Worcester Ring (Tim Jones) Challenge July 2021
Well if you want a challenge this has got what it takes. Have you? Or if you want a very relaxed approach then that’s fine as many take their time and enjoy the scenery and views while meandering along the 21 mile route and not rushing at the many portages along the way. Ours I think was somewhere between the two.
The WRC starts at Worcester Canoe club by the racecourse on the banks of the Severn. The first mile is downstream, passing Worcester cathedral, before portaging onto the Worcester and Birmingham canal. From there it heads north east and into the peaceful and picturesque countryside. With many locks on the way the first food stop at 6 miles is a welcome break before heading on to soon reach the 250m long Dunhamstead tunnel. Shortly thereafter the route turns west and onto the Droitwich canal where it continues to the next, and even more welcome, food stop at 15 miles. Another 3 miles gets you to the end of the canal and back onto the Severn. You’re now 3 miles north of where you started and going with the flow so you’re soon (although it may not feel it!) back to the start.
Robert, Lourette and I decided to travel up together and do the trip in one day. So did Douard with a friend of his but as they started well behind us we only saw them at the finish. R&L took their trusted K2 and I a Viper 55. Our day started early; very, very early and having met at the club and racked up we got on the road by 5:30 am. Robert drove, Lourette chatted and I napped in the back giving the occasional piece of navigation advise; sometimes too late! Even so and with a coffee stop en route we got to the start shortly after 8am and right on cue it started raining. Once we sorted ourselves, the boats, registered and had our safety briefing we got on the water at 9am. The rain continued on and off for an hour and a half before finally clearing up for the day. I’ll spare you the detail but it goes something like paddle, portage, paddle, portage, paddle, portage, paddle, portage, paddle, portage,……food, tunnel (and turn your torch on or risk a dunking), paddle, portage, paddle, portage….., food, paddle, portage, paddle, tunnel, paddle, portage, paddle, portage and finally a glorious 3 mile victory parade to the finish which Cleopatra herself sailing down the Nile would have been envious of. Okay, the last bit is untrue. It was tough at the time. I was working my socks off trying to keep pace with R&L only to be told after we finished that they were trying to keep up with me. Magnanimous of them to say but I don’t believe a word of it! Anyhow, I was more than pleased with my 5hour+ time even though someone did set a new K1 course record of 2hr 59min.
Overall, it’s a superbly run event with plenty of parking, easy registration, food stops along the way and a hot snack at the finish after a most welcoming shower. But maybe most importantly there’s plenty of encouragement along the way. Will I give it another go next year? Yes, most definitely but also definitely in a lighter boat.
For more info see their web site.
p.s. did I say there was lovely and varied scenery along the way? Well, there is. Afterall it’s not about getting to end, it’s about the journey.
Here’s a few snaps: