From county boundary to the River Severn
At the end of the Worcs section of the delightful Staffs and Worcs Canal on Tuesday came an unexpected quandary: what will £7 buy?
First though, Monday, when helpers turned out again. Here were Tim and Janice reporting for duty at the Staffs –Worcs boundary stone near Caunsall. Still heading south west the remaining 9 miles of this canal lie in Worcestershire.
Through trees the canal winds, the River Stour never far away. How hard it must have been to cut a canal through this territory. Frequently the waterway creeps round corners, the sandstone a sheer cliff on one side.
The short tunnel at Cookley with its row of small terraced houses on top of the northern portal always comes as a surprise. Remember to switch the tunnel light on – and OFF! “Your light’s still on,” called out a voice from the bow of an approaching boat.
On the canal creeps round blind rocky bends, with trees and the river on the towpath side.
Then comes Wolverley, its waterside something of a magnet to visitors – even on a Monday in term-time. In the lockside pub garden lunches were being served; the towpath side snack bar was open, though not busy, while all the picnic tables by the lock were occupied by a primary school group, fuelling up before their adventure… Instruction given each of the three rafts set off, the paddlers keen – and some in song!
Onwards through Wolverley Lock and through Wolverley Court Lock where there was a glimpse of a tower block through the trees – Kidderminster’s outskirts. On through quiet parkland areas, past a tree trunk carving and suddenly the canal was passing through an urban residential corridor – modern townhouses and apartments on either side. The channel bends – and moored boats lay ahead. Here was Sainsbury’s, a stretch of 5 day mooring and recycling bins for glass, plastic, paper and card at the far side of the car park. It was also journey’s end for Jan and Tim, who were great company; they’ll be welcome aboard again in a few months’ time when Cleddau makes her return to the north west…
Sometimes you can get a bargain in Sainsbury’s: three days ago the tuneless singing of ‘There’s a hole in my bucket’ announced the end of life for the metal bucket which for years has graced the front deck. Water spurting from the base was not a lot of help when a bucketful was required for boat washing purposes! What a thrill then to find in Sainsbury’s a plastic replacement with handle and pouring spout for the princely sum of £1.20!
Boating folk can fear Trouble when overnighting in an urban environment but all was quiet in Kidderminster, perhaps because it was a Monday night…?
Tuesday: 4 locks and 3 miles to go to Stourport-on-Severn. Down past the impressive parish church, sinking through Kidderminster Lock under the roadway, emerging in sight of the best looking Debenhams in the land! The address is Slingfield Mill, Weavers Wharf. Was this previously a Kidderminster carpet factory? Three locks in a row require Conservation keys (often referred to as anti-vandal keys). And oh, they can be difficult to work!
Fiddle … fiddle … fiddle … exasperation levels ran high.
Is there a new road or bridge being constructed here?
Pretty gardens, small town gardens, mooring rings set into a high wall, backs of businesses. At the end of it all are Stourport Basins (yes, plural, four of them). The place fascinates: the iconic Clock Tower, the double width barge locks and the narrow staircase locks down to the river, the Tontine Hotel (now remodelled into residential units), narrow boats, broad beams, cruisers, a painting dock, the “Treasure Island” fairground and a C&RT customer servicing block, containing toilets, shower and laundry room.
Such a convenient place this would be to wash the bedding – you just need to buy a C&RT card to operate the washing machine and the dryer. Each card has 10 units, each machine requires 10 units, each card costs £7. Pause for thought – £14 to wash and dry a duvet cover, sheet, four pillowcases and a couple of towels…
Life jackets and river drill tomorrow for the 13 miles downstream to Worcester…
Stats since last post: 10 miles, 8 locks
Monkton Moments* to date: 3
(Monkton Moment*- a reference to / recognition of Cleddau’s Pembrokeshire connections)