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.

Planning Our Next Trip – The Avon Ring

We have been planning our first summer trip as a narrow boat owner, when we first hired from Black Prince we had planned to do the Avon Ring.
Unfortunately, that had to be abandoned this due to the rivers being very high after a few weeks of rain and not being recommended at that time for canal boats.

Avon Ring
Avon Ring – Starting Point Droitwich Spa Marina

The route is approx 110 miles and over 130 locks, if we count the three to get on the Worcester and Birmingham Canal from our base at Droitwich Spa Marina.

This time we have almost 3 weeks to complete our trip, which should give us plenty of time to slowly meander the route, we may even take a slight detour to Birmingham.

The only major question is do we go clockwise or anti-clockwise.