Thursday, 1 November 2012

Wonderful Worcester

Wednesday 10th October – 19th October We stayed in Worcester for 9 days – 7 days longer than we were supposed to because we were waiting to see if we could get a winter mooring in Diglis Basin which looks like a very nice place to stay. Jackie, the woman that works there, said that she would find out and let us know. In the event, while we were waiting on tenterhooks to find out, she had blissfully forgotten all about us and when we spoke to her on the 18th - the longest we could have left it - she said there were no spaces, sorry!.. Nevertheless we enjoyed our stay in Worcester – a rich tapestry of a city even if it may be fraying a little at the edges... Friar Street is the best - a beautiful old cobbled street full of tudor buildings housing cosy restaurants, pubs and expensive shops. The view on top of the hill in Royal Fort Park where we took Molly in the mornings encompassed the whole city and the Malvern Hills in the distance - breathtaking! Whilst we were in Worcester we had to do our washing in the launderette which was a long walk but there was a junk shop next the the launderette with a bunch of second hand bikes which were cheap – just what we've been looking for for ages. So off we popped to the cash machine and the man was very happy to get £100 for 2 of his bikes - so happy that we thought we should have haggled a bit more! Never mind, neither of us are good at that. During our stay in Worcester we visited a very shabby old pub by the basin called the Anchor which is nevertheless very popular and full of characters and an old cat called Thomas who found Dale's coat to be a comfortable nest. After finding our that we couldn't stay in the basin we had to make alternative arrangements so arranged to stay in Droitwich Spa at a new marina who were only too pleased to accommodate us, so we were very pleased about that.

Along the River Severn

Tuesday 9th October We got up at 6.30am to negotiate the staircase locks in Stourport Basin after we had filled up with water and emptied the toilets. We got through the locks with no problem thanks to Dale and finally we were on the Severn! It was exciting to be on a wide river again - although it's very rural and not much to look at along that stretch. We had 3 locks to go through and they were different to the ones on the Thames – very deep and you have to hook the ropes through a thick wire at the side to hold the boat. We were so excited when we caught our first glimpse of Worcester Cathedral bathed in sunshine (although you can't tell from this photo).
We had to turn off into Diglis Basin and the Worcester and Birmingham canal and go through 2 large and deep locks which took quite some time. We eventually did it and moored up just past the basin. There was plenty of space which surprised us as we were in the middle of the city.

Stourport on Severn

Monday 8th October We left Wolverley at about 9am in the drizzly rain and travelled through a few locks. We got to Kidderminster, a typical large industrial town but not too grim, with some nice old buildings handsomely renovated into shops and restaurants.
All the locks through Kidderminster need anti-vandal keys unfortunately! Molly was getting cold and wet in the rain so I dried her and put her coat on. She doesn't think she can walk in her coat so stands still all the time and I have to carry her if she wants to go anywhere! She soon got fed up and went inside the boat.
Approaching Stourport on Severn we remembered that a fisherman had told us it was a beautiful place but when we went to explore the town we found it a bit disappointing – the usual signs of recession that have become all too familiar on this trip – a high street with lots of empty shops, loads of charity shops and pubs looking deserted and doleful. It reminded me of a sad neglected seaside town - with an amusement arcade and even a funfair bereft of visitors by the Stourport basin.
We did a recce on the basins and locks we have to go through tomorrow to get onto the River Severn. The lock traffic lights were not showing red so it seems we can venture onto the river and get to Worcester tomorrow morning!


Sunday 7th October Yesterday we bathed Molly so today we tried to cut her fur with our special dog clippers, especially bits on her tummy and legs that have got very matted, but she wasn't having any of it! So we decided we need to find a groom asap. We gave up trying and moved off at about 9.50am, soon arriving at the Cookley Tunnel.
After that we got to Debdale Lock where there is a large cave with a doorway cut into the rock which may have been used as an overnight stable for barge horses.
This is a feature of the Staffordshire and Worcester canal, the high walls of sandstone rock continuing most of the way. The canal wriggles through varied and pretty scenery, and never gets boring. Eventually we got to our destination – Wolverley, and walked into the village to explore. We found an amazing little place where many of the houses are partly cut from the rock.
At the base of the outcrop are the remains of a smithy's shop, cut into the rock.
We went into the only shop to buy a newspaper but it turned out to be a large and bright café with only a few products dotted around the walls. It was full of people chattering and very jolly. We ventured into the Queen's Head next door for a drink and a modern jazz band was playing so we stayed for a couple in the old pub and enjoyed listening to the music.

Pretty Kinver

Saturday 6th October We left Greensforge at about 9.30am today – passed through the lock there and continued through the varied landscape. The next lock was Rocky Lock where rooms have been carved into the rock. Unfortunately I discovered I had left my windlass at the previous lock (we've already lost one) and we only had one long one left which is too long for a lot of the locks so Dale had to walk back and get it. He soon returned with it and we carried on through Rocky Lock and Gothersley lock and came to the village of Prestwood. The canal was quite meandering, through high rocky sides and we soon got to the junction with the Stourbridge canal at Stewponey Wharf, the busiest place we had seen for a while. We went through the lock there then through the Dunsley tunnel which is hewn out of rock.
Eventually we arrived at Kinver, which is an extremely pretty village. There are a lot of long term moorers here. Kinver is surrounded by tall wooded hills and is a delightful village, at once peaceful and bustling, with lots of little shops along the high street. There are some houses in Kinver carved into the cliffs, but we didn't go and see them as they were up a steep hill.