Stage 6 Atcham to Bridgnorth, 25 miles, running total 84

Pen, Clare and Sandy plus Brian in for the long haul

It was good to be back on the water again. Another club trip with great company: Sandie, Clare and Brian for the first leg joined by Andy Brooker, Martin T and Peter at Ironbridge. The first stage of this trip from Atcham to Ironbridge is said to be boring but I love it for it’s massive sleepy oxbows through the widening Severn basin. At this time of the year there are always considerable gatherings of Canada Geese. If one decides to take off they probably all will and this is a truly awesome sight as they rise above you.  It’s easy to see Kingfishers from a kayak especially if you are on your own. One will zip out from it’s riverside perch and fly low to the surface of the water like a little exocet. It’s a thrilling sight. They are very short lived birds and their numbers are reducing but that’s hard to believe if you kayak the Severn in Shropshire. But last year we saw far less of them. There was a late cold snap: “the Beast from the East” and flooding which I believe reduced their numbers. So it was good to spot three between Atcham and Bridgnorth.  

As you paddle towards Buildwas Bridge the sleepy rural atmosphere changes. Quite soon the bold handsome shapes of the power station cooling towers emerge from the trees. Sadly this is probably the last time we’ll see them, they’re due to be demolished. 

Ironbridge Power Station cooling towers
Shrewsbury’s graceful mediaeval “Welsh Bridge” doesn’t seem to attract many admirers but The Iron Bridge is always adorned with tourists. It is simply one of the most famous bridges in the world built by Darby and sons around 1780. It changed the way we made things even if they did use carpentry techniques. It always feels great to paddle underneath it especially if we have our very own Karen Darby along. 
The Iron Bridge
A couple more bridges, a whoosh down Jackfield Rapids and we’re joined by Andy, Martin and Peter. The seven miles down to Bridgnorth are pretty with red sandstone cliffs to one side and then the other, the occasional cottage or farm but mostly woods and wildlife. This belies the fact that this was once one of the busiest stretches of the navigable Severn in Shropshire with iron, coal, clay tiles and pottery being transported by boats. They went down with the stream and were hauled back. Hard labour. And the reason for all this cargo was hard labour in the foundries at Ironbridge and smelting iron at Coalbrookdale. 
Coalbrookdale by night. P. J. de Loutherberg 1801

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *