Category Archives: River Severn

Filling Up On Halibut. 12th August

The Swan on the River mooring to Littleport Station Road mooring

A very hot humid night in London and I suspect onboard Oleanna too. Today the temperature would rise that bit more and would end up changing our plans.

I wonder what used to be on the ground floor

After breakfast I headed of with a bottle of water in hand, caught a bus then the tube into Piccadilly Circus. I was here to check things out. I wanted to see which way Eros faced, get some photos of my own and then take a look at the building that stands on the corner of Shaftsbury Avenue and Great Windmill Street as I want to use it in my panto set.

I got some good photos, but not quite at the right angle, I needed to look across at Eros, not up at him. Lilywhites was nearly at the right angle and there was a staircase up through the building. It was worth a look. Well it wasn’t really as they position things on the window sills to deter photographers don’t they! Hopefully I’ve enough images to work from.

Chilled chocolate bears

I decided to walk up Piccadilly, sticking to the shade, bobbing into Fortnum and Masons to appreciate their air conditioning for a little while and watch people stacking expensive teas into their shopping baskets.

I then dropped down into the underground at Green Park and took the tube to Stockwell, here my plans were stalled, the Northern line south bound was suspended. Time to join a massive queue for the 155 bus. I soon realised that this bus would take me along a part of London I used to know very well. Clapham North was were I lived in my final year at college and the route south from here had many places I used to visit when I lived in Brixton for three years. I’ve not really been back to Clapham Common since I left so it was lovely to see that somethings hadn’t changed in the last 26 years.

Morag and me

I hopped off the bus in Balham and kept myself in the shade walking to my friend Morag’s flat. Despite the hold up with transport I arrived perfectly as she’d just finished a Teams meeting for work. Morag is a very good school friend of mine, we’d last met when we were in Marple last year. There was lots to catch up on and a very lovely vegetarian lunch to enjoy before she had to be back at work for her next Teams meeting at her dining room table.

Heading back

Meanwhile back on Oleanna, Mick spotted a boat that had been moored behind us yesterday near the station, so he knew there should be a space there. He pushed off, winded and returned to the handier mooring for trains to London. The electric boat we’ve seen a few times on our way back from Bedford was there and Mick pulled in. The lady on board was having problems with her generator, so Mick mentioned he’d just left the pub mooring where there is hook up. She was off like a shot to plug in and wait for someone to come out and sort her troublesome generator.

Fresh air for Tilly

Our original plan had been for Mick to catch a train sometime in the afternoon and come down to join me at the London Leckenby’s for the night. But as there was no shade at the mooring the temperature was rising inside Oleanna. 31C. Not too bad when you can have the windows and hatch open to encourage a breeze to pass through. But with everything shut up to keep a cat indoors it would be really unpleasant. This along with longer delays on the trains due to the heat we decided that Mick should stay with Tilly and make sure she didn’t cook overnight. A real shame, but better for our second mate.

The British Museum

My next port of call was the British Museum. I joined a rather long queue of people going through the security checks and headed indoors, I think a lot of people were heading in doors out of the sunshine. I headed straight for the right room, one that was built to house what are known to many as The Elgin Marbles. One day they will be sent back to Greece, but today I was glad they were still here as I wanted a closer look and to take photos as I’d like to do a touch of a panto joke with them. Lots of photos later and a comfort break I was heading back out to Hackney to help with the final preparations for dinner.


During the afternoon in Littleport a boat had pulled up behind Oleanna. There was then a bold knock on the roof. Mick popped his head out to see if he could help only to find Graham from NB Misty Blue who we did the Tideway and cruised some of the Regents Canal with last summer. He’d spotted Oleanna and stopped to say hello before carrying on for the day, looking for shade. Now some people think we move fast, we know we don’t! But Graham has been all over the place since we last saw him. Then he was heading for the Kennet and Avon which he did and carried on up the River Severn to the Gloucester Sharpness, he was one of the last boats across the Rochdale before it closed and a couple of days ago he crossed The Wash. Hopefully I’ll get chance to say hello when he comes past us next.

Jane and Kevin

This evening we were joined by Jane and her new (to us) boyfriend Kevin, who are over visiting from Sydney. We all grew up together in York as our Mum’s were best friends. It was so lovely to see Jane, hear the news from Australia. Of course there was food, including a whole halibut a first for Andrew to cook. What a wonderful fish, I suspect they will be eating the left overs for days to come.

Conversation kept going until midnight when slightly boozy photos were taken. What a lovely evening.

Happy times

0 locks, 0.621371 miles back, 2 moorings swapped, 5 buses, 4 tubes, 31C inside at 2pm, 1 London trip abandoned, 1 breezy boat, 1 hot but safe cat, 1 statue, 2 rooms of marbles, 2 old friends, 1 new friend made, 34C, 1 day of shade finding.

Pip, Jane, Emma, Andrew 1968. Just like it was yesterday

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!