A glance at Gloucester

Gloucester Docks
Gloucester Docks

Continuing the theme of never passing a canal location without finding a excuse to take a closer look, I managed to get a couple of hours in Gloucester Docks last weekend.

I’ve been here before but never noticed the lock – one of the infamous “get it right or else…” locations, where you face the very unusual sight of going up an enormous lock into Gloucester Docks while being carried downstream on the current of the Severn.  Its best done when the lock is set in advance by the lock keeper so you dont have to moor against the wall on your left, as missing the wall is all too easy, ending up being carried past the lock entrance, which would not be much fun.

So today I was lucky enough to see two boats coming in off the river without incident, despite quite a strong flow. 

The docks have extensive moorings for visiting boats, both at the top of the lock and then through the Llantony lift bridge onto the Gloucester and Sharpness canal, and some of these are brand new including those outside the new Sainsburys.  There was plenty of room on this occasion.  The docks have been transformed this month which has seen the opening of the Gloucester Quays designer outlet in May now with dozens of new shops, and in comparison the old shopping centre is now rather run down and mostly closed.

The whole place is rather attractive though, centring around the National Waterways Museum which faces the Nielsen’s traditional boatyard across the water.  That side of the basin is lined with antique shops in the old canal warehouses.

Quite a pleasant place for a couple  of nights I think, but on this occasion it didnt take more than a couple of hours to take in the sights and have a quick look round the museum.  I passed on the option of adding a boat trip to my entry ticket, which was actually free as I have an annual pass to the three BW museums at Ellesemere Port, Gloucester and Stoke Bruerne.

Hotel Boat Oliver Cromwell
Hotel Boat Oliver Cromwell

A final look around, including the enormous paddle driver hotel boat “Oliver Cromwell”  – now permanently installed in the docks as a floating restaurant and event venue, but cruising the Severn until last year, brings home the fact that this is indeed a far cry from the narrow canals!  I wish I had been here for the Tall Ships Festival in May and there seems plenty of other events going on to make this a location worth returning to, hopefully next time with the boat.

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