Friday, 1 June 2018

Down the Avon to Tewkesbury

This blog takes us up to yesterday evening when we arrived in Tewkesbury where the Rver Avon flows into the Severn.  I am in fact typing this in Worcester having come up the Severn this morning.  But it  seems more logical to concentrate on the Avon for now and I'll do another posting soon with the rest.

On Bank Holiday Monday we had to get up and off as, unusually, we had an appointment.  We had arranged to meet our friends Carolyn and Maurice at Pershore.  So it was off through Fladbury and Wyre locks down to Pershore for 11 am.
Here is the view looking back from below Wyre Lock.  Some of the weirs on the Avon are quite fierce and some like this one strike you sideways.

For no apparent reason Wyre Lock is diamond shaped.  We've seen locks like this on canals where it is necessary to shift more water down the canal but on a river it makes no sense and makes it difficult to get on and off the boat in the lock.
Pershore had been kind enough to organise a carnival for our visit:
Here are suffragettes marching as part of the carnival procession.  In case you can't read the buff coloured placard it says: "I'd rather be a rebel than a slave".

And here is a percussion group in brilliant costumes.

We walked over Pershore Old Bridge.  The willow seeds which have got everywhere inside and outside the boat, were gathering like snow in the weeds on the bridge.
It was lovely to see Carolyn and Maurice but we couldn't take them on a boat ride.  The next bit downstream is through the bridges at Pershore and we had been advised that this would be easier and safer if the river went down a few inches first.  Our friends went home in the early evening leaving us undecided whether to go and watch the fireworks or King Lear on BBC2, having seen it a few days before at Stratford.  TV won though Ian did pop out every so often to see the fireworks from our mooring.

Tuesday we went shopping at the very convenient ASDA near the moorings and then set off for a short cruise to Comberton Quay.  We stayed two nights here again because of high water levels but we found plenty to do:
There is an old bridge at Pershore and a new one.  The arches don't line up with the river nor with each other.  The flow through here is also very fast so you don't have a lot of time having come round the bend to line the boat up for the bridge before you are swept into it.  It's much easier coming upstream.

On Tuesday afternoon we decided to go for a bike ride round the nearby villages, all of which have a fine collection of old timbered houses and a church worth visiting and, more unusually these days, a church actually open for viewing.  The picture is of Elmley Castle which is a village which no longer has a castle but does have a pub which also serves afternoon tea and cakes.  So we had to stop.

On Wednesday, after overnight thunderstorms, the advice was 'sit tight' so we walked up Bredon Hill (nearly 1,000 feet and a good viewpoint where you can see 8 counties from the tower on top.  Only not last Wednesday as the top was in the mist.  You can just make out the tower in the picture.

Having had sandwiches on the top we decided on a longer walk back going down into Eckington and back via the next lock at Nafford seen here.  The lock has a swing bridge across it just to make life more fun!

In the weir stream is this narrowboat which seems to have met a wet end.  Not sure how it got there on the other side of the weir barrier though.
On Thursday morning the river had fallen another couple of inches so we set off downstream to Tewkesbury:
The first step was to bring Leo through Nafford Lock.  We swung the bridge out of the way to bring Leo into the lock.  Having dropped the lock level it is possible to swing the bridge back again over the top of the boat.  The custom on the Avon is to leave the exit gates open so it it best to finish with the bridge and then both get on the boat and just go.

Soon after Nafford is a 180 degree bend called the Swan's Neck.  You can just make out in this picture the river going away from us to left and right as we swing round the tight bend.

And then Eckington Bridge follows - another tight fit but not at such a difficult angle as Pershore.  Again though you have to get lined up in time to avoid hitting the sides.

Here we are spot on for a clear passage through the bridge.  I wouldn't  fancy doing this with a broad beam boat.

Looking back, the bridge frames the view with Bredon Hill and its tower behind.

After many twists and turns with Bredon Hill appearing in front, behind and to one side, Tewkesbury Abbey comes into view.

Avon Lock which goes into the Severn is behind us in this photo.  The Avon Mill Stream carries on for half a mile to a weir so we cruised into the town and then turned back to moor.  A flour mill built in 1865 is to the right in the picture.

This fine view is from close to where we turned round.  There are additional moorings down here which are closer to the town centre but not as attractive being right against a high wall.

We had a good wander round the town before the evening's rain arrived.  We liked this quaker burial ground and garden.  A really peaceful spot.

This is the very end of the Avon Navigation beyond where we turned round (though you could turn here above the weir).  The Abbey Mill is on the right and the white railings are on the weir.  The fine cottages beyond make a terrific picture.  It is a shame that a tree hides the Abbey tower.


Tewkesbury Abbey is a wonderful Norman Church built in 1121.  The nave is stupendous.  It was originally a monastic institution but when Henry VIII had his way with the monasteries, the townsfolk bought the Abbey for their parish church, so it was saved.
The ceiling painting is amazingly colourful.


Tewkesbury is famous for its alleyways running away from the High Street.  This is one of many ancient passageways off the High Street.
We had a look round the little museum.  Ian liked this model fairground built by a man called AE Salt.  He was from Southampton, not Tewkesbury, but gave it to the museum because the town had a manufacturer of full sized fairgrounds.
We've been on the River Avon for 9 days until this morning.  It is lovely river and would be even better if its waters did not go up and down such a lot!  A few bridges are difficult to pass through when the water is flowing fast, but the locks all work well and the staff and volunteers are, without exception, friendly and helpful.  We will be back!

Our way now is to Worcester and Droitwich before heading into Birmingham.

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