The first mate and myself are by no stretch of the imagination fans of river cruising. True, our experiences in the past have been clouded by driving rain, crazy currents, flood conditions, few mooring opportunities, and in the case of our safari down the Zambezi a few years back, herds of marauding hippos.
But here we are, at it again, this time on the Severn, the longest river in England, with not a hippo in sight. This part of our journey has seen us travelling some 60 miles between Stourport and Gloucester and then returning to Worcester to get back on the canal system.
After five days on the river we are both agreed that it’s both very beautiful and pretty boring. The river can rise up to 20 metres in flood conditions so the banks on either side are high, meaning there is little to see apart from greenery. When you look at the long poles that sit holding the floating pontoons on the riverside, it is hard to think that the river could ever reach the top, but I took the following picture at Upton-on-Severn on Bank Holiday Monday and it clearly shows the water doing exactly that in July 2007.
|The same mooring pole as above.|
But whatever the river lacks in its topographical character it can boast some pretty interesting towns and cities along the way.
Our journey down the Staffs and Worcester canal (now one of our favourites) finished at Stourport-On-Severn. I liked Stourport - it had an interesting basin but a garish permanent fun fair sat right beside it. One of the adjacent wharves has just been re-developed by Barratt’s, complete with moorings and electrical hook up, so we had a good nose around the show flat, and got some details. It’s the sort of development we eventually hope to be moving into, when our waterway wanderlust is satisfied.
After dropping down the locks on to the river we set off on Saturday morning south for Worcester. And hurrah, as if on cue, the sun came out, and its been more or less out since. Worcester offers good facilities - but mooring is not one of them, and our mooring on a floating pontoon, close to the racetrack, cost us £4 a night - unthinkable on the canal network. “Welcome to Worcester” it said on the back of the receipt the river warden handed us, within 10 minutes of our arrival on Saturday afternoon. Ummmm.
|The drop down through the locks at Stourport-On-Avon on to the River Severn|
The following morning we woke up to a lot of splashing around, laughing and shouting. An annual canoe race was taking place, which attracts some 400 competitors and we were moored almost on the start line. Evidently, some of those racing, are in the GB team. It was quite a sight.
|It was a good job we didn't want to leave Worcester Sunday morning. It would have been carnage.|
We return to Worcester next week. It’s where we leave the river behind and head back into the Midlands on the Birmingham and Worcester Canal. We will moor up, once through the locks there and spend a couple of days exploring the city further, and it won’t cost us a bean.
|The approach to Worcester Cathedral under the city bridge|
The Severn is pretty wide here and no doubt will get wider as we head south. Pat feels safe steering the boat in these condition, so we have been sharing tiller duty and is, at present, in charge of the boat as I write this blog.
|One of our overnight stops. This one at Haw Bridge is typical of the floating pontoons that offer mooring, normally at a fee, usually attached to a pub.|
Later today (Wednesday) we be in Gloucester, where we are staying for four days. That depends on whether we manage to find a secure mooring in Gloucester Docks, otherwise we will be nipping down the Gloucester and Sharpness and mooring there. It’s a tricky approach to Gloucester docks and needs to be handled with some respect. We have done our homework and are prepared.
While in Gloucester we entertain Des, Pat’s brother-in-law, who is visiting from Australia. Then on Saturday evening we are meeting up with my old next-door neighbour Dave and his Partner Caroline, and their hounds. They live just outside the city.
Keep in touch folks. Toodaloo