Before we left to go through the lock at Barrow this unusual vessel came up. It was a canoe with outriggers and could apparently carry up to five people. Never seen anything like it before.
The road bridge at Barrow below the lock is very attractive but, being on a sharp bend, you have to keep a good look out for oncoming boats.
By the time we were approaching Loughborough the rain was quite heavy. As you can see, even this heron was taking shelter under a bridge.
It was a bit of a shock to see this cruiser coming through a bridge. There is not much spare room with his cabin roof up.
One reason we stopped at Loughborough (apart from the rain) was that we spotted our friends Dave and Jan on 'Yes Dear'. We had a good afternoon catching up with them having tea and sheltering from the rain on their boat. On Saturday morning the rain seemed to be stopping so we decided to set off. However the wind was very strong and did not think it sensible to go out on the wide waters of the River Trent. We moored a few miles further down the Soar at Kegworth. In fact the wind was so strong that Ian's cap blew off into the river. It was too windy to try and recover it, but Ian walked back a mile or so from our mooring to see if there was any chance it had been fished out or washed up. Amazingly it was still floating and making its way slowly down the river! Spotting a bend coming up, Ian followed the cap until it came close enough to the shore to fish it out with a boat hook. So we can now say that Harris Tweed is so water repellent that it floats.
The River Soar flows right past the village of Normanton and its old church.
Approaching a lock cut at Zouch there are some flood mooring 'dolphins' seen here. The idea is to moor to the posts if the river is in flood. We're not sure why they are called dolphins though.
In this view from the bank looking up river you can see Kegworth Deep Lock with the church behind. Depending on the river level the Deep Lock can be 10 feet deep and there are warnings about the number of boats in the last year that have been caught on the cill.
On Sunday we carried on down to where the River Soar flows into the Trent at Trent Junction.
Here is the view in Kegworth Deep Lock as Leo goes down.
The lower reaches of the River Soar are pretty wide and open to the wind which was still blowing quite hard.
Here is Leo going through Redhill Flood Lock, the gates of which are open. This is the last lock before the Trent.
Here is Leo approaching the confluence of the Soar and the Trent. You have to remember to turn left, upstream, as there is a huge weir just beyond the railway bridge to the right.
This is looking to the right where orange buoys remind you not to go towards the weir.
If the Soar felt big then the Trent is enormous. Here we are going upstream towards the lock straight ahead that takes you onto the Erewash Canal. This is Trent Junction which is a major meeting of the waterways. Right takes you down the Trent, left leads to the Trent and Mersey Canal.
Here is Leo moored on the pontoon at Trent Junction. The power station in the background is at Ratcliffe on Soar. As well as Sunday Lunch at the Steamboat Inn (highly recommended) we met our nephew Martin and his girlfriend Caroline. We managed a cream tea with them and they even took us back to look at their house in Nottingham.
Monday we set off up two stretches of the Trent and then onto the Trent and Mersey Canal to Swarkestone.
The first lock a couple of miles upstream of Trent Junction is at Sawley. This proved to be manned which made life easier as the landing here below the lock is high and a bit tricky for narrowboats. As it happened, two boats were just coming out so we could go straight in.
Approaching the start of the Trent and Mersey at Derwent Mouth there is a cross roads. The River Derwent comes in from the right and is not navigable and the Trent comes in from the left. Straight ahead is the entry to the Canal. The mixing of the rivers here leads to some strange cross-currents.
Through picturesque Shardlow and a few more broad locks further on we came up Swarkestone Lock. Above the lock is an arm on the north side which is all that remains of the Derby Canal which once went all the way to Derby.
We had a good walk around Swarkestone. This is the bridge there over the River Trent which starts a mile long causeway across the river valley.
This unusual building which can be seen from the canal is a summer house and all that remains of Swarkestone Old Hall that was demolished in the 18th century. The wall either side encloses a square field which was used for bear baiting.
This hole in a wall near the Summer House reminds me of a cartoon character powering through a wall and leaving his shape as the hole. To me it looks like a chap with a big hat. Well I thought it was funny.
Swarkestone's claim to fame is that it was the furthest south that
Bonnie Prince Charlie reached before returning north to his defeat at Culloden.
Our friend Steve (otherwise known as Hodge) met us at Swarkestone. We enjoyed a good meal at the Crewe and Harpur Arms and Steve stayed onboard and joined us as we cruised on the following day to Burton upon Trent.
The last of the broad locks on the Trent and Mersey is at Stenson and is a cracker. 12 feet rise with a reputation for fast flows of water. Here is Leo waiting below for the lock to be emptied. There were CRT volunteers here as well.
After going through Willington the canal crosses the River Dove on an aqueduct. The Dove seemed quite full.
Here you can see the aqueduct with the River Dove flowing through the shallow arches beneath.
Steve took to steering a narrowboat like an old sea salt. Pity he didn't tuck his shirt in before the picture!
At Burton upon Trent there was just time to check the e mails!
Yesterday we had fun going on the brewery tour at Marstons Brewery. This was entertaining and included a certain amount (quite a lot in fact) of tasting well established and new experimental brews.
Here are the coppers where the mash is being boiled and hops added. This was for a brew of Hobgoblin.
This is a picture of the Burton Union System. This is how Pedigree is brewed and is a system peculiar to Marstons. The system functions with gravity only and the beer finishes up in the barrels at the bottom and the yeast in the troughs above.
This is the fermentation house with three Burton Union plants and several stainless steel fermentation vessels for other brews around the sides.
What is Leo doing in a house? Actually we are filling with diesel at Shobnall Marina where you have to reverse into a tiny under cover area at right angles to the canal. Quite tricky.
Today we've come through Alrewas and into Fradley where we are moored just a lock below the junction with the Coventry Canal.
Before the rain started we came through Tattenhill Lock which is very pretty. This is not Leo but the boat that went up before us.
We've never seen a heron before perching in the telegraph wires. It looks very precarious.
Some of the bridges here are certainly not for wide beam boats!
At Alrewas there is a short section where you venture out onto the River Trent for the last time. Much smaller than further downstream of course but nevertheless flowing quite fast after the rain.
And here we are in Alrewas Lock coming up off the river.
We are out for a meal with our friends Rowan and Martin this evening and tomorrow we will carry on up the Trent and Mersey towards Stoke on Trent.