Exploring the Droitwich Junction Canal to the M5
Monday 31st May 2010
Mr Truth, as I may have mentioned, is something of an early bird. He likes to rise at the crack of dawn and get moving whatever the weather. I suspect the he was fed a bit too much red meat as a child, but that is all supposition.
The fact was that in spite of speeding up the standard Canalplan cruising speeds, we still found ourselves over half a day ahead of schedule with only two days cruising under our belts. A cunning plan was needed or we would find ourselves home in no time at all.
Top locks at Hanbury Junction
I looked at the map and thought a side trip into Droitwich would be an interesting diversion, and let us see the progress made on this eagerly anticipated restoration project. We moored Wand'ring Bark opposite the junction, donned our boots ant set forth on the two and a half mile trek to town.
The whole restoration effort is loosely referred to as the Droitwich Canal but in truth this top bit is actually the Droitwich Junction Canal, the last bit to be completed and built to the Worcester Birmingham narrow gauge standard. By contrast, the western Barge Canal was widebeam, capable of carrying the severn trows up from the river to pick up the salt on which the area's fortune was founded.
Just beyond the junction there are four fully restored locks, refurbished thanks to a generous legacy from a canal enthusiast. What a lovely way to be remembered.
The old and new lines at the rugby club
Beyond this the canal hits it's first obstruction, the section near the Rugby Club. The line has been diverted to the north and the channel routed under a new and none too beautiful armco lined bridge. This new channel has shelving sides and is so narrow that a passing place has been created.
The new staircase pair
From here the canal moves on the the seriously new bit complete with the staircase locks. The pristine white of the concrete sides was almost blinding and caused over exposure in my photos. Oddly, the lock wings end abruptly and there are no guiding jaws to nudge boats in. Hopefully this deficiency will be rectified or I fear the walls will take a terrible battering and wear away rather quickly.
The channel is in water and is fed by the adjacent stream. As a result the water was incredibly clear, magnifying the bright green weed just like an aquarium. This new locks section came to an end at the M5 tunnel, a culvert so low the it will be 'chimney off time when boats pass through. I couldn't get a line of sight through the small bore so I predict some frantic reversing in the area when two boats meet.