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Left or Right?, the leaving of Tewkesbury

It was an early start for us on the Monday that we left Tewkesbury. The lock isn’t open until eight and we wanted to fill the water tank before we dropped down on to the Severn.

Over the last few weeks, we’ve been trying to make our minds up as to whether we should head south on the Severn to Gloucester and then on to Sharpness on the G&S canal. We had weighed up the pros and cons but now we had to make a decision – at one point it looked like it could be down to the toss of a coin.

After filling the tank, we were joined by another narrowboat, the name of which escapes me and after they breasted up and started filling their own water tank, we chatted with them about the Gloucester and Sharpness option. They moor their boat at Sharpness and are very familiar with the route. Despite their positive view of the route, their recommendation actually pushed us in the opposite direction, literally!

At eight o’clock and with both water tanks filled to the brim, we brought both narrowboats into the lock. After saying goodbye to the friendly lock keeper, we followed the channel to where the Avon meets the Severn, turned right, headed north and hoped that we would find a mooring at Upton-upon-Severn.


I’ve been getting a bit lazy with this blog over the last week or so and I have no good excuse for it so I will attempt to get up to date as soon as possible.

The next leg of our trip took us from Eckington bridge to Tewkesbury and again we set off with the intention of arriving mid-morning. It was sunny and windy again but we hadn’t appreciated that the wind direction had changed and was coming from the north and it was cold, very cold. After an hour, I gave in and pulled a sweatshirt on over my tee shirt. The sweatshirt wasn’t enough and within another twenty minutes there was a third layer (Navy surplus 100% wool jumper) between it and the tee shirt. After braving the elements for a while more, we arrived at Tewkesbury and moored just below King John’s bridge and opposite Ye Old Black Bear Inn, Gloster’s oldest pub according to the signage. Well it may be the oldest in the county but it’s closed now and in fact looks like it was just abandoned one day leaving everything in place.

We paid our mooring fees to the lock keeper and prepared to stay in the town for the next few days. There was a food festival scheduled for the weekend (we arrived on the Thursday – just to get the timeline straight) so we began our stay with a good look around the Abbey. At the Dissolution of the Monasteries the Abbey was dissolved and all its valuables seized and placed in Henry VIII’s coffers. The Abbey was purchased by the townspeople for £453, the price of the lead on the roof and the metal in the bells, to become their parish church. You can read all about it here.

Tewkesbury Abbey

Inside the Abbey

The town of Tewkesbury has a rich history and its streets are full of old and interesting buildings so we spent a lot of our time exploring on the Thursday afternoon and all day Saturday after our visit to the food festival. If you’re wondering what happened to Friday, well we caught the bus and went to Upton upon Severn to have a look at the place – more of that later but as a result of our visit we decided to move on the Monday morning rather than on the Sunday as we had originally planned. The extra day was spent on a shopping trip to Morrisons followed by a circular walk around the island formed by the Severn and the Avon.

Tewkesbury Mill

Avon Mill stream

Mr Pickwick was here

Little did we realise yesterday that the local Wetherspoons is mentioned by Charles Dickens! The Royal Hop Pole wasn’t a JDW pub back then of course but it was a stopping point for Mr Pickwick.

Except that he wouldn’t have been able to avail himself of the Tuesday night steak club deals!

Avon Calling

Our brief affair with the Severn is over. 

We were in no big hurry to leave our overnight mooring at Worcester this morning since the one and only lock that we had to pass through doesn’t open until 8am. We untied at half past eight and continued our southerly journey, passing the city and its cathedral on the way. The lock keeper was cutting the grass when we arrived, he told me that he hadn’t expected to see anyone before ten o’clock and not only were we there but another boat was coming into view. Once through the lock, we revved Caxton up and made our way to Tewkesbury, in all honesty there’s not a lot to see on this stretch, the only wildlife being the odd heron or gull. We passed quite a few cruisers and narrowboats on the way and soon enough reached the mouth of the Avon, we would have missed it had we not been aware that it was not too far past Mythe bridge, the sign being obscured by trees and bushes. We made the turn and headed into the lock, paying our fees as we went. (Navigation – £50, guide book – £4, overnight mooring £3).

We were worked through the lock by the lady lock keeper, her husband and her father; lock keeper’s husband told us that their house was one of the few in Tewkesbury unaffected by the flooding in 2007. 

Out of the lock and round the corner, we tied up for the day and then took a walk into town. Many of the shops were closed being Sunday but there were enough open to hold our interest, we had coffee in a lovely coffee shop before have a sunday roast in the local Wetherspoons. We then wandered over the road to Tewkesbury Abbey and were enthralled by its charms, a beautiful and serene place to visit.

On returning to our mooring, which is opposite the Black Bear pub, we could hear football commentary and Sue suggested that I might like to go and watch the second half of the Stoke v Liverpool match. I went but soon realised that it was the sort of match that if it been taking place in your back garden, you would have closed the curtains and done something else. Liverpool scored in the closing minutes, the pub erupted and I returned to the riverbank where Caxton and Susan were waiting. Tomorrow’s forecast is for rain early on so we may delay our start and explore the town when more shops are open.