Back in 2002 three Wilderness boats Arwyn, Bobbles and Tophyl of Taunton, slipped into the centre “in water” bit of Droitwich canal from the Droitwich Canal Trust yard during the 5th annual beer festival, which also happened to be a Queen’s Jubilee weekend. The event was recorded and published on the earlier Wilderness club web site. When we pulled out in 2002 we said that we would return one day and especially when it was opened throughout.
Finally after 10 years two boats namely Bobbles and Tophyl of Taunton did return to revisit the canal. These were joined on this occasion by Snapdragon and Sloe.
The first section below shows a shortened copy of what the original webpage included as text and pictures:
Starting on Friday 31st May 2002 and through to Monday 3rd June, the Droitwich Canal Trust held their 5th Beer and Wine festival and Water Festival in Vines Park, Droitwich. The action took place alongside the Droitwich Barge Canal.
Three Wilderness boats Arwyn, Bobbles and Tophyl attended the festival slipping in using the slipway in the Trust’s yard. Other than the No1, a day boat already on the canal and available for hire, we were told that we were the first boats ever to attend the festival.
The Friday evening entertainment included a performance by the Daystar theatre company, who performed “Moon on the Water”. Saturday included a Rock and Roll evening, with Sunday having Folk Entertainment. Monday had stalls, a raft race and a farmers market.
Here is a photographic record of our stay on this historic and beautiful canal. All pictures when clicked on give a full sized picture, and comments on mouse over if there are any.
On the Sunday we went for a walk towards the Worcester and Birmingham canal and followed the line of the Droitwich Junction canal as best we could. We found activity under the M5 motorway, which we were told is BW making room for boats to pass through an existing culvert and then we went on up the road to Hanbury Locks 1-3, which had just been opened on the previous Friday.
Monday dawned as many Bank Holiday Mondays do, with rain pattering on the roof of the boat. What a shame for the organisers of the Water Festival but being British, rain will not put us off!!
As the events came to a close and we proceeded to the other the end of the 4(ish!) miles of navigable barge canal, the sky cleared and the sun came out…..
What more could you want, a beautiful evening, an entertaining BBQ with friends including Bill, the lock keeper and owner of No1, the one and only day boat on the canal. Then as it grew dark, we walked up the canal to watch the beacons light up on the surrounding hills, surrounded by fireworks to celebrate the Queen’s Jubilee. Here we must say a big thank you to Bill and Sue, his daughter, who made us so welcome at the lock cottage.
Tuesday and time to walk the rest of the unopened barge canal from No1 Lock at Ladywood bridge down to its junction with the Severn. Here are some pictures of the canal so you can see what still needs to be done.
A big thank you to those on the canal who worked to make the weekend enjoyable, with good beer and wine, good entertainment, and all those who have or who are working to restore this beautiful waterway. We wish you every success for the future.
Now fast forward to:
Following the successful IWA Trailboat festival at the Stroud on Water event, a number of trail boaters transferred to other slipways closer to the Droitwich canal to enable a quick circular tour of this newly restored canal. In our case we transferred to use the slipway at Upton upon Severn marina. Following a bit of a slog up the Severn, as it was running quite quickly due to the recent rains and avoiding the flotsom and jetsam, we reached the Worcester and Birmingham canal and on to have an evenings rest in the Plough pub after working up the locks out of Worcester and finally the Tibberton flight.
The following day we continued to Hanbury Junction and turned left into the Droitwich narrow canal.
Down through the 3 Hanbury locks, which we had seen before but now operational with somewhere to go at the bottom. At the bottom, a canal AND the new Droitwich Spa Marina, with a large slipway but rather shallow for Wilderness, we are hearing. We wonder what it would be like here at the bottom of these locks once the marina is full of boats and a sunny weekend occurs. Unlikely with our weather but if it does, it could be rather busy and probably a good place to gongoozle.
Then on cruising down through the fields we had last walked through, to the new staircase locks, not even built then, heading down to go under the motorway.
The passage under the motorway is very tight air draft wise. Any increase in water depth from the river flowing through here will make it impassable very quickly, and even as it was for us, someone emptying the lock could raise the level enough to get the boat roof very close to hitting the top of the motorway culvert. Shame they didn’t allow another foot of clearance when creating this culvert opening. It almost needs an electric signage system or motorised, constantly adjusting, black and yellow headroom warning signs of available air drift at the marina / bottom of Hanbury lock No 3 level.
After the motorway, we pass along the river and into the first barge lock and through it, in the pouring rain, into the gardens and on through the swing footbridges to the new moorings. Good to have water available here but a real shame there are not loo emptying facilities here or nearby. The nearest elsan points being Tardebigge or Diglis or by paying one of the boatyards. The mooring area has changed significantly for the better since we were here last, when it had hard sides but the public gardens are still beautifully kept.
Weather hadn’t improved much though since the last time we were here. It rained on us then too, but Droitwich is still a nice interesting town with easy access to shops, supermarkets, take aways and pubs. The old canal restoration depot is still here with its slipway, which we thought they said they were going to have to sell off to pay for the restoration of the canal. Their old caravan is still here as well!
Then the following morning, on a wet day, we left and went down the canal we had last cruised on 10 years before, to arrive at Ladywood top lock, where Bill’s boat is still moored up but unfortunately Bill wasn’t around to say hello to. The flowers have gone from around the bottom arms, and it’s not as pretty as it once was, but its a working lock now, we suppose!
Then we boated down the broad locks that we last walked down past when they were derelict and out on to the Severn, which was now starting to rise due to the rain and instead of spending time in Worcester, we went back to Upton upon Severn, much quicker than we came up!
We enjoyed our visit to see a canal that has been fully restored to a working condition. Well done to all those who worked and campaigned for so long to get it navigable again. Here is a link to the Droitwich Waterways (Pamela May) Trust website as the Droitwich Canals Trust has been wound up following the full restoration of the canals. And here is another link to the some information about a forthcoming boat gathering.