Sunday, 20 May 2012

Up the Junction

Thursday 17th May
From Netherwich Basin the last few metres of the Barge Canal take you through Vines Park, where there are a surprising number of swing bridges to negotiate, including the rather unnecessary one across the lock that leads up into the River Salwarpe and hence to the Droitwich Junction Canal.
Why not just walk across the gates?
After a short river section, the Junction Canal proper begins, a curious mixture of restored old line and, where this wasn't possible, a brand new cut. The first obstacle is the M5 crossing. Here, the restorers used an existing culvert with very limited - and variable - headroom. I was a bit worried about this as Starcross is a bit more high-sided than many boats and the air draught has been further increased by the new, taller, flue I was required to have fitted when I replaced my water heater a year or so back. So it was with some trepidation that we approached the crossing.
Advance warning!
OK So far. . . 
Loads of room (as long as you don't want to see forward to steer!)
Shortly after the culvert are the brand-new locks, including a staircase, swiftly followed by the three old locks that were restored several years previous to the main re-opening. We were assisted up these by a volunteer lock-keeper, whose help was welcome even if his method of working wasn't completely efficient.

At Hanbury Wharf we called in for diesel and gas and I realised what a sheltered life I've had on the Shroppie where the close proximity of Norbury Wharf and Turner's Garage keeps diesel prices to a minimum. I paid up (and was "reminded" that I didn't have to declare 60/40: we settled for 40/60!) but I did draw the line at being asked for £3 by the New Boat Company next door to empty my toilet cassette. That was just taking the p*** (literally!)

Then it was off along a relatively lock-free stretch of the Worcester & Birmingham Canal down to Diglis Basin, where we winded and returned to the Blockhouse Lock, where we left Starcross for the weekend whilst I went down to south Wales to visit my parents. Before leaving, however, we called in at "The Anchor,
The Anchor, Diglis: where a pint is a pint!
Although not quite as basic as its namesake on the Shroppie, this "Anchor" hasn't been overly messed about with and is a proper boaters' pub. It's also one of the last pubs to serve cask beer through a metered electric pump into oversize glasses, which means you get the full pint you've paid for with plenty of room in the glass for the "thick creamy head" that cask beer drinkers are expected to want these days. Revolutionary!


Halfie said...

Ah - memories of the pub in Oaklands Road (I think it was called the Kersal) almost opposite the halls of residence in the seventies. It served Boddies (when it was a proper beer) from electric measured pumps. I'd forgotten about them! The cylinder was mounted horizontally above the outlet: a press of a button caused the piston to move from one side to the other dispensing half a pint as it did so.

Looking on Google Streetview the pub seems to have been turned into houses.

Anonymous said...

The first thing I was told about the Kersal Hotel wad that they didn't like students! Perhaps they'd seen sense by the time you got there. Unfortunately the pumps in the Anchor are a more modern version where the workings aren't on view. Still nice to get a full pint though!

Sarah said...

They had a similar sounding system in the Cross Keys (M&B) in Penkridge last time I was there - they made it sound as if it was something new and exciting!

I don't like froth and I don't like oversize glasses, and I have lately come to the somewhat uncharitable view that if people are daft enough to want froth, then they deserve short measure!

Anonymous said...

The trouble is that short measure has become the norm. Like you I don't like a foaming head on my beer but it's getting ever harder to avoid. Not too bad in Worcester tonight though!

Adam said...

I'm wondering how these volunteer lock keepers are being trained. the ones at the Soulbury Locks last week weren't very efficient either. I was amazed at the paddles left up and the unnecessary walking backwards and forwards over the gates. I suppose many of them probably aren't boaters, so don't have much experience of working locks.

Grumpy of Leicester said...

Most of the Volunteer Lock Keepers (VLK) have only very recently been trained, most but not all have 'some' boating experience, a few are boaters themselves, and a few have no canal experience whatsoever. I think all the VLK's are eager to learn, but our main role is to *help* not to hinder or take control. We are learning!