To Worcester the slow way

The Droitwich Junction Canal

Our trip this week was to Worcester to meet an old friend. So, once we are out of the marina, we turned right towards the Hanbury locks 1 to 3. Restoration of them was completed in 2002 and a sign can be seen on the locks dedicating the restoration to Neil Pitts.

These 3 locks are often manned by very helpful CRT volunteers, as locks go they can be a bit confusing, if you have not seen locks with a side pounds before.

The side pounds are used when the locks are emptied to hold half the water by opening some extra paddles that can be found halfway along the lock. Once they are filled, these extra paddles are closed and the rest of the water is emptied in the normal way downstream.  The water in the side pound is then used to refill the lock when needed, saving half the water.

Floydtilla on the way to Gloucester
Floydtilla on the way to Gloucester

The Worcester and Birmingham Canal

Then we turned a very tight left turn onto the Worcester and Birmingham Canal towards Worcester. Sonia then took over the helm, and we then have a leisurely potter for just over a mile to the Dunhampstead Tunnel which at just  216 m long was a nice cool down from the baking sun. Then another couple of miles to the M5 bridge at Tibberton before we descend the short 6 lock Tibberton flight, locks 16 to 11.

City of Worcester Sign under A449
City of Worcester Sign under A449
We pass under the A449 and passing a stone sign marking the outskirts of the City of Worcester.

We then continue our descent to Worcester through:-

  • Tolladine Lock 10
  • Blackpole Lock 9
  • Bilford Locks 8 & 7
  • Gregory’s Mill Top Lock 6
  • Gregory’s Mill Bottom Lock 5
  • Block House Lock 4
  • Sidbury Lock 3

City Centre Mooring

We decided to moor on the 48-hour moorings just before Mill Street Bridge. This trip had taken us just about seven and a half hours, or about 30 minutes in the car. We then had a short walk into the city where we found The Burger Bar Five Guys in Cathedral Square. We tried, in vain, to empty the bottomless drinks machine, before going on the search for an Aloe Vera cream and some factor 50 sun block. It had been a very hot day.

Selecting our first marina

Over the past year, while we have been waiting to collect our narrow boat we have been looking at marinas. We wanted something that was friendly, had enough facilities and was near enough to a town so that we can get supplies and go for the occasional meal out while we are working on her.

I have scoured the published lists of marinas. I made a list ones in the area we would like to be based at the start our narrowboat experience.

During the summer we had the opportunity to hire Chloe (Soon to be Floydtilla) for a week and decided we would head down to Droitwich and onto the river Severn and then into Worcester and back up the Worcester and Birmingham Canal to Stoke Prior. Not a very long adventure and we had plenty of time to stop and look about.

Droitwich Spa Marina

Droitwich Spa Marina

Our first stop was to look at the Droitwich Spa Marina, where we had a Covid safe look around. The place was well equipped with a slipway and machinery capable of pulling us out for blacking etc. There was also a small chandlery which luckily for us sold ice creams, they even had one for the dog (no a common thing for him).

We also liked the shower block and they even had a dog shower..  as well as a laundry room with washing machines and dryers.

The marina was mile or two from the town, which has a Waitrose and a very nice coffee and muffin shop, amongst other things,  to recommend it. We tried the food at the Eagle and Sun pub which is just a short walk away.

We decided we would put ourselves on the waiting list and see if a space became available.

Diglis Waterside & Marina

Diglis Waterside and Marina
Diglis Waterside and Marina

Next, we stopped in Worcester and had a look around the city, it looks a very nice place to visit, and at the junction with the river Severn was the Diglis Waterside & Marina which is part of the Aquavista group of marinas who have sites around the country.

This looked also very interesting as a base for our boat, unfortunately at the time the office was closed, but we had a good look around and liked was we saw. Our only concern was that noise may be an issue once we were post covid.

I emailed the contact details on the website to ask if there was any availability for 2021.

Hill Farm Marina

Earlier in the year, Sonia visited Hill Farm Marina on the Stratford-upon-Avon Canal which she was very impressed with and was put on our shortlist for ‘not straightaway’, a possible for future years.

A lot of the smaller marinas we contacted did not know if they would have spaces for next year. With the Covid-19 pandemic, owners did not know what would happen and may stay moored up through this period.

Our Selection

Just a few days after our visit to Droitwich Spa Marina we had a call with the potential offer of a space for 2021 which we decided to accept. This was one more thing ticked off my todo list for owning a canal boat. In December we sent completed the application form and sent a cheque for the deposit.

Edit: We finally heard from Diglis Waterside & Marina in October 2020. They had been having a problem with email/website and this delayed them answering. They expected to be fully booked for March 2021 so that did not matter, you never know, we may give them a try in the years to come.

A week on Chloe 2020

As part of our purchase of Chloe, we were offered a weekend on her to make sure she was what we wanted. As there was a week available in the August we decided to pay to extend the offered weekend for the whole week.

We feel very lucky, as when we booked, we didn’t expect the Covid-19 to be such a big thing but by the time our week came around we where still able to go.

We picked Chloe up at Stoke Prior and headed toward Droitwich as we had not been that way before, we had also planned to drop into Droitwich Spa Marina to start our look for a mooring.

Left to Droitwich Spa
Left to Droitwich Spa or straight on to Worcester

Our plan was to turn onto the Droitwich Barge Canal to the river Seven, and then down the Seven to Worcester and back on to the Worcester & Birmingham Canal returning to Stoke Prior.

I knew that the Droitwich Canal passed under the M5 Motorway and that it would be a tight fit, but it still came as a bit of a surprise.

Oddly we did not take many scenic pictures on this trip, but we mostly seemed to be taking pictures of other boats with interesting colour schemes. Many of the normal shops and restaurants where shut or had seriously limited spaces.

However, we again really enjoyed our time on Chloe, a few highlights were looking around Worcester, there is a lot there to explore in the future, and Droitwich where we stayed at the Vines Park Moorings for a couple of days as our Daughter needed a visit to the Doctors.

Droitwich while smaller than Worcester had all we needed including an excellent Coffee and muffin shop, and a fantastic pet shop where Obi our Sprollie (Spaniel Collie Cross) helped himself to a chew (We did pay for it and a few others, I am sure we will be back there again).