Tuesday arrived with more sunshine, though not as warm in the morning. We set off from Netherwich Basin up the Droitwich Barge Canal heading for Ladywood locks. There are 8 sets of locks before the River Severn, these are wide-beam locks and can take 2 narrow boats at a time.
The channel was very reedy and narrow, this is deliberate attempt to satisfy the green brigade as a habitat for wildlife. Makes a picturesque scene but difficult for boaters to pass each other with poor visibility on corners.
|Narrow channel and blind corners.|
We had company through the wide-beam locks with a very nice boat that was out for a couple of months, lucky them!
|Leaving one of the 8 Ladywood locks.|
|More of the Reed lined channel.|
Before the final locks a new bridge, Hawford Bridge, has had to be built under the A449 dual carriageway which was built over the canal. As an engineer I found the following site interesting which shows the work completed. http://www.leepd60.net63.net/DEIcanal301.htm
After Hawford Bridge we locked down onto the River Severn.
|Waiting for the lock into the River Severn to be readied.|
The River Severn is still quite wide this high up after Worcester, a few weeks ago it was a raging torrent but is now nice and tranquil. We passed a few narrowboats and cruisers as we headed up river to the first large lock at Holt.
|Passing a nice Dutch Barge as we headed up the Severn.|
After 4 miles and approx 1 hour we reached Holt Fleet and the first of 2 lock keeper operated locks.
|Holt Fleet Bridge with Holt Lock behond.|
The lock gates where closed and we had to slow down to allow for the lock keeper to empty the lock and open the gates, all done automatically whilst he sat in his cabin, the traffic light then changes to green to allow entry to the lock.
|Green light calling us in to lock.|
The gates are shut, you feed your mooring ropes around metal rods inset into lock walls to hold the boat as the lock rises, this is all done very smoothly and quickly with little turbulence or current, then the top gates open and away you go, really easy.
We had one more automated lock to do, Lincomb lock, another 3 miles away before we reached Stourport, the head of navigation for narrowboats on the Severn. Smaller cruisers can navigate further up the river.
Stourport is created entirely around the junction of the Staffordshire and Worcestershire Canal and River Severn. The canal was dug to carry coal from the Cannock Coalfields to the River Severn, then on down to Worcester and Gloucester. Where the canal met the Severn a small town was created around the wharves and basins. There are 2 sets of locks from the Severn, the first, the barge locks are only used by larger vessels and is at an angle to the river for easy access, narrowboats have to use the next set, 2 pairs of staircase locks accessed through a bridge at nearly a right angle to the river.
|Entrance to the wide barge locks, Tontine Hotel in background.|
|Narrow lock entrance below bridge.|
I had to drop the crew off on the landing stage to the right, then wait in the river for the lock to be opened, with no real flow on the river getting in to the lock was not a problem, I would not want to try it when the river is flowing after rain.
|Lining up for the lock.|
|In the first staircase, with no overflow weirs the |
excess water goes over the end gates.
|View from narrow locks to lower barge lock.|
|In second staircase locks, looking back to river.|
After finishing the locks we filled the water tank and moored in the upper basin, another early finish so we had a look around Stourport, a couple of quick drinks in town, then a spot of fishing in the basin, plenty of small roach about. Later we had dinner on board followed by more fishing.
|Upper Basin mooring with Stourport yacht club in background.|
14 locks only today.
Wednesday we awoke to yet another sunny morning, already quite warm after breakfast.
|Sunny Morning in Stourport.|
We left the upper basin around 9-30am and headed up the Staffs and Worcs Canal through York Street lock, there are some nicely situated locks along this length, under small red sandstone cliffs which provide pretty views.
Kidderminster is the next town, there used to be large carpet works alongside the canal however most of these have been demolished, one however has been taken over by Debenhams, which has saved the mill but the extension they have put on does not blend too successfully.
|Carpet mill converted into Debenhams store with glass extension.|
|Me doing the hard work at Kidderminster Lock. |
After Kidderminster the canal continues along fringed by more cliffs of Triassic rock, near Wolverley the canal is quite narrow in places meaning care has to be taken rounding bends, locks are fairly evenly spaced as we climb out of Worcestershire into Staffordshire. We pass through Cookley where once 20 pudding furnaces made wrought iron, part of Cookley village is perched on a small tunnel.
|Narrow cuttings near Wolverley|
|Looking back round the corner you can see why a sharp lookout|
is needed for oncoming boats.
|Cookley village above small tunnel.|
|Another Section with overhanging cliffs.|
|Debdale Lock has a large cave hewn out of the sandstone cliff, entrance|
can be seen.
|Entering Whittington Lock.|
We passed Kinver and Stewponey before turning off the Staffordshire and Worcestershire canal at Stourton Junction onto the Stourbridge canal, heading up through the 4 Stourton locks. When entering the second lock the weather changed with a vengeance, a big thunderstorm hit, Gill and I doing the locks had to take cover under trees until it passed.
|Stourton No one lock.|
After the rain had cleared we completed the remaining Stourton locks and headed for Stourbridge, passing some nice Staffordshire countryside before the canal becomes urban at Wordsley Junction.
|Rhododendron Fringed woods near Amblecote.|
We turned of the Stourbridge Canal onto the Stourbridge town arm, passing the site of Dial Glass works and Stourbridge Iron Works before reaching the end of the canal at Stourbridge Town Basin. The basin is run by the Stourbridge Navigation Trust who's headquarters are in the restored Bonded Wharehouse and they provide safe moorings for a donation to the trust.
|Stourbridge Bonded Wharehouse.|
We spent a pleasant evening having a barbie at the side of the canal accompanied with more cider.
15 Locks only today.