Monday, 22 August 2011

Probably my favourite railway - The Severn Valley

(Boat Chalice - posted by Alan)

Strange reflections in Cookley tunnel.
By this stage of a summer outing we are usually at the point where we should be starting to head for home, but with no great enthusiasms to do so!  Inevitably conversations start to be had about what we can still pack into the trip, and still be back home in time.  This time was no different - we had decided to come the way we had, because we wanted to visit the newly opened Canals through Droitwich.  But we also wanted to go into Birmingham later, if we could, (we always try to, on the summer trip), but that started to look like a step too far. (The added "complication" is that for various reasons this time we did not start until well into the school summer holidays - we have no flexibilty beyond a date Cath must be back by).

Chalice starts the days boating at Cookley tunnel.

Locks can even feature a canal-side cave.
But we had also never visited our favourite steam railway by boat either, the Severn valley railway, that Cath and I have been life members of for many years.  The Staffs and Worcs passes under it.

I just love the settings of so many of the locks!
So the decision was taken to tie up at Kidderminster and do a round trip on the Severn Valley, our second steam train day on this trip, and to keep an open mind about a Birmingham visit, depending on subsequent progress.  Advice from Canal World Forum members suggested that by Sainsburys would suit, so we moored there, and set off for the trek to the station.

Our motive power - newly out-shopped and gleaming.
We always enjoy the SVR, but usually visit at busy times, such as the massive Autumn steam gala.  Visiting on a weekday gave a chance to see it at a less busy time, although the scale of operations at the SVR still guarantees at least 3 engines in steam to run the basic service.

Visiting super-power!
We were treated to the pleasures of the newly restored Churchward designed Great Western 2-8-0 freight locomotive, number 2857.  This had one active stint of service on the SVR, but has been out of use for some time while its enthusiastic owning group have carried out another comprehensive rebuild, including much boiler work.  Lovely to see, although I often prefer the SVR when smaller locomotives pull the big trains, giving them a challenge, and producing a bit of noise.  2857 hardly struggles with its 8 coach train, even on the long climb at Erdington Bank.

I should have loved to travel with the visiting "9 freight", (an even bigger freight engine, with 10 driven wheels), but time did not permit - hopefully it  will still be on loan there for the Autumn Steam Gala.

"Take your dog with you by rail".
Charlie experienced his second steam railway, (unless his former owners ever took him to one!), and behaved well throughout, even when loud whistles sounded, or safety valves lifted as he sat by a locomotive.  This dog understands his place in our family, and doesn't seem to mind our slightly cranky interests!

Charlie checks everything is in order.

Really very good artwork under a Kidderminster canal bridge.

There were lots of these, each representing a decade.

Caldwell Lock - another in a striking setting.
All to soon it was over, and, sadly, our trip down to Stourport also meant we were coming to the end of this trip on the Staffs and Worcs, (well nearly - there would be a final fling through the last locks tomorrow).  Weatherspoons supplied the evening meal - always fine, despite our first choices, and much of the beer, being unavailable due, we were told, to a very busy day.

Cookley to Stourport on the Staffs and Worcs
Miles: 7.5, Locks: 6

Total Miles: 279.5, Total Locks: 210

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