The Milk Run

We knew wanted to go back to Slimbridge, were 99% certain we weren’t going to head down the Severn Estuary to Portishead and Bristol even though weather conditions had been clement, and we needed some milk… Sharpness was calling. The cruise down alongside the River Severn didn’t take long, and we were soon moored up at Sharpness Junction. That’s where there’s the old arm that leads to the original basin and lock down onto the river. Proceeding any further would have taken us into the docks themselves, and needed 24 hours notice (presupposing we were heading down the Estuary).


Severn at SharpnessHere’s the old basin and lockkeeper’s cottage, and a photo looking down the old lock exit. The river was at high tide and running fiercely. If you click on the picture and enlarge it you can see the flowing area. If we ever needed confirmation that this wasn’t the place for a unseaworthy narrowboat without a qualified pilot, this was it!

Sharpness DocksSharpness Dock

Sharpness Low Bridge

Although little large ship traffic goes up the canal to Gloucester these days, a wander round the docks showed plenty of activity.

Sharpness LockSharpness Lock

This is now the lock / basin leading down to the river from the docks proper: the gates at the far end can only open around high tide, so all movements have to be planned. It all makes Song & Dance look very small.

Quick GetawayKeep Out

Not sure why this boat carries its own helicopter… it would be more useful if had some rotors. Perhaps it’s a early prototype for the Super Puma (he said, cruelly). And while we often see electric fences for keeping animals in place, this one seems a bit OTT.

Flower BasketCrane Farm

Having located the shop and pub (miles from where we were moored) and purchase the milk, wandering back Fran decided she’d found the perfect hanging basket for home. There also seemed to be a crane factory, as well.

Sharpness JunctionLow Tide

And when Song & Dance hove back into view, we’d clearly been long enough for the tide to go out.

We’d heard, anecdotally, that most of the 60 or so small boats that transit the estuary per year did it from Bristol/Portishead to Sharpness. As such a trip may well involve waiting days for the right combination of tides and weather, we now understand why, and resolved there and then that if we were going to do it, we’d start from the Kennet & Avon. With nothing to keep us at Sharpness, we turned the boat around and headed back for Slimbridge and Gloucester.

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