Sunday 2nd September - Diglis Basin to Netherwich Basin Droitwich
Today we left Diglis Basin for a short cruise to explore the Droitwich Canals and return to Diglis Basin down the Worcester and Birmingham Canal.
This is the entrance to the Droitwich Barge Canal from the River Severn, there is a hire boat in the lock.
As we came through Worcester there was a lot of activity on the river, with many rowing crews setting up their boats.
We had come through Bevere River Lock, then turned onto the Droitwich Canals and up through the two Hawford Locks. At the top lock this information board lets you know the condition of the River Severn before you lock down onto it. Conditions today were normal.
The canal is very pretty with sedge on both sides. We were amazed at the height of these reeds.
In Salwarpe the canal makes a very sharp left hand turn and then immediately goes under a bridge. Fortunately we had been warned by a passing boater about the bridge as boats often get caught out by it.
We moored up for a couple of nights in Netherwich Basin, Droitwich.
All of the locks we had been through were wide locks, they seemed to be pretty difficult to work, the winding mechanism was difficult and the lock gates were very heavy. This part of the canal is called Droitwich Barge Canal. The Barge Canal is one of the oldest canals in the country, opened in 1771 and was built to enable Severn river barges (Trows) to reach the busy salt industry in Droitwich.
The Droitwich Junction Canal was opened in 1854 and linked Droitwich to the Worcester and Birmingham Canal. It was built to the 7ft narrow dimensions of the Worcester and Birmingham Canal rather than the 14ft width of the barge canal. This allowed the salt to be transported to Birmingham and Worcester. The Barge Canal was restored first, followed by the Junction Canal which was completed in 2001.
Monday 3rd September - Droitwich
We spent a quiet day exploring the town and surrounding countryside.
This signpost gives information about the furthest navigable place north, south, east and west of Droitwich Spa. It may be an inspiration for further cruises!!
Excavation of Upwich (The Great Pit) in 1983/84, showed that it had been rebuilt around 1264. The previous pit had deteriorated to such an extent that the town was in grave danger of defaulting on its yearly payment of £100 to King Henry III, through loss of the brine income. The pit was surrounded by salt making houses which were known as Seals. The salt making season lasted from June to December and the salt fairs were held each year on the 1st October and 1st December.
Tuesday 4th September - Netherwich Basin to Hanbury Junction
We left Netherwich Basin bright and early in order to meet friends at Hanbury Junction for lunch. First we had to negotiate the incredibly low tunnel under the M5. It is a navigable culvert but the airdraught can vary depending on the flow from the Body Brook into the canal.
Having removed all the items from the roof,
the gauge at the culvert portal shows that we have room to proceed so we press on.
I think this is the smallest space we have ever put Ella through, but we managed it and came through unscathed!
We then called into Droitwich Spa Marina to fill up with water and diesel, before ascending the final three locks to join the Worcester and Birmingham Canal.
These locks are quite deep and there are side pounds to all three locks. To reduce the amount of water being drawn off the Worcester and Birmingham Canal, the water from the side pounds is used to fill or empty some of the lock. The water is effectively moved from side to side - from the pound to the lock to fill the lock and from the lock to the pound to empty the lock. James the volunteer was very knowledgeable about this.
Once through the locks we left the Droitwich Junction Canal, turned the boat and moored up facing towards Worcester for our return journey.
We then met Anne and Steve and had a lovely lunch at the Eagle and Sun where we took advantage of the Pensioner's Perks prices!
Wednesday 5th September - Hanbury Junction to Tibberton
A beautiful still morning as we set off on a short cruise down towards Tibberton.
We noticed that the winged fruits of these trees had suddenly turned brown in a very short space of time. Not sure if these are maple trees or sycamore trees, both have helicopter fruits which spiral down to the ground in the autumn.
We passed through Dunhampstead tunnel which is 216m long and has room for two narrowboats to pass each other. Fortunately we didn't meet another boat.
I feel this is a quintessentially English picture, very pretty!
We moored for the night at Tibberton visitor moorings, after a very pleasant, gentle cruise along a picturesque canal.
Thursday 6th September - Tibberton to Diglis Basin Marina
Toby first thing in the morning, checking that all is right with the world!
The training grounds for Worcester Warriors on the other side of the canal from Sixways Stadium. No sign of any rugby players today!
Coming down into Worcester we were assisted by a volunteer on a bicycle. Unfortunately he was verbally abused by this lady under the bridge who seemed to be attempting to 'save' these swans and wanted them to go up in the lock. No idea how it worked out as we continued cruising!
The Royal Worcester Porcelain buildings are now refurbished and have become very pleasant canalside apartments.
So after our mini cruise we return to Diglis Basin Marina.
This is the final episode of this blog. We have arrived in Worcester, our destination, and over the next few weeks we shall take possession of our apartment and spend some time settling in, buying furnishings and organising ourselves for life in Worcester.
If the weather is kind we may fit in another cruise before the winter works begin in October/November, but we shall have to wait and see.
Week 1 - Purple Week 2 - Brown Week 3 - Dark Orange