|Upper Lode Lock on River Severn|
Upper Lode Lock was overwhelming. We felt so tiny and insecure as we held our bow and stern ropes and the lock emptied. The enormous lock gates opened (well this part of the River Severn was a shipping lane in days gone by so enormous locks were a requirement) and we ventured out onto the river. Almost at once, the rain stopped and the sun shone through, immediately melting away my anxiety. The rest of the trip from Tewksbury to Gloucester was a doddle, and we arrived at Gloucester Lock just 3 hours later. The lock keeper asked us to wait in the lock for a norrowboat behind to catch up and while we waited, an ominous black cloud covered the sun. Narrowboat ‘The Lucy Locket’ tied up alongside us, the lock gates slammed shut and the lock began to gently fill. With that the heavens opened and the rain lashed down. There was nothing we could do but to endure the downpour.The rain seemed to find its way down my neck and in a matter of minutes, I was soaked through; It was as if my wet-weather gear was made of fine silk. My saturated clothes clung to my body as if painted on, and I in turn hung on to the bow rope and determinedly gritted my teeth. The lock gates swung open and we found ourselves in the Dock basin and scrambled for a mooring. No sooner had we moored then the fickle sun shone down again. One good thing about having an air cooled engine is that the engine room was nice and warm and it didn't take long for our clothes to be dry again.
We spent two day in Gloucester Docks and that proved quite expensive. Some of the old warehouses have been converted into an outlet centre and that is always bad news for us. we can never resist a bargain - even if we don't really need the item. consequently, we spend far too much. on the brighter side... in order to put our new purchases away, we had to clear out a lot of older stuff, so the charity shops benefited.
While we were enjoying a cuppa in a lovely coffee shop, Ian's cousin John called. He had been following us on Facebook and realised that we were quite close to one another for a change - John spends a lot of his time in France - and so it was that we were able to meet up for Sunday Lunch.
Leaving Gloucester behind on Sunday morning, we went the eight easy miles down the Gloucester & Sharpness canal to Saul Junction and met John in the Bell Inn at Frampton-On-Severn. It must have been 10 years since the cousins had seen each other so you can imagine, they had a lot to talk about!
Monday 30th June we continued down the Gloucester & Sharpness canal to Sharpness. What a beautiful place to be!
Sharpness Docks began as a basin giving access from the River Severn Estuary to the Gloucester & Sharpness canal where shipping traffic could then proceed to Gloucester Docks. With increasingly larger ships, the size of the old docks had its drawbacks and a new floating dock was opened in 1874 just south of the old docks. Today, a marina operates on the edge of the old docks site.
|14 day free mooring near Sharpness|
We moored about 1/4 mile before the marina and the scenery was breathtaking.
The public mooring allows for up to 14 days free, however, there is not much to see and do in Sharpness so it is an ideal spot for a total escape and a springboard for beautiful walks.
The 'New' sharpness docks are working docks so access is limited, however we did manage to get a peek at some of the activity. The most bazaar picture was this burned out 'Gin Palace' complete with its very own helicopter.
|Site of the old railway bridge north of Sharpness|
Saul Junction is where the Gloucester & Sharpness Canal meets the rural Stroudwater Canal, once an important junction. The Stroudwater Canal brought coal from the Midlands to the cloth mills in the Stroud Valley, while the Gloucester & Sharpness Canal was built for ocean-going ships. Saul Junction became the meeting place for ships & crew, boats & boaters and cargo from around the world. This once important junction is still a great place to visit. Besides the busy marina, there is a visitor centre and the all important facilities such as water and sanitation with a bonus shower and laundry facilities. I spent time reading a book on the front deck while my laundry was washing and drying.
|Wooden Spoon Charity Challenge|
The following day was Wednesday 2nd July and time was catching up on me. the 4 peaks Challenge was nearly upon us. This Wooden Spoon charity event is one of the most exhausting yet exhilarating physical (and mental) challenges in UK. Teams of Four (three climbers and a driver) pit their strength,and determination against four of the highest mountains in UK. In 48 short hours, they have to climb Ben Nevis in Scotland, Helvellyn in the English Peak District, Mt Snowdon in Wales and Carrantuohill in Ireland, a total of 14000ft They also have to drive the 1000 miles between each peak. Tanya, my daughter was taking part in this challenge.
The next day, Thursday 3rd July was the start of the 4 Peaks Challenge and I still needed to post the 'countdown' blog as an introduction. My problem was that Saul Junction didn't have very good internet connectivity so Ian and I spend a lovely few hours at the Bell Inn using their WiFi (what a shame) and watching the opening sets of Andy Murry's disastrous Wimbledon game. In the meantime Tanya and her team of trusty climbers and driver were making their way to Fort William.
(If you are interested in a 'blow by blow' of their progress, you can find it at http://peakishness.blogspot.co.uk It is posted in reverse order, so scroll to the bottom for the first post.)
While we were moored at Saul Junction, we had another long-overdue encounter. Peter Carr, an ex-work colleague whom we hadn't seen in perhaps 15 years popped up. He lives with his family about 20 minutes drive from Saul Junction so it was lovely to be able to reminisce about 'old times' over a glass of wine.
I still needed to get a good continuous internet connection, so on Thursday morning we pulled up the mooring pins (or rather loosened the mooring ropes) and set off for Gloucester Docks where we spent firstly a nail-biting 48 hours, then a pleasant few days relaxing and exploring the Waterways museum and other places of interest around Gloucester.
We have had some great weather and at times like this, we tend to have our meal in the great outdoors - well on the front deck of the boat. and just to silence the sceptics... Yes I DID cook that meal.
Mind you, we had just finished when the heavens opened. Talk about 'Just In Time'.
We left Gloucester on Tuesday morning (8th July) and headed up the River Severn towards Stourport. One thing I don't miss about Gloucester Docks is the mess that the seagulls make!