Tuesday, 30 May 2017

Cruising the Avon

We took the short cruise down towards Gloucester knowing that there were no moorings available for the long weekend. We moored on moorings outside a new housing estate a ten minute walk from Sainsbury's and a further few minutes to the docks. After stocking up the cupboards from Sainsbury's we headed over to the docks to see what was going on having seen the set up a few days earlier. Only a brief look around having seen the tall ships close up and the usual fare at the tent market, it was a drink at Wetherspoon's then back to the boat.

It was a bit of a wait to pass through the docks on Sunday with no mooring room in the docks it was all coordinated by the Bridge Keeper who made sure the lock was ready to enter as we moved across the dock. Rachael was busy snapping a few pictures as I dodged the jumps littered around the docks for the jet ski demonstration.

Entering the docks

We finished our cruising day by leaving the River Severn and locking up on to the River Avon at Tewkesbury. When we arrived the lock keeper had just gone to lunch for an hour. By the time she had returned it was rather chaotic with boats queuing to go up or down the lock. Moorings were at a premium when we arrived so we breasted up.

Business as usual as we locked up the boats and headed into Tewkesbury town centre for a look around finishing at one of the locals for a cold drink after a warm day. Monday we headed straight to Tewkesbury Abbey, built in 1102, where they were running a fete where I managed to pick up some beautiful locally made cheese and there were plenty of opportunities to look over the abbey.

The secret garden
The Abbey took care of our morning so it was lunch at 'the spoons' before we hit the high street after yesterday's reconnaissance. However, the weather didn't hold out and we finished off dodging heavy rain showers to get back to the boat.

Today the weather had improved as we headed off, firstly picking up fuel from Tewkesbury Marina (74p domestic) and heading for Pershore. We were back to manual locks and bridges after a couple of weeks of keeper operated. Three locks today, two of them, Nafford and Penshore where rather awkward to get out of, Nafford in particular. This boat found Nafford Lock too difficult or more likely the result of flooding?

A late bloomer! Two cygnets and one egg to go.

 And passing under Penshore New Bridge, Penshore Old Bridge in the background.

First one of these we've seen but you would think well worthwhile at most weirs, a corkscrew power generation unit at Penshore Lock.

We moored at Penshore just after lunch, plenty of room, probably enough for ten narrowboats. We headed straight off to Penshore Abbey. Previously a Benedictine Monastery and much smaller now than it once was, this building is over a thousand years old.

Saturday, 27 May 2017

Gloucester and Beyond

After snapping a few shots of Worcester Cathedral on our way out of town we headed off for our lunchtime stopover, Upton upon Severn, just over two hours down river. It took a little maneuvering to get Chartwell moored on the jetty with the water a little shallow.

With Serafina tied Rachael and I headed off to find a nice pub on the riverside for lunch settling for The Swan Inn. A nice light lunch and we headed off to have a look around town. The most visible landmark around Upton is 'the pepperpot', a 14th century church bell tower. The church has long since been demolished.

Our walk around town didn't last too long, Upton being a nice town but not offering anything special so we were off for a few more hours on the boat. We passed the junction of the River Avon and Tewksbury, a few minutes up the Avon. Continuing on, we plan to visit Tewksbury on our return, finishing the day on CRT moorings at Lower Lode. It had been a warm day on the back of the boat and we were fortunate to catch the Lower Lode Inn just before closing for the afternoon.

Up early and a fast water fill on the jetty moorings meant we were ready for a three hour trip to Gloucester for a few days break. We moored on one of the finger jetty's in the docks.

The Gloucester Docks, once surrounded by warehouses, are now surrounded by apartments in those same renovated warehouses.

Once tied up we trekked into town to have a look around, we are moored very close to the centre of Gloucester. We headed through town to the Gloucester Cathedral where we were fortunate to get a guided tour by a local historian.

They were renovating the front grounds of the cathedral needing to be extremely careful with several graves within the surrounds.

The cathedral has one of the largest stained glass windows I've seen.

The tour took us over an hour and finished in the cloisters where some shots were taken and used in Harry Potter movies. This shot apparently used as part of Hogwarts School.

After dinner I took a walk around the docks. Preparations were well underway for the Tall Ships Festival over the Bank Holiday weekend with temporary fencing being erected, tents and amusements being dropped into place. I came across a large boat, Ambulant, in dry dock ready to be renovated, funded by the Lotteries. I like this idea in the UK where lotteries money is distributed to fund useful works rather than private companies and the government pocketing it.

A couple of nice days in Gloucester and we headed down the Gloucester and Sharpness Canal to Sharpness. This canal used to be quite busy as a commercial canal but those days are all but gone. Rachael enjoyed not having to operate any of the swing bridges along the way with Bridge Keepers on all of them.

We met several of the tall ships heading for Gloucester as we were heading the other way.

One of the ships moored just near us after coming off the ocean and through the lock at Sharpness at high tide, late in the evening.

Sharpness is rather quiet with only the docks there and no village to speak of.

Sharpness Dock

River Severn sand flats with the tide out

Serafina moored

Plenty of bird life
After an overnight stay at Sharpness we headed most of the way back to Gloucester mooring at Rea Bridge, hoping to see the Severn Bore tonight. It was due at 9:45pm and after a short hike down to the river and a half hour wait I managed to get a few shots albeit almost in the dark. The first photo at 9:30pm in twilight with the river, littered with debris, gently flowing towards the sea.

This photo a half hour later in virtual darkness with tide coming up the river (the bore), initially raising the water level of the Severn by what looked like approx 500mm and then only just a short time later the river level was up significantly; my guess, over a metre.

You could certainly hear the surge of water coming before you could see it, it was quite spectacular. Just a little further down the river we could hear cheers as runners were coming in after attempting to beat the bore. Some did but I'm not sure how far they had run.

Monday, 22 May 2017

Off to Worscester

A 9:30am start after a good nights sleep in the Stourport Basin. It was generally overcast with the possibility of some showers as we headed down through the two staircase locks and on to the R. Severn. A little tricky getting the boat around and into the second staircase, it was on a funny angle, so it took a little bit of maneuvering to get Serafina into the top chamber.

The moorings on the river had mostly been vacant last night and and even today, room enough for at least six, maybe eight 57 foot boats. We waited at the bottom lock landing while NB Chartwell negotiated the locks and with both boats through the locks we moved out into the centre of the river where the current is strongest and headed downstream for a three hour trip to Worcester. It was an uneventful trip, Rachael enjoying not having to leave the boat to do any lock work. Three locks on our trip today, Rachael popping her head out of the cratch to secure the bow of the boat in the locks. Coming out of Holt Lock there was a heavy shower that lasted about fifteen minutes but that was the only rain we saw although, it remained quite cool on the back of the boat for the whole trip, the river banks acting like a wind tunnel.

Coming into Worcester, I spied the moorings near the racecourse, marked in our Pearson's Guide. I wouldn't recommend these unless you are desperate, they looked rather dilapidated. As we passed the racecourse there was another fair going on, must be the season! There were huge dragon kites flying over the fair.

A few hundred metres on an we ran into the middle of the Saturday rowing competition. We were asked to stop while the marshal tried to organise the rowers but after 10 minutes of 'fluffing' around and the rowers no further advanced we continued on to our mooring, right near the finishing line.

After tying up we headed into the city centre to have a look around. The streets were full of historical cars, street performers and tent stalls as well as street after street of the usual shops. This was only a sortie for the a more organised shopping trip on Sunday but with all the extra entertainment there was plenty to see.

We stumbled across the older part of Worcester, Friar Street in particular with houses and shops dating back over 700 years, there weren't too many straight beams among them.

We stumbled across Greyfriars, a National Trust house on Friar Street so being Australian National Trust members we took a look inside. This house was lived in until the 1980's when the National Trust took it over. The previous occupants had restored it to a reasonable state after many years of neglect.

Greyfriars rear
We finished our expedition with a coffee as the heavens opened up again, rain gone for the time being we made our way back to the boat. I managed to get a shot of the medieval Worcester Cathedral from the river, burial place of King John (Magna Carta).

On Sunday Rachael and Silvie took off around ten o'clock for their shopping fix. Michael and I headed in a different direction, we were heading on a four mile (6.4 km) round trip over to Halfords (car spares retailer) to pick up a drill pump. At the start of last cruising season I organised for diesel in Serafina to be cleaned or polished at a cost £325. (See Getting Serafina Ready to Cruise) I thought that was a good investment and the diesel was pristine on completion. By the end of the 2016 season the diesel was murky again with water sitting at the bottom of the tank, no diesel bug though! How was my £325 investment looking now! After doing some research I took the do-it-yourself 95% solution to rectify the problem, a £12 pump.

After drawing 5 litres of murky, watery diesel from the bottom of the tank I re-dipped my trusty clear tube and 'presto', gone! Well I'm guessing around 95% or at least enough that the diesel filtering system on the engine can manage.

Friday, 19 May 2017

Arriving at the End of the Staffs and Worcs Canal

Wednesday turned out to be a great day to stay put where we were. It rained most of the night and continued on throughout the day. Several hire boats had headed off in the morning, making the most of their hire period with no boats replacing them. We spent most of the day inside the boat and there were only two boats that passed us throughout the day. Rachael and I were getting a bit of cabin fever so we donned our rain coats and umbrella and headed to The Vine Inn for lunch.

It was around 7pm that the rain had cleared enough for me to take a walk so I headed up to St Mary's Church on the hill overlooking Kinver. Two or three kilometres from the boat, up the hill to the church for a shot over Kinver and beyond.

I continued on with my walk back down the hill, on through town and then up towards Kinver Edge, another 2 - 3 kilometres walking to reach the Kinver Rock Houses, a National Trust site. The Rock Houses have normal house facades but the bulk of the house is built into the rock.  I couldn't go in as they are only open from Thursday to Sunday.

Kinver is a nice little village with nowhere near the population needed to support the half a dozen nice restaurants in town in addition to two fish and chip shops. The main street had several interesting buildings seeming to my untrained eye to be mainly of Georgian and Tudor design.

We are spending a lot of time dodging rain but the weather on Thursday started off with bright sunshine. A long day ahead lead to an earlier start than usual as we headed towards Woverly to have a wander around on the recommendation of a 'pleasant little village' from several other boaters. It was exactly that but no photo opportunities that 'grabbed' me apart from the Gosander and her ducklings, only because you don't see too many Gosanders around.

We headed back to the boat and had lunch while we were on the move, we still had shopping in Kidderminster to go and then we planned to move on through the last two locks and head to a rural mooring. Arriving at the first set of moorings, there were 6 - 7 boats already tied up but plenty of room for a couple of more boats, we tied Serafina up right in front of the Sainsbury's Supermarket, locked up and headed in to town. Rachael had already planned her shopping, all the shops were in the Weaver's Wharf shopping complex, a short walk from our mooring. A couple of hours in Weaver's Wharf, another hour back at Sainsbury's and we slipped off our mooring. Surprisingly we left behind only a couple of boats, the other boats had already departed. Only 400 metres to the Kidderminster Lock with St Mary's All Saints Church, a 15th and 16th century church, in the background.

We cruised through Kidderminster passing completely vacant moorings in front Weaver's Wharf, enough room for conservatively 15 boats. It seems Kidderminster is not a terribly popular overnight stop. Out of town we queued in a group of five boats at both of the last two locks for the day. In light rain we tied up just off the lock landing of Falling Sands Lock on yet another rural mooring.

Rain overnight and light rain on our Friday morning departure for our short cruise to Stourport. The rain cleared after about ten minutes, arriving after an hour at Stourport in nice sunshine. One lock today, York Street Lock, dropped Serafina down into Stourport Upper Basin where we stopped for diesel (71p) and a pump out then water at the CRT Services. We moored in the 24 hour moorings next to the CRT Services for the night.

 A fair over the back of the docks, far enough away from us to not be too noisy.

The wide-beam route out of the docks and down on to the River Severn, narrowboats take an alternative narrow beam route.

The soccerball count has grown to eight.