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River Cruises

 

RIVER AVON & RIVER SEVERN 16 - 28 AUGUST 2005

13 Days, 204 Miles, 150 Locks

 

Day
Miles
Locks
From
To
1
14.7
7
Barton Turns Marina
Hopwas
2
10.06
11
Hopwas Curdworth
3
17.45
15
Curdworth Catherine de Barnes
4
12.63
22
Catherine de Barnes Wooton Wawen
5
6.37
17
Wooton Wawen Stratford-upon-Avon
6
19.38
11
Stratford-upon-Avon Evesham
7
17.37
5
Evesham Eckington Bridge
8
24.38
3
Eckington Bridge Worcester
9
18.75
11
Worcester Wolverley Court Bridge
10
13.18
15
Wolverley Court Bridge The Bratch
11
19.76
16
The Bratch Penkridge
12
24.33
7
Penkridge Wood End Lock
13
5.94
10
Wood End Lock Barton Turns Marina
 
204.3
150
 
 

Tuesday 16th August 2005
We had no clear plan for this trip as we started. We had thought of a leisurely few days up the Ashby Canal (but we rarely do "leisurely"!). The weather was good and we had no commitments for two weeks, so we thought about doing the River Avon down to Tewksbury. Our plan was to go up to Great Haywood and take the Staffordshire & Worcestershire Canal to Stourport upon Severn. Leaving the marina around 9 a.m. we made Fradley in just under 3 hours, only to find a huge log jam of boats waiting to go through the Fradley locks. We counted 7 boats immediately in front of ours, but we were told that there were 11 boats in the queue! Some of these were crewed single-handed, and were taking quite a time to do each lock. By the time we had worked our way through Junction Lock we had given up all ideas of going to Great Haywood, and turned left down the Coventry Canal. We decided to do the ring in the reverse direction. Once clear of the log jam we made good progress, and moored up for the night at Hopwas at 4 p.m.
Wednesday 17th August 2005
We started quite early, at 8 a.m. and headed through Fazeley. We had been told that Fazeley was also very busy, but early in the morning there were very few boats on the move.

The Dog & Doublet, Bodymoor Heath

We were planning to go to Minworth for the night, so as to be ready the next day to pass through Birmingham. Generally we do not like mooring up on the section after Minworth until we get to Catherine de Barnes. However, passing through the Curdworth Tunnel we found that the Curdworth Visitor Moorings were empty. It was a hot day and the shady visitor moorings looked most appealing. We moored up at 1-30 p.m. and spent a restful day there, with a short walk to the local post office for a newspaper and milk.

Curdworth Visitor Moorings, after the tunnel

Thursday 18th August 2005
We were on our way early again, passing through the 3 locks at Minworth and then along the section immediately under the M6 motorway. We took the first of the left hand routes that approach Birmingham, the Grand Union Canal to Bordesley Junction with the 5 Garrison Locks. Turning left at Bordesley Junction we approached the 5 Camp Hill Locks, and after that we were on our way to Solihull. This section of the canal always seems to take a long time to do; it seems to be quite shallow and there is a fair amount of rubbish in the canal. Stops to remove rubbish from the propeller are quite common along here. After nearly 8 miles from Bordesley Junction we arrived at Catherine de Barnes, the first good moorings. Although it was only 3-15 p.m. we decided to moor early for the day.
Friday 19th August 2005
Leaving Catherine de Barnes we did the 5 Knowle Locks, the first double locks on the Grand Union Canal, and were soon on our way to Kingswood Junction.

Knowle Locks

Here there is a short link section between the Grand Union Canal and the Stratford-on-Avon Canal. From this junction it is 12.5 miles north-east to King's Norton, and 13 miles south to Stratford basin.

Kingswood Junction

The character of the canal changes immediately, and the Stratford Canal is quite pretty as it falls through green wooded areas down towards Stratford. The canal architecture is also quite different, with its lock keeper's houses with rounded roofs, and its distinctive bridge designs.

Stratford Canal bridge design

Round-roof lock keeper's cottage

We eventually cleared the 17 locks at Preston Bagot Bottom Lock, and made our way in to Wooton Wawen.

Wooton Wawen

Wooton Wawen Aqueduct

We had dinner in the nearby "Navigation" pub, and friends Ann & Paul Harris joined us.

Here mate, any bread we can have?

The Edstone aqueduct is soon reached after Wooten Wawen. It comprises a 200 yard narrow cast iron trough similar to that at Pontcysyllte and passes over water meadows, a road and the railway.

The Edstone aqueduct

Saturday 20th August 2005
We departed Wooton Wawen at 8-30 a.m., and moored up in the basin at Stratford at 1-30 p.m. The basin lock is the last lock before you go on to the River Avon, and a license is needed to proceed. I went over to the local Tourist Information office near the basin to check out the license fees. The River Avon is managed by two private charitable trusts ; the Upper Avon Navigation Trust (UANT) is responsible for the section between Stratford and Evesham, and the Lower Avon Navigation Trust (LANT) is responsible for the part between Evesham and Tewksbury. It is possible to buy an "excursion license" costing either £8 for 1 day or £14 for two days; however with this you must enter the Avon at Stratford and return to Stratford. We wanted a one-way passage from Stratford to Tewksbury, and purchased a 15-day £44 license.

Stratford Basin

Sue and Ann

On to the River Avon

Royal Shakespeare Theatre, Stratford

We passed through Wide Lock and entered the River Avon. We soon passed the Royal Shakespeare Company theatre and approached the first lock, the Colin P. Witter lock. Care has to be taken on this stretch of the river as it is used by rowing clubs, and novice rowers tend to wander from side to side.
This part of the River is quite pretty, more so than the lower Avon, and we saw several Kingfishers darting past. We passed Luddington, Weston-on-Avon and Welford-on-Avon and on towards Bidford-on-Avon. There are moorings at Bidford, but it was too early in the day to moor up and we pressed on.

We approached the first lock on the Lower Avon, Evesham Lock, around 4 p.m. and moored up alongside Workman Gardens in the centre of Evesham.

Evesham Lock

Evesham is a very nice town and we spent the evening wandering around; in the absence of a "Pizza Express" we ate at "Ask" Pizza Restaurant.
Monday 22nd August 2005
We made use of the water point alongside the moorings at Evesham, and it was 9-30 a.m. before we were watered up and on our way. Approaching the railway bridge we looked out for the ferry that crosses the river; there is a cable that passes under the water and you have to make sure with the ferry operator that it is lowered and does not foul the propeller. The ferry was there with two people aboard and ready to go, but the ferry man waved us through. We were getting low on diesel by now, as the place that I had intended to fill up at outside Stratford on Saturday afternoon was closed. There are very few places to buy diesel on the river, so we pulled in to the boat yard near Abbey Manor House and filled up. It was not long before we approached Wyre Piddle and Tiddle Widdle Island. Wyre Lock is unique in being diamond shape; there must have been a logical reason for making it this shape, but it makes it harder to keep th boat in the right position as you pass through the lock.

Wyre Lock

Guard dog

After this we approached Pershore where there are good moorings alongside the village and the Pershore football club ground. It was too early to moor up but we stopped there for lunch. In the evenings all the moorings are often taken, and it is customary to "butty-up" alongside another boat. Overnight moorings are scarce on the Avon, but despite being mid August there were not many boats about and we did not have any problems mooring. We soon approached Eckington Wharf and Eckington Bridge, and there are moorings here for 4 or 5 boats. The moorings were empty, so we decided to stay there for the night

Eckington Bridge and Moorings

Tuesday 23rd August 2005
We left Eckington at 8 a.m. and made our way down to Tewksbury. This is the last lock on the Avon and is manned. We were soon through the lock and making our way along the link on to the River Severn proper. There is a sandy spit as you enter the River Severn, and you are advised to wait until you can see the whole of the Mythe Bridge before turning upstream.

Mythe Bridge across the River Severn.

170-ft cast iron span built by Thomas Telford in 1828.

The River Severn is a big river! It is quite wide compared with the Avon and the current is more noticeable. There is no license fee payable for boats with the British Waterways license, and all of the locks are manned. We approached Upton Upon Severn where there are moorings, but these comprise a pontoon anchored in the river, and there were boats there already buttied-up. We pressed on until we reached Diglis Locks, Worcester.

Diglis Locks

Approaching Worcester

After Diglis Locks there is a mooring basin on the right hand side, but it is an old dock area and is not very attractive. The Worcester and Birmingham Canal peels off from the river on the right hand side, leading to the Tardebigge flight of locks and on to Birmingham. We continued a bit further, under the Railway Bridge, and moored up for the night alongside Worcester Race Course. These moorings are run by the Borough Council and there is a £3 charge. We were fortunate in that it was a pleasant evening and there was a race meeting on, so we climbed up the bank and watched several of the races.
Wednesday 24th August 2005
We left Worcester at 9 a.m. to do the 12½ miles and 3 locks to Stourport on Severn. Stourport is an interesting area from a canal boating point of view. It is the terminus of the Staffordshire and Worcestershire Canal, and comprises 4 interlinked basins. There are two sets of locks up from the River Severn. For narrowboats, ther are two two-rise staircase locks; for wide beam boats there are two wide locks.

Entering the staircase lock at Stourport to leave the River Severn

There are good facilities and moorings in the basin, and we passed through York Street Lock before mooring up for lunch. After lunch we carried on, passing through Kidderminster before mooring up for the night just before Wolverey Court Lock.

Leaving Stourport

Kidderminster

Kidderminster Lock

Thursday 25th August 2005
Leaving Wolverley Court Lock at 8 a.m. we continued north passing through Kinver and on to Stewponey Lock, where there is an interesting toll house next to the lock itself,

Toll house at Stewponey Lock

 

You have to admire the simplicity and functionality of the architecture of 200 years ago; even a simple thing such as a water overflow is made in to a work of art!

>Water overflow at Stewponey Lock

One of the many sandstone outcrops on

the Staffordshire and Worcestershire Canal

The Stourbridge Canal goes off to the right at Stourton Junction, carrying the canal towards Dudley and Birmingham. Further on we approached the staircase locks at Botterham, followed by the delightfully named "Bumblehole Lock".

Botterham 2-rise locks

It was late afternoon by the time we reached The Bratch, and it had started raining. There is a manned staircase 3-rise lock at Bratch, which you can pass through with assistance during the day time or on your own up to dusk. After that the locks are locked for the night. We decided to wait until the next day as there were good moorings at the bottom of the locks, and the weather was not so good.
Although described as a staircase of 3, the Bratch locks are actually three independent locks separated from each other by a gap of 10 feet or so. They look like a staircase, but act like independent locks.

Bratch middle lock

Simple but elegant iron work

Friday 26th August 2005
We passed through the Bratch locks as soon as they opened in the morning (8 a.m.) and continued on our way along the Staffs & Worcester Canal. At Aldersley Junction the Birmingham Canal goes off to the right, and a half a mile later the Shropshire Union Canal joins at Autherley Junction. The next section of the canal is quite narrow and there is only room for one boat, except for the passing places.

 

We arrived at Penkridge in the late afternoon and moored up outside the Cross Keys pub for the night.
Saturday 27th August 2005
Leaving Penkridge at 8 a.m. we reached Wood End Lock, near Fradley, at 5 p.m. We moored here for the night, ready to make an early morning passage through the Fradley Locks.
Sunday 28th August 2005
We arrived back at Barton Turns Marina at 11-30 a.m.