Shadowing the Stour

Kinver to Wolverley: 4.3 miles, 2 locks
         When you walk from the canal into Kinver village you cross a little river. Ah – yes, you realise, there has been a river running below the canal level on the towpath side. Now at Wolverley, four odd miles further on, it’s a bit more obvious, a bit wider – and nearer its eventual end at Stourport where it flows into the River Severn. It’s about 25 miles (40km) in length and rises in the Clent Hills in north Worcestershire. It powered mills which have played a huge part in the industrial development in these parts – corn mills and fulling mills at Kinver, for example, and according to a local this afternoon, there was a tin mill once here at Wolverley.
          It was a gently sunny morning, the sort of day chaps take their hobby cars and motorbikes out on a run. So too for boaters. There were weekenders returning to base, share boats (so many of them in recent days), a canoe, an inflatable with an outboard motor

– and a stream of hire boats.                  
          The canal weaves through lush greenery, smooth meadows beyond the river’s course, red sandstone cliffs on the offside. After Whittington comes the manicured perfection of the Austcliffe Holiday Home Park,

a few boats moored below the park homes. Then there’s Cookley – and a (small) tunnel. Perched on a rise is a terrace of small houses and the tunnel goes right below their foundations.

Then comes Debdale Lock. It was cramped today, a boat ahead going down, three below queuing to come up.

Offside of the lock is narrow,

limited by the rock face and the cavity which may have served as overnight stabling for boat towing horses.

 Then came more greenery, sunlight filtering through the foliage,

the river still about thirty feet down below the towpath – to arrive at Wolverley Lock. Here was a perfect mooring, initially in some sun, later in shade.
           It’s Sunday – and on a summery day this is a tourist honeypot! From one side of the lock patrons in the crowded beer garden survey the canal action.

On the opposite side is a tea garden, where there’s a roaring trade in drinks and ice-creams. The car park is full, bikers are clambering off metallic steeds and just beyond the car park is a new venture, a mini golf course.
          There was a short stroll, just to check out again the Italianate church on the hill.

Inside, new since 2011, is a large stitched wall hanging,

showing images from the parish. See this: under Kinver Edge run miles of tunnels, created as underground factory space, later designated a Regional Seat of Government. Attached to the West Gallery is a curious item, a carved oak pulpit canopy (of 1638),

or sounding board, which helped the preacher’s voice be heard throughout the church.
          On a circular route back to the boat the road curves past sandstone cliffs back down to river level.

The shadow was pronounced on a sundial.

The mini-golf course was crowded with players

and groups still lazed and slumped and gawked beside the lock… Now is Cleddau moored up at an inland Tenby on a bank holiday weekend?!

Tomorrow: onwards to Kidderminster and to Stourport-on-Severn

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