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Droitwich Junction canal to Hanbury Junction (1 mile, 8 locks)

Thursday night we had a visit from my cousin and his family who live really close to the canal in Droitwich.  We had a fantastic evening catching up with all things family as it had been about a year and a half since we saw everyone at a family gathering in Leicester.  

Friday morning, the rain came down with unyielding ferocity, but eventually gave in and we decided to move out of the marina at lunchtime and on up to the junction at Hanbury.  This is me operating a swingbridge in the park area.
Oakfield,,  were going to stay over the weekend before going south to Gloucester.
Laplander a steam icebreaker moored awaiting the lock.
As the small river Salwarpe had risen a little over the past few days and was apparently in flood, British Waterways had decided to lock Barge lock in the centre of town.  This prevented boaters using the interconnecting river to get to the junction canal lock a few hundred yards away!  Laplander was quite concerned as they had to operate their boat when the boiler was at the correct temperature and a delay was quite dangerous!
After calls to BW, the officious representative came out and allowed us all to pass through, but this had created a good delay in everyone's journeys.
Some boats queuing for the now open lock.  BW were concerned about headroom under the first bridge on the river section (we were fine, but another foot higher, it would have been a squeeze!) and it is their first year looking after the Droitwich.
 Ooh its' all about headroom as bridge 5 before the M5 culvert approaches!  We had taken everything off the roof as you can see, even the exhaust chimney.  The butty sits a little higher than the big boat, on the bow, despite 3 large drums of water under the front counter!
Immediately after bridge 5, is the M5 culvert, where we squeezed through.  Not for the very claustrophobic, I certainly didn't like it!
Especially when you know how much traffic is being carried just above your head!
Safely out the other side.
We continued up through the remaining 6 locks including this staircase of 2 locks (newly built) where we were met by the previously mentioned BW worker!   He kindly helped us up the locks, as these were all single now and had to be done twice.  He was keen to lock the top lock preventing anyone coming down and ultimately needing access to the, now in flood, River Severn!
A new marina for around 200 boats before the remaining 3 Hanbury locks.  This will be lovely when trees have grown and given it some shelter.
Steps down to the lower side of the locks at the Hanbury locks, used to get the line from the butty or get on or off the boat.  I discovered a hook on the wall above the lock, where the butty line could be pulled to slow it down as it glides into the lock entrance.  Small details like this impress me!
We moored at the junction and said our goodbyes to the BW workers (another had joined the first) and said that was enough for today!
Overall, we thought that the Droitwich canal was very nice, but from a boater's point of view, very very limited on moorings.

The Severn and the Droitwich Canal (14 miles, 15 locks)

Monday morning began with a pleasant surprise as our 'leapfrog' friends, on their boat Oakfield, Keith and Ann arrived and moored behind us as we were considering our options for the day.

 After a walk down to look again at the river levels (green) we all decided it was now or never to venture out onto the river section leading south to the start of the Droitwich Canal. This has only newly had it's restoration completed, so we wanted to show our support.

After coming down through the first lock, we breasted the boats up and moored for water etc.  Richard ran back to help Oakfield down and then they filled their diesel tank.  We parted company as Oakfield went down through the 4 narrow staircase locks.
I tried to enlist the help of the locky by asking if we could come down the lock, to which he replied 'help yourselves', not really what I wanted to hear, as I was a bit nervous of doing something wrong!

Anyway, I managed to get the heavy gates open in time for Richard to bring the boats in, but was unable to even turn the mechanism on the paddles to drop the water.  I had already had to go down to the second lock and drop the water first, so the top lock would feed the bottom.  So we swapped, me on the tiller and he the paddles!
What a mistake!  As I tickled out of the lock, the wind and my gentle approach to the Lister engine was not a good combination, and I glided across the middle pound like a lame duck!
Richard pulled the boats with the front line on the butty and a I gave it some throttle to recover and enter the lower lock gates.  One of the straps holding the boats together had snapped in my miscalculation and Richard had to do a repair job in the lock.  

Out on the river, we sailed along gracefully, not really being pushed too much.

Oakfield weren't allowed to share the lock so we slowed a little so they could catch up as the entrance to the Droitwich canal was a mystery to all of us!

Entrance to the second lock.

Oakfield coming out of Holt lock, approaching the beautiful 1827 iron bridge designed by Thomas Telford.

The entrance to the Droitwich canal was hidden to some extent from the boater, asking for a 360degree turn on a flowing river, to moor on a floating pontoon in order to open the gates of the lower lock.  Oakfield turned first and moored as we had continued on to spin on a wider part of the river and moor behind them.

Road tunnel bridge.
The locks on this canal begin as widebeam and then past Droitwich they reduce to single.  We were therefore able to longline into each lock and fairly quickly make progress up the 8 locks to Droitwich.  Oakfield were very helpful in that after leaving each lock, they dropped a paddle so that by the time we got there, the lock was in our favour.

The day was long though, as Droitwich hadn't really been the target, mooring places were none existent as you can see above!  There was quite literally no opportunities to stop anywhere unless a lock landing was used!
Cute is not the word!
So we followed behind Oakfield and eventually moored on the edge of the town area for a couple of days where the sides were piled and we could use stakes.

Our muscles ached after all the locks we had just done, so we spent some time just relaxing and exploring the quirky, proud, interesting little town.  Brine extraction was it's claim to fame and the subsidence in the High Street is it's legacy...

Ann had said it reminded her of Noddy's Toytown, as all the houses lean in different directions onto each other, bizarre to see.  We managed to spend another couple of nights in the purpose built marina for visitors to the town another few hundred yards into town, and watched the neighbouring rising Salwarpe river with intense interest!

Kidderminster to Stourport (4 miles, 3 locks)

Kidderminster was nearly washed away whilst we stopped over outside Sainsbury's for a couple of nights, but we had the chance to have a good look around and apart from the distinct lack of dog poo bins, avoid treading in most of it!  The culture, along the towpath, seems to be one of apathy, a proper shame!

Early morning cold start to get through the 11'10" deep lock before Weaver's Wharf, where there is a variety of large shops including Debenhams and even a Premier Inn within easy reach of boaters.  The former being housed in the old Brintons carpet mill.
Severn Valley railway viaduct.
Richard seems to prefer fishing for metal objects these days as there is a greater success rate usually, unfortunately not on this occasion!  I made coffee whilst he played...
Above was an old branch canal leading down to the river below for boats to reach the Wilden ironworks, via a lock, long since gone.
Stourport York Street lock, the entrance to the basins below leading to the river Severn.  We had moored in a gap no bigger than our boats above the lock, (more luck than judgement!) and had a wander down to see the river.

The river was well into the amber when we arrived , although you can't really tell in this picture.
We made the decision to sail out on Monday if all was well and it was back in the green and in the meantime open the shop as it was the weekend. Check my Facebook page at

The upper basin with the clocktower in the background which connects to the Severn by 2 widebeam locks.    As we had the butty, we would use these to get down to the river.  The alternative is to pass through the upper basin and into the Clock basin and into the first of 2 pairs of staircase locks, down to the river.
View from the bottom lock to the upper which we would use.
Across the upper lock to the fair!  A surprise to see seasidy things so far inland!
Housing development with private moorings in the Malt Lane area of Stourport basins.
We were pleasantly surprised with Stourport, especially the local Chinese restaurant, but then the heavens opened and then opened again and again.....

The Bratch to Kidderminster (14 miles, 16 locks)

Late Saturday afternoon, we had left The Bratch, a bit disappointed as there were no people about at all, therefore no real incentive to open the shop.  We thought we would drift along to the next village for the remainder of the weekend.  I must say at this point, that Richard was suffering in a great deal of pain after biting his tongue quite badly earlier in the week and had got some mouthwash from the pharmacy in Wombourne to ease it!
Botterham staircase locks took us by surprise as we hadn't registered that there was another flight so close after the Bratch, so on through we went.
Once in the bottom of the 2 chambers, the gates behind me closed like the 'Gates of Mordor', to cover the first 10 feet drop.  I dropped down again to join the lower canal and then we repeated the whole process for the butty.
We moored in the small quiet village of Swindon and enjoyed a proper chip supper and bought a lottery we didn't win again!
Sometimes long lining is more convenient to get the butty away from the lock than cross strapping, harder work, but good fun!
We moored after a long day, as well as stopping at Greenforge to fill up and empty as usual and run a couple of wash loads, at the beautiful Prestwood area on the outskirts of Kinver.  Richard was still in a great deal of pain, but could at least talk a bit better without too much tourettes style flinching and complaining!
The morning revealed a hard frost and several deadish plants on the roof as we had forgotten to take them inside overnight.  We had both completely forgotten, so now we leave them out regardless!

Awesome scenery

We carried on at the junction for the Stourbridge Canal which would have taken us to Birmingham.  Not really in the mood for the 20ish locks (40 with the butty) at this stage!

The tiny 25 yard tunnel at Dunsley, didn't need a tunnel light really!

One of the many locks we have come through, serene and tranquil, hidden from the real world...
We pulled up in Kinver, walked into the village and stocked up on something tasty for lunch, then carried on to moor in Cookley.
The next morning we decided to jump on the local minibus and do some errands in Kidderminster.  Later in the day, I finished a canalart item I was working on, so I was really chuffed we hadn't continued in the rain. (My facebook page is Canal Art by Ruth if you want to see the sort of items I have painted)

Red sandstone cliffs line the canal and in places made things quite windy and narrow. This was a good blind bend!

Pulling into Kidderminster this morning, we saw our friends boat Oakfield (they have a blog too, see my Read list) again, and moored for the night outside the very convenient Sainsbury's right next to the canal, as is the Tesco further on, so the shopping and lunch was sorted.  But still the rain came down........

Whitwick to The Bratch (3.5 miles, 6 locks)

The day began well as we embarked on lock number 4 of the 31 - lock drop to the River Severn at Stourport. However, again the heavens opened with hail and attitude, we were soaked!
The routine of getting both boats through without incident is now almost perfected, we are getting some good comments from onlookers as well!
This is the octagonal Toll House at the top of the flight of 3 locks (30 foot drop) at The Bratch, now used as the office for the locky on duty.  We booked in yesterday to go down this morning, as the system operated is 3 boats down and 3 up.
When we arrived at the Bratch, we moored up from our fellow banterers Keith and Ann on their practically brand new boat Oakfield and passed a couple of hours catching up.  Their plans were similar to ours ie. no deadline necessarily, but steady progress along this beautiful canal.

Nervously we approached the lock the next morning and moored awaiting instructions from the locky.
The butty would be put in the lock behind the big boat after that had been refilled and follow me down.  Richard stayed with the locky to operate the paddles and bring the butty through.  I hovered in the mouth of the bottom lock and put the cross straps back on when the gates opened.  Richard jumped on the back of the butty and I steered them to the mooring past the waiting working boats. No problems!  What a relief!
View from our mooring below the lock, so peaceful, knowing what carnage normally must take place with the congestion of many boats!

The statuesque Victorian pumping station, now a private property, looking more like a gothic castle on one of my pictures!  Apparently, after it was built, there had debate over the merits of it's location so near to the canal as opposed to a mile away where it would have performed better.  But then the coal transport from the canal to run the station, was equally important.....
Here's a funny thing, look at the profile of the trees on the ridge, you may have to zoom in a bit.  The locky told us that the dodgy looking tree is in fact an aerial mast, tastefully designed to blend in seamlessly with the landscape, not!  Needs more lessons we think!
This was our friend Keith at the lock watching an old working boat entering from below, later in the day.

The weather treated us well and so I decided for the first time in two weeks to throw open the side of the butty and do some painting and open the shop.  This usually involves more chatting than selling, but it's all good, so we answer all the questions and enjoy the day!