We left Kinver early enough to get up through the lock and on to the service point although when we got there, an ABC hire boat was already filling with water. They pulled back a little and we squeezed in between them and the long term moorings. They were expressing surprise at how much water they had used and assumed that someone had left a tap running overnight. No one had confessed and we did explain to them that they might not realise just how much water four people can get through in a day. Anyway, we had a nice early morning chat before they were on their way. After completing our own chores, we untied and continued our journey. There were another four locks to be done before we found a mooring which was shaded by tall trees on both sides of the canal. Other than a canalside pub, The Navigation Inn, there’s nothing else at Greensforge so we walked along the towpath for a while until we reached The Hinksford Arms where we stopped for refreshments before we headed back to the boat. In the shade, the boat had cooled down nicely for probably the first time in two weeks so we made the most of it and just chilled out.
Another early start the following morning for no other reason than we were awake saw us continue our plod uphill taking in six locks along the way. We only saw a couple of boats on the move as we passed through Swindon and once we had passed through Botterham staircase locks, we pulled up at the first available mooring and tied up for the day. It was still early but that gave us time to walk along the towpath and do a big shop at Sainsbury’s on the outskirts of Wombourne. Back at the boat a couple of hours later, we once again just chilled in the afternoon sun.
Two boats passed us at seven the following morning, both heading in the same direction as we were. It was almost eight when we set off, again the cut was quiet under the blue skies that have persisted for days or even weeks now. Bumblehole lock was all that stood between us and the Bratch locks and we reached those just before nine. It was nice to see some bee hives just above Bumblehole lock on the offside and it was possible to see some flying in and out.
Nothing was waiting on the lock landings at The Bratch and Sue subsequently found out from the lock keepers that the only traffic before we turned up was the two boats that had passed us at seven o’clock. Fifteen minutes later, we left the top lock! The two lock keepers who worked us through really know those locks like the backs of their hands. They were friendly, chatty and very helpful to us – 3 locks in 15 minutes.
We did three more locks and then found a spot on the visitor moorings at Wightwick. It had been over a week since we last ate out, at Gloucester, so we got changed at had lunch at The Mermaid which is a short walk from the towpath.
After an excellent lunch, we walked a mile along the towpath to Compton wharf where we had tied up on our trip down this way in 2015. Back to Caxton for another lazy afternoon but once again we’ve worked and walked a bit so we’re not completely idle.
With our “Day of Rest” behind us, we got up and set off early again, this time heading for the village of Kinver. The two hour trip with its two locks flew by and it seemed that no sooner had we set off, we were tying up on the visitor moorings below Kinver lock. Showered and changed, we were out and walking by 11.30. St Peter’s church stands high on a hill and although the views from the churchyard are superb, sadly the church is locked up. Maybe this is because it is a bit isolated but it’s the first church on this trip that we haven’t had access to.
Our walk continued and we eventually found a farm shop where we had a sandwich for lunch before pressing on. We were hoping to visit the Kinver rock houses but when we asked a couple of walkers if we were heading in the right direction, they told us that they had been but that the houses were closed until Thursday. We did a bit of walking on Kinver edge before returning to the village itself.
Someone once asked me how we find our way around the canals and how do we know where various facilities are located. Most boaters will have a number of books and the most popular series are “Nicholson’s Waterways Guides” and “Pearson’s Canal Companions”. Nicholson’s are better for maps as they use the Ordnance Survey maps. North is always at the top of the page and the scale is consistent. Pearson’s maps are not so easy to follow but the narrative is much better than Nicholson’s so between the two series of books, the boat traveller is well catered for. Well, to an extent anyway. The problem is that books go out of date because things change over time; pubs close, facilities move or get withdrawn, supermarkets get built and so on. The internet is a wonderful thing and many boaters write blogs like this one. I read a few but only the ones that are interesting and more importantly, informative. Real life experience is invaluable when it comes to making recommendations especially when that experience is recent and therefore up to date. One of my “Go To” blogs is this one. I’ve harvested countless nuggets of information from this source since we first met the author back in 2010.
Where is this all leading to, you’re probably wondering, well wonder no more – it’s leading to a string of sausages!
My “Napier’s Enchiridion” recommends pre-war sausages sold by the local butcher so of course I had to try them. Trusting that it’s the recipe that’s pre-war and that they’re not peddling eighty year old bangers, we bought half a dozen and Sue kindly cooked two of them for my dinner in the evening. From what I understand, the main difference is that they are bound with breadcrumbs rather than rusk. They were really good, meaty and tasty but not highly seasoned – the remaining four are now in the freezer and will be savoured over the coming weeks. Thanks for the info, Bruce – another nugget of information which can’t be found in a Nicholson’s guide!!!!
Well, we made it to Stourport on Severn, also known as Birmingham on Sea. After a week afloat, mostly through they county of Staffordshire, we crossed into Worcestershire and tied up near the Black Star pub.
Our day began with us setting off just before seven o’clock and It was another hour before we encountered another boat on the move, at a bridge of course. We carried on and eventually reached Cookley tunnel where the canal passes under a row of houses. Next up was Debdale lock which has a sort of cave cut Into the rock next to it, an old stable apparently. There’s something wrong with the levels here and one of the ground paddles is jammed open. With the lock still draining, Sue alerted me to the fact that Caxton was stuck on the bottom. My initial reaction was to run a bit of water in but obviously that just made it impossible to open the bottom gates. In the end we muddled through and escaped the clutches of Debdale lock.
We later bumped into Graham Booth, a regular contributor to Waterways World magazine and whose boat we had passed a little while earlier. Graham recognised the boat and is a friend of Joe & Lesley, we had a brief chat about boats and blogs before Graham carried on walking his dogs along the towpath.
We continued our descent through Kidderminster and saw a black steam engine in LMS livery running light (engine only) across the viaduct over the canal. At Falling Sands lock, Sue was talking to three ladies who were out on a canalside walk. They mentioned that they had noticed that it always seemed to be men driving the boats while the women worked the locks. As Sue explained that very often this was because the women didn’t want to drive, a man cycled along the towpath between them. As he passed me he said, with a cheeky grin, “L Plates, that’s what they need!”. It made me laugh but I’m not sure what would have happened had the group of four females heard him and then got hold of him!
We reached Stourport by half past twelve and secured a good mooring above the lock which leads into the basins. After showering, we took the short walk to the river where we had lunch in the Angel. It is a year and two weeks since we “discovered” the town by car and whilst having lunch at the same location, vowed to return by boat and here we are. Click Here
After lunch, we wandered through the town and did some shopping before returning to Caxton where we had home made Chicken curry for dinner. Tonight, a visit to the funfair, tomorrow all the fun of the river.
So last night we were all set for some pub research but rain intervened and it just didn’t happen. Before then, we had dinner, slow cooked braised steak which was delicious. I had threatened to sample some while Sue was showering but decided to wait instead.
After dinner and before we intended to walk to the pub there was a knock on the side of the boat, puzzled I opened the back doors and slid back the hatch. I was greeted by a man who said, “You must be George, I’m Roly – a friend of Paul and Elaine’s”. I recognised the name immediately and remembered that Roly’s wife, Bev had witnessed Caxton’s bill of sale last year at Aston marina. We chatted for a few minutes and discovered that like us, they are heading towards Stourport. It was a lovely gesture and hopefully we might see them again in the next few days.
By the time the rain stopped we just couldn’t be bothered to go out so we watched a film on the television instead.
We were up and about reasonably early this morning and managed to set off by 7.45. We planned to use the services above Greensforge lock but that didn’t go too well. The elsan was blocked (a perfect start to the day) and the water tap leaked badly. By the time I reached the lock, Sue was talking to the chap who lives in the cottage above the lock. He has owned a beatifully preserved working boat for fifty years and it is moored at the bottom of his garden, next door is a lovely canalside pub – what more could a man want? Well, in his case, a lot more. His wife has cancer and I’m sure that he would trade everything for her health and wellbeing.
We pressed on and reached Kinver just before midday, emptying the cassettes, descending the lock and tying just below on the visitor moorings. We walked up to “The Vine” and had lunch before walking into the village for a look around and after short stops at The White Hart, the butcher shop and the cafe we returned to Caxton on the canalside for a few hours.
At six thirty we decided to return to The Vine for Dinner and enjoyed two really good main courses with a bottle of wine before we returned to our floating home for the evening.