88. Sunny Droitwich Barge Canal Journey with the Narrowboat Experience

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So Kath and Anna-Marie from Narrowboat
Experience joined me last night to moor up here. It’s a little bit deceiving this
canal because there are a lot of high weeds so you’re unable to moor and we
thought we might be able to moor at various different places along the way
but we ended up travelling hours, and hours, and hours extra simply because of
these things. { Music } We are taking it easy today and only
travelling six miles and through five locks. We moored up for the night just
after lock four which was adjacent to Mildenham Mill. It was the last working
water-powered flour mill in Worcestershire and sits between the
canal and the River Salwarpe. A hundred years ago, grain arrived by train at
local stations as well as by horse drays from local farms ready to be milled here.
Just around the corner is a set of four locks spanning from Ladywood Bottom
Lock to Ladywood Top Lock. It’s then an easy northeasterly journey
into the centre of the town of Droitwich Spa. { Music } Molly is having lots of fun on the
towpath with Anna-Marie. Running up and down whilst Kath and I do the driving. It
won’t be anywhere near as a long a day as yesterday, that was really tiring. { Sounds of water and light breeze against plants } You’re gonna see the real
behind-the-scenes of The Narrowboat Experience. Kath’s just the hired help,
I do all the work. Jono will attest to that – Yes Jono?
Jono: Indeed! { Music } Just coming out of that lock there,
Molly is sat by the bank, waiting for Anna-Marie to give her her commands and
carry on walking up the canal and at the last lock Anna-Marie said that Molly sat
there crying as soon as I went off around the corner.
She was crying after me – oh that’s so nice.
Something I never hear obviously because I’m not next to her. { Sounds of lock paddles being opened and water } When I came down the Staffordshire and
Worcestershire Canal a good two months ago now, there was a round building right
next to the lock and I had a couple of comments of what on earth was that about,
what was it for? Basically, just imagine it like a little bit of a weir. If this
top pound got too full, it would just overflow the bricks and the water
would follow down, through a brick tunnel into the lower pound and it just keeps
all of the locks even. So for example, there was a stream that output its water
into the pound and that had a bit of a heavy rainfall and the others didn’t, it
just sort of keeps it all even out. It also traps lots of debris and branches
and leaves and things and you’ll find the Canal & River Trust coming along with
big sticks with hooks on and pulling it out and putting it on the sides just to
keep it all working and functional. It’s just to keep the levels correct that’s
all they are. Kath: Just gonna ruin your shot! Now Kath is busy doing the locks,
Molly’s had to come back on board. There’s only Anna-Marie that’s
dog-friendly! { Anna-Marie laughs in background } The Droitwich Barge Canal was one of the
earliest canals to be built and was opened in 1771. Coal was brought up the
wide canal to the town of Droitwich to boil pans of salt. The barge’s filled
with the salt then returned with a direct link to the port of Bristol. It’s
a short canal at only seven and a quarter miles in length and it travels through
some beautiful countryside. I think it’s gorgeous. I haven’t heard a lot about it. But it’s part of the mids Worcestershire ring? Considering how close we are to
Droitwich Spa itself, as well as Worcester, it’s extremely rural and very,
very quiet. It’s just countryside all around. It’s
really nice. It’s just such a shame that you can’t moor up in more locations. At Sawlwarpe there is an
extremely tight, 90-degree corner. Yeah, they’re professionals. It was a
horrible corner ninety-degree. They did it easy-peasy. { Music } So all the way down to Droitwich Spa
there was no mooring whatsoever. There’s a tiny bit right at the end next to the
railway lines but that was really loud. So both Narrowboat Experience and myself
have come into the basin and it’s free for 48 hours. There’s a water tap here as
well so we’ll probably top up and keep going. Because the pontoons are a bit
small in the basin and the fact that I have no steps in the stern of Alice,
Molly had to be brave and make her way along the roof. Whilst our boats sat in
the basin Anna-Marie, Kath and I went out for dinner for the evening. Today it’s a
journey that I have to do every so often and lots, and lots of people have asked
when do I do it, how do I do it and it’s going to get my car. I’m going to catch a
train and hopefully get down to Gloucester. However, all trains were cancelled due to
an incident, so I had to get a taxi to my car. Not a cheap day travel wise! In next
week’s vlog we make our way out of Droitwich and with just a few
centimetres to spare, I squeezed under the M5 motorway bridge towards the
Worcestershire and Birmingham Canal and the dreaded Tardebigge Locks. Until next
time, see you later.

 

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