Lowesmoor Basin at Worcester (where we’d originally intended to moor Song & Dance while Suffolk Girl did her thing) is one of the bases of a large narrowboat hire company, some of whose boats go out under the Viking Afloat brand. We’d helped one of their boat crews on Monday night: after a car long journey, tuition session etc., they’d finally set out, come through Diglis Basin, locked down the Diglis Canal locks (hard work), and were having a complete fiasco trying to moor up on the Severn visitor moorings where there was a modest flow. Let’s be charitable, and put it down to tiredness, hunger and low blood sugar levels.
Anyway, they set off some time before us on Tuesday morning, heading – we presumed – for Stourport-upon-Severn, where we were also heading.
And soon confirmed a theory of ours that hire boats are seriously under-propped/slugged, so that the punters couldn’t go fast enough to get into too much trouble. At Song & Dance’s comfortable river cruising power, we soon caught up with them and passed them, even though they had loads of revs on and were making quite a wake compared to us.
We didn’t see them again, they probably stopped at one of the pubs for lunch.
We eventually made Stourport (11.5 miles and three locks uphill) after about three hours, and given events earlier in the cruise were understandably anxious to get off the river and back onto the canal system, away from the vagaries of the rainfall in North Wales. But mooring up temporarily on the river visitor moorings we soon established that the moorings up in the basin were full, so risked it and stayed there overnight before heading up into town. Biggles was pleased as the river moorings are immediately below the Angel pub, so he was able to go for a swift half while we had dinner.
The next morning the river was still on Green Boards (hurrah) , but after weeks of wide rivers and locks, and more recently manned huge locks, trying to thread Song & Dance into the narrow bottom lock, (conveniently placed at 90 degrees to the increasing river flow, and with a strong gusting cross wind) proved quite a challenge. We know the lock is 6 inches wider than the boat, but it looked as though we wouldn’t even fit. Fortunately everything went smoothly for once, without any crashing noises or broken crockery and the Captain was most impressed.
A sigh of relied… we were back in our comfort zone! Locking up through the two narrow staircase flights, we picked our way carefully through the several upper basins, and out the other side up one more lock, tied up on the pleasant visitor moorings above the port, and waited for the rain to stop.