We're on the move again. We spent ten days away from the boat seeing family and mowing the lawn etc. But now we have entered waters new: the Droitwich Canals.
How did we get here? From the Stratford Canal we had turned left at King's Norton Junction and overnighted at Hopwood on 12th July. The next day we went through Tardebigge Tunnel, made use of the facilities at the wharf and dropped down the top lock. We left the boat in this long pound while we were away. Returning on Tuesday 25th July we set off down the rest of the Tardebigge flight at about 1600 after I'd taken the car to Stoke Prior. When we saw a length of piling above Lock 33 we stopped for the night. En route we'd passed Gerty No. 30. We'd met Robert and Wendy at Etruria and in Milton Keynes, this time we did little more than exchange greetings as we passed between locks.
Yesterday we waited for the rain to stop before moving, then we finished off the Tardebigge Locks, then the Stoke Locks, then the Astwood Locks. We stopped at Hanbury Wharf, hoping for a cheap meal in the Eagle and Sun. This, we found, had gone upmarket so we saved our pennies and ate on board.
Today we set off just as it started to drizzle, and turned right into the Droitwich Junction Canal. This was the first time we have been able to do this - the last time we were here, on Shadow
, the restoration had still to be completed.
This was our view of the first lock, one of three close together.
These have working side ponds, which I was looking forward to operating, but the locks were manned by a volunteer lockie who hardly gave me the chance to do anything. Next time I'll have to make sure we come "out of hours"!
These three locks are deep.
From memory, this bridge carries the access road to Droitwich Spa Marina. It's quite a tight squeeze, and to prevent any embarrassing scrapes it has floats tethered along the sides so you can't hit it.
The narrow locks are delightful, none more so than this two-rise staircase. We arrived at the same time as a boat coming up, who asked if they could use it first as the bottom lock was set for them. The crew seemed slightly concerned that I started filling the top lock, so I had to explain that it needed to be full in order to empty into the bottom lock to get them over the cill. Had the locks been wide we could have passed in the middle, as at Bascote or Bunbury.
Here is Jan taking Jubilee into the lower chamber.
Then came the low tunnel/culvert under the M5. We'd taken the can off the roof and lowered the pile of logs, and were relieved when we passed under the height gauge with perhaps three inches to spare.
The height gauge proved an accurate guide. I found it difficult to take a photo while crouching to steer - this is the best I could do.
The radio aerial was going "p'doyng, p'doyng" on the underside of the concrete sections, so too was my elbow once or twice. But then we were out, and soon at the Barge Lock marking the start of the Droitwich Barge Canal. We had already joined the River Salwarp, we shall be making its acquaintance again on the way to the Severn tomorrow.
After three manually operated swingbridges (BW key to release padlock) we tied up at 1300 to a pontoon at Netherwich Basin, Vines Park. After lunch we explored the town a little. There's more to see tomorrow: I'm looking forward to the display of BBC transmitter stuff in the museum.