridges while trying to miss the flock of little rowing and outboard powered hire boats. After the second bridge we turn and enter the marina, that is just behind the second bridge, if feels like a tight fit, but I am sure that wide-beams can do it so in we go.

Leaving Stratford
Leaving Stratford

The pump-out costs £14, with everything carefully explained including the best way to turn the boat about. After a multi-multi point turn, we exited the marina and we were off down the Avon past the wire ferry.

At Stafford Trinity lock we had to wait while some rowing lesson completed their turn and get instruction, before we could fill and enter the lock, compared to the Stratford Canal, theses lock are massive.

Travelling down the Avon, we were joined and assisted by a wide beam, who gave us some useful local knowledge, and in one of the locks there was room enough for both of us. We were later joined by the “Harry Hudson” from Kate’s boats and we shared locks.  We both wished to stop at Bidford, but all the public spaces were full so we had to continue on, finally stopping for the night just after Havington New Lock at about 5pm, it was a long day but M&S Pies and roasted veg soon put us ready for bed.

4th August – Not an early start, but we where ready to go at 9ish, and we followed our friends from the “Harry Hudson” down the river.  We planned just two locks for us today Offenham lock was simple and we then cruised down to Evesham to find Evesham Lock, with the lock landing being at the top of the weir, with some help from our friends we got moored up, the lock is at about 90 degrees to the landing and the river also flows past the lock entrance. I did make a bit of a pigs ear getting into the lock, it was all looking good, but them the stern was pulled around by the current and all attempts to look cool and professional were lost.

Lock Buddies with Harry Hudson
Lock Buddies with Harry Hudson

In the lock we also found that a 70’ boat like “Harry Hudson” is the max that it could accommodate and we had to exit the lock first so they could fit diagonally and open the second lock gate. At this lock we had help from another boater, which meant we could get back on the boat while in the lock as both lock landing where in use at the time.

On again under the Evesham bridge and we moored up alongside Workman Gardens which has rings, this would be our home for the night, but we walked into Evesham for coffee and a little extra supplies at Waitrose.

Evesham, looks a little tried after the thriving Stratford-Upon -Avon, but it may just be the street we entered the town on, we did walk through the Riverside Mall, which was mostly empty shops. I do hope it recovers, the local architecture and parks look lovely.

5th August – Off to Costa for a coffee before setting off for 8am via the water point. The locks on the river are defiantly not designed for narrow boats, the entry angles are often between 45 and 90 degrees to the river, lock landing are a random assortment of sizes, positions and heights, some are even too short the get our boat on before having to turn away to join the river. I got better at touching either the bow or the stern on the lock landing long enough to allow the crew and dog to leap aboard.

One of the locks interior was a diamond shape, with the gate hinges perfectly position at the bow and stern exits.

What we had calculated as a 7 ½ hour trip turned into an epic 9 hours with bright sun, converting to driving rain and all stops in between. When we finally arrived in Tewkesbury it was raining and we could not see a space on the mooring, luckily we found our by now old friends on Harry Hudson had arrived earlier, we had separated at Evesham the day before and they had continued to Pershore while we remained in Evesham.

They already had a mooring, and told us about the very jolly lock keeper who organised the public moorings, they said they would be happy if there was not more spaces for us to tie along side. A quick chat to the lock keeper, who was indeed jolly and very helpful, we ended up along side Harry Hudson.

Moored at Visitor Mooring Tewkesbury
Moored at Visitor Mooring Tewkesbury

Cold and wet we quickly retired inside to dry, before all idea of cooking diner were abandoned and fish and chips became the order of the day. Tomorrow we will swap positions on the mooring as we intend to stay a few days here to have a look around.

We have now travelled over 84 miles and been through 115 locks.