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Thursday, 3 April 2014

Not too cold and not dull.

We set off about 0930 and it was still murky and misty, but still no rain. The run to Mexborough was pleasant with some lovely homes and gardens. At Mexborough Top Lock there is an artefact found under a modern foot bridge as revealed in the Richlow guide. It is at the site of a ferry across the River Don. On one side of the stone are markings showing the flood heights over the years of the 1800's. I wonder where the more recent floods would have come. The level was actually just about level with the height of the canal, so any higher would have caused big problems. On the other side is carved 'Ask for boat at cabin'.

Flood heights of the Don at Mexborough.            A hidden away relic with the river close by.

At Mexborough there is a very sharp bend and it is a wonder the 'Humber Princess' tanker ever gets round it but it does as there is no evidence of damage on the bridge supports at all. We next came to Swinton Lock. This is home of the Waddington's fleet. They are synonymous with canal and river freight in Yorkshire. There are still vessels here waiting an up turn in trade, and I hope that it comes soon. Just before the lock is an activity centre and some people were just getting a narrow boat ready to sail. A couple of lads dashed off to open the lock for us and they then followed us. We chucked them a chocolate orange to share as a thank you. 

Waddingtons vessel just west of Swinton Lock using the entrance of the closed Dearne and Dove Canal and the first lock or two as docks. This is another canal that is planned to be restored and would make a nice route to/from Wakefield.

We were soon upon Kilnhurst Stop Lock. The gates were closed but the levels were the same so we were soon through and back on to the River Don again. The river was gently curving and once again the place would be magical in the sun and with leaves on the trees. Today it was just still and mysterious and felt like we were on the hunt for Excalibur or on a viking long boat up some fjord. On this leg there were steel works on each side but largely hidden from view. One side seemed to be mainly demolished and the other seemed to be doing good business. The Richlow guide says there is more steel been made in Rotherham now than at its peak, but not from iron ore, but specialist steels from scrap.

A large investment from the steel company with a covered berth and heavy lift gantry. It doesn't look as though it has been used recently but there is hope for the future.

Next we came to Aldwarke Lock and once up through there is the Wash Lane Bridge. This is a listed structure, rebuilt in 1834, but seems out of place on this commercial waterway with 200' vessels passing. I reckon it would be a real sight seeing them squeeze through here. The bridge seems to have a fair bit of damage but rather than being hit by boats it looks more like over weight on the bridge top.

Leaving Aldwarke Lock and confronted with the comparative mouse hole of Wash Lane bridge. Not quite as bad as the bridge at the start of the Engine Arm in Birmingham.

Our last lock of the day was Eastwood Lock. There are some permanent moorings here and somebody must have heard us as they said they would work the lock for us. Unfortunately it didn't seem to work. After mooring up we called C&RT and went to see what was what. It worked fine for us so we had egg on our face when we cancelled their attendance. Moral is to check your self before calling for help. We were now off the river and onto the canal once more.

Still on the river a little upstream of Eastwood Lock were several wharves. I'm sure that they could be resurrected if a trade arose.

We moored up and went for a walk to the nearby retail park and came back with a new frying pan and various bits and pieces. bed early tonight as we have to be off at 0800 to meet up with the C&RT gang at Holmes Lock to see us up the Tinsley flight to Sheffield.

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