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Thursday 30 April 2015

The heat is on, hurray.

Today has been a very rare day for us recently as we haven't moved at all. We were waiting for the mechanic from Calcutt Boats to arrive. We have moved far enough south to be within range of their call out service. Having spoken to their office they decided that Alrewas was the best place for them to visit. I must admit I was surprised that a call out didn't mean that they came when you wanted them. It actually didn't make any difference to us as I would have organised it for yesterday anyway. Chris turned up at 1145 after getting to the post code that I had forwarded. (The George and Dragon pub). I told him that he would need to find the canal, which I thought was fairly obvious, and directed him to the place we were moored with easy parking next to the boat. He had a quick look round the unit and we started it up. His initial diagnosis was that it was the air compressor. I didn't think that would be it as it seemed to be working fine. The pressure gauge showed it was fine. It didn't take him much longer to find that it was the fuel solenoid. This was replaced and it flashed up straight away. Before he arrived I had checked that the header tank was full and checked that all the radiators were bled and with the unit firing the radiators were soon hot.

Hurricane SCH 25 unit.

With the Hurricane working it means that I now don't have to get up and light the stove before Helen getting out of bed, and then running the engine for half an hour to heat up the water for a shower.

Last night we went to the George and Dragon pub. It is a Marston's pub and is in the 2014 Good Beer Guide. There were plenty of locals in and several eating too. I was not impressed with the beer there. I tried the Pedigree and the Burton Bitter and neither were very good. We will try the newly refurbished Crown in the village. I am expecting the beer to be a little more expensive though.

Opposite our mooring is a back garden. There are some chickens in a coop there and the bank of the canal is overgrown at the edge of their garden. This morning I saw a brown rat moving along the water line. As is watched more I saw the biggest rat I have seen out side of the Grytviken whaling station in South Georgia. It must have been a very old rat. There were were many of them moving around when we watched and I have seen them diving down and climbing trees today. Rats don't have a very good reputation but they are quite handsome creatures. I expect that they are sharing the grain with the chickens. I wonder if the householders, or the many dog walkers on the towpath know they are there. 

This wasn't the Grand Daddy of them all so I will have to see if I can catch it before we leave. I'll be washing my hands if I contact the water from the cut I think. I have no desire to catch Weil's disease.

Wednesday 29 April 2015

Lorry spotting.

We woke up to rain this morning but it was expected. I was hoping that it would clear away before we were ready for the off, and it did. 

On the left is the entrance to Shobnall Basin that marks the furthest we got down the Trent and Mersey last year. Under the beer bridge is new territory for us. We have never done this stretch, even in all the years we hired boats for family holidays.

The weather wasn't nearly as cold as yesterday despite the wind being just as strong. The locks are well spaced out along this stretch. 

We are now on the narrow system and it isn't just the locks that are narrow! This bridge is minus a tow path making it appear very narrow. I wonder why the towpath was missed off? Was it just money saving.

This stretch is absolutely fascinating, if you are a Eddie Stobart truck spotter (other truck companies are available). The A38 roars passed and on some stretches you feel as though you are on the inside lane of the road!

This isn't the closest the canal gets to the road. It one stage it was just the other side of the fence. I couldn't believe that a boat was moored there too. He was under a bridge painting but I think I would have found another bridge unless he was deaf!

At Wychnor lock the canal seems to transverse many small tributaries of the Trent that feed down to the main river. The 14th century church stands on a hill above the flood plain. It is also the place that the canal leaves the A38.

The long bridges over the numerous streams or sitches.

The advantages of a narrow canal and long legs.

The longest footbridge over another part of the Trent that flows into the canal for a short stretch.

After lunch we took a stroll round the village to get the lie of the land and passed the lovely church and lych gate unfortunately the church was locked. There are several thatched buildings and other notable homes in the village. We will go and explore the pub later I expect.

Tuesday 28 April 2015

Gone for a Burton.

It was a beautiful morning, until you stepped out on deck and the wind had a cruel edge to it. We would be heading into it all day too. We passed through some lovely wooded areas before we arrived at Swarkestone Lock. We just missed a boat going up so we were on own. We decided to stop at the water point to top up. We very rarely miss a day to top up the water tank, especially if there is a vacant tap.

Just by the lock the Derby Canal left the Trent and Mersey. From Derby it continued and joined the Erewash Canal at Sandiacre. In the photo, about where the boat is moored in the distance was a a link down to the River Trent that is still close by.

There were a few boats moving as we passed through Stenson Lock and passed Midland Canal Centre and Mercia Marina. The visitor moorings at Willington were quite busy but we carried on.

In the distance is Monk's Bridge which spans the River Dove. There was a bridge here in 1294 and in 1394 it became Monk's Bridge as the Crown granted a monk permission to collect alms for it's upkeep and eventually built a chantry chapel on it. It was rebuilt in 1775 and was by passed by the dual carriageway A38. The aquaduct was built by James Brindley in 1777. The pill box comes from WWII and demonstrates what a access point the road rail and canal used in their building as it was expected that they would also be used by our enemy.

We have seen many more ducklings today and some must have been born a while ago as they were quite large. We laos have seen several single ducklings that have been cheeping away as they have become separated from the rest of the family. I expect the strong wind blowing down the cut means that once blown down wind they find it very difficult to get back up wind. We discussed towing a bath astern and scooping up all the waifs and strays but that is the circle of life I suppose.

At Horninglow Wharf the A 38 is literally just above it so would not be my first choice for a residential mooring. However  it is enhanced with a nice mural to brighten up the outlook. 

Just past we came to Dallow Lane Lock and so to our first narrow lock. It is always a milestone to get back to the narrow canals. We were lucky there was a spot on the end of the off side moorings at Shobnall Fields. It was quite interesting getting on to it with the wind blowing off it but we were soon moored up. 

After a late lunch I put up a couple of the double glazing units and then went out to clean up the engine hole. Helen disassembled an old skirt and made ready to refashion it.

Monday 27 April 2015

Off the river.

As we were moored outside Sainsbury's it would have been rude not to step inside and gain the benefit of a voucher for petrol after spending £20. It was an easy way to stock up on wine etc. We were off in the sun but it was quite bitter in the wind. We seemed to be going very slowly as were were travelling at 'canal' speed, but we were soon past Boot's Estate and at Beeston Lock. A boat with a new to boating couple aboard were just entering so we managed to share with them.

There is loads of blossom on the trees this year so making a very floral passage down the cut.

The approach to Cranfleet Lock.

The placid Trent and the trees around Thrumpton Hall contrast with the towers and chimneys of Ratcliffe Power Station. There was no smoke or steam so it seems to be shut down but it complies with the new pollution regime and even takes Nitrous oxide out of the flue gas now, despite it being coal fired. Maybe it is on a make over.

As we passed out of Cranfleet Cut there is the sign pointing to where we have come from. It was very quiet at Trent Lock and nothing on the visitor moorings their either.

We were soon at Sawley and decided to moor up on the pontoon below the lock to top up with water and dump the rubbish before penning up. Both were accomplished quickly and we were soon enjoying being locked up by the two volunteer lock keepers and then we were off again.

After the M1 Motorway bridge is the Sydney Harbour Bridge, well the bridge carrying the water main over the Trent.

At we got to Derwent Mouth Lock we were in our first lock queue of the year. There was a small cruiser waiting to go up but the two ladies didn't have much strength. We couldn't fit in the lock with them as they were a little too long and a little too wide. We helped them on their way and then another boat down before we penned up too. Helen is sitting patiently on the lock beam of the lock as it fills with a lovely horse chestnut tree coming into leaf. The First bridge on the Trent and Mersey Canal is Porter's Lock. I not that our name is attached to the No.1 bridge!

We were soon at Shardlow and the number of lovely buildings is great. This one is ripe for development. I loved the windows and the mellow brick.

The Clock Warehouse with it's interior discharging berths with Shardlow Lock on the left.

Looking back from the lock with the lovely willow. It must have been fascinating when the full cargo carrying days were in full flow.

We caught up with the cruiser at each lock and assisted them each time. For this last couple of locks we shared with share boat 'Debdale' and had a good chat as they knew Hull well. We kept going until after Weston Lock and then it was getting cooler and cooler and the clouds getting blacker. It has been a long day but we are now clear of the river so even if it pours we only have a short stretch of river that could delay us now.

Sunday 26 April 2015

Different boats for different folks.

After a very quiet night on the steps at Hazelford Lock we were ready for the off by 0930 but had to have a turn round the lovely secluded island by the lock.

There are path ways kept open through the brambles by the lock keepers and numerous rabbits. This has left space for wild flowers and the blue bugle was in stunning bloom this morning and there are loads of teasel heads.

Once above Hazelford lock the river runs next to the high ground and we met out first cruiser under the gaze of the church at Kneeton.

Despite the beautiful weather it was still cool on the river and so I kept my shirt on.

The track next to the canal was very busy with walkers and cyclists and there were plenty of these beasts watching goings on too.

The next lock was Gunthorpe and there were plenty of folk watching the goings on. Above the lock there were a couple of ski boats slaloming up and down.

The stretch of river from Hazelford to Holme Lock is quite pretty and on a sunny day like today even Stoke Lock was busy, but not with boats using it as it was very quiet for that. Above Holme Lock we came across these dinghies going hither and thither. I think it best to make sure that they can see exactly where I am heading and let them get on with it.

As we approached Lady Bridge just before the city we came across this sight seeing boat on a dinner (or lunch depending where you are from) cruise.

Just before we arrived at Meadow Lane Lock we passed this coxed eight and several single skulls making four types of boats that aren't very common on the canals. The Brian Clough Stand is obviously part of Nottingham Forest's City Ground. Next door is the Trent Bridge cricket ground and on the other side of the river is Notts County ground at Meadow Lane.

Meadow Lane Lock on the Nottingham Canal or Beeston Cut. It came as a  bit of a shock to the system to actually have to manual work a lock as the last must have been Fall Ing, the last of the locks on the Calder and Hebble in Wakefield. Helen is just going to shut the gate on the side that the boat we shared with should have closed. We stopped for a top up of water before setting off.

There were plenty of folk out on the towpath through Nottingham and there was also lots of drinkers by the lock at the Navigation pub by Castle Lock, and as usual non felt able to assist. This was the British Waterways Warehouse by the lock. It was huge as there is the same again astern of us. At least part of it has found a good use as the ground floor is a Weatherspoon's! We moored up near Castle Marina in the sunshine

Saturday 25 April 2015

Bargains and battles.

We set off a little earlier than normal as we wanted to stop for a shop in Newark. We passed Muskham and there were several boats on the pub moorings there. We were soon passing under the A1.

The East Coast Main Line cross not long before Nether Lock at Newark and we saw our first Virgin East Coast train.

We were soon up the lock with the help of the volunteer keeper and we were in luck as there was just one spot left on the pontoon moorings and just our size too. This is handy for ALDI so as we had a big shop to do it made it easier to get back to the boat. We first walked in to the market place as the market is always good for a look round. As it was we bought some veg, got a remnant of material for Helen to make something with, I got a new watch strap and we bought two teal loafs. We had one for lunch! We also visited Porter's purveyors of fine groceries. We got some triple smoked bacon, a p[ork pie and half a haslet. We had a coffee and a bun for strength to shoulder our way round ALDI as it was packed. I really like the atmosphere of Newark. There are some lovely buildings and there is just a good feel about the place too.

Pontoon mooring at Newark. Not quite as scenic as on the wall opposite the castle but easier to get on and off the boat.

After lunch we were just about to leave when a shower came over so we put off our departure until it had passed. I called the lock and they had it ready for us by the time we arrived.

The only wall of the castle is facing the river which makes it an integral part of the river here.

I had my first gongoozlers of the season asking  questions at Town Lock, Newark, but we were soon through and passing the old warehouse that were all part of the very important river trade. We were soon passing the marina and out into the country side.

Could have been a unicorn it looked so 'arty'.

Just like the last time we passed this way it started raining on the approach to the very large weir at Aversham. I was amused by the notice from C&RT stating that canoeist running over the weir do so at their own risk!

Aversham Weir where the  main tributary of the Trent leaves. With the rain I was able to use my new poncho. I will have to get a photo for you, but hopefully it wont rain for ages!!

Before and after Newark there are loads of these stone built steps that I think must be for fishing. They fascinate me as they are made of large stone. This means that they are not 'modern' as they would never use stone now. They are large so a great deal of effort was needed to set them up, and they have survived spates etc. I have looked on 'Google' but couldn't find anything on a quick search. I wonder if they were for exercising fishing rights in the past.

We passed another marina at Farndon and were soon at Fiskerton. There are some lovely houses here and the pub, the Bramley, looks posh too.

I love the way that they have dipped the wall down so as not to disturb the view from the sitting room.

With the threatening sky in the distance and the sun on the new leaves on the trees this looked a lovely place. However in times past it was anything but. There has been much talk of Richard III and the Battle of Bosworth and his death being the end of the Wars of the Roses. In fact the final battle of that particular war took place here two years later. in 1487. It was a bigger battle and with more casualties than Bosworth too. It was the last shout for the House of York as they produced an imposter for the young Earl of Warwick who had been named as Richard III's heir. The Battle was up on the high ground in the photo. When the Yorkists were routed they fled down to the Trent to escape down a gully and they were butchered there. It is still called Red Gutter today. The Imposter was pardoned by Henry VII as he knew he had been used and he gave him a job in the kitchen! He later gained promotion to falconer.

Just round the corner is the lock at Hazelford. There was a cruiser on the steps below the lock but we tied up there too. Mind you they soon left so as we hoped we had the little lock island to ourselves.

Friday 24 April 2015

Cromwell bound.

It was a lovely day and we had the morning to kill before setting off up river at lunch time. We started off getting up late and then just pottered before going for a walk into Torksey Village to see if the small village shop and post office was open. It wasn't, so we wandered back to the boat and waited.

The body of a sheep floated in on the tide and the crow was looking for a good meal. It all reminded me being in Africa. We have seen several sheep, muntjac deer, rabbits and a badger. My Mum always told me not to play near the river.

We had been given a time to depart of 1230. By 1210 the tide had come up more than a foot so we set off. From here to Cromwell there isn't much assistance from the tide as there is only a hours flood tide. There seems to be little current assisting you as the water seems to rise but the current hardly changes from the ebb at all. If it had been raining heavily there will not be a flood current at all.

The Trent is a motorway of access. As with the motorways they can be boring and with little to see over the banks but certainly get you to where you are going quickly. This cormorant was drying off in the sun on a small training wall.

Today we have seen two narrow boats and a cruiser going down river. A narrow boat left Torksey up river before us and by the time we arrived at Cromwell there were four of us in the lock going up. A bust day on the whole. This is the first of the ones behind and the last of those passing just passing the water ski club at Marnham.

The Old Mill at Carlton. There is a well built wharf and the remains of a wharf here too. I expect the products of the mill were taken all over by water. Maybe the raw material was delivered too.

There was a bit of a scrum leaving the lock for places on the floating pontoon. We moored up on the steps for the night. It was handy for the water and the rubbish disposal so we were happy.The largest weir on the Trent can be seen to the right with the lock to the top left.

Thursday 23 April 2015

Tramping the Trent.

 We were given the time of 0800 to at the lock. The road bridge needs to be swung before you can enter the lock and Mark the Lock Keeper swung it off for us right on time. However we had to be held in the lock as the tide was late and was still ebbing. It wasn't until 0835 he started lowering us down slowly. The gates opened and we could see the bows of the ship discharging the steel pipes, 'Geervliet'. And then we were off.

Keadby lock opens to reveal the bow of the ship. There were two more moored at Top Gunness and as the tide had just started flooding we could also see the bank of sand on the downstream corner of the lock.

 The weather was overcast with a slight mist. We were soon under the King George V rail/road bridge, and the M180 bridge and passing the disused mill at West Butterwick.

After a couple of hours we were passing West Stockwith Lock and the entrance to the Chesterfield.

The next major obstacle was at Morton where the river goes round a bend of about 320 deg. On the outside of the bend is a stone wall. Not so much of a problem on a narrow boat but on a ship carrying timber to Gainsborough it was quite 'interesting'.

The stone bridge at Gainsborough.

The first high ground close to the river is at Burton Chateau and there is also a folly over the river.

Just after Trent Port the river was nearly at high water and the cattle were able to get to the water. It looked a little wild west but emphasized the rural aspect of the river on this stretch.

It took us four hours before we were turning in to the cut that leads to Torksey Lock. The boat on the right was just about to leave to head off and we swung round and moored up on the moorings to the left.

After lunch we went for a walk to the village and had a look round the little church of St Peters. We couldn't see a path to 'Torksey Castle' so we missed it. Actually it isn't a castle but part of an old abbey. At one time there were three churches, a priory and an abbey! We stopped for a pint at the Hume Arms and then were back to the boat to await a visit from a friend, Stephanie. We also had a chat with the boat that arrived from Cromwell about 1600. We are not due to leave until lunch time so hopefully the sun will be out for our trip to Cromwell.