Sunday, 19 April 2015

The River Avon

Hi There

Well after the 'excitement' (aka A mishap and a close shave in my previous post) of our day travelling upto Tewkesbury and onto the River Avon, let's hope we have a nice uneventful spell.

Firstly some news for you, Nicky's leaving me, but the worst of it is that she's only going back home for a holiday and will be back . . . . Therefore, we want to be off the river before she goes so we are making a pretty quick dash to Stratford-on-Avon. Well I say a dash, but we've still got two weeks to do forty-two miles, but a dash it is in our book based on our normal travel regime. The River Avon isn't part of the Canal and River Trust so we needed to get an additional licence to travel on this waterway, the cost of which differs for varying periods and we opted for the two week one at £60 which I didn't think was too bad. A word of caution though, if you travel outside of the season then none of the sanitary points are open, although we did luckily find one midway that seemed to be getting ready for the season so managed to sort ourselves out. The thing I would recommend though is purchasing a little booklet that they do, about £4.00 I think it was, that tells you where the mooring places are, a bit about the places on the way, but probably more important, was the navigation notes about shallows, bridges, and diagrams of locks, the approach route, weirs and their flows all of which were useful.

Now I have to admit that we weren't sort of looking forward to the River Avon as we hadn't been too keen on the small stretch of the river Severn that we'd done (Worcester to Gloucester) as recognised/safe mooring points were sparce and resulted in quite long travel days and therefore missing out on a lot of the surrounding area that you just end up cruising past. I have to say though that it didn't probably help that the weather was pretty windy and wet as these made it seem a lot bleaker than maybe it would on a summers day. Well be doing the upper part of the River Severn later on in the year though so watch this space.

But back onto the River Avon and concerns rapidly disappeared as moorings were frequent and nice as well.

Weather wise, pretty much couldn't have been better as you'll see by the photos, with only a few overcast days and not much rain about either.

Now you'll remember above that we were hoping for a nice 'uneventful' spell, but that wasn't to be. For the boaters of you out there, particually the all year rounders, you'll have the Stove going 24/7 as your main source of heat. It therefore becomes a problem when you manage to break the glass door and won't be able to use it until fixed. How I managed to do it I'm still not sure as I open and close it many times a day, but somehow this time I must have let the handle drop against the door a bit harder than usual or it had swung round and actually tapped the glass, but the end result was it was cracked. Not just a little crack though, I'd managed to do it in style and the pane was split into about four pieces although luckily still held in place by the glass clips so the fire and smoke was at least still contained.

I managed to find a stove place on the Internet that was in our general area and whilst they didn't do glass they did recommend a glass place in Evesham where we had just travelled up from the day before so at least it was close(ish) by. We were also lucky that we were moored at Bidford-on-Avon (the picture above as it happens) and whilst I'd been on the phone to the glass place, Nicky was on the Internet and found that a bus was leaving in about ten minutes to Evesham.

So off I went, caught the bus, found the glass place, got my two pieces of glass (got a spare piece whilst I was at it as we'd been ideally placed and managed to sort the problem quite easily this time, but should it happen again and we were miles away from anywhere then it would be another story). Also managed to get some glass seal tape from a chandlers as I wasn't sure what condition the existing one would be in and headed back to the boat. Changed the glass, old seal was okay(ish) and would have seen us through, but changed it nonetheless and whilst the stove was cold took out the firebricks and gave the chimney s sweep as well. So to cut a rather long story quickly short, about five hours after my accident, the stove was again alight and heating up the boat.

Now whilst our stove is our primary source of heat, we do have diesel fired central heating and radiators in the boat, so we wouldn't have exactly gone cold although the stove is better as its a dryer heat compared to the rads. There's a cost implication as well as the diesel burner uses about half a litre an hour and as we work on the basis of a litre costing about £1.20 then that's 60p for an hours heat that doesn't sound too bad said like that, but try that for eighteen hours a day (£10.80) seven days a week (£75.60) and compare that to our stove with a combination of wood and coal that comes in at somewhere between £17 and £23 a week and there's good reason to steer clear of it as much as you can.

So a happy ending and the peace of mind of having a ready to hand spare should I manage to break it again sometime!

So it's the next day and we're setting off from Bidford-on-Avon and negotiating the archway through the bridge (complete with arrows so you go through the right one) and whilst it might look a bit tight, we saw a wide beam come through the day before so our mere 6' 10" beam will get through fine.

As I mentioned above, we were lucky with the weather, particularly the rain and all the water level markers along the way were on green. Green being fine to travel, Orange be aware and look for somewhere to moor up and Red just dont move. That said though, you still had to be wary of the weirs even at these safe water levels and it didn't take much if you got distracted to find yourself going where the flow wanted you to be.

Okay, so we almost made it without incident and we're about two days travel away from Stratford-on-Avon and it rained one night, pretty hard and pretty long, but just a nights worth but enough to put the water into the Orange section of the level the next morning. So we thought we'd just take The Boys for their walk and see what it was like in a few hours time. A few hours time equals Red, so I guess were not moving today. 

It was back into the orange (and dropping) the next morning so we set off, but found it pretty hard going against the flow so moored up again after the next lock for the night where the level was well into the red. Now here's the thing that I find strange, the water level markers are placed in the river section below the locks, but not above so you set off when it looks okay, by the lower marker, to find the water above the lock is in the red 'once' you've travelled along that section. Fine if you're travelling down river, but clearly not up!

So having now lost a couple of days we needed to do the final stretch in one go to get us to Stratford-on-Avon in time to moor up and get Nicky on the train the next day. The river by this time was green markers all the way, but it just goes to show that one nights rain cost us two days so it's just as well it didn't rain longer or heavier.

Last weir and only one more lock and that'll be us tieing up for the day.

So we're now in Stratford-on-Avon, well I lie slightly as I'm still behind with my blog and were actually up on the Birmingham Canal Navigation's (Tame Valley Section) at the moment, but when we were in Stratford-on-Avon this was my home for nine days whilst Nicky went back to Jersey. 

Whilst it's designated as a 48 hour mooring in the basin I'd contacted Canal and River Trust about staying on for an extended period and they kindly didn't have any objections so I was settled in a good location, close to shops and access to good walks for The Boys.

Well that's me for now, one more catch up blog should see me back on track and you fully up to date with us.

And so in signing off, 

Day 803 in the Badger Sett Narrowboat - 1585 miles, 827 locks and 819 cruising hours further on from when we started.