Thursday, 3 May 2018

Droitwich lock in

Droitwich lock in
May 2018

It was only supposed to be a short trip, so not much chance of anything eventful happening.

With a lousy forecast for Wednesday morning and a fine afternoon we stayed put till noon and, with the rain clouds giving way to blue skies we wet off for Hanbury Junction. Then we turned west and saw the most enormous black cloud over Droitwich and heading our way. Oh er - better grab our waterproofs.

An unexpected mooring on the lock landing

The new water level boards at the top lock were showing green for the Severn and amber for the Salwarp. Boats were coming up so all was fine to proceed. The heavens opened as we descended and we squelched our way through the staircase pair only to find a CRT employee at the last lock before the M5 tunnel. We were told that the water levels of the Salwarp has risen sharply and were now into the red - which meant that the river section was impassable and had to be closed.

A locked canal and the Smestow in flood

Our options were to stop before the M5 tunnel (advised) or to continue through to the lock landing above the last narrow lock. A mooring beneath the M5 is very noisy so we decided to have a crack at the tunnel. We approached the gauging board and were about an inch too high, but these things are always a bit pessimistic. We therefore edged into the tunnel with a warning that it dips a "bit" in the middle. With just an inch of clearance above our cratch plate we were keen to understand what a "bit" entails. No clarification was forthcoming and I was told it was my call.  We went in very slowly and can report that the min clearance when the level board showed 1.8m was about one centimeter. Just enough if no one flushes a lock of water.

Flood waters at Vines Park Lock

And so we made it to the lock landing above the river section and instead of a trickling stream these was a seething torrent, sliding smoothly over what is usually a small waterfall. A cursory examination of the lower landing stage showed that the water had recently covered it, but oddly even with the barge canal locked, the river in spate and the gauge in the red, the depth reading at the top stayed firmly in the green.

Contradictory levels at the start of the Narrow Canal

An odd observation about dog ownership. As we sat on the lock landing a passing dog walker asked if we had a plastic bag. We supplied a bright orange Sainsbury bag which was duly used to pick up the poo deposited by his Staffie. Good on him we thought.

Locked in!

Later we walked into town and there at a towpath entrance was the said Sainsburys bag, complete with poo - discarded and abandoned. On our way back the bag was gone, presumably picked up by a civic minded resident. Sadly not, because on our passage down the next day there was the knotted bag hurled into the midst of a big bramble patch. Why, if you bother to pick up your dog poo, do you then leave it wrapped in polythene for all to enjoy!

After a night on the lock landing the water dropped into the amber and the padlock was removed letting us enter Vines Park and take up our position for trading over the weekend.

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