Monday, 30 June 2014

Completing the Droitwich Ring

In the last few days we've come round the Droitwich Ring of canals and are heading back to Worcester again.

Last Thursday we set off up the Severn:

There is one lock upstream before reaching the Droitwich Canal.  This is Bevere Lock.  Back to huge locks and with a friendly lock keeper to do all the hard work.

Half a mile after Bevere Lock you come to the first lock on the Droitwich Barge Canal.  In the picture below you can see Victoria preparing the lock while our boats wait on a pontoon mooring below.

After a couple of locks the canal goes under the A449.  This new bridge was the most expensive element of restoring this canal, costing £1.6 million.

There are not really any places to moor but the scenery is pleasantly rural as you climb up 8 locks from the Severn following the valley of the River Salwarpe.

Here is Leo following Pas Mèche through the village of Salwarpe.  The village would certainly benefit from some visitor moorings.

At Salwarpe the canal makes a sharp left turn and then goes through this solid looking bridge.

And eventually you come into Droitwich Spa and enjoy the secure visitor moorings in Netherwich basin. For hundreds of years Droitwich was famous for salt.  Brine was pumped from underground and evaporated to produce salt in huge quantities.  This had some unfortunate effects on the town:

Salt extraction caused significant subsidence and the High Street which used to be level now falls about ten feet in the middle.  These two buildings are leaning against each other and a brick buttress has been built to hold up the right hand one.
 Look at the windows, lintels and the shopfront on this fish and chip shop.

After a couple of days in Droitwich including a swim in the magnificent outdoor Lido we cruised through Vines Park and came up the Droitwich Junction Canal which is a narrow canal and contrasts with the broad Barge Canal coming into the town from the South.  The Junction Canal is only just over a mile long but has a little of everything for the canal buff - Three swing bridges, a river navigation, a low tunnel (under the M5), a staircase lock and a series of three deep locks with functioning side ponds.  What more could you want?

This is Netherwich Basin with the visitor moorings towards the right and permanent moorings on the left.  It is a lovely secure mooring with a lockable gate to protect the boats.

Vines Park is a lovely mature park in the town with the canal going right through it.  There are three swing bridges, two of which have to be swung to navigate this section.

The last of the wide locks forms a stop lock coming out of the park as you go onto the River Salwarpe.  This a small river but goes up and down quickly after rain.   Soon you come to the first of the narrow locks.  You can see Pas Mèche in the lock with Victoria and Helen ready to close the gates.
This is the tunnel under the M5.  We had 6-8 inches to spare but with more rain it would be very different.

Next comes a single lock followed by a double staircase lock.  In the picture Leo is in the lower of the two locks in the staircase.

Above the staircase a road crosses the canal to provide access to the new Droitwich Spa Marina.  This is the bridge and the floating bollards are to keep the sides of the boat from scraping the sloping roof of the bridge/mini tunnel.
After the marina there are three deep locks taking the canal up to the junction with the Worcester and Birmingham Canal.  Each of these has a side pond.  When going down you first empty the lock into the side pond so that water is ready to part fill the lock for the next boat. This makes locking more complicated but saves half a lock full of water each time.

And below you can see us back on the Worcester and Birmingham outside the Eagle and Sun which does cheap but good food and beer.  Guess where we ate that day?
So we certainly enjoyed our ascent of the Droitwich canals.  To make them perfect needs more suitable moorings and a toilet emptying facility at Droitwich.  There is water and rubbish disposal there.

There will be a gap in the postings on this blog for a few days now as we are going home to watch the Tour de France in Yorkshire.  When we return I'll describe our plans for the rest of the summer, so watch this space.

1 comment:

  1. Enjoy the Tour de France, by the time you get back we will be out on Triskaideka, heading north up the Leicester line.