Sunday, 19 August 2018

Destination Worcester - Week 3 Worcester to Sharpness and back to Saul

Sunday 12th August - day in Worcester

Today we decided to spend another day in Worcester as Annie and Pete were going to visit on their way home from Redditch.

We had a lovely lunch at the Diglis House Hotel and it was good to see them again.

We finished off our day with a walk along the riverside.  The swans from the Sanctuary don't seem to be bothered by people with dogs!

Monday 13th August - Worcester to Upton-upon-Severn

We left our mooring and set off for Diglis River Lock.
nbGranny Spice, the narrowboat in the photois also going to Sharpness, but they are going through the docks and down the River Severn to Avonmouth, Bristol and the Kennet and Avon Canal.

Leaving Diglis River Lock, and continuing towards Upton-upon-Severn.

A stunning photo of the Malvern Hills in the distance and a tranquil River Severn.

Parts of the river valley are shrouded by steep sandstone cliffs, making for quite a dramatic vista.

Severn Stoke looks down over the river, a much stuccoed and crenellated building dating back to the 18th Century and originally built for the Earls of Coventry of Croome Court.

This is one of two aggregates wharves on the river.  

This is one of the boats heading to the wharf to be filled up...

...and another heading away fully ladened.  Notice how low the boat sits in the water when full of cargo!

We moored up at Upton-upon-Severn and explored the small town and went for a walk along the Severn Way with Toby.  

The bell tower, known locally as 'The Pepperpot' is all that is left of the old church of St Peter and St Paul.

Tuesday 14th August - Upton-Upon-Severn to Gloucester

The second of the two wharves where the boats are unloading their cargo of aggregates.

On our approach to Tewkesbury and the River Avon we pass beneath Mythe Bridge, a handsome, single iron span dating from 1825 and built by Thomas Telford.

The River Avon joins the River Severn at Tewkesbury, soon after which we pass through Upper Lode Lock.

An enormous lock, we felt quite dwarfed by the sheer size of the lock walls.  The lock keeper informed us that Gloucester Lock would be closed between 12 o'clock and 2 o'clock and suggested we moored up and waited until it reopened.

A large River Cruiser passed us and warned us of a large tree in the river by the Red Lion pub bend.  This was after where we were going to moor for lunch, so didn't worry too much about it.

We moored up for lunch at Haw Bridge and waited until 12.30 before setting off again towards Gloucester.  We knew the trip would be another 2 hours so would be in good time for the lock to be open.

What we didn't appreciate was the reason why the lock was closed.  It coincided with the Severn Tidal Bore, where the river becomes tidal and reverses the flow as far back as Upper Lode lock.

Tidal times for The Severn Bore 2018

SAT 11
SUN 1208:2809:0809:2109:2809:4310:0310:099.42
MON 1309:1409:5410:0710:1410:2910:4910:559.73
TUE 1409:5710:3710:5010:5711:1211:3211:389.62
WED 1510:3811:1411:3111:3811:5312:1312:199.21

We passed the tree we had been warned about and to our horror it was moving upstream.  As we continued we were faced with masses of debris flowing rapidly towards us.  
Ella's engines were going full pelt and we were only just holding our ground, very scary to see the speed at which the river was flowing.

After about an hour the river began to slow and gradually the tide began to turn.  Then we were faced with Ella on tick over, very little power, and going at considerable speed.

As we approached Gloucester Lock we phoned ahead and we were highly relieved to see the lock gates open and ready for us to go straight in.

Once through the lock we pulled over onto the first available pontoon and heaved a huge sigh of relief!

Wednesday 15th August - day in Gloucester

Today we had a quiet day in Gloucester where we visited the Gloucester Quays, outlet shopping centre, and Gloucester Cathedral, from where Annie graduated with her degree.

Thursday 16th August - Gloucester Docks to Framilode

Once we came up through Gloucester Lock we entered the Gloucester and Sharpness Canal.  The Canal is the deepest in the country as it was built to accommodate shipping from Sharpness to Gloucester in order to avoid the dangerous section of the River Severn.

All of the warehouses have been regenerated and are now offices or apartments with a variety of restaurants on the ground floors.

As we leave the docks the first of the lift bridges is lifted for us.

All bridges are worked for you on this canal and they seem to amazingly open magically as you approach!

Lightship Sula has been fitted out as a healthcare training centre and is now for sale.  It was originally stationed off Spurn Head at the mouth of the Humber estuary.

Each of the swingbridges on this canal has its own bridgekeeper's house.  These ornate houses have two fluted Doric columns widely spaced and they are always single storey.

The mile markers on the canal are very clear, recording how far you have come and how far you have to go between Gloucester and Sharpness.

An old boat is now full of reeds, looks quite amazing in the wind blowing along the canal.

The canal was originally built for huge craft to bypass the treacherous stretch of the River Severn, today it is only narrow, wide beam or river cruisers that you will see using the canal.

We moored for the night just before Saul Junction and walked down to Framilode and the River Severn.  The size of the river here is stunning!

This is the end of the Stroud Water Navigation, the canal has been infilled here as there is no need to access the River Severn at this point.

The Ship Inn is the original canalside pub which looks out... 

....over the canal which is no longer navigable.

Friday 17th August - Framilode to Patch Bridge

We set off from our mooring on the final leg down to Sharpness Docks.  

As we passed through Saul Junction Swingbridge, the Stroud Water Navigation  turns to the left and is navigable for a few metres as far as Saul Marina.

A fun looking pirate ship, and why not?  Now a Little Pirate's Cafe.

This was the site of a Cadbury chocolate factory, where chocolate crumb was transported to Bournville via the canal system.

The site has been taken over by Shipton Mill producing organic bread flours.

We are approaching Sharpness Docks.  In the foreground are the remains of the Severn Railway Bridge.  The bridge was badly damaged on 25th October 1960 by two barges colliding beneath the bridge on the River Severn.  The Wastdale H and The Arkendale collided in thick fog and destroyed part of the bridge, after several more collisions it was decided to dismantle the bridge entirely. 

At the end of the canal we turned the boat and moored up to explore.  The arm to the right is used for permanent moorings and the turning to the left goes on into Sharpness Docks.

It is possible to continue on through the docks and out onto the River Severn, turning left and heading down towards Avonmouth where you can join the Kennet and Avon Canal through Bristol Docks, but you need a professional pilot to accompany you.  Not for us this time!

All along the canal wall there are sunken hulks of old barges, some 81 vessels in total, deliberately beached to strengthen the eroding canal bank.  

Some are visible today and information on each vessel is being collected and archived.

From the end of the canal arm you can clearly see the bridges spanning the River Severn.  The river is running very fast with pretty big waves on it.

The lock down onto the river is open and it is in water.  At low tide the lock runs dry and  approaching boats need to wait for the tide to turn, not a wonderful experience apparently.

The docks are very busy, and are one of the most inland ports in Britain.  They handle ships of 6,000 tonnes loaded with cargoes ranging from cement, grain and fertilisers.
A new liner is being built here with its own mini helicopter!

Purton Timber Ponds - these large areas of water were once used to store floating logs. Logs were unloaded in Sharpness Docks and awaited transport as floating rafts up to the timber yards in Gloucester. The timber ponds are now the largest area of reed-bed in Gloucestershire.

We left Sharpness behind and headed back up the canal to Patch Bridge which gives access to Slimbridge Wildfowl Trust.  We didn't visit as dogs are not allowed, understandably, but we could hear the calls of the different wildfowl.

Saturday 18th August - Patch Bridge to Saul Junction

On our way we passed a boat being towed alongside.  On narrow canals the boat is towed behind, but with the wide swing bridges they can fit through side by side.

There are two Shoreham Lifeboats moored at Saul Junction.  There is a dry dock here specialising in restoring classic boats and they have begun to restore these classic lifeboats.

A short cruise today back to Saul Junction where we are going to moor up for the weekend in order to sit out the Tropical Storm Ernesto, we have avoided the rain but the winds are very strong and not worth cruising in.

This week we have achieved an amazing amount.  We have travelled the complete length of the navigable River Severn and we have travelled the complete length of the Gloucester and Sharpness Canal.  Both have been stunning, the strength and size of the River Severn and the size and depth of the canal, in their own ways have captured our imagination and delight, and made us very much aware of the true majesty of Mother Nature.

Map Key

Week 1 - Purple                              Week 2 - Brown                      Week 3 - Dark Orange

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