Sunday, 27 April 2014

Heading North on the Trent and Mersey

It has been threatening rain and we are feeling lazy so we've stopped for an easy Sunday afternoon, and I thought I'd update the blog.  Since the last posting we've travelled back down the Erewash Canal onto the River Trent and then started our gradual climb up the Trent and Mersey Canal towards Stoke on Trent where we plan to meet David and Victoria next weekend on their boat, Pas Mèche.  On Wednesday Ian did most of the engine service and Helen cleaned the inside of the boat.  We then walked into Eastwood and enjoyed visiting the house where DH Lawrence was born and a Heritage Centre where he collected his father's wages as a coal miner.  We learned a lot about his life, the legal battle over Lady Chatterley, and his relations with women over his short life.  The house is decorated and furnished as it would have been in 1885 when he was born.

In the afternoon we went a short way back down the canal and moored below Shipley Lock.  There is a curious pub here which has been turned into a night club and was playing host to scores of bikers.  However they were well behaved and our sleep was not disturbed.  On Thursday we returned down the Erewash Canal to moor above Trent Lock.

This picture shows us moored (the second boat up the canal) for lunch at Sandiacre.  The mill chimney belongs to Springfield Mill which was built for lacemakers.

We got back to Trent Lock in good time as all but one of the locks were set in our favour.  So Ian did the oil change which completes the engine service.
Above you see Ian just making sure there are no oil leaks after changing the oil filter and refilling the engine. Sorry about the glare from the bald head! On Thursday evening we were pleased to meet our friends Rowan and Martin who live near Derby and we enjoyed an excellent meal at the Trent Lock Inn.  It was good to catch up with them.

On Friday morning we came down through Trent Lock back onto the River Trent and turned upstream.


Having just turned onto the River you pass this mooring pontoon.  We wanted to stay a night on this because it gives excellent views of all the passing boat traffic, but it didn't work out and the alternative mooring above Trent Lock has the advantage of a toilet beside the boat.


About three-quarters of a mile upstream under the railway bridge we came to Sawley Locks.  You can just make out the locks under the left side of the bridge.  Landing here is a bit tricky because the walls by the water are very high (for flood reasons).

 Once through Sawley Cut we were back on the River again above a big weir.  Another half mile brings you to this junction.  The River Derwent comes in from the right but sadly is not navigable, hence the 'No Entry' sign.  We followed the Trent left for an excursion of another mile up the river to Cavendish Bridge where you have to turn round.


Here is the view having turned left.  The flow of the river up this stretch was noticeably stronger.  We went up pretty slowly and then zoomed back.  On our return we turned off onto the Trent and Mersey Canal which starts here and runs all the way to Preston Brook near Runcorn, a distance of about 92 miles.





Having left the River Trent behind our cruise took us through Shardlow which is a delightful canal village.


Here beyond the moored boats you can see the Salt Warehouse.  At one time boats entered the warehouse under the shallow arch for loading.


There are some pretty cottages right beside Shardlow Lock.
The first locks on the Trent and Mersey are 14 foot wide locks and so will take two narrowboats, but they are shallow in the sense that the rise in water level is only four or five feet.  You then meet a succession of very deep locks.  Here is the view looking back having climbed Swarkestone Lock which is 11 feet deep.  The canal arm on the left is the remains of the end of the Derby Canal which used to go to through the city.




We moored on Friday night above Swarkestone Lock.  More socialising in the evening as we had a meal in the village with our friend Steve (known as Hodge).  He was kind enough to pick us up from the boat as it was raining heavily.  On Saturday Helen did the washing (yes we have a machine onboard) and we carried on.

 
 Soon we came to Stenson Lock which is not only the deepest of the wide locks at 12 feet but is also the last of them.  From here on there are only narrow locks which we much prefer.  Nowhere for the boat to slop about when you are on your own and they fill so much more quickly.  You can see the tiny top gates sitting on top of the huge cill.


We came past our old marina, Mercia, and soon crossed the River Dove (flows through Dovedale further upstream).  This picture taken from the canal aqueduct shows the old road bridge across the river.








Soon you find yourself going through Burton on Trent which is not the prettiest place and much of the way the canal follows beside the busy A38.  Burton does however have a local authority waste facility at Shobnall where Ian was able to get rid of the waste oil from the engine.  We moored near Branston Water Park just beyond Burton where the road is a bit further away from the canal.

Today we've not come far and have stopped in Alrewas which is a delightful village that we remember from previous trips.

This is Tatenhill Lock which is very pretty and has the characteristic narrow bridge below it.


After Wychenor Lock you come back briefly onto the River Trent.  You can make out the floating boom in the background which is there to prevent you making a mistake and being swept over the weir.


Here is Leo moored waiting for Alrewas Lock which lifts boats up away from the Trent again.


The wisteria seems particularly good this year and here is some growing on a cottage in the village of Alrewas.











David sent us a text this lunchtime to say that they have now joined the Trent and Mersey at its top end, so we are now on the same canal, albeit about 70 miles apart.  The next few days we'll be climbing up the Trent Valley on the canal through Rugeley and Stone towards Stoke.  No longer are we enjoying days of dry weather but we have so far avoided a real soaking.

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