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Friday, 25 September 2020

Fresh, Full and Fitted.

 We had a lovely night on the mooring but we could tell that the wind had changed as we could here the road noise when we woke up. There was a fresh wind blowing.

The first lock of the day, and the farmers were busy. We got there to find the paddles raised and a gate open. The last boat to pass us from this direction was a single hander little cruiser. Just saying!!

The next pound was very low and a wide beam was struggling. He told us the Weston Lock had been left in the same condition as Aston Lock had. I don't get wide beam boats at all. They are fantastic internally, massive living space etc, but what fun can you have driving it about on the canals of today.  It is supposed to be fun not stressful. The canal around Weston Cliffs is pleasant.

Swarkestone Stand, or The Grandstand, or the Swarkestone Hall Pavilion stands out from the surrounding countryside. It's actual use is disputed, but it seems to have been built between 1630 and 1632. Whether it was as a bowling green, a grand stand for hunting in the surrounding countryside, a bull ring, a summer house or a banqueting suite. Of course it may have been used for all of them over its lifetime.

It was extremely fresh and blustery today, especially when there were no trees to give shelter, like at the top of locks. We got up and away but we were passed by a couple power walking towards the services. It seems that they were from a hireboat and 1.5 miles away had realised that they had left their key at the tap. Luckily it was still there! The building seems to have been renovated. You can see that it has windows looking up and down the cut. That is because this was a toll house as the Derby Canal has a junction just above the lock and then cross to join the Trent a little further on.

Stenson Lock often has lock keepers in attendance as it is deep and powerful. Not today. It is a deep lock and at the moment has a big leak to the bottom gates so it is hard to get a level to leave going up. Fortunately there were enough people to lend a hand.

As we approached the entrance to Mercia Marina everybody was telling us that there was a tree down just a little further on. It wouldn't bother us straightaway as we were heading into the marina as we were very short of fuel. Not quite on fumes, but it gives you an uneasy feeling knowing that there is only about 10 litres in there. We filled up with 170 litres at a very good 70/ltr, any split. The wind was a bit worrying for maneuvering around a marina but the fuel berth was in a good spot that the wind actually made easier to get on to and off too. It was good to be full again.

We has a bowl of soup and then left to moor up on the towpath to see what was what with the tree down. There was nothing to do until help arrived, so we went and had a look around Midland Chandlers and the shops on the Broad Walk. 

All the shops, cafes and restaurants were open. It wasn't too busy so we had a loo around and Helen bought a card she needed and a little gift. The berths looked nice in the sun.

We went back to have a look and found one guy from C&RT was there with several boater helpers hacking bits off to allow passage, An old boat was first through and as he passed us he told us his draft was 2'6" so we should be okay, and we were. We just fitted through. We decided to crack on and head for Burton as we were trying to get to Fradley to meet a friend.

I had assumed that this house near Bridge No.26 was the Egginton Wharf managers house but it seems that it may have been built as a pub for the navvies during construction and the boat folk once it was opened. It looks a very nice place if it weren't only a few yards from the A38 Trunk Road.

As we approached the outskirts of Burton there was a very light shower and we were left with a rainbow. Why is it they never come out in a photograph as they do in reality!

The A38 is always busy as as the dusk came down it looked more so with the vehicles having their lights on. I have traveled this road loads of times and always look out for the canal point as we pass.

It was nice to pass up the narrow lock at Dallow Lane despite it the glow under the bridge that goes over it. The Park moorings are soon after and there was a spot for us. The wind had dropped with the sun and the trees are not right over head so we wouldn't be bombarded with fruit or twigs etc. It was nice to get into the boat and light the fire. A full days work.


Thursday, 24 September 2020

Continuing on through Chain's Cuts and Canals.

 As I was getting the tea for us this morning there was a heavy shower, but other than that we have been dry whilst underway

We got underway at the normal time and headed west again. We were soon at the Lenton Chain. This is where the Beeston Cut joined with the Nottingham Canal and the wall to the left indicates where it continued north to reach Langley Mill at the Junction with the Erewash Canal. The Beeston Cut was completed in 1796 and in the same year the canal from Lenton to Langley Mill also opened. There is still a narrows close west of the Lenton Chain on the Beeston Cut that locks to have been a short stop lock in case of damage and loss of water.

Soon after Lenton Chain the canal widens and seems to find the countryside, but in fact industry is just behind the trees. The Beeston Cut was constructed by the Trent Navigation Company to bypass the weir at Beeston and connect with the Nottingham Canal and Lenton. You pass the old Player's Cigarette Factory and the the Boots complex.

In nearby gravel workings a Bronze Age settlement of huts on stilts was found along with a couple of dug out canoes. The Trent Navigation Company was formed in 1793 to ensure through navigation and they employed William Jessop to design the system and he had two locks constructed, this one and another that entered onto the Trent below the weir which is why there is a funny layout at the lock. There area is popular with walkers and cyclists and there are cafes and pubs to service them. We topped up with water at the lock too.

Once back out onto the Trent neither of us could picture it, so it appeared new round every corner, until we got there and it came back to us! The offside had many chalet type buildings with a little jetty. If you had to have a stay-cation away from it all, this would be a great place. Picturesque, peaceful and private. There were some very new and fancy places and some very old and not so fancy.

I kept saying that I seem to remember a steel stake in the river, but the further we went the more I thought I was thinking of another place and then we came round a bend and here we are. The little tug is moored to the stake on the left and the dredge barge and pan are pulling up loads of gravel and sand. There are spots along the bank where it has been dumped and also on Barton Island in the Trent that is used by the 2nd Beeston Sea Scouts. What an idyllic place for kids to hangout, so long as they can swim. In fact it seems they only own half the island, nobody has the other half. Interesting!! It was extremely shallow as we passed between the post and dredger. Not sure what you would do coming down stream if it wasn't clear. You would just have to round up I suppose. 

We passed another shallows marked by a steel post before arriving at Cranfleet Lock. This is a Grade II listed lock that was opened in 1797. The Cut was opened in 1796 and bypasses another shallows on the Trent. The white building is the club house of the Nottingham Yacht Club since 1964 when a new lock keepers cottage was built and they took over the old one. They have added to it over the years. In February this year the river flooded over the gates and just the tops of the lock beams were showing.

These flood gates at the western end of Cranfleet Cut were made redundant as the flood waters came in at the other end, below the river weir. Boats on the moored up on the towpath ended up high and dry on it when the water drained away.

The sailing club on the point of the weir island has a great view across the wide area of water where the Cranfleet Cut meets the Trent and the Soar as well as the Erewash. Radcliffe Power Station seemed to be supplying plenty of power as most of the cooling towers were in steam. More proof of a cooler period of weather.

Sawley Locks were soon in view. The left one is having new gates and it looks like the right hand ones will be next. The joy have having duplicated locks. There was a keeper on duty who had seen us and had the gates open for us. We were soon up and on our way. We are low on fuel and were going to stop at the Marina. You need a Aquavista card for some reason. I went into the chandlers where the lady was gaily chatting with two ladies who were paying. When they left so did the assistant! By the time she came back there was a queue. Who was behind me but the Cruising the Cut Vlogger man. I got no satisfaction from the woman when she came and at 96.1p it was only going to be a splash anyway. We continued on.

We were soon at Derwent Mouth and look there is a boat coming, only the second we have seen moving today. Strangely the lock was full when we got there though!

The obligatory photograph of Porter's Bridge, No.1 on the Trent and Mersey, of course.

There are some lovely conversions of old warehouses in the town and this is just about the best to my mind. We were in two minds whether to stop in the village or go through and out into the countryside, but when we saw the tail end of the moorings free in the sun we pulled over. Admittedly we were about a quarter length over the marked moorings. I saw a woman staring out of her window in a boat opposite, and sure enough this mouthy woman came out shouting the odds about mooring there and we should move. I assume she was worried we would block her view of the brick wall next to us. Funnily enough her boat's name was 'Tranquility'. Shame it hadn't rubbed of on her. Rather than have her ranting we moved on. A bit thank you to the lady from the next boat on the visitor moorings who came out and volunteered to move up but we left.

I love these old warehouses and I hope that they are not lost through neglect. We went up Shardlow Lock and out a mile or two where we found a great mooring with nice views a bit below Aston Lock and got moored up before a heavy down pour. 

I am wondering when we will have to get used to boats and boaters at locks, as we have had the waterways to ourselves just about this season. It is quiet up north. The sun was shining today and made everything cheerful despite the very cool wind, especially as we were heading into it mainly. We must have seemed well wrapped up to boats coming the other way.


Wednesday, 23 September 2020

Nice New Bits of Nottingham.

 There had been a bit of rain through the night but not heavy enough to wake us up with the noise on the roof. It had stopped by the time we got underway for the trip into Nottingham. A bit of a grey day that means the pictures are a bit grey, but made up for with the number of them today.

As Colwick Country Park morphed into the outskirts of the city it looked like there was a canal arm off the river, but no it was the Beck Valley Storm Water Culvert that was built in 1884. An early attempt at stopping Nottingham flooding no doubt.

Next, again on the north bank after a load of apartments, is another water 'feature'. I had my doubts that this was industrial and was built to go with the new buildings. But no, it was built as a river/rail transhipment basin with track down both sides and many warehouses too. However it seems to have been created for the war effort as it wasn't there on 1938 maps, but it was on 1953 ones.

We passed under Lady Bay Bridge and between Environment Agency and Nottingham Forest's ground on the south bank is this, the entrance to the Grantham Canal. It was opened in 1797 and had 18 wide locks to take it to Grantham. However it was closed in 1936, but there had to be a water level of 2ft maintained in it for agriculture. This has meant that the canal is still there just the locks, bridges etc and the Grantham Canal Society have accepted the challenge of reopening it.

We passed the entrance to the Nottingham Canal at Meadow Lane Lock to have a look up the river a little. That took us past the Nottingham Forest Ground that is one of the select grounds near a navigation.

This is a bit of detail of Trent Bridge, a sandstone and iron bridge that was built between 1868 and 1871. The first bridge was thought to have built in 920. It was replaced in 1156 and 1551 when it was known as Hethbeth Bridge. It was damaged several times over the years by floods and hence the new bridge that is there today.

We landed on the pontoon up river of Meadow Lane Lock as they are working on the down river, and the one with the better approach. I went up to help Helen with the lock. There is only one paddle working on the bottom gates but the paired paddles on one upper gate were leaking extremely badly as they weren't coordinated. One was still open when the other was fully closed. It took all our might to get it open.

It seems that the guy who moored his wide beam in the look and let the water out so he could check out the boats base plate!!!!??? didn't do too much damage. Both ladders are new but other wise the north wall seems intact and you can see the extent of the damage with the new pointing on the south wall. We stopped for water just after the lock.

This is one of the original canal bridges that  is from 1793 when the first couple of miles was opened, from Meadow Lane Lock to the city centre. The fulllength to Langley Mill on the Erewash Canal opened  in 1796.

The Fellows, Morton and Clayton warehouse was built in 1895 as a covered warehouse with berths for two boats inside. It later opened as a Canal Museum and Heritage Centre but was later converted to a pub that was closed for a while, but is now open again.

A little further on is the British Waterways Warehouse. It is a massive building and was built in 1919 and the place must have been extremely busy at its peak. We then passed up Castle Lock and found a mooring near to Castle Marina. Just after we moored it started to rain heavily, great timing or what! We popped to Sainsbury's for a few bits before lunch when the rain stopped, and then headed into town.

Helen had found a bit of a walk on line so we headed off to see something we had missed previously, The Park Tunnel. The 1st Duke of Newcastle had a hunting ground close to the city. By the time of the 4th Duke he wished to convert it to a residential estate. Unfortunately it had very poor access. He decided to build a tunnel that was big enough for a carriage and horses.

Unfortunately it was a big failure as the gradient up to Derby Road was far too great for the horses to pull the carriage up! 

The walk up from the bottom to the upper street level is steep. The Park Estate are trying to get this tunnel road closed as a public right of way as it is far too posh a place to allow the riff raff in.

At the end of a street full of white stuccoed houses with great views and massive price tags is this house designed by the City's architect Fothergill and Hines. The signature is turrets and bands of red and blue bricks. Once you know that you can see his buildings all over the city.

Just down the hill is a tablet in the road that marks the spot where King Charles I raised his standard to try and attract support for his cause in August 1642. The spot was on a hill north of the castle gatehouse called Derry Mount. Few did come forward so he gave up and headed for Salisbury leaving the castle and Nottingham to the Parliamentarians, at least for the time being.

We loved this building, while not a Fothergill designed building it is very tied to Nottingham. It was the flagship store for Boots the Chemist. The company was started by John Boot who was an agricultural labourer, but through ill health he had to set up as a herbalist. His wife helped him and when he died his son Jessie took over and developed the business. Jessie designed the building that was replaced and had been built in 1892. The architect of this building was Albert Nelson Bromley, a Scot practicing in Nottingham. It  was built between 1902 and 1905. It was further extended in the 1920's and 30's. I love the Art Noveau windows and the brick work. There is so much detail in it you could spend hours looking it over. 

There is so much to see in Nottingham if you look up. There are plenty of different styles of buildings and the shopping centre seems to have been demolished. I wonder what they will end up doing with it now. 


Tuesday, 22 September 2020

Is this the Trent?

 We set off about 0930 just as another boat on the lower wall was ready too. It was another lovely day and great to be on the river.

After Hazelford Lock the river runs alongside a steep cliff called the Trent Hills. I was reminded of the Thames several times today, but without all the traffic, or the charges. The 14th Century church of St. Helen's at Kneeton is not quite Cliveden but you can see the similarities. We were able to watch several gliders take off and soar from RAF Syerston out of sight on top of the escarpment. It was built before WWII and later became a Lancaster bomber base. It is now a gliding school for the RAF.

I am always amazed about the number of fishermen along the Trent and this length is no different, on a Tuesday morning too. But what a great way to spend a period, in the peace and quiet of the countryside, with the river burbling and the wildlife around, and the sun on your face. I could be tempted!?

Fishermen were not the only ones with there feet in the Trent. There were lots of cattle that were having a paddle. And it wasn't just to have a drink as they really appeared to be enjoying just standing there up to their middles.

Gunthorpe is always a busy place and as the car park is close there were many anglers enjoying the sun too.

We had to wait for 'Carpe Diam' who we shared Hazelford Lock with. They are wending their way back to Fradley where they moor. We left them here as they moored up at Gunthorpe.

Just up from the lock is Gunthorpe Bridge. The only road bridge between Newark and Nottingham. until 1875 there was only a ferry and ford and then a toll bridge was started in 1873, made of iron, but could only take 6 tons. By 1925 this was insufficient and the Council bought it and built a new bridge that was 400mts up stream of the old one, and open in 1927. It is a concrete arch bridge with the adornment of the of the lookout and the coat of arms of the Nottingham County Council that became obsolete in 1974 with the local government shakeup.

The reach close to Stoke Lock reminded me of the French Canals with the avenue of poplars along the bank. There were lots of walkers along the way too.

After Stoke Lock there is the Rectory Junction Viaduct, or more commonoly the Radcliffe Viaduct. It was erected in 1850. It was built for the Ambergate, Nottingham, Boston and Eastern Junction Railway! Fair trips off the tongue doesn't it. It was erected in 1850. The Trent Navigation Co demanded the available height must be 100 feet. The railway also spanned the river valley on 32 arches that were built from wood. They were replaced with brick between 1925 and 1927. Just behind the truck you can see an extra viaduct that took another line to the south on a concrete structure. This was added in the early 1960's.

I had been talking to a voluntary lock keeper at Newark Town Lock who used to run oil cargoes from Hedon Haven, where our boat is 'registered', and where we live, all the way to Colwick. In the early 1960's a very large oil terminal was built here. There were depots for Esso, Texaco and Total. There were seven jetties. only two or three of them are still pretty visible. This is the best preserved and so probably the depot that was last used, Total. The last floating delivered were in the 1990's. It then came via a pipeline. They have just started demolishing the last of the three terminals. You can see the emergency telephone and the little hose derrick to heave up the hoses to the manifold.

We passed up Holme Lock and moored on the wall next to the canoe slalom course. I was surprised to see it in full flow, but there were plenty of folk practising. We decided to take a stroll around the Holme Pierrepont rowing course. 

It is about 3 miles around as it is a 2km length and all flat. It was very pleasant in the sun, and whilst there were plenty of folk jogging and cycling around there was plenty of room for all. My first job when we got back was to aquire a TV picture on the pain of death. Pleased to say I will live another day. I then took off the fertan from the stove and flue and then stove blacked it and cleaned the glass, already for the cooler weather. Oh yes I filled the stern gland greaser too.

Lest see what tomorrow brings, but  weather wise it wont be like today, that is for sure.