It's been a really great day today, and for once it's not really because of the boating we've done. Instead, it's been what we've been able to see and do at our destination.
At around 9 this morning we moved forward a couple of boat lengths to the water point, to fill the tank and get a wash load going. We set off at almost 10, to the first of many swing bridges. Our aim was to get to Sharpness, the end of the canal. Just before the end is the remains of a swing bridge; this bridge also had spans which crossed the Severn itself. There's a model of the swing part alongside. In 1960, two petrol tankers crashed into the bridge and blew up, bringing parts of it down, and it was later demolished. As it was low tide, we could also see the remains of the barges out in the river.
We turned at the junction at the end, and moored up on a lovely grassy towpath with a fantastic view over the river. After lunch, we set off for a walk. Just along we had a chat with Tony and Pat on Tilda, a boat I did a boat test on a few years ago; it was great to catch up with them after all this time.
We were heading for the Purton Hulks -- the remains of dozens of ships which were beached on the 1960s in order to stop erosion along the river bank. In recent years, the ships have been researched and catalogued, and each wreck has a little plaque with details of when it was built, how big it was, and when it was beached. Some are wooden, some metal, and some made of concrete. It's really a very poignant place.
We walked back to the boat, but kept on going. Our destination this time was Sharpness Docks. Adrian had done some internet research and it appeared there would be some ship movements, so we wanted to see what was going on. The route takes you down an arm with lots of moored boats, along past a formed lock down to the river, and past the lifeboat station. We ended up walking round round the docks to the southern side, where there's a picnic and viewing area. There were two huge ships in the vast lock; the water was let out, and then we had to wait for the tide to come up. Eventually, the two ships were let out of the lock -- to be replaced by another coming in.
The whole process took quite a while, so there was quite a lot of waiting about, but it was worth it so see these huge boats going through the lock gates with only inches to spare. All in all, a fascinating day.
8 miles, 0 locks. (105 miles, 124 locks)