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Holidays 2021: Gloucester and Sharpness Canal is a haven for nature lovers | Exercise Holidays | Journey – NEWPAPER24




Holidays 2021: Gloucester and Sharpness Canal is a haven for nature lovers | Exercise Holidays | Journey

2021-06-12 11:11:47


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It needs to be mentioned that the rowers, from the native membership based mostly on the Gloucester and Sharpness Canal, know what they’re doing. Many have put their oar in for Britain. As Steve, our genial captain aboard the MV Edward Elgar, defined when he gave me a fast tour of the bridge, he needs to be aware and respectful of different waterway customers, which he was as we chugged alongside at typically properly under the utmost velocity restrict of 6mph. And this was a whistle-stop tour; often it will have been a two-night journey, however we bought the potted highlights with only a single night time on board. That mentioned, we had been handled royally, with a crew who couldn’t do sufficient to entertain us, maintain us fed and watered, and certainly secure.

Boarding was at Alexandra Quay. If a few of us had been a contact unsteady going up the gangway (baggage fortunately having been taken aboard for us), it could have had one thing to do with our transient pre-cruise tour of the Gloucester Brewery micro-brewery, store and tasting room in Fox’s Kiln – staggering distance from the boat.

We noticed the processes that led to cabinets stacked with their very own beer, vodka and flavoured gins, the latter infused with native fruit.

Glasses had been clinked and samples loved. The packing room was proof of individuals’s altering habits, with rising numbers having booze shipped to their house the subsequent day quite than having to buy in ­individual.

Then it was on board for a welcome drink – and it was all downstream from there.

A cream tea adopted after we slipped the jetty berth and headed out of town – Steve having booked a couple of minutes’ disturbance for motorists on Netheridge Bridge, simply off the A38, which was dutifully swung open for us.

The MV Edward Elgar is the largest-capacity inland resort boat within the UK. At 88ft lengthy, and with 11 twin cabins and three decks, it was constructed to be as massive because it could possibly be and nonetheless match by the canal system’s locks, and slide underneath bridges. It may be a squeeze.

The MV Edward Elgar presents a heat welcome (Picture: PR Handout)

“There are some bridges the place, if the water is excessive, you need to time your journey,” says Steve. “And a pair the place we go into Ikea-mode – the glass across the bridge and the railings up prime, fold down.”

Fortunately, we didn’t have to duck or breathe in.

It was a calming journey from the off as we glided south in the direction of Purton and Sharpness, the place the canal runs near the Severn. We discovered simply how shut after a pleasing three-course dinner once we moored at Purton to see the unbelievable Hulks.

It’s a ships’ graveyard with a goal. In 1909, the canal banks had been breached, and thus was hatched a crafty plan to seashore deserted boats and ships, some intentionally laden with concrete or just run aground and left to nature. Some at the moment are misplaced to view, however most have nonetheless been mapped and commemorated.

You may see some poking partially by the dunes the place barely 50 yards separates the 16.5-mile canal, hand-dug for its opening in 1827, from the nation’s longest and most violently tidal river. One, the schooner Katherine Ellen, we realized, had been impounded in 1921 for operating weapons to the IRA.

We bought to know extra of our fellow friends – aided by Captain’s Cocktails – as we sat in the primary saloon, our tables all screened in a Covid-secure means. Our cabin, full with single bunks, bathroom and bathe, was downstairs.

Subsequent morning, after a cooked breakfast, we headed again north, stopping at Patch Bridge. Our vacation spot was barely 1 / 4 of a mile away, however our hosts placed on a coach for many who, having negotiated the sodden towpath, didn’t fancy the stroll to the sensible Wildlife and Wetland Belief web site at Slimbridge, the place the celebs of the present had been the pelicans.

Arrange within the Forties by naturalist Sir Peter Scott, who lived in a cottage on web site for six years, the WWT has avocets, cranes, geese, geese and swans.

Different species, comparable to peregrine and merlin, are seasonal guests. The Sloane Commentary Tower offers far-reaching views in the direction of the Cotswolds and Forest of Dean.

We had a roast lunch as we meandered again to Gloucester, however first a chat on the work of the native Canal Belief, and the way lockdowns have hit their pockets. Nonetheless, their sterling efforts have continued, preserving waterways and bringing again to life different uncared for or forgotten passages.


Swans soar above a lake at Slimbridge Wetland Centre (Picture: Getty)


Slimbridge Wetland Centre is house to stunning flamingos (Picture: PR Handout)

It was our first river cruise nevertheless it received’t be our final. We preferred the tempo of the weekend, and the eye to element of Jay and his staff from English Vacation Cruises.

They function on the Severn between Gloucester and Stourport and on the Gloucester to Sharpness Canal and provide a spread of packages with totally different stop-offs.

They are going to even organise an additional night time in Gloucester to spherical off your journey, which we did independently, taking within the magnificent Cathedral.

Pilgrims have visited the positioning because the 600s and latter-day pilgrims embrace followers of Harry Potter, with scenes having been filmed within the cloisters. It additionally has the grave of Edward II, who met his violent finish at close by Berkeley Citadel.

The town, as soon as the nation’s second largest inland port after London, has some great outdated buildings, such because the restored Robert Raikes Home, a timbered pub with a pretty walled backyard.

However we gravitated again in the direction of the Quays, which has been fantastically restored and hosts museums devoted to the Troopers of Gloucestershire and the Nationwide Waterways, in addition to the intriguing Mariners’ Chapel.

If in case you have designs on a calming few days’ break, messing about on the river could possibly be for you.



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