Grensforge to Stourport
22nd August 2010
13 miles - 13 locks - 7 hours
What a difference a day makes - just 24 little hours! Goodbye rainclouds hello sunshine.
We woke to sunshine pouring through the portholes, backed by a clear blue sky and not a drop of the wet stuff fell all day.
Blue sky at Rocky Lock
This is a very satisfying section of the Staffs and Worcester, is in my view the prettiest with the canal following the path of the diminutive Smestow and then the Stour, often pressed up hard against the sandstone cliffs and lined with trees. Achingly pretty with hardly a boat ruffling its mirror like surface. However, the same could not be said for the towpath which is incredibly popular between Stourton and Kinver. It was overflowing with hikers, dog walkers, fishermen and cyclists.
Seat at Rocky Lock
On the subject of cyclists I witnessed an incident which highlights the problems of overcrowded towpaths. One middle aged bloke on a mountain bike came tearing up behind me and carved his way under a bridge. I was impressed by how far he could lean and how close his head came to the brick arch of Clay House Bridge (25) but then thought "its lucky no one was coming the other way". Of course, someone was coming the other way - a group of three cyclists moving at a measured pace but by the time I saw them one was picking himself out of the hedge with a bleeding knee and another way lying on the edge of the towpath trying hard not to topple into the water. In the midst of all this "Mr Superfast" was looking sheepish and soon disappeared - going just as fast as he was before. I now completely understand the "two tings" campaign being promoted in London. It could have been you, me, or one of our children he hit. I did have my camera in front of be but did I think to take a photo - of course not. Doh!
Stourton Tollhouse (with the ghost of photographers present in the window!)
As we approached Wolverley lock nb Independence jumped out across my bows - so close I had to reverse to avoid hitting him. He then proceeded straight up to the lock gates leaving me to draw into the landing bollards to wait till he has used the lock - except there was a boat already in it so he had to reverse back and hover in mid stream. I am pretty easy going but this kind of yobbish behaviour is downright rude. Hey ho - the delay gave us a chance to get a couple of take out pints from The Lock and some ice creams from the kiosk, so it wasn't all bad.
House at Stourton Aqueduct
I have long admired the house next to the Stour Aqueduct, with its huge lake in the garden and an access point into the canal, but have never had an opportunity to get a photo. With time on our side veered over to that side of the bend, got my photo and then got seriously stuck. Watch out if you try this maneuver, there is no depth to the water and the mud is of a particularly strong "boat trapping" variety.
I had read that Kidderminster was holding its first ever canal festival at the weekend and was hoping to be able to stop for an hour or two to take a look. I don't know what happened to it but we saw no sign of any such event, no boats, no stalls, not activity at all. Just the usual assortment of oddballs hanging around the towpath near Tesco's. Very odd.
The canal is lined with Himalayan Balsam in all shades of purple, all the way from a royal purple through to an off white version. It seems to have taken over the canal sides in this area. I don't remember it as a child - is it a recent introduction and is it seen as an invasive species?
Stourport Basin with a wide angled lens
Dramatic sky eh?
And the same with my normal lens
With a long day on the Severn in front of us we decided to moor in Stourport itself, but mooring spots are notoriously scarce, particularly in the basins. We therefore tagged onto the last slot opposite The Rising Sun, which was a riot of hanging basket colour. We look a look at the town, and checked out the river level (green) before taking a look at the weather forecast.
Flowers at the Rising Sun
Oh dear - rain. Storm Warnings particularly to the south east of Birmingham - which means the Avon valley. Not good.