Wednesday, 3 October 2012

Follow the flood...

We waited a couple of days after mum and dad had packed up from their Eriba caravan club meet before making any decisions about where to go next and what route to take. Up until Wednesday morning we had loitered in the basin next to the services. We didn't get up particularly early today, Deb is going through a phase of deciding not to sleep between about 3 and 6am and has chosen to use this time productively by spending it fidgeting! That and the fuel services doesn't open until 10. It does feel a lot earlier than it is though, a bonus to the time of year and not being at work. Light levels that you would have to be up for at about 5.30 on summer mornings are available at the far more reasonable time of 8.00. The sun is out and the sky is blue, not a breath of wind.

Above Stourport basin
In Stourport basin
LJ's hull wasn't made too far from here and she was fitted out in Redditch so it was not surprising that she had done some time here. Two people had stopped to say they recognised her from ten years ago. One couple who knew the artist that did the decorative painting, and one guy who said she was known locally not as Lois Jane but as 'Apples and Pears'. 

LJ's Apples and Pears
Neither of us really fancied tracing our steps back the same way to Birmingham so the only option was to head with the rest of the flood water south on the river Severn. The height was still well up on the norm but you could just see the amber on the warning planks a couple of inches below the narrow lock's bottom level. A simple system, of a vertical strip on the wall red at the top, amber in the middle and green at the bottom. The more water in the river the higher up the plank it goes.

THE River
By now the breathless morning was inflating it's lungs ready to blow us off any chosen course. We fueled up in the basin and took some advice on where to exit the river, it takes two attempts to moor up the wind is gusting to, I'd guess about 25mph. All recent bloggers seem to have left the river and headed through Droitwich. The main reason not going for this option was that ordinarily the bridge under the M5 is very low. 

NB Chance (pic stolen from their blog -shh)
The only thing to do would be to strip everything off the roof (ours doesn't look as neat and tidy as the guys on NB Chance). And there would be a possibility that the bridge would be shut again as air draft fluctuates according to river levels. I asked one of the river lockies about the approach to Worcester and he thought the flow would be OK as long as we turned early as a boater a while back had misjudged and ended up on the weir! As this was our first river outing, and it was the Severn at the end of flood, I was slightly nervous but found the first weir and MASSIVE river lock no problem and soon got to grips with river navigating. LJ was really responsive which was surprising as the river flow must have been about three miles per hour so I thought we would have to be no less than three quarter throttle to get enough water flowing passed the rudder. It was fine though and at times we managed to throttle back and enjoy the countryside. We even ran an errand for the lockies taking a can of petrol for them from on lock to the next.

That's the river through there!

If it looks like I'm concentrating it's cos I AM! - and regretting not going to the loo before setting off

Wide init?
I thought that there was a fire in the distance, then I realised it was the spray from the top of Niagra!

The entrance to the lock was fairly close

Not that close though - lots of trees caught up but these ones won't be for our fire

Lock gates closing on us - slightly bigger than we are used to

Rejoining the river downstream of the lock

Now follows, lots of wide river shots

Saw one boat going the other way, clinging to the edge where the flow was less - looked a struggle

The water has dropped quite a lot over the last week but more rain from Wales will be arriving via the river over the next couple of days

Looks like most of the floating debris has found land

Which arch to aim for - let the rather brisk wind decide

Full throttle to persuade LJ through the middle one

Nearly there - only about quarter of a mile (or about 20 seconds!) to the basin and a very quick U -turn across the flow
A shower welcomed us to Worcester and after a nerve racking 'about turn' I was able to glide up to the landing stage (a little wider turn next time, thank goodness for the bow thruster!) Two very stiff 18ft wide locks have brought us up into Worcester at the start of the Worcester and Birmingham canal. Taking us in the rough direction of Northampton via a couple of detours to Birmingham hospital. Hopefully it will stay bright enough tomorrow for a proper look around Worcester after a very nice evening stroll through town and the cathedral grounds.


  1. Hi James and Debbie
    Glad the water levels had dropped a little since we were at Worcester and that you had a safe trip down the Severn. would not have liked to have made the trip this time last week.
    Bob June and Phoenix

  2. Hi guys

    Glad we came this way, we've had a really nice day in Worcester today. Definitely on the list to come back to. All the mud had now been pressure washed off the prom and the electricians have been busy cleaning silt from the bollard lights.