Sunday, 29 April 2012

Staying put.

IMG_0638 Very few boats are on the move at the moment. We saw Laplander and a few others queuing for the Barge Lock as BW had locked it and they had to phone up to be let through. Apparently the last lock up onto the Birmingham and Worcs Canal is also locked because BW don’t want anyone to get onto the Severn which is running high, with a flood alert around Gloucester. IMG_0651The weather is so changeable and it was only a few days ago that we were sitting in the sunshine enjoying coffee outside the Muffin Break Cafe. Incidentally if you come across one, we can recommend their delicious food. Now we are constantly being buffeted about in the cold wind and rain. Thank goodness we still have some coal to stoke the Squirrel up with!

IMG_0650This is Droitwich Spa Signal Box (zoomed in) which is near the busy railway junction above the canal. On our walkabout we could see that the little River Salwarpe had risen about a foot since we arrived, this is a tributary of the Severn which joins the canal between the Barge Lock and the next one up. As I haven’t taken any more photos in the driving rain, here are a few I took earlier.

IMG_0631     IMG_0634 Gurney's Lane !880-1920

In Gurneys Lane, the lamppost is vertical, and the Brine Pumping Station of c1880.

IMG_0643 The Old Cock Inn 1712 Friar St     IMG_0647 Priory House

Down Friar Street the Cock Inn was first licensed to sell alcohol in the reign of Queen Anne in 1712 and is the oldest public house in town. The fancy window was recycled from a medieval church which once stood in the same street apparently. I spent many happy hours in there, at the end of the 1960s, at the folk evenings upstairs. Us poor students could make a pint of cider last all evening and have a jolly good singsong!

IMG_0645 Priory House c1650 

At the end of Friar Street is Priory House, a finely restored Elizabethan House c1650 with a Queen Anne Chimney. Not quite sure which end this chimney is, so I took it from both sides leaving you to decide! I like the way the widows hang out over the walls as if they are stuck on as an afterthought. Some thieving little toe- rag has nicked the lead from the drip- mould which runs all along the frontage above the doorstep.

IMG_0640This is the fine old rear end of one of the shops in the High Street.

Thursday, 26 April 2012

Droitwich Town.


On Wednesday morning eight double canoes filled with excited children came past, learning how to paddle. Then, having walked further up the canal we found that there was a BW Marina with about 25 free moorings on pontoons for 48 hrs. So we all moved up there late afternoon, what bliss not to have to step on the muddy, dog pooh towpath for a change.

IMG_0621 BW  Marina DroitwichA BW key is needed to get out of the gate and there is a water tap on the end of the pontoon too, luxury!  The pontoons are rather short though and the boats are swaying about in the wind quite a bit.


All around the edge of the marina is soft piling with tall reeds which the swans seem to like. We are right on the edge of Vines Park here with a very short walk into the town centre, Waitrose and Morrison's.

IMG_0635 Vines ParkThe town was been known for it’s prolific saline water which has been pumped from underground ever since the Iron Age. Being almost as salty as the Dead Sea Droitwich became a Brine Spa and it was popular for people to come to exercise in the brine baths for therapeutic reasons. From 4.5 litres of brine water  1.1 kilograms of salt could be produced.

IMG_0633 Salt Pumping Engines    IMG_0617 Saltworker sculptue Raven Hotel

In Gurney’s Lane the old pumping engine that was in use from 1880-1920 can be seen here on the left. There is also a sculpture remembering the salt workers of the past. The fine old black and white timber building in the background is the imposing Raven Hotel. 

IMG_0613 High StreetAs a result of extracting brine over many years there are quite a few shops in the High Street that have suffered subsidence and lean on each other at jaunty angles.

IMG_0616     IMG_0636 roses from Ruth

When Paddy and Ruth came round for afternoon tea and cake they brought me some lovely roses. These were to thank me for making them two spider webs for their bathroom portholes.

IMG_0618 Droitwich mosaicThis lovely mosaic of the town can be found in St Andrews Square modern shopping centre. The town is quite delightful and has many quaint buildings with lots of pubs lining the old narrow streets. Salt making was very thirsty work apparently! During the summer months the open air Lido Pool can be used, still filled with brine pumped from below Droitwich Spa. If you remember the Noddy book end pictures of Toy Town with the railway running high up, well Droitwich reminds me of that.

Wednesday, 25 April 2012

Droitwich Barge Canal.

Firstly I must say how much we enjoyed our forty six mile trip down the Staffs and Worcs Canal from Great Haywood down To Stourport. The whole stretch is so well maintained and runs through some beautiful countryside. Well done to those keep it in such good condition. We thought of our old friends Hugh and Frieda as this was their favourite canal during their boating days. They had given us so much useful advice and invited us aboard their boat long before we got onto the water aboard Oakfield.


Seven lambs a-frolicking on the banks of the Severn.

IMG_0600 Droitwich Canal

It may be easier to see the Droitwich Canal when coming up the Severn, but coming down you have to turn sharply back on yourself to approach the entrance. Even though we had a good journey down the Severn we breathed a sigh of relief to get back onto the canal system. We had to negotiate eight wide locks which were quite strenuous on the back and arms.

IMG_0601 Mildenham Mill     IMG_0603

We could just glimpse Mildenham Mill whilst waiting for the nearby lock 4. Beyond the eight locks the canal was well lined with tall reeds and many fishing platforms had been erected along the towpath. So, as there were no designated moorings we had to keep plodding along until we got to the railway bridge and spotted some ‘tin’. We had done 11 locks and over 15 miles, (including the river) thankfully, it had been a long uneventful day, but we were knackered. So we pulled in and quickly nailed the boat to the towpath. Paddy and Ruth soon came up behind us and we all collapsed aboard Oakfield for some well earned alcoholics! As it was about 9pm we had a quick sandwich, then flopped into bed.

IMG_0602  IMG_0578


At least the weather behaved itself for our journey so we didn’t get blown around or soaking wet, hooray!

If you plan to do the Droitwich, be aware between the town centre and the Severn it is narrow with reeds encroaching on both sides and it is not possible to moor, unless you wish to chance the shallow sides and the reeds.

We will update on the section between the town and the Worcester and Birmingham canal when we have completed it.

Tuesday, 24 April 2012

Stourport and the Severn.

We left our tranquil mooring early passing the Slippery Sales Aquatic Centre en route. Then we were pleased to see that Paddy and Ruth were further down, so we moored up behind them. IMG_0564 Stourport We all thought that Monday would be the best day for tackling the Severn weather-wise.

IMG_0572 waiting to go onto the Severn So we left the boats and went walking down together to see if the water level was in the green, and it was.

IMG_0568 Danters Funfair     IMG_0569 Stourport staircase lock

Danter’s Funfair seems to be permanently set up here just beyond the basin. This is the narrow staircase lock leading down onto the Severn. We wanted fuel before leaving and after a thorough search of the boatyard for the ‘man’ the place seemed deserted. So, we resolved to delay leaving and see if they were open the next day.

IMG_0574Then we helped Paddy and Ruth take their boat and butty down into the basin to fill their water tank.  It was while we were loitering to help them down the barge lock with their boats breasted up that we spotted the fuel man. So we dashed back, brought Oakfield down and filled up the diesel tank.

IMG_0581The basin was quite busy and the Hotel boats Snipe and Taurus were moored there too. Anyway our three boats set off at about the same time. Paddy and Ruth down the wide barge locks and us down the two narrow staircase locks.

IMG_0583 As we were first down we tied our boat to the pontoon and went back to help them out of the bottom lock. We then followed them down the River Severn which was fairly calm, but with a cool breeze blowing.

IMG_0584  IMG_0585

There were some idyllic cottages with moorings at the bottom of their gardens.

IMG_0589 Holt Lock  IMG_0590 Holt Bridge

We only had two locks to pass through which are manned and opened for you, the first one was Lincomb Lock. You either hover or tie up to the small lock landing until the green light is showing and the gates open for you to enter the lock. Then on through Holt Lock with it’s pretty keepers cottage overlooking it and under Holt Bridge.

IMG_0598 Droitwich pontoonWe were keeping a lookout for the Droitwich Canal when we saw the pontoons, but there was no sign to inform boaters that it was the entrance into the Droitwich Canal. After having lashed Oakfield up we hauled Paddy and Ruth in, phew!

Sunday, 22 April 2012

Wilden Walk.

IMG_0549 Robin

We awoke to hear a beautiful dawn chorus, a cackling green Woodpecker and a few Pigeons clearing their throats, from our countryside mooring. On sprinkling some songbird food on the towpath a robin flew down to gather bits for it’s newly hatched youngster. We are on Sustrans Cycle Route 54 here and many cyclists have sped by coughing, as they don’t seem to have bells to ring. There doesn’t seem to be any such thing as a quiet mooring anymore with the towpaths being so busy these days.

IMG_0551 Wilden canal behind hedge After our lengthy Sunday morning phone calls to family during coffee we set off on a circular walk in the sunshine. Down the Bridleway from Bridge 10 we looked back across the field towards the canal which was just behind the hedge. No, they are not Friesian Cows, but a large herd of horses!

IMG_0553We passed Wilden Pool which was busy with fishermen all around it, then emerged out onto the busy Wilden Lane to call into the twee little Post Office Stores.

    IMG_0559 All Saints Wilden      IMG_0554 e1910 remembering the Baldwin Family

Further along the lane stood All Saints Church with it’s dainty little clock tower in the corner of the burial ground. As the church was open for a service, I crept in to have a quick look around and take a few crafty photos. Many of the stained glass windows and the clock were given in memory of the Baldwin Family in the early 1900’s.

    IMG_0555 East window e1902     IMG_0557

We took the Bridleway opposite down past the old Wire Mill where we saw some interesting little animals in the paddock.

IMG_0560    IMG_0561

A bunch of elderly cyclists were pushing their bicycles up the path, nice to see the wrinklies keeping fit and enjoying themselves!

    IMG_0562 Honesty     IMG_0563 Snipe Taurus

We soon came to Bridge 8 and headed past some fishermen back up the canal to Oakfield. We just got back on board when the hotel boats Snipe and Taurus cruised by heading south. Not long after had we settled down to a snack and a rest, things turned black and there was a heavy thunder storm!

Friday, 20 April 2012


On Wednesday our 48hrs were up and as a boat was coming out of the lock we went on down. It was a misty, moisty morning and we only had one lock to negotiate before mooring right outside Sainsbury’s in Kidderminster. We were surprised to see that it was a 5 Day mooring which is just what we wanted. Because of the heavy rain in Wales recently we wanted to delay to allow for it to pass down the Severn before we ventured onto it at Stourport. When we emerged from our coffee+toasted tea-cakes in Sainsbury’s we were joined by Paddy and Ruth (Comfortably Numb) who had caught up with us again. We stayed on board in the afternoon as the skies turned grey then down came the rain.

IMG_0525Thursday we went off across the lock to peruse the shops in the town centre and what may have been a fine old Carpet Factory was now Debenhams and a Premier Inn. First we had coffee in Wetherspoons which is now only 99p, amazing. On the outskirts of the town are all the usual big outlet stores with free parking.

IMG_0518      IMG_0524 Illusion Cocktail Bar

This unusual slim- line building is called The Illusion Cocktail Bar. The main streets were extremely busy as it was a Market Day. The Swan Centre shopping arcade was quite popular during the April showers and there was a wide variety of small shops and charity shops to look round. Just as we got back on board Oakfield it began raining cats and dogs so the afternoon was spent keeping warm and dry reading books and blogs.

 IMG_0527     IMG_0531 Kidderminster Church

Friday morning began with a big shop in Sainsbury’s with our trolleys, then we made our way down past the Church to Kidderminster Lock. The lovely little old cast iron bridge over the tail of the lock has been completely spoilt with scaffolding and tape all over it. We waited for a boat to come up as the lock was in their favour. All the lock and gate paddles hereabouts needed a handcuff key to release the bolt in order to operate them.

IMG_0521 exiting Kid LockPassing out of the lock under the road bridge another boat was waiting to ascend. There are some splendid paintings under this bridge which I couldn’t capture on camera unfortunately.

IMG_0540 The WatermillWe cruised past The Watermill which is now a Marston's Pub.


Into Caldwell Lock.

IMG_0545 Caldwell B12

    IMG_0544 B12

The original iron bridge and the little carved sandstone steps made lovely features here.

IMG_0546At Pratt's Wharf  Bridge there used to be a lock which went down onto the River Stour. We pulled over to moor a little further on in a nice countryside spot and guess what, it poured with rain again.