Friday 15 April

A good day for a cruise. Up bright and early in the sunshine and ready for off by 7.30pm.   Another boat was heading our way and we shared the two double locks out of the basin with them before they turned north and we turned south.

The river locks are all manned and the lock-keepers start work at 8am. We’d telephoned ahead to warn him of our impending arrival so the gates were open ready for us.

We took a call from Laura just as we were leaving Worcester and assured her that we were wearing our life jackets, had our hats and sunblock on, had the anchor and the life buoy at the ready, and that we’d even alerted the air and sea rescue just in case! (She worries about us).

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From the river you only get occasional glimpses of the countryside around you because of the steep banks but the glimpses we got of houses, pubs and the countryside, were all very nice and we made a note of some places with moorings available that we may visit on our way back.  We passed a few boats coming towards us and this sheep watched us watching  him.

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At Tewkesbury lock, the lock-keeper asked if we’d been to Gloucester before and he lowered a blue bucket down to us with some helpful instructions.   South of Tewkesbury, the River Severn is tidal.

Just north of Gloucester the River Severn splits into two, with the navigable narrow channel (The Parting) taking the more easterly route. Here you have to ring ahead to the Gloucester lock-keeper to tell him that you are on your way and he asks you to call him again when you pass under the railway bridge, which is another two miles further on.   The flow down the channel was more pronounced than on the wider river and we soon arrived at the railway bridge.

Once under the bridge, you are advised to keep over to the left.   All craft from hereon, need to pass through Gloucester lock or otherwise be swept over the weir.

Boats can only enter the lock when the light is at green and once on green boats are advised to power on into the lock which is 200 yards long, and only to slow down once the boat is fully in the lock.   As you need to ring the lock-keeper he usually has everything ready.

The light was green as we approached and the gates were open, as otherwise we would have had to moor up against the wall, ensuring we tied the stern rope first. Thankfully the chains along the wall hang in loops so it would have been easier than we’d imagined to tie up if we’d needed to. We entered the lock pushing quite a bow wave and we still felt the pull of the channel trying to take us towards the weir. The river levels were quite low today so I’m not sure how different it would have been if there’d been more water.

We had thirty miles to do today and we completed it in five and a half hours

It took ages for the lock to fill but the view of Gloucester Docks was well worth the wait.   It is like stepping back in history to the 1800’s.

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