Narrowboat holidays—Severn

Published: Wednesday, 19 January 2011

FOR those of you preferring a canal boat holiday on a river, the Severn has many waterways leading off, so could be a good choice for an exploring waterway holiday.

With many connecting waterways, it is popular  with get-away  boat hirers wanting to explore the  river with a short holiday break. However, as the longest river in the country, and coming out of the mountains of Wales, there is always the risk of flooding upon which it will be closed to boaters. So the choice of when a holiday is chosen is most important.

Unlike the canals, bank side mooring is very difficult and dangerous, as the river rises and falls, so the boater is really limited to the few official pontoon moorings, with the exception of Worcester where they are plentiful. Moorings at such as Stourport, Tewkesbury and Gloucester are off the river altogether.

First timers

To the first timers to the rivers, it should be remembered there is always a flow, that varies due obviously to the amount of previous rainfall, and so a journey downstream will be much quicker than one upstream against the flow.

At weekends in the summer the river is very active with the 'gin palaces', especially around the marinas of Upton, most of which seem to care little for a narrowboat, creating a large wash, to which it is best to steer into.  They seem to have little sense of the speed limit and care little which side they pass.

All the locks are controlled by lights and are manned, so cause little problem, though as can be seen from the picture, they are quite large, so need ropes. Facilities on the actual river are virtually non-existent.

Though the Severn itself is attractive in that the major part of it flows through the countryside, having high banks to restrict flooding, it can be very boring, and for most boaters serves as little more than a transit between other waterways.

Its only attractions are in the towns and cities through which it passes.

The junctions with the Severn include  the Staffs & Worcs Canal, Droitwich Canal (in the Spring 2011), Worcester & Birmingham Canal, the Avon and the Gloucester & Sharpness Canal.

Being a river there is no problem whatsoever of congestion, as boats can pass each other easily owing to its width, but from time to time there is the occasional barge, usually transporting aggregate and there is the large hotel boat that plies the river, but neither poses a problem.

The lock keepers will  check your itinerary, and check your arrival, and make sure you have an anchor, so if anything should happen the authorities will be aware.

Though passage is easy, it is not really recommended for a  complete holiday, but for movement from one waterway to another, unless of course there is an interest in the towns and cities through which it passes.

The Severn from Stourport to Gloucester is 43 miles with five locks. The speed limit is 8mph downstream and 6mph upstream.

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