Canal Holiday: Avon Ring

3 June 2006, Day 1: Stoke Prior to Tardebigge

The Avon Ring was the choice for this year's annual bellringers' fourth canal holiday (fifth if you count the day trip) - and Stephen's 22nd. With a boat from Black Prince at Stoke Prior, eight of us set off, taking the Worcester & Birmingham Canal north then the Stratford-upon-Avon canal south-east to Stratford, then the River Avon to Tewkesbury, the River Severn north to Worcester, and then the W&B back to Stoke Prior.

After a generously proportioned and good quality but slow meal at the Navigation at Stoke Prior, we took over possession of Elsa for our week on the Avon Ring.

Lucy at the helm of Elsa as we begin our way up through the 34 locks that face us this afternoon.

Sheila, Alan, Merry and Jane working one of the locks.

Lucy steers the boat on towards the next lock as the crew walks between locks.

Unfortunately the two other Black Prince boats that had set off immediately before us were much slower than us at working the locks. While canal boating isn't a race, it is frustrating to be held up for hour after hour after hour. On a country road most slower drivers would pull over after a few hours to let those behind pass, but this doesn't seem to be the done thing on the canals. Not with the boats we catch up, anyway!

Alan at the tiller as we continue our progress on this beautiful June evening.

Sheila and Lucy empty the lock ready for Elsa

Looking up to the next lock

From the banks of the reservoir towards the top of the Tardebigge locks. At this point Stephen has gone ahead to prepare the locks ahead of the remaining slow boat, which suddenly doubled our rate of progress.

Looking the other way up the locks and across the reservoir.

Someone else at work.

We eventually moored up just after nine o'clock, by which time we were ready for our shepherd's pie! Six hours for the 34 locks isn't that bad, but is two hours more than Stephen and Lucy previously did it (with every lock against them) in 1999.

Total today on the Avon Ring: 4 miles, 34 locks.


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Unless otherwise stated, all images copyright (c) Stephen and Lucy Dawson