Today went generally well and to plan with one minor adjustment. Rising at our usual time, we pulled back onto the water point before breakfast, having failed to fill the tank yesterday as a) the tap was slow and b) there was a big demand for it. This morning, the pressure was much better so that we barely had time to finish eating before we'd filled up.
Sheila steered us through the maze that is the Stourport basins, another situation where experience of Mercia was a great help. I hopped off above the first staircase and filled the top lock. The gate paddle was hard work at that time but the rest of them proved less troublesome. As warned, the transit from the bottom of the upper staircase to the top of the lower one is very tricky in a 70 footer, there's only just room to get round, but Sheila accomplished it with her usual aplomb and a gentle hand on the throttle.
Off we went down the wide, wide river. I rang Lincomb Lock as soon as we were on our way and the lockie had it open and ready for us when we got there – I'd just had time to get a wash load on the go. The Severn locks are all keeper operated and a doddle after the Thames or Trent ones. Although the Pearson's doesn't say so, they are on VHF channel 74; I'd have rigged ours if I'd known.
We'd planned to moor for the rest of the day below Holt Lock, where the Pearson's showed visitor moorings, but these proved to be some rather decrepit pub moorings, very unattractive. So we activated Plan B which was to carry on to Droitwich today. The entrance to Hawford Junction points downstream, but there's loads of room to turn below and, of course, approaching from downstream is better anyway, giving more control.
The first of the Droitwich Barge Canal locks had heavy gates but reasonably easy paddles, as had the second which follows almost immediately. The towpath between vanishes into some bushes on the right but does re-emerge by the lock. Rising up this one, we saw some excellent moorings above, not marked on the guide: they do look very new with good piling and handy rings. Not all the rings in the right place, naturally, but handy even so.
Accordingly, we knocked off for the day and have been tied here all afternoon. It was calm enough to get the whirligig out and get the towels out to dry. After lunch, we took a walk up the towpath to see what tomorrow has in store. This truly is a beautiful bit of canal once you are clear of the A449 road noise, well meriting Pearson's favourite adjective, "bosky".
Back at the boat, now well exercised, we've been sitting around and chatting to passers-by. Boats have come and gone, though this mooring is now pretty well full. We had a particularly long conversation with Simone off a Canal Club boat, Naretha Blue, before they decided to move on down to Worcester.
Tomorrow, another six of these broad locks will take us up to the visitor moorings at Netherwich Basin in Droitwich. There is a Waitrose in Droitwich, hooray!