On Friday (August 12th) we went down the rest of the locks on the Astwood Flight and then turned onto the newly opened Droitwich Navigations (Junction and Barge Canals).

Newly opened canal!

We were greeted at the top lock on the Junction Canal by the lockkeeper who instructed us not to use the sideponds as he wanted some water going lower down the flight – normally they are used (the Waterways World guide is incorrect).

Working side pounds

Site of a new marina on the Droitwich Junction near Hanbury

The first three locks are restored and are not new locks. They conform to the Worcester & Birmingham pattern. The rest of the new locks on the Junction Canal are built in concrete which makes them a very different environment and not like boating in England. The staircase locks were straightforward and very deep. The top paddles of the upper lock were restricted to make them very slow filling.

Concrete new locks

Droitwich Junction Canal staircase lock gates

The culvert (tunnel) under the M5 has nominal headroom of 6ft 5in. We stripped the paraphernalia of the roof and squeezed underneath with just about a foot to spare above the cabin roof. I steered standing on the coal box peering past the pigeon box.

M5 Culvert

A tight squeeze!

Some boats have too much air draught!

Standing on the coal box to steer!

The depth of water in the Narrow Canal was adequate - Albert draws just over 30 inches- so we are quite sensitive to low water levels. We understand the lower sections of the Barge Canal are shallow; we will have to see how we get on.

We moored up on the moorings in Vine Park in the centre of Droitwich, just after the first lock on the Barge Canal. The basin is a great secure location with floating pontoons and a gate entrance operated by a BW Key. In the afternoon we investigated the town – we now know a lot more about brine extraction and salt.

Vine Park, Droitwich

Quite a few boats appear to be investigating this new route to the Severn. A new marina at the Hanbury end will surely increase traffic further. It was also suggested that it may also act as local reservoir for the two canals.