RIVER AVON & RIVER SEVERN
16 - 28 AUGUST 2005
13 Days, 204 Miles, 150 Locks
Barton Turns Marina
||Catherine de Barnes
|Catherine de Barnes
||Wolverley Court Bridge
|Wolverley Court Bridge
||Wood End Lock
|Wood End Lock
||Barton Turns Marina
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
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
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.
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.
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
Stratford Canal bridge design
Round-roof lock keeper's
We eventually cleared the 17 locks at Preston Bagot Bottom Lock,
and made our way in to 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
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.
Sue and Ann
On to the River Avon
Royal Shakespeare Theatre,
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
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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
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
One of the
many sandstone outcrops on
the Staffordshire and Worcestershire
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
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
Bratch middle lock
Simple but elegant iron
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
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.