Doctor Foster …

Saturday, 11th June, Upton-upon-Severn to Gloucester, 19 miles, 2 locks

Doctor Foster went to Gloucester
In a shower of rain …

Dum de dumpty dum de dumpty
Dum de dumpty de dum …

Cleddau boaters went to Gloucester
And caught two thunderstorms …

 It was a sunny sparkling morning at Upton-on-Severn, the peace being disturbed briefly by megaphone commands urging a rowing four onwards. After e-mailing birthday greetings to Cal Son Cleddau was cast off. It was a morning for protective sun cream and sunhats.

Once beyond Upton the vista returns to broad waters, green trees and Severn river-side footpaths. At one point a work party was strimming the path sides, while later, on the opposite bank, the same treatment was being done to fishing platforms.  Once there were signs of industrial activity, several large barges moored to the bank next to a gravel conveyor. Then, as frequent M50 users, it was interesting to be under rather than on the M50 bridge that spans the river.

Tewkesbury’s arrival is marked by the good-looking King John Bridge and just beyond it looms the bulk of the Mythe Waterworks. Only four years ago these works were almost overwhelmed by the July 2007 floods; now an obviously heightened wall borders the riverside. The lock about half a mile below Tewkesbury is an astonishing shape and size, Cleddau and a hire boat within it rather like matchbox toys on a working model. Words came down from the lock keeper above.  “You know about the restrictions?”  The Captain had some awareness that there had been limited locking schedules, though not that such were now in place again. Expertly, using long rope and covered bucket, the lock keeper lowered information sheets down to the watery depths.

To make the 1345 lock up into the Historic Docks Cleddau would need to be swift and sure – and so she was, despite three thunderclaps and torrential rain about two miles upstream. Waterproofs, storm caps, now gaiters! At Gloucester Lock there was a wait of twenty minutes or so until the scheduled locking time. Then as the lock started to fill and there was no escape from deck duty a second torrential storm arrived – and sat directly above the Cleddau water rats. Once the gates opened all that could be seen through the rain clouds was one portion of empty wall, towards which the Captain headed. If log books and records had preserved such data this mooring up would have been a record-breaker for its wetness!

Now the view has cleared and warehouse names can be read: Biddle, Llanthony, Alexandra.  Fifteen of these large buildings crowd the various basins and arms, most now converted into businesses or apartments.  Just behind the Biddle Warehouse is the small Mariners’ Chapel, a notice requesting that the door be closed to keep heat in and birds out. Seagulls wheel and squawk overhead, a reminder that the estuary is not that far away.

After a skype session with birthday Cal Son a risk was taken: the rains were holding  off so the crew set forth in search of  an eatery named in the navigation notes as Foster’s on the Docks, in Kimberley Warehouse. Not located, (lost forever in Doctor Foster’s floods?) we settled instead for “dining freedom” at a Pan Asian restaurant – and very interesting it was too!

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