A trip to “The Wharf”

We needed to do some work on Mintball to get her ready for the BSS certificate, there wasn’t a huge amount of work to do and it seemed silly to drive all the way to Market Drayton just to do a couple of hours work so we decided to do some boating as the same time.

We headed south from the moorings to Tyrley Bottom Lock No 7 . The locks were moderately busy with us meeting a boat at just about every single lock, but we didn’t really have to wait at all which was good.

When we got to Tyrley Top Lock No 3 and Tyrley Wharf (which for some reason doesn’t have a CanalPlan ID) we moored up and decided to go and try out the Four Alls which is about 10 minutes walk up the hill from the wharf.

The pub was quite nice, they had an extensive food menu which included light bites as well as full meals, and a decent range of real ales. It was tempting to sit there and have an even longer lunchtime than we planned but we wanted to push on a bit.

So back to the boat and off through Woodseves cutting which stretches from Tyrley Farm Bridge No 59 to Cheswardine Bridge No 56 which as it’s not high summer wasn’t actually totally overgrown so you could see just how friable the sandstone they had to cut through to make the cutting in the first place is. The quality of the stone, and the fact that after two weeks without rain water was still oozing out of the rock, also explains why they are always having problems with slippages. Having been through this cutting in high summer I had to say that I found it much more interesting, and prettier, in mid April rather than late July/August.

Once you are out of the cutting its only a shortish run to Goldstone Bridge No 55 and it’s pub (called the Wharf). There is a winding hole here and an extremely neat private mooring which looks like the remains of some sort of gauging dock.

There are a lot of moorings along this section so progress is not much faster than going through the cutting but there is a lot to see and the people on the moored boats seem to be friendly enough.

It’s a long winding, gentle chug through open countryside to the tiny settlement of Knighton whose inhabitants apparrently don’t have to pay “tax” under a charter granted by King Charles II. From a canal point of view you could pass Knighton by without even noticing it if it wasn’t for the rather large factory behind the old Cadbury Wharf. A few years ago when we came through the factory was making drinking dhocolate and the air was full of the sweet smell of chocolate, this time however it wasn’t apparently making anything and the only thing we could smell was the nearby sewage works! The bank side opposite the wharf has been rebuilt from engineer’s blue brick but don’t even think of mooring there as it’s sitting on rocks!

Knighton Wharf is perched right at one end of the Shebdon embankment, which is quite an impressive structure, especially when the trees aren’t fully out and you can see just how high up you are: the views across the surrounding countryside are pretty impressive too.

Shebdon Wharf is located right next to Shebdon Aqueduct and here is the second pub called “The Wharf” in just a few short miles. The moorings here have just been refurbished with an overhanging top, rubbing strakes and rings and with steps down to the pub it’s a handy place to moor up… which we did.

After doing some work on the boat we popped down the steps and tested the pub – like the FourAlls it has quite a wide ranging food menu with some extremely good value deals. The beer, which was Everard’s Tiger, was extremely quaffable 😉 . The next day we turned at the winding hole at the wharf and returned, without visiting the Four Alls, to the mooring

The Joy of Kidderminster

I really wanted to write something nice about Kidderminster but..

We are moving our canal boat from it’s old moorings at Upton on Severn Marina to its new moorings at Market Drayton so rather than do the entire run over the Easter weekend we decided to do some of the move this weekend to make things easier/more relaxed over Easter.

So we do the run up the River Severn – it was extremely cold and windy and it was good to get off the river at Stourport and back onto the narrow canals which the boat was built for.

Kidderminster makes its presence felt the minute you come through York Street Lock – the top gate is always surrounded by a mess of plastic bottles, cans and other detritus of Human civilisation.

So you head off up the canal, sneaking through the outer reaches of Stourport, the canal bank is pretty well kept, but unfortunately like so many other places, littered with dog shit. Quite why dog owners think its acceptable to let their dog spray its shit all over the place and not clear up I do not know.

Once you are out of Stourport its quite a nice run through open country until you reach Falling Sands Lock which now has security devices on all the paddles as the youth of Kidderminster think its clever to open all the paddles and drain the canal. The lock was full of more plastic bottles, a rucksack, plastic bags and other rubbish.

It’s a short run from Falling Sands, under the Severn Valley Railway Viaduct to Caldwell Lock. Now Caldwell Lock should really be a pretty lock, given its location tucked in under a sandstone cliff, but alas its all spoiled by more bottles, crisp bags, shopping bags, old tyres and other things which you’d really rather not think about.

Now you are approaching Kidderminster itself. Kidderminster used to be a very industrial town and was famous the world over for its carpets. It doesn’t make anything more, apart from rubbish and chavs (if the sample of the population on the towpath is anything to go by). There are some canal side properties that try to make up for the lack of respect the local have but I don’t think its working.

Kidderminster has two canalside supermarkets – a Tesco and a Sainsbury’s. At Tesco the locals seem to finish their shopping by dumping their trolleys in the canal… we hit one and the propeller ripped a lot of blue plastic into the water…. I’ll get onto Sainbury’s in a few lines.

So past some more chavs, more graffiti, the “drive thru” MacDonalds, under the rather grim ring-road bridge, through Kidderminster Lock, with its own collection of rubbish ((It might be a complete co-incidence but one of the worst problems we have ever had with prop fouling was in this lock when we got a small inflatable dingy wrapped round it. It took about 45 minutes of hacking with the breadknife to get the thing off)), and past the Wharf, past the dodgy looking winos with their cans of “super strength” “lager”, past the Sainsbury’s (which didn’t have trolleys filling the moorings last time we stopped) past a long section of newly built, and newly graffitoed, wall and you start to escape from the town. The canal starts to get better but either there was a rather inefficient plastic bottle recycling plant or the local think the canal is designed for throwing them in to.

By the time you reach Wolverley Court Lock you are out of the town and the moorings above the lock are good and quiet. ((But the TV reception is lousy))

OK I know that all large towns can have problems with rubbish in their canals but the rubbish levels in Kidderminster remind me of the rubbish levels you used to see in Blackburn and Burnley over 20 years ago.

It seems so sad that Kidderminster which has done a lot to revitalise its derelict factories, by turning them into a huge shopping area along with offices and college facilities, seems to have really ignored the boaters. People in boats wont stop if the ground their boats on rubbish or don’t feel safe leaving their boat due to obvious signs of vandalism and a high chav count.

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