Wednesday, 2 August 2017

At a (watery) crossroads

We probably did too much today. We navigated the entire* length of the Gloucester and Sharpness Canal, getting to Sharpness at about 1830, having coped with wind and rain for much of the journey. Yes, we could have stopped, but I now have a schedule to get us to Ilkeston for the IWA gathering at the end of this month.

We did stop half way at Saul Junction for lunch and a walk down part of the Stroudwater Canal, taking in the marina and the Cotswold Canal Trust visitor centre on the way. Here is the crossroads: G&S canal running left to right (Gloucester to the left; Sharpness to the right), Stroudwater Canal running from behind (from Framilode) to in front (to the Thames (eventually, when restored)).

I spotted a couple of the famous bridge keepers' cottages with their classical columns, but photographed only one as the weather was so bad.

There are several noteworthy things about this 16 mile canal. It's wide and deep, with a 6 mph speed limit. At our usual 1100 rpm we were doing about 4.0 - 4.2 mph into the wind. Also, there are swing bridges. Lots of them. They are all operated by bridge keepers who see you coming and give you a flashing red light, move the bridge (mostly electrically - one was manually wound open) and then give you a green light to proceed through. And you have the River Severn running alongside, once, at Purton, right next to you.

Approaching Sharpness we passed between the remains of the old railway bridge which crossed the river and canal. The portion over the canal was a swing bridge (naturally) - the circular stone support is on the right.

At Sharpness we winded in front of the high level swing bridge and tied up . After tea on board we walked via the old tidal basin to look at the docks. The photo shows how grey the weather was and is taken from the high level swing bridge.

We returned to the boat with a stop at the Dockers' club for some liquid refreshment. No dockers in the public bar, just truckers.

Tomorrow the plan is to stop at Purton to see the hulks, and I'd like to walk the other way along the Stroudwater Canal at Saul Junction.

*discounting Sharpness Dock. We weren't going to tackle the Severn Estuary.

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