Sunday, 10 May 2015

Wild and windy

More like the tidal Thames than the River Severn today
It's been a wild and windy afternoon on the river. Four hours into a bitingly cold headwind downstream from Worcester felt more like ten and we were glad to moor up. Even if the pub we were moored at turned out to be closed on Sunday evenings.
We woke up this morning to find that the river had risen a foot overnight and was lapping the riverside path beside us. A reminder that the Severn is a big river and starts way up in Wales. Where it always rains! It was flowing much faster too with assorted lumps of tree drifting past at speed. Nothing to seriously alarm us, though, or stop us casting off after a morning stroll around the city.
I was anticipating an undemanding run down to Upton upon Severn but things didn't quite work out that way. The Severn is often called a dull river to boat along, with its high banks hiding the outside world and few riverside villages or towns to catch the eye. But this first stretch from Worcester was anything but. A little bland in parts, perhaps, but gloriously tree lined in others, then breaking out into open views of the distant Malvern hills before closing in to run past steep red stone cliffs where trees clung perilously for grip.
Riverside cliffs have trees clinging gamely to them 
Upton is a bit of a magnet for visitors with a cluster of waterside pubs – which perhaps explains why we were waved at with noisy exuberance by a few people who'd perhaps been sampling their wares for too long.
In the event we didn't stop. We tried but failed and I nearly collected an innocently moored little plastic cruiser in failing. The pontoon moorings were full (we could have breasted up but I don't like inflicting Seadog Brian's yapping on others. It's bad enough that we have to put up with his high pitched 'separation anxiety' let alone anyone else!). Then I tried (twice - the cruiser nearly copped it first time) to moor by the town steps, only to find the first step was under water, leaving us a wet 18 inches from dry land. 'Do you want to stop?' I called to Harrywoman in the bows. 'Do you think I've got webbed feet or something?' she responded in an acid tone. It was one of those moments of husband-wife tension that seem an integral element of boating. You can feel the electricity in the air when you pass someone's boat where one has just occured. So can Brian, of course, so he joined in with some merry high decibel yapping of a particularly ear splitting style. And nearly found himself cast adrift!!
The barge fleet runs just a brief two mile trip between two gravel wharves
A big passenger barge was one of the few on the water today
Anyway, failure here condemned us to another half a dozen chilly miles. We passed a gravel wharf where four barges were tied up: oddly, these seem to run on just a short, two mile route between here and a second wharf down river. We also met a large passenger barge heading upstream, one of only three or four craft on a perhaps understandably quiet river.
Past yet another of Telford's trademark beauties, the iron bridge at Mythe, we ignored the entrance to the River Avon and Tewkesbury – we're saving that for the return trip – and entered the enormous Upper Lode Lock, the last before Gloucester. Having admitted we were first timers, he lowered down a bucket of leaflets about the Docks and the correct procedure for entering the Lock there – and avoiding ending up on the weir instead.
After Upper Lode, the river suddenly decided to become bad tempered and developed choppy waves a couple of feet high – high enough enough at times for the spray as one hit the deck to be seen over the roof. It is tidal as far as here at Spring tides but this was not the time of a  Spring tide so maybe it was just disliking the cold harsh wind as much as us.
Still no mooring for us though. The pontoons were full again at Lower Lode but, finally, a mile further, there was an empty pontoon at The Yew Tree Inn. It's not the most handsome looking pub but when you're freezing cold and eager for a pie and a pint, any pub is a good pub. Except one that closes on Sunday nights! At least the landlady let us stay overnight so here we are and nicely warmed by a couple of Harrywoman's speciality – 'steamed treacle pudding in a cup'.

1 comment:

  1. At least you have a proper boat to do all your 'proper' boating in. We rather liked the Severn when we did it last year in Chertsey, all that is except all the chavs in their 'drug dealers' plastic boats hogging the moorings at Stourport. That is until we turned up and threatened to breast up to them :)