Saturday, 5 September 2015

Going West: Day 5

We set off this morning at the usual time of around 8, having waited a few minutes for a drizzly shower to pass through. It was straight into the flight of six Stoke Locks, all of which were against us except the bottom one, where a Black Prince hire boat was coming up to return to base at the end of their holiday. The hire boats fill most of the canal just above the lock.
There's then a mile or so before the next locks -- the Astwood flight, which is also six locks. Here we caught up with a boat ahead. The penultimate lock has a cottage on one side and a pretty garden on the other.
A mile and a half further on we reached Hanbury Junction. We turned right off the Worcester and Birmingham onto the Droitwich Junction Canal.
This is new territory for Adrian, but I did this canal (in the other direction on Chance three years ago). There are three deep locks almost immediately, all with working side ponds to save water. Going down, to open the side paddles first, so half a lock of water goes into storage, to be used when the lock needs to be filled.
There was a boat coming up with two American couples on board; one couple has hired a boat each September for fourteen years. They and we were assisted by a very friendly and able volunteer lock keeper. At the top lock, there's a sign complete with flashing lights, showing the state of the River Salwarpe into Droitwich, and the Severn at Bevere Lock.
The next locks are a new staircase pair. Again, they're very deep locks.
One more lock takes you down to the culvert under the M5. They're not joking when they say there's limited headroom. Our radio ariel was touching the roof, and there were just a couple of inches above the TV ariel.
Another new lock leads onto the canalised River Salwarpe, which the restorers of the canal used as the original line had been built on. Then comes Barge Lock, which needed the gates opening and closing, even though the levels either side were the same. It also has a swing bridge over it. There are two more swing bridges to work as the canal goes through Vines Park. We moored up at Netherwich Basin, where we had the pick of almost any space.
It was just gone 1pm when we arrived, so we had lunch and went for a walk around Droitwich, before doing some shopping in the handy Waitrose. There's not much to the town, but in the older streets some of the buildings are incredibly wonky, thanks to subsidence caused by brine extraction.
A couple of other boats have arrived while we've been here, but it's still pretty quiet. We've made a start on cleaning the boat, by giving the roof a good scrub. Adrian has also spliced a rope onto the anchor chair, ready for the River Severn tomorrow.
6 miles, 20 locks. (50 miles, 112 locks)

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