Lydney to Gloucester Passage Plan

Lydney to Gloucester / Tewksbury by River, Passage Plan for Small Craft.

Sailing trip from Lydney to Avon SC -

By David Harris & George Price 1998

Having heard a lot about George Price sailing from Lydney all the way up the Severn to the Club last year, and that he was planning a repeat trip this year, I was only too pleased to accept an invitation to go along.

As I had only ever sailed on the River Severn proper, this trip was bound to be different and just how different I was soon to find out.

George’s experience of the River soon showed through when in addition to a map, he produced a strict timetable.

Leaving Lydney at 09:35 on the dot would give us only 10 minutes leeway at the point of no return, which was Newnham: miss the timing there and we would have to turn back...,

I arrived at Avon SC. at 8 in the morning to be met by Dave and George.

Leaving Dave’s and my cars at the Club we drove via Upleaden, Newent and Coleford arriving at Lydney at 9am, where we met up with Cliff who was busy preparing his Wanderer.

The tide was already coming in at quite a rate of knots and the sandbanks were disappearing by the minute, so soon there was plenty of water and the boats were launched at 9:45 (the latest possible time).

The morning mist was clearing and the opposite bank could just be seen, the river being 3/4 mile wide at this point.

The launch went well, if rather muddily, with Lydney pier providing shelter from the increasing flood tide.

The motor fired up and the sails filled, and with all this and the flood tide we were given an exhilarating turn of speed and Lydney soon receded into the mist.

The river widened to over a mile and the morning mist cleared to reveal great areas of troubled water, where the force of the tide and the flow of the river causes much turbulence and a heavy chop.

Then we met the first standing waves - a new experience for me - 3ft-hìgh waves which weren’t moving anywhere, and which would appear and disappear within a few minutes.

These are caused by the flow of the river and the rapidly rising tide over comparatively shallow water.

However, we managed to miss most but not all - of these mainly due to George’s knowledge of the River and the navigable channel.

On reaching the “Noose”, where the estuary turns left and starts to narrow down, George took the deep channel to the right, but Dave & Cliff decided to attempt the much shorter route to the left over the shallow water.

At first this seem a good move, but a series of six standing waves appeared!

The Wanderer rode high over the first five waves, but through the sixth, giving them an intimate feel for the water temperature.

Then the shallow water proved just a mite too shallow, and the centreplate struck the sand.

However, no gear was damaged and both boats proceeded through both heavy chop arid calm waters to Newnham, arriving at 10:51, four minutes ahead of our schedule, a distance of 17km in just over an hour.

Newnharn is the decision point, ¡f we had been late we would have moored up and returned to Lydney on the ebb tide alter a wait of about 4 hours.

But all was well as we were just ahead of schedule.

Many of the visitors to Newnham seemed surprised to see us: very few boats, especially of our size, are seen on the River here, and many cheery ‘waves were exchanged.

Proceeding around Newnham and on towards Epney, after another 3/4 hour we had travelled about 1/2 mile as the crow files.

The river Is now not that wide, about 1/4 mile, but heavy chops and standing waves were still a -plenty.

At this point both boats tried pure sailing without engine assistance, but there was insufficient wind to maintain the necessary speed, so we resorted to more motor sailing.

Arriving at Epney where the river turns left and widens out proved interesting: workmen where busy building flood defences (do they know something we don’t, I wonder?) and standing waves appeared almost across the full width of the River.

These gave the boat a good hammering but the ‘Dayboat’ proved more than adequate for keeping crew dry.

At this point the river narrows down to normal size and the speed of our progress really began to show.

The ‘Severn Bore’ pub hove into view and disappeared equally quickly; and the 33 kilometre mark came and went at Minsterworth church at 1215.

The river now turns almost due south, giving as almost a head wind, but by now we were 15 mins ahead of schedule.

Thu rest of the journey to Gloucester proved easy, although we did turn the bout to face the flood tide to prove the engine could make headway against the tide.

Arriving at Gloucester in also a decision point: the short way is via Maisemore weir about one or 1.5 miles away: the longer way via Gloucester although the weir is closer.

Time was on side so we chose Maisewore.

Lowering the mast to get under the bridges provides fast passage to Maisemore and onto the navigable past of the river.

Here the race against time is finished and a more leisurely cruise upriver back home to Avon SC can be taken.