Saul-to-Lechlade Centennial Cruise
Exactly 100 years ago the cargo boat Gem made the last full passage of the old Cotswold canals, from Saul Junction near Gloucester to the Thames near Lechlade.
However, since full restoration of the original 36-mile route is still a long way off, the boats went in two separate convoys, the 'long way round'.
One convoy travelled north via the Stratford, Grand Union and Oxford canals, a distance of 174 miles and 148 locks. Meanwhile the other took the southern route, via the Severn, Kennet & Avon and the Thames, over 200 miles and around 135 locks. This is the one we chose mainly because it included travelling the Severn Estuary, we like a challenge! and the K&A. The only other way of travelling the K&A was down from Reading and then all the way back again.
The original plan was to meet at Oxford on 1st September, and together sail in a single flotilla up the Thames to Lechlade. Good plan, however, like many boating plans, the outcome was slightly different.
Here we were greeted by civic dignitaries and drew attention to the IWA's Inglesham Lock appeal, which seeks to restore the lock and the first stretch going west from the Thames.
A series of events planned along the way to raise awareness and support of the restoration, took place, including BBC TV and radio interviews and fundraising.
The cruise took over three weeks. Pause a moment and think: when the Cotswold canals are finally restored the 36-mile passage should take only three days!
Below are the links to the route we took, including a daily blog, pictures and a vide of the Severn Estuary Transit.
Click on the links below