In warm sunshine today we moved off to go in search of our preferred Saturday paper in Sharpness. With just four miles to travel, we first passed through the village of Purton where there are two low swing bridges (the second without a traffic light as once through the first you are expected to continue on through the second).
From hereon the canal runs alongside the river but, for the first mile or so, the view is hidden by trees, after which the view is pretty spectacular.
As we’ve no intention of heading down the tidal River Severn to Bristol, we didn’t enter the busy Sharpness Dock and instead winded in the entrance to the Sharpness Old Arm that leads down to the now dis-used old sea lock, and moored up on the visitor moorings beside the river wall.
We were glad that we’d arrived here early as by lunch-time the entire length of mooring was full of plastic boats (or Tupperware as we call them). The crews all know each other and it appears that they are planning to head off together down river tomorrow. Tonight they are smoking us out with their BBQ. All afternoon narrowboats have been arriving and moving off again as there is nowhere for them to moor.
Our walk to the shop involved a bit of a hike as we had to find a way south of Sharpness avoiding the large commercial dock area that discourages pedestrians with its high fences. We found a footpath that took us past the now-disused lock at the end of the arm, back across the canal via the Sharpness High Level bridge and over another bridge that took us over the an area of farmland that was once the site of the railway sidings, before we reached a road that led to the shop.
With mission accomplished, we headed back to the boat as we were in danger of being ‘mad dog and Englishmen out in the mid-day sun’!
The river north of Sharpness has no channel markings (to deter boats heading upriver) but we did see one boat chancing it and making quick progress upriver on the incoming tide. The boat stayed close to the Welsh side of the river and was soon out of sight. We could see why he’d moved so quickly when we watched the alarming speed of the incoming tide as we walked by the old lock. We returned about an hour later, by which time the tide had turned and was going out just as quickly. It wasn’t long before the majority of the estuary was just sand with only the Welsh side in water.