Thursday, 25 May 2017

Soaring off the Trent

Sorry but I couldn't resist the pun in the title of this posting as we are now cruising up the River Soar and away from its confluence with the River Trent near Long Eaton.  We have been around Nottingham for a few days socialising with friends who live nearby.  Three successive days meeting different people each day.  Very good to catch up with them all.

Our friends Rowan and Martin came to Leo on Monday and we took them on a cruise from Holme Lock where we moored on Sunday into Nottingham on the River Trent.  This picture is of Trent Bridge famous of course for the cricket ground next to it.  You can cruise under here but you are supposed to turn before the next bridge which we did.

Here Helen is sitting in the cratch with our friends, showing them pictures of our cruising from last year.

Next to Holme Lock is the National Watersports Centre with a white water course that runs parallel with the lock and so drops 12 feet in quite a short distance.  We watched the canoeists enjoying the challenge.

And here's another one.

And another!

We ate out at the Manvers Arms at Radcliffe on Trent which was good, though they had run out of quite a lot of choices on the menu and puddings were down to just ice cream.  Still a very pleasant day.

On Tuesday we set off upstream again but this time turned right just before Trent Bridge onto the Nottingham Canal.

This fine mansion is beside the Trent close to the city.  Goodness knows who lives there and how much it cost but it is a lovely house.

Just before the Nottingham Canal turns off the river and on the other side you can see the first lock of the Grantham Canal.  This is presently derelict, but one day perhaps it will be navigable.  If they could only dig a canal to connect Grantham and Sleaford then you could also have a non-tidal route from Boston to Nottingham.

Here is Leo waiting below Meadow Lane Lock which leads off the river onto the Nottingham Canal.  You can see Trent Bridge in the background.

Here you can see Helen winding the paddle on Meadow Lane Lock to empty it before Leo can come in off the river. The lock was closed the following day for repair work, so we did well to come through on Tuesday.

There are some fine old warehouses in the centre of Nottingham, some of which have the ground floor converted to wine bars and pubs.

If you peep between the tall buildings on the right of the canal you can just see Nottingham Castle.  The flag was at half mast because of those killed in the Manchester bomb blast.

A big Sainsbury's is right by the canal so we took the opportunity to stock up.  Another friend, Steve (otherwise known as 'Hodge') joined us here and we cruised with him the rest of the Nottingham Canal and then back on the River Trent above Beeston Weir to Trent Junction.

Here is Hodge helming Leo up the river.  As we got near to Cranfleet Lock the current became pretty fast and we heard later of another boat that had gone aground and then spun round in the fast current. Leo however behaved herself.

Here we are approaching Cranfleet Lock which lifts us up into a cut avoiding the weir at Thrumpton.
And finally moored at Trent Junction.  This is the centre of the waterways with links to the North East (via the Trent and the way we had come), to the South (via the River Soar and the way we are going), to the Midlands and the North West (via the Trent and Mersey Canal) not to mention the dead end of the Erewash Canal which goes North from here. 

So there is lots going on at Trent Junction and many boats passing.  Hodge had forewarned us that the Trent Lock Cafe was closed on Tuesdays and we had bought scones and clotted cream from Sainsbury's earlier.  So we had a cream tea onboard which filled us up to the extent that we had little room for a meal in the evening.  We did however manage small meals at the Steamboat Inn before Hodge had to return home.

We spent the day on Wednesday doing various odd jobs on the boat including two lots of washing.  The weather has been improving day by day lately and the washing dried quickly.  In the evening our nephew Martin and partner Caroline came to Leo and we enjoyed a meal together at the Trent Lock pub nearby.  So that was the end of our social whirl for the present.

Today (Thursday) we finally left the River Trent which we have been following for the last week and turned off up the River Soar towards Loughborough and Leicester.

This picture as we left the mooring at Trent Junction gives a good idea of the size of the River Trent.  From the mooring you go down river for a couple of hundred yards and then turn right up the Soar.  Stay on the river and you go over Thrumpton Weir, not a good idea!

At the entrance to Redhill cut this sign welcomes you to the River Soar.

I haven't mentioned that our friends Geoff and Sue on Rubbin Along (seen here) have caught us up.  We travelled with them last year from Marple, over the Huddersfield Narrow and on to Castleford on Aire and Calder.  We have been sharing locks today.

Here we are approaching Kegworth Deep Lock which, at 12 feet, lives up to its name.

Egrets seem to be more common than they used to be.  Little Egrets apparently came to the UK in the 1990s.  We saw this one above the Deep Lock.

Having helped us up the Deep Lock with another narrowboat, Rubbin Along had got left behind so we helped them through Zouch Lock three miles up river.  Here you can see them coming to the lock.

We are moored tonight above Zouch Lock.  It is proving to be a very hot and sunny afternoon so we are mostly lazing.  In the next few days we will be continuing up the River Soar to join the Grand Union Canal in Leicester.  It is good to cruise a much smaller river with a more human scale and to work the locks ourselves rather than having lock keepers do it for us.

Sunday, 21 May 2017

Almost at Nottingham

The heavy rain recently has speeded up the flow on the River Trent quite a bit.  So poor Leo has been working hard the last few days coming up the river.  We are now moored above Holme Lock on the outskirts of Nottingham.

We were glad we'd come up the tidal river as far as Cromwell Lock on Tuesday.  The weather on Wednesday was pretty awful.  We did walk into the village but the rain had set in by the time we got back and it carried on most of the day.  So we stayed where we were.

Helen decided to wash the sheets as we came up the tidal river to Cromwell.  As the weather wasn't conducive to drying the washing, we lit the stove and here's what the inside of Leo looked like that evening.

Thursday morning after the rain and wind was wonderful and very still.  Here is the view looking downstream from our mooring towards the lock.

We made the most of the fine weather to cruise the few miles upstream into Newark.

Here we are approaching the junction where you turn off the river onto the navigable cut through Newark.  Shortly after the junction you come to Nether Lock, which like all the locks up to Nottingham has a lock keeper who works it for you.

Newark is a very attractive town and we arrived on a beautiful day.  We sat at a cafe in the market place shown here and it was really too hot.  This was our first sign that it might be summer.

We followed a walking trail around the town which pointed out all sorts of curiosities.  One was this building which was the Castle Brewery.  It is no longer a brewery but is an attractive Victorian building.

Here is a detail of the carving in the pediment above the entrance.  It is a fine representation of Newark Castle.

There are two signs like this one either end of the ruins of the Castle.  What on earth possessed someone to put up a notice like this?  On Friday morning we had a guided tour of the dungeons in the medieval castle.  Suitably gory tales of how debtors who did not pay up and finished up perishing in a stone chamber with up to 60 similar people, a fair percentage of them dying and being trampled underfoot.  Not a pretty thought.  Some of the chambers we entered were only accessible by ladders.  You need to be fit to explore Newark Castle.

We liked this tactile plan of the town.  The River is in the foreground.

Here is a view of the castle from Town Lock.  Like the castle at Lincoln there never was a central keep but there were buildings against the inside of the curtain wall by the river.

This view  is from near our mooring and also shows the lovely arched bridge over the river.

On Friday, Saturday and Sunday we have come further up river.

Upstream of Newark is a huge unfenced weir at Averham.  We stayed well away on the other side of the channel!

We have a new plastic duck to add to our collection.  The nearer one is the latest addition.  We've called him 'Stampy' because we rescued him from Stamp End Lock at Lincoln.  Trouble is he needs a magnet on his bottom like the others.  Another job for Ian.

This stretch of the river above Hazelford Lock reminded us of the River Thames near Cliveden with steep woods coming down to the river.

Because the river is flowing faster than usual, approaching a lock (here Gunthorpe) entails cruising through the foam coming off the weir.  The flow also gets faster as you approach the lock and weir.

On a walk from Gunthorpe Lock moorings we came across this culvert where it looks as if two hands are buried.  Makes you wonder if the rest of him is attached to the hands. Obviously the builder had a sense of humour.

After the rain, we had a calm evening and this is the view from Gunthorpe Bridge.  Our mooring is in the distance on the left.

This is the view coming to Holme Lock.  At 12 feet this is a lot deeper than the other locks on the river.

A channel running parallel with the lock and weir creates a white water channel for canoes and rafts as part of the National Water Sports Centre.  It makes a diverting afternoon when mooring here, but I don't think we'll take Leo down here!

Like the ducks in an earlier posting, here we have a family of geese with Mum and Dad at each end and the kids in a line between them.

We are going to stay in and around Nottingham for a few days as we have arranged to see several friends living nearby.  After that we will be heading south away from the Trent valley on the River Soar.

Wednesday, 17 May 2017

Back to the Trent

We are now moored above Cromwell Lock which is the tidal limit of the River Trent.  So this post is a catch up to show how we got here.  Today it is pouring with rain and so I am catching up on domestic computer chores like the household bills.

Having come up from the Navigable Drains and back on the better travelled waters of the River Witham, we retraced our steps to Lincoln and to the River Trent at Torksey.

We often see ducklings messing about by the sides of the river with mum some distance away.  But we've noticed that when it comes to crossing the big wide river, mum insists that they all behave themselves and follow in a strict line astern.

We think this is a Spitfire, but it is possible that it is a Hurricane.  Anyway the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight is at Coningsby which is close to the River Witham.  We were treated to a flypast of a couple of Spitfires while cruising up the river.

We moored near Woodhall Spa and cycled into the village.  This is the village sign which makes much of its old railway which is no more.  The sign however does not reference the fact that the village became a spa town when an exploratory coal mine produced no coal but found a mineral spring which was then exploited.  The village is like a smaller version of Tunbridge Wells and is very attractive.  We had tea at the Tea House in the Woods and bought fish and chips before cycling back quickly to eat it before it went cold.

In the morning a Roe Deer visited the mooring and this picture was taken from Leo.  These deer seem very common round here.  We've seen three on our short walk this morning.

There are two locks on the 30 miles of river between Lincoln and Boston which gives you an idea of how flat the landscape is.  Here is Leo waiting below Bardney Lock while we get the lock ready.

The second lock is Stamp End Lock on the outskirts of Lincoln and once up that the picture shows Leo coming through the city.  There were lots of people about because it was Saturday.

The river goes under some medieval buildings on a bridge on the High Street.  This is called the Glory Hole and the picture shows Leo approaching it.  Though clearance here is no problem for Leo, large and high cruisers cannot pass through.  

The other side of the Glory Hole you come out into a large lake called Brayford Pool where the Fossdyke meets the River Witham.  Here you are as likely to meet a large cruiser or trip boat as you are to meet a narrowboat.

We stayed two nights in Lincoln.  The Lincoln Festival of Cycling was taking place and we watched some of the races as well as having a lazy day on the Sunday.

We wanted to look round Ellis Mill but as you can see they are busy restoring its sails, so it was closed.  The mill lies on Mill Road which used to have nine windmills along it.  This is the only one left.

In between showers there was lovely sun and we spent several hours reading the paper and lazing in the sun on Sunday having done the tour of the Castle walls on Saturday.  Oddly Lincoln Castle, which like the Cathedral is on the top of a steep hill above the river, never had a central keep.  This chap is George III who looks rather smug despite his clothing of moss or algae.

Here is the view of the Cathedral from the Castle walls.  The view of the Cathedral dominates the landscape for miles around.  The landscape is almost flat for miles but the city is on a hill.

This view is across from one side of the castle to the other.  The tall tower is known as the Observatory Tower because one governor of the prison, which was within the castle walls, was a keen astronomer and he kept a telescope up there.

On Saturday evening the cycle race was the 'Uphill Dash'.  The cobbled road climbs at 1 in 6 up to the Cathedral and Castle and heats took place to climb it.  Each heat took just 35-45 seconds but it made for exciting viewing.

On Sunday morning was the women's elite race and in the afternoon was the men's.  We missed the women's (got up there too late), but saw some of the men's race which went  up the steep hill on each one of the 13 laps.

Here the riders have turned a sharp corner where the gradient is steepest.

On Monday we cruised back to Torksey where yesterday we set off up the last of the tidal sections of the River Trent to Cromwell Lock.  It was blowy and some long straight sections were a bit choppy, but we had little rain and all went well.  Glad we didn't opt to come up the river today.

About 12.30 pm the lockie let us down onto the river.  In this view Raggle Taggle is seen following us out of the lock.

This sign is at the end of the Torksey cut which joins the lock to the Trent. We turned left towards Cromwell.

One of the first sights on the Trent is Cottam Power Station.  You can see in front of us a yacht (with mast down) called Grace Mary which came out of Torksey Lock just behind the two narrowboats.  She is quite a bit faster than us, so soon overtook us.

This  top section of the tidal river is very bendy and there are more bridges than the lower sections.  This is Fledborough Viaduct.  The advice in our Trent Guide is to go under the "England" graffiti, but this has largely worn away.

At one point there were lots of cows by the river.  This picture also shows why you don't go round the inside of the bends.  It's a bit shallow.

This old windmill is at Carlton on Trent and is a welcome sign that you are nearly there.  In fact there are kilometre signs all the way up the river from Gainsborough so you should not be in any doubt.

Round the last bend you can see the huge Cromwell Weir which marks the tidal limit.  Tucked round to the right is the huge lock which lets you up onto the non tidal river.

Once the lock keeper lets you into the lock the gates close behind you shutting out the tide.  We shall not see tidal water again until we get to the Thames.

So, after a month on the water, we are heading south towards Newark and then Nottingham where we hope to meet some friends that live around there.