|Severn Valley steam railway train crosses the elegant viaduct above the canal|
Just a couple of locks and four short miles separated us from last night's mooring outside The Watermill pub at Kidderminster and Stourport where the canal meets the Severn.
What an odd place that Watermill was. A huge establishment devoted to providing 'twofers' for a clientele of families, pensioners, girlies on nights out and occasional marooned boaters, aiding the choice of food with menus that include pictures of the dishes for those who struggle to imagine what the words 'steak and chips' actually means. It actually means rather less than you might hope from the pic as the food was decidedly average and, if you look at the prices too, then not as tempting an offer as the two-for-one deal suggests.
|First lock of the day, the pretty Caldwall Lock|
|Time worn steps tell an eloquent story of 200 years of use|
We were quickly past the site of the tree blockage this morning and through the picturesque Caldwall Lock, followed by a long, steep bank of more elderly trees, any one of which looked likely to topple into the water during the next breezy night.
And then, just as we passed under the railway viaduct along came the steam train. The Severn Valley is a 'proper' steam railway that runs 16 miles between Kidderminster and Bridgnorth and uses big ex-mainline engines like the one we saw. No 43106 is an ex-London Midland & Scottish loco: a 2-6-0 for any railway buffs.
After that moment of nostalgia we came to our last lock, Falling Sands and a final, somewhat insipid run into Stourport through the flat, scrubby floodplain of the River Stour which the canal had been tracking all the way from Kinver and which was also destined for the Severn.
|Once this arm led under the bridge and down to an ironworks|
Now Stourport is an eccentric mixture of magnificent 18th century canal port, slightly shabby country town and, most bizarre of all, a sort of inland Great Yarmouth with kiss-me-quick style amusement arcades and chip shops and a huge, permanent funfair 'Treasure Island'.
|Not sure I'd fancy going out in that flow: the Severn was running hard|
PS Actually we did have one incident today: while out shopping in Stourport I managed to lose my special, bought-by-Harrywoman-for-Christmas glasses. So far I've walked round the town three times and can't find them. Blast.