Wednesday, 25 June 2014

It's downhill all the way to Worcester

The sign coming out of Birmingham towards Worcester says it is 33 miles and 58 locks.  We've now done all of the locks including the infamous 30 locks of the Tardebigge flight.

Pas Mèche did not in fact have her rudder bearing renewed at Alvechurch; the job turns out to be more complicated than expected.  We did however move the boats just a few miles to the top of the Tardebigge locks.  This entailed passage through two short tunnels which covered the roof in drips which dried to leave calcite rings which have been difficult to remove.  And on Saturday we descended the 30 locks of the flight.

This is Shortwood Tunnel.  If you look closely you can see the other end of the tunnel and, below that, the light of a boat coming the other way.  The two tunnels are wide enough to pass, but only just.

Here is Leo moored close to the top of the Tardebigge flight.  The noticeboard behind us is the one for Tardebigge Tunnel.

On Friday evening we walked a little way down the flight and then back over the hill on footpaths.  The reservoir shown here feeds the canal which you can see to the left stepping down locks beside it.

 This photo is taken from the reservoir and you can see the canal disappearing downwards.  In the distance you can see the Malvern Hills.  The walk back over the top was magnificent for views of Malverns, Clee Hills, Cotswolds, Bredon Hill and even the Black Mountains in Wales.

And here we are descending those many locks.  The surroundings are lovely so it was not a chore, though 30 locks in a day is hard work.

And eventually you see this welcome sign.  We moored just below this bottom lock and retired to the pub for pizzas and beer.

 On Sunday we had a well earned day off boating.  Helen and Ian visited the Avoncroft Museum of Buildings a short bike ride away.  30 or more buildings or parts of buildings that were scheduled for demolition have been moved to the museum.  We found it fascinating.  Even old roofs have been moved and re-erected on new buildings for the purpose.

The museum houses an extensive collection of old phone boxes from the earliest days to the present.  You can also see an AA box in the background.

An old threshing barn has been moved here.  It dates from the 15th century and has cruck timbers holding up the roof and split oak wattle for the walls.

An old Post Mill is included.  The wooden part of the post mill is rotated on the stone base to face into the wind.

Here you can see how it is rotated.  The steps are lifted by the lever and then the wheel pushed round to turn the mill.

 These barleytwist chimneys were saved from a building and brought to the museum.  It is fun to see things like this close up.

This is the inside of a lavish showman's wagon dating from 1904 and occupied until the 1970s.  It cost £1,000 which must have been a lot of money in those days.  The ceiling is beautifully painted.

On Monday it was back to boating and we came down 12 locks in two flights of six to Hanbury Junction where the 'new' Droitwich Canal turns off.  This is new in the sense that it was only opened in 2011 following years of restoration.

This duck house was in Stoke Prior.  You probably can't see the title on it but it was called 'Duckingham Palace'.  Well it amused me!

 This old lock cottage was covered in roses and there was a wonderful garden opposite.

I'm saving the pictures of the Droitwich Canal which we walked down in the evening.  We will be taking Leo along that canal in a few days time.  However I thought these cygnets hiding from the hot sun in a bywash were worth including now.

Yesterday and today we've come down the last few miles and locks into Worcester.

Oddingley Church and Farm set off this lovely rural scene.

Leo is approaching Offerton Top Lock.  You really feel at the top of a hill - you can see distant hills beyond.  And our petunias on the roof give a good show of colour.

Once you get down to the Diglis Basins in the city you have just two deep locks down into the River Severn.  These are barge locks (in fact 18 feet wide) so our boats can share these.

Here we are looking back towards the lower of the two Diglis Locks from the River.  We wanted to moor just downstream where there are floating pontoons for mooring.  However these were full so we are moored back by the Racecourse where we last moored on 19 May.

Here you can see Pas Mèche cruising up the River towards the Cathedral.

Our luck was in as it proved to be race day and we managed to walk just a short distance to catch the last race of the day.  It made an unusual and fine ending to today's journey.

In the next few days we plan to cruise up the Severn and the Droitwich Barge Canal to Droitwich and then repeat the last few miles of the Worcester and Birmingham Canal back to Worcester so that we will have done the 'Droitwich Ring'.  Having walked part of the route we are really looking forward to this.

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