We have an appointment with a train next Thursday and so we are killing time, only moving when we need to, to top up with water or do some washing.
We moved up through Kinver Lock this morning, filled with water and then headed north towards the Stourbridge Canal. There are four locks at the start of this canal and we noticed that the water level in the pound above the second lock was about 18” below its normal level. We remembered it was like this last time we came this way and so I walked ahead to look at the water levels in the next pound. The level here was down a bit but not too bad and so I let some water down and then went back to Lock 2 to see Storm edge his way out of the lock and through the pound. He cleared the stone cill and drifted forward and kept to the middle of the pound, passing through as slowly as possible so as not to displace any more water than necessary. There were some clunking noises coming from under the boat as he scraped over debris but he made it safely into Lock 3. By the time we’d filled Lock 3, the pound above was drained at the edges and Storm again steered through the centre channel where the water is deepest and only ran aground once before he made it to Lock 4. The water levels above Lock 4 were normal and we had no more problems.
It was such a nice sunny day we decided to stop soon afterwards in open countryside. We only saw one other boat all afternoon but the towpath was very busy with walkers and cyclists and some of them stopped for a natter and to make a fuss of Max.
This morning we rose early and moved on to Kinver in seach of a mobile signal and moored up just before the lock where the signal was good as we had a few phone calls to make. Kinver is a very pretty village that is very popular as an overnight stop and you need to arrive early to guarantee there is space to moor.
We spent a weekend here in 2010 exploring the area as it has much to offer the visitor. This time we just popped into town for a paper and other than that we had quite a lazy day. When we took Max for his walk we spotted this and wondered whether there had been some mistake over the meaning of ‘digger’ as the garden was immaculate but too rocky for a pool.
We moved on just five miles and Max was pleased to be back on a narrow canal with the freedom to run up and down the boat roof rather than being tied up on the back deck.
The Staffordshire & Worcester canal follows a fairly rural route once you get past Kidderminster and we stopped about three miles north of there when we spotted some mooring rings, close to the village of Caunsall. We don’t think anybody has stopped here in a long time though as the rings were very rusty and were almost buried in the undergrowth. We later discovered there was no phone or WIFI signal here so perhaps that is why it was so quiet.
The grass verge was quite wide though between the path and the canal and so we laid out our thick rubber matting that we bought last week in Gloucester and cut it to size. It is surprisingly heavy and quite hard to manhandle. Our back deck though now looks a lot smarter than it did and the added benefit is that the matting masks some of the engine noise as we’d hoped it might.
Before tea we had a quick explore of the local area. Down a little woodland path, and over a bridge over the river, we came out onto the village main street. We’d expected to find two thriving pubs in the village but unfortunately the allegedly haunted Rock Tavern was all boarded up. However, the Anchor Inn was exceptionally busy. We arrived just ten minutes after it opened and all the tables were taken with at least 30 people already served with drinks and enjoying their evening meal. It wasn’t a big pub and we only spotted one bar maid on duty. We were so amazed we actually rechecked their opening time and decided they must have had all the meals plated up ready just to hand out!
We returned to the boat though to eat.
Storm had some work to do today and as it was sunny with a good breeze I took a load of washing down to the CRT service block. Last time we had to work out for ourselves how to power up the machines but this time there were full instructions on the wall. As the main wash cycle indicated that it would take just 55 minutes, Max and I went on a 54 minute walk.
We walked along a small part of the Severn Way that takes you all along the banks of the River Severn. We left Stourport and headed towards Bewdley and walked through the site of the Stourport Motor Boat and Bungalow Society where there are bank side lockable garden enclosures with access to individual river mooring sites. Set back from the riverside there are little wooden chalet style bungalows.
After twenty seven minutes we turned back and were just in time to see the washing machine click ‘END’ and to rescue our washing. We returned to the boat and hung the washing out on our rotary airer.
The rest of the day was spent pottering around the town.
We’re still in Stourport and we’ve been enjoying really good weather. We shopped for groceries at Tesco and boat bits at the chandlers as we needed some black rope for our new fenders. We also had time to sit and people watch and enjoy an ice-cream. Last night we went to the pub with the couple off the boat that accompanied us up river on Friday. They’ve led an interesting life and once lived in Yorkshire and know some colourful people that we’ve heard of!
Today we walked into Kidderminster. This meant that Max had a decent walk as its four miles away. We needed to pop to Staples there to do some A3 photocopying as there is nowhere in Stourport with A3 paper! Whilst there I popped into Range and bought some water brushes and intense ink blocks. I’d seen children at Slimbridge using them and I’ve been looking for them ever since as the results of their artwork were quite impressive. We caught the bus back.
The river level had dropped by about a foot overnight and by 9.30 this morning all boats were preparing to leave Upton in glorious sunshine. Three of us headed up river.
We phoned ahead to warn Diglis Lock at Worcester of our impending arrival just before noon and the lock keeper had prepared the large lock so we could all go in together, otherwise one of us would have had to wait a turn. (Apparently he can’t use this large lock when the river is in flood as there are gaping holes in the top gates that let too much water in.)
We stopped just above the lock to fill up with water before continuing on our way again. This took about an hour. The two other boats had moored up for lunch on the moorings beside Worcester Race Course and we waved as we passed them and continued up river with another boat that had come up from Upton slightly later than us and they kept us company all the way to Stourport.
It was 6pm by the time we’d both locked up through the two pairs of narrow staircase locks and up through York Street lock to moor for the night on the first available visitor moorings. It is two months to the day since we were last here.
23 miles, 9 locks.
Last night a friend suggested we visit The Muggery pub. What a fascinating place this is with nearly 3000 mugs hanging from the ceiling. The landlady explained that these have been gifted from far and wide and no mug is ever refused a hook. She also showed us an aerial photograph of what an island Upton was in the 2007 floods.
One of the guys in the pub was a crew member from the pleasure cruiser that travels from Upton up to Worcester and down to Tewkesbury and he advised with the rising river levels that we wait 36 hours before we leave for Stourport to give the levels time to drop again.
As the sun was shining this morning, we didn’t need much persuading to stay and enjoy more exploring.
This is the only place I can recall seeing a road sign that alerts motorists to the depth of floodwater on the road.
We ate out this evening at The Swan. Storm chose the local delicacy of Faggots as this is something he remembers from his childhood – his Mum used to serve these up from any left over meat, seasoned with herbs or stuffing. I chose the vegetarian lasagne with spinach, butternut squash, and goats cheese. Both meals were delicious and excellent value for money.