Yesterday we spent the day further exploring Stourport, on foot, in the sunshine.
We woke to sunshine again this morning and at one point today our phones recorded 18°C. The river marker showed ‘green’ and we decided to move on.
Having donned our life jackets, and fixed the anchor in the fore deck and life bouy on the roof, we moved down one lock into the basin and filled with water before manoeuvring amongst the boats to the first of two staircase locks for narrowboats. (There are two wide locks here as well but there are large information boards to say that they are only to be used by wide beam boats.)
I prepared the first staircase and having seen Storm safely into the bottom lock I went ahead to prepare the second staircase. A volunteer lock-keeper appeared and as I prepared the second staircase, he closed the gates behind us.
Clinging to the weed on one of the lock gates was a large frog which the lock-keeper promised to rescue.
Once safely out on the river, we covered the 8 miles and two river locks down to the Droitwich Barge Canal quite quickly, watched from a height by cormorants.
Our turn into the barge canal was not as easy as we would have liked. There was no bank-side signpost warning of our approach, but we could see the lock mooring pontoons ahead. As we got close, a hire boat decided to move off, but rather than head south, they had a crew member on the mooring with a rope round a bollard and they winded in front of us, meaning we had to continue further downstream before winding and we got caught in the strong flow just above Bevere Lock weir. As we were pushed broadsides down river, we were getting a little anxious as it seemed to take ages before our bow came round to face upstream. Thankfully we made it and needed extra revs to fight the cross flow so we could line our bow up with the first lock into the canal.
This canal was re-opened in 2011, having been abandoned since 1939. It was first opened in 1771, and was one of the first canals ever built, and is virgin territory to us.
We shared the first double lock with the hire boat that had winded in front of us and then shared the next 7 locks with them. The family of Mum, Dad, three kids and Granny, were from Knaresborough and were experienced narrowboaters, having had their own boat ‘before kids’.
The Droitwich Barge Canal is very pretty, passing through rural countryside all the way to Droitwich, where we moored up on the secure pontoons just beyond the railway bridge tunnel. It is advisable to pass slowly under the railway as the tunnel is made from circular corrugated sheeting sections and the water here is quite shallow and you need to steer a centre line to avoid the curved edges.
We will better explore Droitwich tomorrow but having walked down the High Street tonight, we were glad we were sober as all the doors and windows are at different angles caused by significant subsidence over the years, due to significant salt extraction beneath them that only stopped in 1922.