Thursday, 14 June 2012

River wuss.....

To date my river activity aboard Waterlily extends to a few hops over the Trent at Alrewas and the Churnet on the Caldon. So we are planning a trip down to Stourport as we have never ventured past Autherly junction before. We have the option to get on the river Seven at Stourport and got down stream to either the Droitwich canal or carry on to Worcester and come back up the Birmingham  and Worcester canal via gas street.

Or we could just wimp out and retrace our steps from Stourport.

Anyone out there willing to give me some confidence via advice on the river Seven?


Adam said...

We did the Severn on our second hire boat holiday, many years ago, as part of the Stourport Ring, and (probably because we didn't know much) thought nothing of it at all. And I always think that anything hire boats do regularly can't be that bad.

Of course if the river is in the red it's a different matter, but every time we've done the Severn (on hire boats, on Debdale, and on Briar Rose) it's been absolutely fine. You wouldn't even be doing the more difficult bit down to Gloucester. I always fine that boats seem to love the deep water, and respond much better than on the canals. On quite a lot of the Severn there's not much to see, as there are high banks, few towns, and not even many bridges.

The locks are all manned, and the lockies will see you coming and get the gates open for you. They appear to be huge after the narrow locks down to Stourport. You'll need someone at the front to man a rope -- the most difficult thing is getting the rope through the risers in the lock walls, but if you take things slowly it's fine. The lock keeper will tell you which side to go.

Haven't done the Droitwich (it wasn't quite open when we were in the area this time last year), so can't really comment on that. If you go to Worcester, there are moorings by the racecourse, but I suggest you moor north of the footbridge, which seems to be a popular route home for students. Or go up the locks to Diglis Basin, and moor along the towpath there, with easy access into town.

So, in normal conditions, there's nothing to worry about with the Severn. Open up the throttle, and let Waterlily have some fun!

Captain Ahab said...

Adam is right. If the river in on the green boards it is a pussy cat and your run to Worcester is less than four hours so conditions cant change whilst you are on it. The run to the bottom of the Droitwich is only three hours and that offers a safe haven as well. Don't be put off unless the river is amber or worse and then it is best avoided.
Its not my favourite waterway but, like the Trent, its a quick route to some interesting places.
The lock keepers are helpful and friendly. Personally, I only use my middle rope round one of the wires in the lock sides.

Nev Wells said...

Andy & Adam,

Thanks for your very helpful and reassuring comments about river cruising. I certainly agree on the point re hirers, especially those we see that pass us at Fradley that have come from Sawley, their first lock is a river lock then onto the Trent.

I am inspired by your confidence boosting comments. A couple of questions ....

We are serial offenders when it comes to cruising with fenders down, helped by the fact Waterlily is a skinny there any reason why we should change this in the river locks, I expect the lockies will "advise".

Rope you have to change ropes for extra length. My centre rope shops just short of the tiller so it about 25 feet, my bow rope is a lot longer so I could use that and the stern rope?

Other question is should we wind n the river to go not the locks agains the stream, even if the river is benign ?

I am sure we will go for it subject to the river being in the green, it's part of our education and with a bit of confidence we will be looking for rivers every time we plan a route... :-)

Adam said...

If you must leave your side fenders down (although I can't think of a good reason why you should!) then I'd have thought they're much less likely to cause problems in river locks than canal locks. They're not going to get you stuck because the locks are huge. And they're not going to get hooked on the gate and lift it off its collar, as has happened on T&M locks.

Your ropes sound fine to me, and if you want to use a centre line then do so. But if you've got crew, then why not make use of them to handle a bow rope?

Your question about winding got a bit mangled, so I'm not sure exactly what you're asking. But for locks on the Severn itself, just approach in the normal way. The locks are in a lock cut, so once you're past the weir there's very little flow there anyway. For the locks off the river, whether onto the Droitwich or at Worcester, there are pontoons to land onto, and you'll need to go slightly past before turning and approaching them upstream. Also, if you moor on the river (and there aren't many places to moor, but if you use the racecourse moorings at Worcester, for example), it's easier to turn and approach against the flow.

I'm not sure that the Severn will inspire you to look for more rivers, but if it gives you the confidence to go on the Thames for example, then it would be worthwhile. Because the Thames is a fantastic river -- many many times more interesting than the severn.

Jim said...

As one who is currently steeling himself to tackle the Trent for the first time take it from me that the Severn is a doddle. I had just the same doubts as you but can confirm all that Adam and the Captain say. as a non-swimmer I equipped myself with a lifejacket and as I already had an anchor I had it ready as I would have felt really stupid to have been in need of it when it was still in the locker!
Go for it!

Blue Moon said...

Got to agree with everything everyone else has said Nev. Our 'introduction' to narrowboating was on a hire boat from Worcester and we happily sailed out onto the Severn and then up to Stourport. It is a great river to go for as your first as it's wide, deep and therefore pretty tranquil. The locks are really easy as they are all done for you by the lock keepers and they are HUGE.

If you have a copy of the July edition of Canal Boat, there is an article about river cruising which you might find interesting and will answer any doubts you may have.

You never know, once you are on there, you might get a real taste for it and go all the way down to Tewkesbury and then come back up via the Avon and up the Stratford. We did it last year and it was fantastic.

When are you planning to go as we are considering the trip down to Stourport in a couple of weeks.

Ian and Irene Jameison said...

I totally agree with all your other comments. We did the Severn last year and had no problems with any part of it. Entering the Droitwich barge canal is only tricky if the river is running hard. You need to go beyond the entrance and then turn against the flow to get onto the left pontoon. The only other problem you may have on the Droitwich is clearance under the M5 culvert. This is very much dependent on the river Salwarpe. Most boats make it okay but if there is the slightest rise in river levels then check the upstream height gauges. This is a lovely canal and well worth a visit.

Nev Wells said...

Thanks again for all your valuable inputs. Adam, I was clumsily asking about the locks off the river, winding and and approaching upstream as Ian and Irene advise is what I thought.

We'll give it a go and blog about it unless the river is running too fast. We are planning setting of next week so may miss you if we don't do the ring of sorts, if we chicken out then we may pass each other.