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Tuesday 30 April 2019

Lazily to Lougborough.

A nine o'clock start morphed into ten o'clock due to the rift in the space time continuum that is canal time. But once up and running it all went splendidly.

The guide posts were added and the chocks removed from the ladder. The tractor was flashed up and slowly backed down the slip.

As the stern is backed down into the water you always have your fingers crossed that the boat will float off the trailer before the stern is immersed!

It was eleven o'cloc k before we had the receipt and the boat had been washed off. It was required as here they take all the old bitumastic off before re-coating so that the new coat doesn't rely on older coatings to stick. We were soon out on the Sawley Cut and heading down to the locks. Voluntary Lockeeper told Helen that it had been really quiet other than the Easter period.

We were soon down on a lovely day and off on the Trent again. Can anybody tell me why there are the holes in the stone facing of the lock? They are obviously deliberate and seem too deep to be the housing of cleats that I have seen on the Calder and Hebble locks where the boatmen must have used a rope or boat hook to help in and out of the locks from the river.

We passed Trent Lock and then entrance to the Erewash Canal as we are heading south this time. The Cranfleet Cut is to the left and the Trent Valley Sailing Club is next to it on the island made by the canal cut and the River Trent. It is a venerable club being founded in 1886. The impressive club house was built in 1906/7. We slid past as a wide beam cleared the Soar before we made our turn.

At first the Soar is narrow and navigates passed a steep cliff of red sandstone that has white gypsum liberaly mixed with it.. After passing long lines of boats and chalets we reached Ratcliffe Lock with the power station of the same name in the distance. There was no smoke from any of the four boilers, or steam from any of the cooling towers. It was opened in 1968 and it seems is due to close no later than 2025 so maybe it has been brought forward. Yoy can see the old lock the other side of 'Holderness'. They have just filled it in with the gates still in-situ. I suppose it was something to do with improved flood protection but the height of the old lock is very similar to the new one.

We were soon passing through the Kegworth flood lock

Keworth Deep lock is in a lovely spot with the church in the distance. It also has an old alongside with the gates still inmplace. This one is a bit lower though.

Above the weir is this beautiful house. I thought it may be an old mill but does seem to span the water at all. It would make a great Youth Hostel!

We pootled along to Zouch (Zotch) lock where there were two boats just about to leave. It hasn't really been a busy day, traffic wise.

There are some lovely house in Normanton on Soar with whopping gardens, and there are some well maintained little chalets too. What a great place to get away from it all at the weekend.

The shed is the dock of the chain ferry that has been reinstated and operates at the weekends as far as I know. It had been closed for several years but locals got it opened once more.

It was getting late so just as we were approaching Chain Bridge turn we spotted bollards and a quiet stretch to moor at. Better than being in the basin down the arm or alongside the main road after the turn. Disappointingly I have found two deep scratches in th red paint on the port side. No idea how they were done but suspect it was whilst we were moored on the visitor moorings that were very open to the wind and somebody was not in control.

Monday 29 April 2019

High and Dry.

After a busy time at home, and having arrived back from a trip to London yesterday evening we loaded up the car and set off for Sawley looking forward t6o getting underway and on our travels. We knew it  wasn't going to be quite so straight forw2ard when as we arrived we saw 'Holderness' still out of the water

On checking it out we found that the blacking was finished, but due to the cold weather over night Alex felt that it would be best to let it cure until the morning.

We had the option of heading back home and making the return journey tomorrow, but decided to live aboard for a night so we could be launched first thing and then get away. We soon had all the stuff loaded and were settling in. We also topped up with water to be ready to set off straight away inthe morning

This is one of the original anodes that are at either end of the boat. Not down below 50% yet so at least a few years left in them it seems.

This is one of the slim line anodes that were added around the middle of the boat when we had a repaint. The pitting seems to have been arrested completely.

All looks well with the stern gear. There is hardly any play in the rudder post so the bearing cup must be fine.

All ready for the splash first thing in the morning and then a good clean up. Back to blogging for a few days at least.

Monday 8 April 2019

Dashing about.

The reason we have come to Sawley is that we have a few commitments over the rest of April. It started with me dashing down to London to move our daughter back to Hull for her new job back in her home town. London is a great place to visit, but I think after a few years I think you know whether you will be staying or not. No.1 daughter has seen the light and come back to our form of sanity.

When we arrived we moored up on the visitor moorings quite easily, despite the breeze blowing down the cut that would be on the beam as we backed onto the short pontoon. The visitor berths are on the cut side rather than in the lagoons of the marina. It is nice to watch the world passing.

We are just between the flood gates and the boat club. Our first  night we decided to wander to the Lock Keepers Rest by the paired Sawley Locks, down past the visitor moorings on the tow path side.

It is in the lock keepers cottage that was sold off to an ex keeper. It was just about derelict when they bought it but they opened a coffee shop whilst they refurbished. The other end of the building was empty so in the end they opened a micropub. It is great. They have their work life balance right as they don't open all the time. The beers are LocAle from nearby breweries. It is what the name says, a micropub so not that much room, but I would really recommend a visit when it is open and you are in the area.

I had driven to Aston Marina to pick up the car, and then to London. I night in London to load the car and to clean the old flat and then back up to Hull. The next day back down to Sawley to get Helen and Macy. Tonight we walked up to the White Lion which is the home of Old Sawley Brewery Co. It is about 15mins walk from the marina so if the Lock Keepers is shut then definitely head up to the White Lion.

One of the things I am going home for is to help at the Hull Beer Festival that is held in the Hull Minster. I great venue with about 180 beers to try. It has been good to get my eye in. Having looked at our schedule for our home visit, I am already looking forward to getting back to the boat for a rest!!!

Friday 5 April 2019

Stopped in Sawley.

After our meal out last night along with a couple of pints we slept pretty well and were raring to go the short distance to Sawley.

Some of the smaller canal warehouses have been restored and converted to private homes and they look great, especially with their own dock alongside.

This one had the date stone 1799 on it. I particularly loved the right hand corner that had the lower corner trunkated so at not to be caught by the hubs of carts turning the corner.

Just before the flood lock was this private dock, maybe it was a repair yard or something, or the warehouse was to the left had has gone. You can just see the model railway tracks that are laid or around the garden of the house.

There is a mile post, or rather a mile and a half post at Derwent Mouth Lock that is the actual start of the Trent and Mersey. The plaque below states that the 93 and a half miles were opened in 1977 and has 75 locks and 5 tunnels. The plaque was laid in January 1985 by the Duke of Devonshire.

Here we are actually at Derwent Mouth. The river of that name joins the Trent flowing in from the right and continuing straight ahead. As we had a short day and the weather was nice we decided to turn right and explore to the head of navigation.

Cavendish Bridge was where a bridge replaced an old ferry in 1760, and paid for by the Duke of Devonshire, the Cavendish family. It was a toll bridge but the tolls were taken away in 1888. That original bridge collapsed in 1947 when the central pier was washed away. It was replaced by a bailey bridge until 1957 when the current concrete bridge was erected. Just before the bridge is this old brewery and maltings. It was built in 1815 for the Fletchers. They sold to the Eaton family in 1839 and it was sold again to the Offilers Brewery Co in 1896 before closing for good in 1923. Since then it has mixed use but in 1993 Shardlow microbrewery moved into the Old Kiln House. In 1996 they moved across the yard to the Old Stables.

On the way back the river reminded us of the River Aire and River Don with the scrub willows etc.

The original tow path bridge was a wooden structure. It was broken down by ice floes in 1893 and was replaced with another wooden bridge. In 1932 a concrete  structure was erected but after seventy years the concrete started crumbling and it had to be closed in 2002 and demolished in 2003. It wasn't until 2011 that this new bridge was lifted into place. It cost £1.4 million.

This is not a bridge but a pipeline that carries the water main from the Derwent valley to Leicester and was built in the early 1900's.

In the 'old days' when we travelled up and down this section of the M1 motorway very often there was heavy foam at the foot of the weir on the Trent here at Sawley. Whether the river is less polluted these days, or it was just a good day I couldn't say. The approaching narrow boat was keeping well clear of it though.

Just through Sawley flood lock, just the other side of the cruiser are the visitor moorings for Sawley marina.

Here we are moored up as we have to be around home for about three weeks so she is snugged in here, and during her stay she will be having a blacking at JBJ Marine Services at the marina.

Thursday 4 April 2019

Safely in Shardlow.

Nice quiet night and with the fire in overnight we didn't feel the -1.7 deg temperature of outside.

When I got up to make the tea the frost was still heavy and the mist just dissipating. When Helen got up and stood on the carpet it was soaking wet! Always bad news on a boat. We stripped out everything from the wardrobe where the pump lives and dried up as best we could. We automatically thought that it was caused but over filling, but in the back of my mind I was cautious as we didn't fill up yesterday.

We moved off and remoored at the water point just before the junction. Right by the water are a warehouse, and what looks like a toll house. It would have been a busy spot with the Derby Canal and the link to the Trent.

There is a crane outside the warehouse too. When we filled up we observed no leak. The water pressure is not nearly as strong as at the last tap we filled from, so I wondered if it could be water pressure in the filling pipe. We left all the coverings off etc to let it dry out and to see if anything transpired.

Once down Swarkestone Lock we soon passed The Stand came into view. This is apparently a grand stand or pavilion built in the 17th Century for watching some sport or other, bull baiting, jousting or bowls! It was part of the Tudor Mansion that was the home of the Harpur family. This summer house over looks the square field of play called the Cuttle. The rest of the mansion was knocked down after the Civil War and the family moved to Calke.

As we approached Weston Lock we knew that there would be voluntary lock keepers on duty but as I dropped Helen off the engine cut out with an obstruction in the propeller. I tried to restart a couple of times but nothing doing. We drifted into the lock and I was quickly down the weed hatch expecting to get very cold hands trying to clear a log. However there was nothing there, and when I tried the engine again it fired up first time. That was a stroke of luck, and we sfely got on our way again.

Next came Aston Lock that has had new gates over the winter stoppages.

I think this is my first new plaque!

This is the Old Salt Warehouse and was built in the 1770's so is the oldest warehouse in the port of Shardlow. It was refurbished by Mansfield Brewery and opened as a Heritage Centre but never seems to be open when we pass.

The Clock Warehouse was built in 1780 for the Cavendish Bridge Boat Co. and was later called B warehouse. F.E. Stevens, corn miller and trader bought it and it became known as No.2 Mill in 1940. The finished in 1975 and it was derelict then until 1980 when it became a museum and tearoom. In 1995 it became a pub and the original sign at the apex was restored.

A little further down the cut there is No.1 and No.2 Stores with a little arm between the two. This is the No.1 store built in the early 19th Century and was once a corn mill too. No.2 was built in 1780 and was also a salt warehouse. It seems that salt was a big commodity through the port of Shardlow.

We are moored close by another, and the last of the 'official' mile posts and you can see we are in Shardlow as there is no number there. The concrete short post to the left has the figure 1 on it. Could this be a sop to the fact that the actual end of the canal is a bit over another mile further on at Derwent Mouth Lock.

Right, not that done I will have to go and find a leak. Wish me luck.

Wednesday 3 April 2019

Siddled up to Swarkestone.

The trains started at 05:19 this morning but other than that it was fine!!! Before setting off we walked in to the village to get some stuff from the Co-Op. On the way back I checked with the coal boat when they were leaving thinking they could chuck a couple of bags over as they passed us, but they barrowed a couple up for us as they were staying put. I thought I had a bag of coal left but is turns out it was full of logs!

All that remains of the Willington A and B power stations are the cooling towers. 'A' was opened in 1957 with 4 x 104MW generating units. They burned 1000 tonnes and produced 200 tonnes of ash. 'B' was opened in 1962 with 2 x 200MW units and 2000 t of coal and 400t of ash. It was sold to National Power in 1990 and was closed a few years later. At the turn of the Millennium the main buildings were flattened but the cooling towers survived. They were going to be demolished for a housing project but it did not get planning permission. There are plans submitted now to build a new gas powered generating plant on the site but they didn't win the supply auction, so the cooling towers still dominate the skyline. It is a shame nobody can come up with a way to convert them to flats like the gasometers at Kings Cross. That would be spectacular. 

In the bright sunny, but cold, weather there were plenty of walkers out along the tow path after Mercia Marina.

When we reached Stenson I realised why as they all seemed to peel off to the cafe next to the lock! There were voluntary lock keepers on so making life easy. They have been on for two weeks already, but at Frradley they don't start until next weekend for some reason. It is a big beast of a lock at 12'4" deep and the first wide lock of the year and Trent and Mersey canal, but nice and tame on the way down.

First wide beam of the year and nearly as far as you can get I suppose. Plenty of room, but not much fun navigating the canals in these in my opinion. (not that I have every driven one).

The butterbur is nicely out round here. It is related to the sunflower! Apparently it is a complimentary medicine that is used for upset stomachs, ulcers, migraine and headaches, whooping and ongoing coughs, asthma, hay fever, chills and fever, insomnia and bladder and urinary tract spasms, and plague!! I'm surprised that the NHS don't give everybody this as it would save them a fortune!!

We moored just before the water point at Swarkestone and after lunch went for a walk. We could see in the field a ridge in the field that was likely to be the line of the canal connection with the Trent. This was a connection made in 1796 a year after the Derby Canal was built to join the Trent and Mersey, opened 1777, here at Swarkestone.

One of the original mile posts that were erected apparently to make the charging of tolls easier. There are also those that replaced those lost in WWII and have a different plaque at their base.

We walked across the fields and over the railway line towards the Trent.

Swakestone Bridge over the Trent is part of a 3/4 mile long causeway, with 17 arches, that dates from the 13th Century. It  is the longest 'bridge' in England. This bit though was rebuilt in the 1790's. It is said to have been financed by the local Belmont sister that were both betrothed and were to have a joint wedding. There future husbands were both drowned trying to ford the Trent in flood when trying to get there. The sisters paid for the bridge to ensure it didn't happen again. They never married and died paupers having used all their money to build the bridge.

This is the remains of the lock down into the Trent, and there is still the bridge above the lock as the village road goes over it.

In the pub garden of the Crewe and Harpur pub is this monument that commemorates the furthest point south that the followers of Prince  Charles Edward Stuart, Bonnie Prince Charlie, during the Jacobite Revolution. They got here on 4th December 1745 and this monument was raised in 1995 250 years later. It is amazing to think that only 22 years later the Trent and Mersey Canal was opened. The two histories seem to be from completely different times.