After the delights of a Gloucester Monday morning and lunch, the Captain decided he wanted to get out of town for somewhere more rural, so later that afternoon we cast off for pastures new.
The Gloucester & Sharpness canal is unusual: once one that too significant commercial shipping, it is wide and almost river-like in feel, but the sides are normally piled, and there’s a towpath, and you can moor up rather more freely. There are no locks, but loads of low swing bridges, each of which – at the moment – is manned by a bridge-keeper. But there’s mutterings about automation…
Once out of the industrial bit we found a pleasant spot for the night, and were rewarded by a sunny Tuesday morning.
Setting off late morning, we passed this abandoned barge, complete with resident swan on the nest, and were soon mooring up at Saul Junction for lunch.
Saul Junction is a unique spot on the British canals: it’s the only place were two canals cross at a genuine “crossroads”. The Stroudwater Canal starts in Stroud (where it joins the Thames & Severn Canal), and crosses the G&S at Saul just before dropping down to the River Severn. The Canal & River Trust are talking about restoring the lock just visible in the second photo, because it will look pretty, although entirely useless to boaters: restoring any further is a bit pointless as no one in their right minds would nowadays want to go down onto the tidal Severn there.
Meanwhile, the Cotswold Canal Trust are trying to restore the Stroudwater Canal and make it navigable to Stroud initially (currently only about half a mile is navigable), and eventually restore the Thames & Severn all the way to Lechlade-on-Thames. That would make a huge difference to boating in the South West, but will probably only take a couple of centuries to achieve… We won’t hold our breath!
You don’t often see RNLI lifeboats on a canal, or seemingly top-heavy pirate ships either. Don’t know what either was doing there, but with access for big boats at Sharpness, the boatyard here clearly had more than narrowboats and tupperware jobs to manage.
First time we’ve seen anyone actually taking a dog for a swim…
And walking back to the boat after lunch we were delayed by a tow-path hog who was disinclined to let anyone pass.