Category Archives: Gloucester and Sharpness Canal

The Early Boat Claims The Shade. 8th July

Riverside Park Mooring to Brampton GOBA Mooring

Old Bridges

A more rural mooring was required today, hopefully one with a bit of shade as the temperatures are due to rise again. With sunscreen applied we pushed off and were soon heading under Huntingdon Old Bridges and the A1307, not much to see of the town as we passed.

Now we followed the river round another huge meadow. Islands here there and everywhere just to keep the navigator on her toes.

Godmanchester Lock

Godmanchester Lock sat empty and waiting for us. The EA mooring alongside the top side was filled with cruisers, we hoped they had all congregated here and had left the moorings further upstream for us. As Oleanna rose in the lock another cruiser arrived to go down, friends of some of the crowd already around the lock. We chatted about moorings and how Brampton was empty when they came past, phew! Then the subject turned to Bedford River Festival which is in a couple of weeks.

The river carries on doing a huge bend around the meadow, the railway line crossing shortly before the moorings we were after. On Google earth it looked like there might only be space for one or two boats, but clicking on someone’s photos (River View) there seemed to be a long length of mooring available.

Just one heron

As we approached all I could see was a heron, the moorings, as reported by the cruiser were empty! Not much tree cover for shade, but we nosed ourselves up towards a willow tree, the end of the day we might just get some shade.

This looks good

Inside the curtains were drawn on the port side, starboard side open as the sun was just avoiding that side of the boat. The doors were opened and Tilly headed off to explore. The nearest Willow had some attention but was deemed to be not so interesting as the one OVER THERE!

What’s in there?

Late morning we were joined by a couple of cruisers, then a narrowboat pulled up asking if we’d nudge up to make room. I paced out the gap for him, it was at least fifteen foot longer than us so even a 70ft boat would not have to squeeze in. Luckily for Tilly she was spotted by the chap who said he’d keep his dog on a lead.

Bye bye Mick

Mid afternoon and it was time for Mick to head off to catch a train northwards, a visit to Scarborough for an overnight and cut the grass. He strode off across the field, reaching a gate on the other side, only to find he needed an EA Abloy key to open it.

Todays shady office

I set up an office under the big willow to re-read the panto script, making notes and hopefully having ideas as I went. This was all going very well until a cruiser pulled up late afternoon just in front of us. It would have been rude not to chat to the new neighbours especially as they are thinking of buying a narrowboat to explore the canals. The last twenty pages of panto will have to wait for tomorrow, at least I’d found lots of reference photos that may prove useful.

1 lock, 1.96 miles, 1 heron, 0 neighbours to 6, 3 swimmers, 7 hours, 2 woofers, 1 outdoor office, 0 help from the feline assistant, 3 trains, 1 very clean house, 20 pages to go, 211 reference images, 0.5 Mrs Tilly stamp of approval.

Hands, Face, Space. 31st July

Bradley Swing Bridge to Lanehouse Swing Bridge 189

Strange dreams for both of us last night, until I realised that the smoke/CO detector above our heads was beeping, announcing it required a new battery. Mick removed the detector from the ceiling and popped the battery out, deciding it could wait for morning.

Next thing we knew was boats going past at just gone 7am, two heading back to base at Silsden the other a private boat heading towards Skipton. Our mooring had some shade but it was busy with passing boats. Most of the day boats from Skipton came past us yesterday and winded a little bit ahead of us before returning. Maybe we’d be better off elsewhere to sit out the heat of the day.

Bradley Mill

After our cuppa in bed we rolled back the covers and pushed off, leaving Bradley Mill (an old spinning and weaving mill) behind us. Breakfast could wait until we were moored up again, hopefully in a larger area of shade away from the busy road.

Just around the bend was our first swing bridge of the day, Hamblethorpe. Easy to move and enough time to have a look at the memorial to seven Polish Airmen who died when their plane crashed near Skipton in 1943.

Plenty of shade here

A fine wooded stretch follows, perfect for shade on a hot day but very close to the busy road below, we continued.

This way or that

The next swing bridge is Milking Hall sat at the edge of the wood, a path leads up the hill away from the canal with a mossy sign pointing the way. I like this bridge, if it was snowy it could almost be in Narnia. One thing I did remember about it was how the landing has an overhang, this caught us out when passing through last time on Lillian, crunching off a chunk of paint on the top of a gunnel. Mick kept well away as I opened up the bridge, a hire boat with a 60th birthday party came round the bend so I let them through before walking on to the next bridge.

Such a picturesque village

Redman Swing Bridge links the towpath to footpaths in Kildwick, a village that clings to the hillside, the road to the valley dipping under the canal. Mick now had to go very slowly indeed as I needed to get up ahead to take a photo I’ve been wanting to take for four years.

This is the bridge

Four years ago as we passed through Kildwick I’d paused after letting Lillian (our old yellow boat) through Warehouse Swing Bridge to take a photo. At the time we were heading over the Pennines to spend that winter up on the Macclesfield, where we hoped Oleanna would get launched. The photo I took of the stern of Lillian passing through bridge 186 became the photo to keep of her, as if we were saying goodbye.

Out with the old

Since then I’ve been wanting to take the same photo but with Oleanna coming towards the camera, saying hello. It’s taken us four years to get back here, but today we finally managed it.

In with the new

I couldn’t quite remember where I’d stood last time, so stood on the bridge to take the photo. This was maybe just as well, being at a slightly different angle otherwise the moored boats would have blocked the view of Oleanna. It is close enough for my liking, different seasons and a very blue boat, but the post box is still in view. Our four year mission now complete.

Views but a touch too warm

We now hoped to find shade and stop for the day. The first possible mooring didn’t have much in the way of trees, then the depth wasn’t sufficient. On through Grange Swing Bridge where a new stretch of pilling is being put in.

Is this Tumbelweed No 5 who used to write a blog?

Then we could see shade up ahead and a view to the off side. This would do us for the day. The back doors were opened, along with the front, hoping for a breeze. Tilly was given eight hours and we settled down to have breakfast at 10:30.

A text prompted Mick to turn on BBC1. Here was Mr Johnson confirming what had been mentioned on the news last night regarding local lockdown measures across the North West and West Yorkshire. Better to stand in front of the cameras rather than announce the new measures by tweet!

Full of fish

Our route ahead remains open, but no meeting friends or family other than on park benches until we reach Leeds! The next stage of lockdown relaxation has been put on hold for at least another two weeks. So the doors of any theatres that were about to reopen for socially distanced performances remain firmly closed for the time being.

The new three word slogan for the pandemic way of life was mentioned at the press conference. So we decided we’d have a look at where Mr Johnson was suggesting we should head using what3words

To Wigan

To reach our new destination, we would have to head back west over the Leeds Liverpool Canal to Wigan.

Via Liverpool Docks

From here we’d have a choice, either all the way to Liverpool docks, out across the Mersey, round Liverpool Bay heading west, across the River Dee then follow the coast line westwards to LLandudno and the Irish Sea.

Via the Ribble

Or at Burscough turn onto the Rufford Branch, out onto the River Douglas, turning left onto the River Ribble continuing out to the Irish Sea to turn southwards to follow the coast to Llandudno.

Via Pomona Lock

Or into Manchester on the Bridgewater Canal, drop down Pomona Lock onto the River Irwell followed by the Manchester Ship Canal, joining the River Mersey at Eastham Locks.

Via the AndertonBoat Lift

Or the Bridgewater Canal to Preston Brook, down the Trent and Mersey to Anderton, down the boat lift onto the River Weaver, head westwards to Weston Marsh Lock where we’d drop down onto the Manchester Ship Canal.

Via Chester

Or the Bridgewater Canal to Preston Brook, down the Trent and Mersey to Middlewich, across the Middlewich Branch, turn northwards on the Shroppie to either Chester, dropping onto the River Dee (this route may not be possible due to the lock onto the Dee) or continuing to Ellesmere Port to join the Manchester Ship Canal.

Via Ellesmere Port

Or at Barbridge Junction on the Middlewich Branch turn south onto the Shropie, onto the Staffordshire and Worcester Canal to Stourport, River Severn to Gloucester, Gloucester and Sharpness to Sharpness, then onto the River Severn again continue on past Portishead hugging the south coast of Wales, then head northwards until reaching the Irish Sea, up the Menai Straight and eventually Llandudno. But this route would just be silly!

Via the Severn, such a long way round

Maybe we’ll not bother and carry on with our original plan, Norway. 😉


A very warm day followed, we were glad we’d found some quality shade. I headed out for a walk to stretch my legs. I headed along the canal passing two open swing bridges. Down a very rubbley footpath towards the River Aire.

Poor Mum having just landed

From here I had to play cow pat hopscotch, then cross a field of sheep, the now fully grown lambs still wanting to suckle from their Mum, two of them so forceful they actually lifted her off the ground. Then back up onto the towpath, shortly before a cooling breeze and rumbles of thunder came past.

Sunset after the storm

0 locks, 2.79 miles, 5 swing bridges, 4 years for a photo, 1 lorry, 1 tractor, Tumbleweed 5, 29.7 degrees, 1 hot day, 8 hours, 1 hot tired cat, 1 boat still heading eastwards, 0 roast tonight, 1 salad, 1 Mrs Tilly Stamp of Approval, 1 theatre designer in need of a job!

2018 Round Up. 2nd January

HOORAY!!! Proper signal again, sorry for the delay. Here at last is a round up of 2018 and our vital statistics, who they are vital to I don’t know!

THAT Aqueduct!

We started off the year up on the Llangollen having spent Christmas up in the basin, if it hadn’t been for me getting some work I think we’d have headed back there this year as we enjoyed it so much. On our return journey we dropped down onto the Montgomery Canal for a few days. Then we gradually worked our way along the canal stoppage hopping, the last bridge holding us up by a few days whilst work over ran, but we were first through and soon back down on the Shroppie  at the end of January.

Ellesmere Port

A pootle up to Chester and then Ellesmere Port where we spent several days looking round the museum, mooring on site made this very easy.

Shuffling with Brian on NB HarnserDry bottom

Oleanna had a day in the dry dock at Chester to check out why our bowthruster had stopped working and gave me chance to do a quick touch up of the blacking.

Jaq from NB Valerie

We then made our way back to Nantwich where we sat out the Beast from the East and at last got chance to meet and spend a bit of time with Jaq from NB Valerie.

The magical Shroppie

Then we climbed the Shroppie to Autherley Junction turned right onto the Staffordshire and Worcester Canal and made our way down to Stourport where the river rose on us over night and left us stranded for far too long. This did mean that Tilly had her annual jabs gaining shore leave for another year. A hire car gave us a few days away from the flashing lights of Stourport, a trip to Beverley and to catch up with the John Godber Company in Bromsgrove along with a recky trip to Droitwich.

Long routeShort routeIn the end we got bored of waiting for the river to drop and decided on going the long way round to Droitwich. Of course about two or three days into ‘the long way round’ the levels dropped and we could have done a quick journey down the River Severn.

TardebiggeLock 40

Oh well we enjoyed all the locks having good weather for the Tardebigge Flight.

Once in Worcester we turned onto the river and made our way down to the Gloucester Sharpness Canal where we pootled down to the end with all the swing bridges being worked for us, met up with Jaye and Duncan (I’d have got into big trouble if I didn’t mention them!), saw the hulks, all sorts of flamingos and got to watch tall ship Kaskelot pass us.

Duncan, Jaye, Mick and meTall Ship

Back up the Severn for Micks 60th birthday weekend where all our siblings joined us to celebrate. We watched cricket at New Road in Worcester, ate in Droitwich, caught steam trains in Kidderminster and ate some more in Bridgenorth, a very good weekend.

Family at the cricketBirthday Boy

About time there was a picture of meYummy

By now the summer had already started with wall to wall sunshine and our Sunday roasts became Sunday barbeques. We made our way back to Worcester and turned back down stream to Tewkesbury (I do like a good Tewkesbury!) and the river Avon. The last rain storm for a while slowed our progress upstream, but we stayed safe.

A lovely Avon mooringThe Avon was a picturesque cruise and we met up with friends from Australia and old work friends of mine in Stratford, taking advantage to see as much theatre as we could.

The Swan, Stratford

Whilst in Stratford I heard that I’d got the job designing Panto in Chipping Norton this year. This would now affect the remainder of the year slowing us down somewhat. We headed back into Birmingham up the Lapworth flight (meeting NB Chuffed) to rendez vous with NB Blackbird and crew.

One last kiss with NB BlackbirdPerry BarHere we planned to explore all the back waters of the BCN, but the sun was now on permanently and the thought of spending weeks surrounded by brick work and concrete reflecting heat at us was not attractive. So we chose a route out of the city that we’d not done before (via Ryders Green and Perry Barr) and headed for the shade of trees.

Sheltering on the Ashby

Work and heat were the feature of the next few months. On days we wanted to cruise we tried to be up early to make the most of the cool hours before the sun got too high in the sky to avoid. We hopped from mooring to mooring hunting out good places with maximum tree cover, not so good for the solar panels but it meant we didn’t cook inside.

Loads of cars in CoventryCoventry BasinWe gradually cruised the Coventry Canal,  the Ashby Canal for the first and second times, all the way into Coventry, down the North Oxford onto the Grand Union and on up to the Leicester Section. All our favourite moorings on the summit pound were visited and the London Leckenbys visited us at Foxton. All this slow cruising was interspersed with Panto meetings in London and Chippy, necessitating being near to stations, but this worked out well with a bit of planning.

The finished model for Aladin

Leamington Spa was a handy station back on the Grand Union for my final  model meeting in mid September, freeing us up until rehearsals started a month later.

Well worth a visitLeamington Spa StationWe made use of the Heritage weekend visiting places in both Warwick and Leamington. Oleanna got to visit the Saltisford Arm where we worked our way through the dirty washing drawer before heading back towards the Oxford Canal crossing bows with NB Tentatrice on the way.

Lift bridges on the Oxford keep Oleanna smilingStunning sunsetsThe South Oxford Canal then became our home for the next three months.

Lunch at the Turf Tavern

First we cruised all the way to Oxford taking our time to return to Banbury. I then spent four weeks working my socks off in Chippy enjoying being creative again on Panto, returning each weekend to wherever Oleanna was with my head full of song lyrics and dance moves.

Final dress rehearsal

Once Aladdin was open and hoards of kids were shouting ‘He’s behind you!’ I could return to my normal life at 3mph, the boat, Tilly’s friends and Mick’s breakfasts.

What a way to spend Christmas Eve

Due to winter stoppages leaving the south Oxford couldn’t happen until near Christmas so we slowly made our way northwards breaking off to have a pre-Christmas in London and then once Napton Lock 9 was open we headed into the middle of nowhere for Christmas. The year ended with us returning to Crick and sadly missing out on the festivities at The Red Lion with friends.

We’ve had a great year travelling, meeting up with old friends and new. We’re looking forward to where 2019 will take us and who we shall meet along the way.


So our final statistics for the year are.

Total distance is 944 miles, 1 ¼ furlongs and 614 locks. There were 170 moveable bridges of which 77 are usually left open (although three of those weren’t); 131 small aqueducts or underbridges; 39 tunnels and 2 major aqueducts.

This is made up of 669 miles, 1 ¼ furlongs of narrow canals; 118 miles of broad canals; 35 miles, 5 furlongs of commercial waterways; 42miles, 7¼ furlongs of small rivers; 78 miles, 3 ¾ furlongs of large rivers; 476 narrow locks; 129 broad locks 9 large locks.

1084.6 engine hours, 7 hire cars, 1,383.63 litres diesel, 10 gas bottles (we do have gas central heating), 54 bags of coal, 2 waterway museums, 3 big houses, 3 versions of tuperware, 60th birthday, 2nd solar panel fitted, 7 overnight guests, 6 packs of Dreamies, 26 friends, 1 snake, 9 Mrs Tilly stamp of approval moorings, 7 pairs socks,  6 pairs gloves, 11 supermarket deliveries, 56 boxes wine delivered!