Saturday, 21 April 2018

Delivering Leo for Blacking

We have spent a lovely week taking Leo from her winter mooring at Newark to a boatyard on the Erewash Canal for blacking.  So we drove down to Newark on Monday afternoon and set off about 5 pm on a lovely evening.
We cruised under Newark Bridge and past the Castle shown here.  At Town Lock the lock keeper was off duty.  A paddle was open at the top end of the lock and we misread 'Far paddle' and 'Near paddle' as meaning the two ends of the lock  rather than the two sides at one end.  Never mind, we sorted it eventually.

Here is Helen in lovely evening light steering Leo past Newark Marina and on towards Averham weir.  We were a bit surprised how fast the river was running, but at least it is now out of flood.

We moored overnight at Farndon after just three or four miles and ate a nice meal at the Boathouse pub.  On Tuesday we carried on up the still strongly flowing river.  Much of the day we were running at 1800 rpm which is quite a lot for Leo.  We moored at Gunthorpe and enjoyed a drink at the Unicorn with friends Jeff and Sue on Rubbin' Along who we had passed at the public moorings at Newark.  It was good to meet up with them again.  On Wednesday evening we cruised just a short way to a mooring we've not used before just above Stoke Lock.

Here you can see Rubbin' Along just ahead of us cruising under Gunthorpe Bridge, the only crossing of the Trent between Newark and Nottingham.

Rubbin' Along carried on to Nottingham but we stopped above Stoke Lock to wash and wax one side of Leo and we then enjoyed a walk in the sunshine to Stoke Bardolph and back along the river.

This picture was taken on Thursday morning.  It was amazingly still with the water like a mirror and promising a fine hot day which was duly delivered.  Boiling hot really for April.

So on Thursday we carried on into Nottingham:

Here is an unusual view of Nottingham taken from the river as we approached upstream.  By now the river had gone down a few feet and was running at a more normal speed so life on Leo was a bit easier.
At Nottingham we came up Meadow Lane lock off the river onto the Nottingham Canal which avoids the river for about 6 miles.  We shared Castle Lock with this canoeist.  We managed to avoid squashing him.  This picture is of the old Fellows, Morton, Clayton warehouse in the centre of Nottingham.

We chose to spend Thursday night at Beeston, another place we've not stopped before.  We had tea and cakes at a new cafe by the lock and sat on an upper terrace with fine views of the Trent. This picture of the river below Beeston weir shows Clifton Hall which we've not noticed before.

On Friday morning we went through Beeston Lock back onto the Trent and up to Cranfleet:

Here is Leo coming to the landing stage for Cranfleet Lock.  To our surprise the lock was surrounded by CRT volunteers one of whom waved a green flag to invite us in.  We shared this and Beeston locks with a Sea Otter.  At Trent Junction we climbed the lock onto the Erewash.

After having lunch and using the services to leave Leo full of water and with an empty toilet, we moved across the canal to leave Leo ready to go into the dry dock shown here.  Mick of Kingfisher Narrowboats is going to be busy next week reblacking her.

We plan to go down to see Leo out of the water next week and will then be back onboard next weekend to set off on our summer travels.  Where are we going?  Well you'll just have to come back here to find out.

Friday, 30 March 2018

Thinking about boating for 2018

We drove down to Leo yesterday after a couple of months away in Hawaii and New Zealand and found our boat in a surprisingly good state after the bad winter weather we've heard about.  Her tank is now filled with water, the bed is made up and the curtains are back up, so she looks much more homely.

Ian has spent quite a while over the autumn trying to make the suction toilet work properly.  At the end of last season it refused to retain its suction for more than a couple of minutes at a time.  In the end Ian fitted a switch so you could turn the flaming thing off when not in use!  So, after having the sucking bit and cassette in pieces at home, replacing seals and refitting it on Leo including reassembling the cupboard it lives in, yesterday was the moment to test it.  Imagine Ian's delight when it all seemed to work properly.  So fingers crossed we will have a fully functioning toilet if you come and stay on Leo this year.

Everything else seemed to work too, no water leaks, the engine started first time and no water in the bilges.

We have an odd start to boating this year.  First Leo will set off for just a few days in the middle of April to travel up the Trent to the Erewash Canal where her bottom will be blacked in the last week of April.  We will then collect her and leave her for a further week somewhere nearby while we visit friends in the West Country by car not by boat.

So we reckon we will finally set off in the second week in May.  So, where to go?  We have no firm plans yet but we are talking about basing ourselves mainly in the Midlands.  We have a wish to visit Stratford (Warwickshire, not East London) again and the River Avon so that might be a first journey.  After that who knows?  Perhaps we'll fill in some of the less desirable and uncruised (by Leo so far) bits of the BCN and maybe the East Anglia waterways too.  One way or another we hope to see friends both boating and land based sometime over the summer.

Happy boating.

Monday, 18 September 2017

Journey's End

Well we're now back home in Yorkshire, having left Leo near Newark for the winter.  This blog posting completes the story of our canal cruising this year.

On Thursday night we moored above Holme Lock, just downstream from Nottingham.  Among the swans on the river was this black swan - not a common sight except in London parks.

Our fuchsia and geraniums have flowered all summer long.  People have praised our rooftop garden, though to be fair more people have commented on our plastic ducks!  However the flowers are now past their best and we left them dug in under a tree by Holme Lock.  We wonder if they will come up next year.

On Friday morning we came through Holme Lock with another narrowboat called Kleine Monde (small world).

Gunthorpe Bridge is made of concrete and probably dates from the 1930s.  However it really is quite attractive with the detailing on it.

Below Gunthorpe Lock, steep wooded slopes line the river to the east with flat meadows on the other side.  As this photo shows the weather could have been better.

At Fiskerton there was space at the end of the pontoon for visitors, so we stopped for the night.  High piling dominates one side with fields on the other side.  We had a meal out at the pub, 'The Bromley' just above the boat.  Pretty good food and not too pricey.

On Saturday morning we cruised the last few miles into Newark.

Having turned to face upstream to moor, we then had to spin Leo round to carry on downstream.  You can see the pub behind Ian.

The river below Fiskerton is very bendy with distant views of Staythorpe Power Station.  Eventually the river passes the Power Station and then the long and unprotected Averham Weir shown here.  Each of the posts had a cormorant on top.

Above the weir we entered the cut that goes through the town of Newark, leaving the Trent behind.  The tall spire of St. Mary's Church is clear ahead.

Our last lock in 2017 was Newark Town Lock seen here in front of the castle.

Below the lock we passed under the Town Bridge.

And here is Leo in her winter mooring.  Later on Saturday afternoon we walked to the station and caught the train back home.  Newark benefits from the main line train service and is very close to the A1.

So that brings us to the end of boating for 2017, though we might go out for some short trips.  In fact we are off to Newark tomorrow with the car to unpack the boat and do the engine service that is due.  So the final stats for this year are that we have travelled 922 miles and through 522 locks.  We have been cruising for 5 months from mid April to September.  So now we'll hibernate and think about where we'll go next year.

Thursday, 14 September 2017

To the Trent

We are nearing the end of our boating for this year and we are moored tonight on the River Trent downstream from Nottingham.  Since we are heading for Newark for a winter mooring we are nearly there.  It is likely that the next posting will be after we get back home.  Till then, here is the story of the last week or so.

Last Tuesday (5th September) we were in Rugeley.

At Rugeley the Trent and Mersey Canal crosses the River Trent on an aqueduct.  This is the view looking down to the river.  The Trent will be a recurrent theme in this posting.

We passed this smart boat which shares its name with ours.  There are quite a few Leo boats on the system.

At Brindley Bank by the Aqueduct a gruesome event occurred in 1839.  A lady called Christina Collins took a ride in a canal boat bound for London.  However she was murdered by the crew and her body was found here.  This time we found her grave in the nearby church.  As we doubt you can read the inscription here, it says "In memory of Christina Collins, wife of Robert Collins, London, who having been most barbarously treated was found dead in the Canal in this Parish on June 17 1839 Aged 37 years.  This Stone is erected by some Individuals of the Parish of Rugeley in Commemoration of the End of this unhappy woman."

On Wednesday, Thursday and Friday we carried on through Fradley Locks and on to Burton upon Trent.

Beyond Rugeley is the Armitage Tunnel.  This used to be a proper tunnel but later the roof was removed.  However this section of canal cut through the rock remains only wide enough for one boat at a time.  Fortunately nothing came the other way!

The Trent and Mersey has characteristic milestones like this one.  Curiously Shardlow is not quite the end of the canal though it is the last village.

Having come down the Trent Valley for miles, at Alrewas the canal joined the river albeit for only a short way.  Here you can see the Trent coming in to join the canal from the left.

 Beyond the barrier is Alrewas weir where the Trent leaves the canal which turns to the left.

Some of the bridges on the Trent and Mersey are only just wide enough for a narrowboat.  This crossover bridge where the towpath changes sides is typical.

This picture is looking back to Tatenhill Lock which is very pretty.  You can just see the lock gates under another very narrow bridge.

We left Leo at Burton upon Trent for a few days while we went south by train for the weekend to see our son David.  One attraction, apart from seeing him, was that the Frome Show took place that weekend.  The Frome Show is now a big agricultural show but it was originally a Cheese Show and one marquee was entirely full of cheese.  We particularly liked this wedding cake made of cheese:

We came back on Monday (11th September) and carried on along the Trent and Mersey.

After Burton there is one more narrow lock at Dallow Lane and then we were once more on a wide canal with 14 foot wide locks and bigger boats.  Soon the canal crosses the River Dove, a tributary of the Trent.  This view is taken from the canal aqueduct looking to the old road bridge over the Dove.

This is the first of the wide locks at Stenson.  There was a queue here for this deep (12 feet) lock.  The white house is a cafe with tables on the covered terrace. We did not stop for a cuppa but went on though the lock.

A road runs alongside the canal above Swarkestone lock and has this amusing but realistic sign on it.

Our boat pole is going rotten and has recently even developed a growth of fungus.  So we were delighted to find a replacement in far better state floating in the canal.  Having dried it out, Ian is busy painting it.

On Wednesday we reached the end of the Trent and Mersey Canal and emerged onto the much larger River Trent.

Having come down Weston and Aston locks we reached Shardlow.  In this picture looking back you can see Shardlow Lock to the left and the Clock Warehouse on the right.  Narrowboats used to go in for loading below the arch.

And here is Leo a little further on, waiting above Derwent Mouth Lock, the last on the canal.  After the heavy rain we thought the river might have risen but the flood warning boards below the lock showed the river level was on green and so safe to navigate.

Below Derwent Mouth Lock is a crossroads of waterways.  To the left the River Derwent comes in and to the right the waters of the River Trent join and together the water flows straight ahead.

 This is the first bridge on the Trent downstream and in the background you can just about make out the traffic on the M1 bridge beyond.  With the Trent being about a foot above normal there was a good flow and even with little throttle we were doing nearly 6 mph.

Unusually in our experience the flood lock at Sawley was closed so we had to lock through in the conventional way.  When we've passed this way before both gates have been open.

Beyond the Flood Lock we cruised the wide waters past Sawley Marina and towards the cooling towers of Ratcliffe Power Station.
Wednesday night we spent moored on the pontoon at Trent Lock near where the Erewash Canal and the River Soar navigation join the Trent.  We stopped and tied up just before a heavy hailstorm.  We were pleased to meet old friends Dave and Linda on Davlin also moored on the pontoon.  Last time we saw them was passing on the Caen Hill flight in early August.

This is the view through the bedroom porthole of Ratcliffe on Soar Power Station.  This is a good place for trains and planes too as the Midlands main line and East Midlands Airport are nearby.

Today (Thursday 14th) we have come through Nottingham:

This picture was taken this morning as we left the pontoon moorings at Trent Lock.

The navigation bypasses Thrumpton Weir through the Cranfleet Cut.  This view is looking back to Cranfleet Lock where the navigation rejoins the river.

Here we are back on the River Trent following a boat called Malahat towards Beeston and Nottingham.  Malahat has new owners since we last saw her.

The Beeston Cut and Nottingham Canal bypass the river for four and a half miles through the city.  Here we are waiting to pass through Castle Lock.

By the side of Castle Lock is the Navigation Pub which has this really good looking offer for passing boaters.  We didn't succumb this time.

It has been a day of blustery showers but here we are above Holme Lock where we are moored tonight and it looks more settled, though the wind is still blowing.  We came into moor with a bit of a wallop as we didn't take enough account of the wind and also the flow into the National Water Sports Centre alongside the lock. The massive shadow in this picture is cast by a sign warning boats to keep right for the lock and avoid going over the weir on the left.

Our last day or two will be continuing down the Trent to Newark.  By this time next week we will back home in Knaresborough with Leo safely tucked up ready for next year's boating.