We were pleased to wake up on Wednesday without feeling any physical suffering from all the locks we did on Tuesday. Our plan for the day was to go down the next flight of six locks to the junction with the Droitwich Junction canal and then have a walk into Droitwich before deciding what to do next.
We noticed each lock exit wall on this canal has this little metal hook. We used them to hook a line onto to hold the boat so I could close the gates after I had gone through them so that Karen could walk down and get the next lock ready. I suppose that’s exactly what they were designed for but why haven’t we come across them before?
It was yet another gorgeous day.
We passed this agricultural machinery graveyard.
We then walked into Droitwich to suss out the mooring situation as we had heard there are very few and also many parts are on the river so mooring is not advisable. Droitwich is really rather nice, the canal runs through a park in the centre with a couple of locks and a few swing bridges. Right in the centre is a basin with residential moorings one side and just one boat on the visitor mooring side.
Droitwich was originally a salt mining town.
The Droitwich canal was built to carry salt unlike most canals which were built on the back of coal or stone. The canal was only reopened in 2011 after extensive restoration. It always amazes us the effort some people put into something that only future generations will benefit from.
When we got back after our walk we decided we would cruise down to the basin in Droitwich.
The first three locks were quite deep (11 feet) and had side ponds that had to be partly used to fill the locks. This is the first lock and the side pond is on the right – the winding gear to control the water in/out of the pond is by the fence.
This is a way of reusing (saving) water. When a lock with a side pond is emptied, half of the water will be drained into the side pond. When the lock is refilled the water in the side pond will be used first thus saving half a lock full of water on each use. Here is an empty side pond after we drained it into our lock.
Here is a side pond filling up with water that is draining from the lock as we empty the lock.
The exit gates on the second lock kept closing when it was empty so we had to hold back a gate each and drag the boat out of the lock.
The third lock.
This is a modern bridge but it shows off the style of bridge plaque used on the Droitwich canal. It also shows the large barrels that are used to protect the bridge rather than the strips of wood used originally.
We then had to negotiate a double staircase lock where the bottom gates of the top lock are the top gates of the next.
This is the sixth lock.
At the bottom the canal went under the M5. When the M5 was built no provision was made for the canal as it was derelict. Fortunately a bore was made to carry a small river under the M5. When the canal was restored the original course was diverted to run through the small river bore. Even though it was built wider than a narrow boat (just), it was very low even when water levels on the river are low. It felt like going into a car park as it had this overhead height sign which was just as well as it showed us what we had to take off the roof.
Karen was sitting on the deck as the tunnel was too low for us to sit on seats and I had to steer by looking down the side.
When we went through the river level was low but we had to remove our chimney and bikes and also rearrange our logs. We loosened the TV aerial and I laid it an angle that we thought would be OK. When we were half way through it caught on the tunnel roof so we stopped and Karen crawled along the side of the boat and kept wiggling the aerial as we went along to keep it from getting caught up. When we finally came out into the open again she realised that the aerial had been ripped from the cable when it first got caught so she was manoeuvring around totally unnecessary. If anyone had seen us we must have looked mad, coming out of a tunnel, in the sunset, into a housing estate and laughing our heads off.
As we cruised through the centre of Droitwich we had comments such as, “So long since I’ve seen a boat, it must be Spring” and, “It’s so good to see people using the canal now it’s reopened”. The sun was just setting as we arrived at the final lock.
These are two of the four swing bridges in the central park.
We found the afternoon trip to Droitwich really tiring so decided to go and find a good pub when we moored up. We went to the Old Cock Inn and I was happy as they were playing rock music from my youth including the 12 minute version of Freebird by Lynyrd Skynyrd which I haven't heard in a pub for years. We kept chuckling over the irony of caring for something that had in fact broken.
At the moment we feel so exhausted and happy that we will probably have a rest day on Thursday. We have to arrange our passage on the River Severn amongst other things anyway. Here we are on Thursday morning in Droitwich basin. Buddy is trying to get back through the security gate after his morning walk.
Here are the last six locks that we did on the Worcester and Birmingham canal before entering the Droitwich.