Thursday, 19 March 2015

Gloucester and Sharpness Canal

Hi There

Still playing catch up on my blog, so this one brings us to about three weeks ago.

We'd booked the River Severn Upper Lode lock keeper for ten o'clock on the Thursday, but received a call back putting us back an hour as there was a spring tide (between Tewkesbury and Gloucester Docks is tidal) that day. The River Avon lock keeper also advised us to hold back another hour once we'd gone through so we weren't travelling with too fast a current.

The tide was just on the turn as we went through the lock so moored up at a water point about ten minutes downstream. Having moored up, filled up with water and had a cuppa only left us with about ten minutes before we were due to set off.

It was a cold, windy and wet day, but whilst we've been on The Severn we've been travelling with the pram hood (Our stern cover) up so I was at least kept dry. Happier to travel without the sides on though in strong winds so it wasn't on overly pleasant trip down. The twelve mile journey took us about two and a half hours and with the pleasure of a 20mph+ side wind for the duration made it one of those journeys where you just want to get where you're going. As we approached Gloucester Docks you could clearly see the high water mark on the trees and it had dropped by about five foot from its high, so I think the delayed start and topping up with water was no doubt the right thing to have done.

Moored up here in Gloucester Docks and . . .

Our view out of the window and wouldn't you know it, not a breath of wind the day after we travelled . . . . . typical!

Not that you can actually see it, but we put simple secondary double glazing on the inside of our windows this year. Simply a sheet of plastic that you cut to size, stick it to the window frame with double sided sticky tape and use the heat of a hair dryer to make the plastic go taut to get rid of any wrinkles. Cost about five or six quid from Wilkinsons, but what a difference it makes. We've got a thermometer that we keep on the shelf between the dinette and kitchen all year round and tend to glance at it on a daily basis. I would say that the overnight temperature in the boat is on average about five to eight degrees warmer than I'd normally expect it to be so we'll be getting another packet for next year as soon as we come across another Wilkinson's shop.

Nicky had found out about a guided tour the next day of an excavated section from Roman times that turned out to be outside/under the Boots store. From the precinct you can look into part of it through a glass panel set into the paved precinct, but extends further under the building. It was quite interesting really, complete with Roman soldier as the tour guide.

This was a section of the city wall built by The Romans.

And a horse pool where they used to walk the horses in to wash them. Apparently they also used to submerge the carts as well so that the wood joints wouldn't dry out and cause the cart to fall apart. The lighter area in the far left of the photo is from the daylight coming through from the glass section set into the precinct. It's certainly worth a visit and is arranged through the Gloucester museum if its open at the time.

Gloucester Docks is the start of the Gloucester and Sharpness canal and whilst the swing bridges along it are all manned, that saves the hassel of having to do them ourselves, the downside is that as with the locks, they are closed on Tuesdays and Wednesdays so we had to plan our trip down to Sharpness and back with that in mind.

Had a bit of a bonanza on the way down in the form of some wood piles . . .

Go on Nicky, make yourself useful.

The upside was a good old stock up, the downside was that it took me three hours to cut and split it and the other upside is that we're only just about to finish it now so we've had about three weeks worth of daytime/evening heat for our efforts.

Pictured here was our mooring spot down at Sharpness and

viewed from above so to speak.

You might just be able to see Badger Sett to the centre/right of this picture just down from the tower and to the left is The Severn Estuary. It is possible to actually travel down the River Severn in a narrowboat from Sharpness and gain access to The Kennet and Avon Canal that is something we plan to do, but not a part of our immediate plans so it's doubling back to Gloucester Docks for us on this trip.

There is a designated site of special interest next to the canal at Sharpness in the shape of various boats and barges. In an attempt to manage the erosion of the Severn Estuary, a number of vessels were run aground in the early to mid 1900's and left to fill up with silt and become a part of the banks structure.

The reason for the area being designated as a SSI, is that it is either the largest or one of the largest collection of historical vessels.

It was then a hightail it back to Gloucester Docks once the swing bridges opened up again on the Thursday so that we could get through the locks on the River Severn before they closed on the Monday.

It was a pretty chilly time on this canal and perminantly windy (that wasn't helped by the canals exposed nature) and didnt help the chill factor. That coupled with needing to travel more often than we usually do so as to not get stuck more than necessary by the bridge/lock closures on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, made it not one our most favourite canals, but one that we will visit again when we set out on our Severn Estuary expedition one day.

And so in signing off, 

Day 772 in the Badger Sett Narrowboat - 1531 miles, 748 locks and 786 cruising hours further on from when we started.

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