Saturday, 22 September 2012

Droitwich and beyond

Last night seven of us went to The Gardener's Arms, by the park in Droitwich, for dinner.  The food was pretty good (although not as good as in Stourport the night before), but the atmosphere was great, and we had a lovely time.

This morning, we had a very relaxed start, with a cooked breakfast and then coffee and June from Autumn Myst's lemon cake on the pontoon in the sunshine.  We set off at about 11, and while James drove Chance, Doug and I walked to the swing bridges in the park.  Two bridges need swinging, then there's a wide lock onto the river section of the canal (although today the levels were the same at both ends), which also has a bridge across it.

The next lock is new, and leaves no doubt about where you have to go.

Then comes the rather low and narrow tunnel under the M5.

Later comes a rather dramatic staircase pair.

We passed Droitwich Spa Marina, which has lots of space, and then there are the final three locks up to the junction.  At the first lock we made use of the side pond; at the second, the side pond paddles are locked shut; at the top lock there was a volunteer lock keeker.  For the boat in front of us, he accidentally left a bottom paddle up while filling the lock (which explained why it took so long to fill); he then made no effort to help us with any paddles at all.  We used the side pond to save water.  It's then just a couple of hundred yards to Hanbury Junction.

The six Astwood Locks followed.

Then there were the six Stoke Locks (with the Black Prince base above the bottom  lock).

We reached the top at mid-afternoon, and moored just beyond the Queen's Head pub, just before the bottom lock of the Tardebigge flight.  It was lovely and sunny, and the chilly wind had dropped, so we sat out on the back deck with drinks and snacks, talking to people on the towpath.

There are just three boats here (I guess there'll be a race in the morning to set off first), and one boat has arrived heading south.  Tomorrow, the Tardebigge flight.

6 miles, 20 locks.  (24 miles, 37 locks)

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