Wednesday, 5 September 2018

31 August - 9 September: River Severn and the Gloucester-Sharpness Canal (not all pictures yet)

Friday August 31: River Severn passage from Tewkesbury to Gloucester (13 miles, 3 locks)
John spotted the rubbish skip as we were preparing to leave, but there is no |Elsan point at Tewkesbury Lock, oddly. Alison saw a Kingfisher as we went on the river.
Annie about to enter Tewkesbury Lock

Tewkesbury Lock, fore and aft ropes needed

the mills, Tewkesbury

entering the main River Severn, avoiding the tongue of sand on the right

approaching Upper Lode Lock

we waited for boats to leave the lock

Upper Lode Lock dwarfs Annie
The cheerful lock keeper said he would sometimes let Upper Lode Lock know boats were coming, but John called them up on VHF channel 74. He was told to take his time over the ¾ mile, as a boat was locking up. The friendly lady lock keeper advised John about both large trees floating about today and spring tides causing tidal surges above Gloucester weir next week, due to spring tides.
We had a beautiful, idyllic and sunny morning to ourselves, apart from several boats coming upriver and one cruiser overtaking us.
Approaching Gloucester Lock, John heard on VHF that the cruiser was waiting “on the chains” (moored to wall chains 100 yards above the lock) while waiting for boats to lock down onto the river. John slowed right down and arrived just as they came out. There is normally a nasty cross current from left to right just as you enter the lock, so he came in the last part quite fast, aiming left of centre, slowing down once out of the current in the lock. It went fine, the easiest ever, probably because, with little rain, the cross current wasn't too bad. Once in the lock, we secured ropes fore and aft to the vertical cables on the lock wall, although Liana got her's twisted, so had to hoik it up as the water rose. We managed, and moored on the pontoons round the corner in the basin, by the pub and Greek restaurant, stern to.
In Gloucester Quays, we found So Pie, and we had their tasty pie (plus lemon meringue dessert) for lunch at only £9.95, while Ali had Bruschetta and salmon.
We stayed here the night – maybe a mistake, as the loud “music” finished at midnight. John fell asleep (naval training?) while Liana did puzzles!

Saturday September 1: Gloucester Docks to Saul Junction along the Gloucester-Sharpness Canal (8 miles, 0 locks)
John called up Llanthony Bridge and they opened up for us to leave Gloucester Dock basin. Once through, we moored on the right to use the services: 5 ½ loo holding tanks to empty, water to fill up with, rubbish to remove. We had a lovely gentle trip to Saul, through a variety of bridges, some swung, some being raised for us, others high enough to motor underneath.
We met our nephew Scott at Saul, and he took us all the short distance to The Three Horseshoes at Frampton-on-Severn, where three of us samples their trademark three-in-one pies (filling, mash potato and broccoli/cauli/peas/sweetcorn, all under one puff pastry crust). Yum! Alison had a huge thick slab of ham, plus eggs and chips. She needed a doggy bag for the ham. Ali drove them both home, while we had a walk around the area, followed by coffee in the cafe. We spotted a large rat, not surprising when waterside.
We watched Formula 1 qualifying ( Ferraris front row, Lewis Hamilton 3rd), then Guy Martin and Jensen Button in a F1 challenge race. John enjoyed Match of the Day (Liverpool won).

Sunday September 2: Saul Junction to Sharpness (8 miles, 0 locks)

The scene at Saul is interesting: Opposite our mooring, just after the Junction Swing Bridge, is R.L.Davis's boatyard, with its huge crane overlooking narrowboats and small ships under construction. The marina lies just behind, with its entry off the stub of the Stroudwater Canal, by the swing bridge. The junction is so sharp that boats entering from Gloucester have to wind opposite Davis's yard first and turn right into the Stroudwater Canal, while boats leaving the marina have to turn left and wind in the same place before passing through the swing bridge narrows. All while narrowboats and cruisers pass to and fro, trip boats scurry about, the bridge beeping, opening and closing continually. With decent cafe, car park and local walks, plus boaters' water point and Cotswold Canal Trust shop, loos, laundry and Elsan points available, too, it is a busy place. We walked down the rather overgrown derelict section of the Stroudwater Canal, beside the River Frome, past the Ship Inn at Framilode and on to views of the Severn Estuary. We returned along the byroad to Sandfield Bridge and had a cappucino in the cafe, before setting off for the eight miles to Sharpness. There were lots of boats around, enjoying the sunny weekend.
Sandfield Swing Bridge opens automatically on detecting boats, as an experiment. The next, Fretherne, has an operator. The huge A38 swing bridge and bridges 19-17 are all high enough for narrowboats to pass under. Half way, through Splatt, Cambridge Arms and Patch Bridges, we passed Slimbridge nature reserve, founded by Peter Scott. We saw plenty of canoes around Purton, where the two nearby bridges seem to be worked as one, using cameras. The circular stone plinth, which used to support the steel railway swing bridge over the canal, at the start of the long gone Severn Railway Bridge. As it was low tide, we could see the remains of the buttresses at regular intervals across the river, and the remains of the two barges that collided with it, sinking and demolishing part of it, never to be repaired.
After winding and mooring, we chilled and chatted to passers by. After chicken and red wine, John soon nodded off!

Monday September 3: Sharpness and back to Saul (8 miles, 0 locks)

After breakfast, we had a long walk past the marina, with its new small chandlery, around to the Lifeboat Station, then past the Dockers Club to the docks and coastguard station close by the dock tidal lock gates. You get a fine view down the Severn estuary, with the road bridges in the distance towards the West. After lunch, we set off under overcast skies, high humidity and very fine drizzle. Liana steered for a while as the sun decided to shine. John had to put on his wet weather gear when we had one or two torrential rain showers. Few boats were moving. At Saul, we moored near Cotswold Canal Trust shop and water point and watched the boats and folk passing.
While Liana chilled, watching tv and doing quizzes, John walked a mile or so up the Stroudwater Canal, past the large marina and the lowered Walk Bridge, across a field and through a wood, where the canal had been infilled up to the A38.

Tuesday September 4: Saul to Gloucester (8 miles, 0 locks)

John's sister Dianne's and friend Andrew's Birthdays :) We had planned to travel by bus at 0945 from the bus stop round the corner from the marina, only to find it only came on a Friday! Plan B was to travel to Gloucester and take the bus from there to Stroud tomorrow. We had a quiet journey back, moored outside Sainsbury's, had lunch and then shopped. Passing under High Orchard Bridge, we found a mooring on the 48 hours visitors pontoon outside the Brewhouse & Kitchen at Gloucester Quays, just before Llanthony Bridge. This was much quieter than the noisy pontoons in corner of the dock basin, which had “music” blaring away until midnight.

Wednesday September 5: Stroud and the Stroudwater Canal visit

We walked half a mile to the bus station and caught the hourly 66 bus to Stroud, through Ebley. On the top deck, the bumps as the bus passed over road humps were bad.
Stroud is hilly. We had coffee at the Cotswold Canal Trust (CCT) Cafe. We are members of CCT, and get their interesting magazine through the post. John was looking forward to seeing all the progress for himself. We walked up the canal past Bowbridge, Griffins Mill and Ham Mill Locks, all now fully restored, and marvelled at the canal now wide and in water. Well done, the CCT!!! We returned to the CCT cafe for a light lunch. Don't miss the CCT shop next to the cafe, like we did! It is open from 10am-1pm.
Liana at Wallbridge Upper Lock, Stroud, with CCT café and shop behind

Liana at Capel Mill Viaduct

folk on the water at Capel Mill

Bowbridge Lock

looking for fish

Griffin's Mill Lock

Liana approaching Ham Mill Lock by canal still to be dredged

Andean wildlife

impressive bywash grill at Bowbridge Lock

Liana looking down at Capel Mill
After lunch, we walked a mile or so past the wonderfully restored Wallbridge Lower Lock, plus the two restored Dudbridge Locks to Ebley Mill. Here, we missed the bus by a minute, so had an hour at the nearby Kitsch coffee shop (John had lager).
this was once muddy rough path beside weeded up canal!

amazing job digging out the cliff beside Wallbridge Lower Lock!

novel single cantilever bridge at Ebley
John saw a tug coming through the flood gate, so dashed out to get a photo and chat to the volunteers.
On the way back from Ebley, we sat on seats in the middle of the bottom deck, which was much less bumpy. Getting off at Gloucester Quays, we were soon home and eating chicken kiev on Annie.

Thursday 6 September: A short trip and pies with Bryn and Julie Shackleton

Before we leave Gloucester, we took our chance to see daughter Joanna's beau Mark's parents, Julie and Bryn Shackleton, who live not too far away, near Yate. We had a pleasant trip four miles up to Quedgeley and back. It was good to share a bit of time with them, and we popped into "So Pie" at Gloucester Quays for another of their excellent pies. This time we had a "two for £20" meal deal, trying game, curry, pork & apple plus chicken & asparagus pies, respectively, with choices of potatoes, vegetables. The cheesy potato mash and mixed veg were very tasty, with a jug of gravy, too. As the weather worsened, we decided to wait until tomorrow to travel.
John & Liana, with Bryn and Julie Shackleton at So Pie, Gloucester



  2. Just wondering if "Annie" was originally called that name as I have a Victorian photo of a narrowboat (or a barge?) called that being used industrially. Email me if interested.