Friday, 23 May 2014

Long way south

Sorry for the lack of blogging recently. Our laptop had a bit of a blip....

We survived the Pennines then headed south on the Trent and Mersey, meeting up with NB Leo in Stoke on Trent, up the Caldon canal and back, across the Staffordshire and Worcestershire canal, down the River Severn and into Gloucester.
Here are some photo highlights:

Victoria and our Silsden visitor Elliott baking Easter buns onboard.

We had a good day out up Skipton Moor with Gemma, Victoria's friend from university.

Enjoying the Yorkshire countryside, at the edge of the Dales.

Victoria braced for the 21 locks down the Wigan flight, plus 2 onto the Leigh branch. Despite searching for another boat to partner with, we headed down the flight alone. Very stiff gates, leaky locks, taking six hours in total.

We followed the Bridgewater around the edge of Manchester before joining the Trent and Mersey at Preston Brook. Unlike last year, we made it through Middlewich without damage to gearbox or wallet (see last year's blog!) and enjoyed the climb up the paired locks of  'Heartbreak Hill'.

We made it through Harecastle Tunnel unscathed (tip for boaters with tall boats is to fill with water before you go through) and met Dave's parents on NB Leo in Stoke on Trent.

From Stoke we detoured up the Caldon which is very scenic and in places extremely narrow. Here the boats are on a river section at Consall Forge where there is a restored steam railway. We abandoned Pas Meche before the notoriously low Froghall Tunnel but did just manage to get through on Leo. The basin the other side is worth visiting, even if only on foot.

Having rejoined the Trent and Mersey we went south to Great Haywood before turning right onto the Staffordshire & Worcestershire, which is new territory for us. The canal is scenic and interesting all the way but definitely at its best west of the summit level as you descend towards the Severn. Here PM and Leo are waiting for Kidderminster lock to fill.

The Staffs & Worcs canal terminates at Stourport, where two double staircase locks drop boats down onto the River Severn. We went first and waited for Leo to join us on the wide river.

The river is probably the best place to see Worcester from, the cathedral comes almost down to the banks. Here we are following Leo as we approach Worcester bridge.

After Worcester we stopped at the pretty village of Upton upon Severn before a final night stop about 13 miles outside Gloucester. The approach into Gloucester is tidal at spring tides but fortunately we didn't have that to worry about. The last 3 miles are on a narrow and fast flowing channel which you have to come off into Gloucester lock, or face the weir which lies to the right in this photo. I'm glad to say we made it into the lock, although this junction could be quite exciting if the river was high.