Thursday, May 21, 2015

When is a Lapwing not a Lapwing?

When it’s a Pyewipe!
The Lapwing must have the most aliases in the bird kingdom. It’s variously known as the Green Plover and Peewit, and here in Lincolnshire it’s the Pyewipe! Peewit and Pyewipe are both interpretations of it’s distinctive call.

Why am I rambling on about Lapwing AKAs? Well, that’s where we’re moored today, outside the Pyewipe Inn. And I‘ve had a pint of Ruddles Best…

Our three days in Saxilby was up today, so us and the Clarences decided to move on. We pushed across to the water point, and while the tank was filling I wandered off to the Elsan disposal, elegantly called the Sluice Room here. It’s on Bridge Street, just past the Sun Inn. It’s difficult being nonchalant as you walk down a fairly busy pavement clutching a tank full of poo…

Leaving Saxilby
Yarwood and What a Lark will join us tomorrow when we head in for our pre-booked moorings in Lincoln.

More long straights, that’s the moorings for the Woodcocks on the right.IMG_4874

We didn’t need diesel, having filled at Burton on Trent only a fortnight ago (is that all, it seems ages!) but thought that nearly full tanks rather than half-empty ones would be better as we slopped about on the briney. Burton Waters Marina was the logical stop for this, and a gas bottle.

Turning in to Burton Waters Marina
The lock gates are there to protect the marina from flooding. The canal can be used as a flood relief channel if necessary.

There was a bit of a queue for the service wharf, so we got tied to the visitor pontoon and had a bite to eat while we waited. We took 60 litres on, much what I expected. We use a little more on rivers than on canals, but only about 5%. A very reasonable 75p base rate, too. The gas was dear, though.

Turning around in the marina. Carefully.IMG_4876
Some very shiny and expensive-looking plastic in here…

As is usual with marinas, the steady supply of food encourages the water fowl.

A mixture of colours amongst the mallard ducklingsIMG_4880

Mummy swan and four cygnets, our first this year.IMG_4878

What’s that, you only counted three? Ah, but you didn’t spot the hitch-hiker!IMG_4881

Derek and Sheila caught us up at the marina, filled with fuel themselves then we headed off another mile to moor outside the afore-mentioned Pyewipe Inn.

That’s got to be Lincoln!

Pulling in outside the PyewipeIMG_4885

The Red Arrows have been out and about again today. They saw us off from Saxilby, and greeted our arrival at The Pyewipe.

The Clarences decided to have lunch here, I joined them in their preprandial refreshment before leaving them to eat. Being so close it would have been churlish not to, eh?

Lincoln tomorrow, mob-handed. They’ll wonder what’s hit them.

Locks 0, miles 4½

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

It’s the Roman way…

They did like their straight lines, the Romans, didn’t they! They built their waterways on the same principals as their roads, wide, straight and built to last!

The Bridgewater Canal, up in Cheshire, lays claim to being the first “cut” in England, but the Romans got there first, over 1600 years earlier. Having made the River Witham navigable from Boston, they then set to and dug the artificial Fossdyke, 20 miles from Bardney on the Witham to the Trent. As well as military materials and manpower, it would have carried livestock and foodstuffs to the Roman town of Lincoln (Lindum), and to settlements on the Trent. Torksey itself, now an insignificant hamlet, would have been an important place, sitting on the junction of the two navigations.

The Vikings used it to penetrate inland (Saxilby was a Viking settlement, the “”, is a giveaway) and the Normans used it to transport building materials to Lincoln. Now it’s an easy route to The Wash for those intrepid daft enough to attempt the crossing…

We left the Torksey moorings yesterday after lunch, the morning weather was a bit grim but it brightened up in the afternoon.

We were only going 5 miles to Saxilby, no locks to worry about so an easy and somewhat boring trip.

Leaving Torksey

Around the first bend and you can see 2½ miles to the next one…IMG_4861

Deer falling in the cut must be a problem, there’s a provision for them to climb out every so often.IMG_4863
Just a pile of rocks at the water’s edge, but effective.

Arriving in Saxilby there is a good length of visitor moorings, divided by a footbridge over to the village on the opposite bank. The first length is OK but overhung by trees…IMG_4867

…but the second is much nicer.IMG_4870

We’d set off on our own, joined later by Derek and Sheila on Clarence.
Lesley, Dave and Lisa had assembled their folding bikes and toddled off to look at a ruined manor house in a nearby village, so they didn’t join us till this morning. A little boat shuffling saw us all on the sunny bit.

Lincolnshire is ideal for airfields, and WWII particularly saw them sprouting like mushrooms. Several are still in use, RAF Scampton is only 5 miles away. Scampton is the base for the world-famous Red Arrows, and they celebrated our arrival yesterday by putting on a short display…IMG_4869

IMG_4869 detail
How thoughtful!

These are 72 hour moorings, so we’ll be here for a bit. We’ve got berths booked in Brayford Pool Marina in Lincoln for the upcoming Bank Holiday weekend, starting Friday.

Hi Carol. Whoops, yes you’re right, greylags. Told you my avian identification left a lot to be desired… I bet they still taste like mud though!

Hiya KevinToo. It was bloody freezing out there! Yes, the show-off did manage to avoid the bank. I was about ready to sway out the lifeboats, though!

Oh, and a quick mention to Dave and Dorothy, NB Blackbird, who we met again in Nottingham. Have a good trip.

And Alf sent an email advising of a forthcoming event on the Trent, on the back of me mentioning that some of the gen-sets for Staythorpe Power Station had been shipped by river. He quotes the C&RT website -

“Notice Details
From Date:   3rd June 2015
To Date:  6th June 2015 at 23:59 inclusive
Type:   Navigation Restriction
Reason:  3rd Party Works
Between the 3rd and 6th June, there will be large load (270t) being moved to Staythorpe Power Station (just upstream of Newark) from Hull.
Boaters are asked to proceed with care and to allow for delays during this operation.”

Thanks Alf. One to watch out for…

Locks 0, miles 5

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Nippy on the tidal Trent

It was cold out on the river today as we headed north to Torksey. The day started fairly still and bright, but the sun soon disappeared and the south-westerly picked up.

I managed to catch an oystercatcher on film as I walked Meg this morning…IMG_4823
It shows you how good my bird identification is; I thought it was a sandpiper! My bird book says it’s the most easily recognised of all the waders, and remarks “…the long orange-red bill suggests that it is carrying a carrot.” Everyone’s a comic…

Cromwell Weir, lock and lower landing.IMG_4819
The potential change in water level is clear from the rise-and-fall posts securing the pontoon.

It was here, in 1975, that 10 young men were drowned during a military training exercise.

Memorial to those lost, 28 September 1975IMG_4816

The river was an important trade route for the RomansIMG_4818

We were all up and ready to go by half past nine, so assembled in the lock cut as the lock-keeper readied the lock. There’s no self-operation on this tidal lock, but summer working hours for the C&RT staff are long enough to accommodate most boaters. The tidal range here is small compared to that further downstream, and more powerful cruisers can punch the tide. We ditch crawlers have to go with the flow…

Snug fit across the lock chamber, but there’s room for another four behind.IMG_4827

Out of Cromwell Lock, me leading. I’m the one with the chart!IMG_4828

The chart isn’t really needed, the shoals are well marked by warning signs and we were leaving at high water so they were well covered. But we followed the directions anyway. You don’t want to go aground on a falling tide. It’d be sometime tonight when you started to float again.

Out on the tidewayIMG_4829

No mad races today, we set off at around 5 mph which increased to about 6½ as the ebb tide took hold.

Besthorpe Staithe, built to load the gravel barges, lies unused now. IMG_4831

It’ll probably go the way of another couple of disused wharves further north. Stripped of everything salvageable and left to decay.

Young uns…


and calves
Guess which has the longest life expectancy! I’m given to believe that Canada geese taste like mud, but lamb and veal on the other hand…

Strung out. Fladborough railway viaduct in the backgroundIMG_4841

Just past Dunham Toll Bridge we were overhauled and overtaken by a large cruiser…IMG_4847

… who’s skipper showed us what several hundred horse power can do when he’d passed us.
Show off!

These guys weren’t hanging about, either.IMG_4851

I called up the Torksey lock-keeper on the VHF radio, the first time I’ve used it in a real situation. That seemed to go well, he’d got the lock prepared for us as we turned into the short lock cut.

Torksey Lock, open ready for us IMG_4854
We‘ve not been up this one before, having never ventured onto the Fossdyke. But we’ve often stopped overnight on those pontoons, breaking the tidal trip up into South Yorkshire.

Tight fit for four narrowboats in Torksey Lock, but the lockie said he could have squeezed a little one in at the back…IMG_4855
The lock has three sets of uphill gates, you can see the intermediate ones in the picture. This enables the lock to be used for just one or two boats without using so much water. It also has outward pointing gates at the lower end for those occasions when the river gets stroppy.

A gentle chug past the lines of permanent moorings saw us pulling up on the almost empty 72 hour visitor moorings. No breasting up and a bank level with the gunnel. Joy.

Torksey VMIMG_4857

It’s going to wet tonight and tomorrow, so we’ll be staying put I reckon. No rush now, we’ve 12 days to cover the 30-odd miles to Boston.

Locks 2, miles 17

Saturday, May 16, 2015

A couple of days in Newark, and a breezy evening cruise.

Newark is a fine town, strategically important as it stands on three major trading routes. The Roman Fosse Way crosses the Great North Road here, and the River Trent runs past it’s doorstep.

Trent Bridge, Newark, built in 1775DSC_0313


Looking across the river from Riverside Park this morningDSC_0315

The castle dominates the town, standing alongside what was the only river crossing when it was built. Originally a timber fortification, it was rebuilt in stone towards the end of the 12th century, at the behest of the Bishop of Lincoln.
The then Bishop, Alexander the Magnificent, was given permission to build the castle by Henry I, although it was down on the planning application as a palace! It went on then, too…

We had an excellent guided tour around the castle, organised by Lisa and conducted by the warden who’s name unfortunately escapes me. But you could tell she was knowledgeable and passionate about the subject.

Views around the castle…

From the top of the West Gate – downriver, north…IMG_4784


and across the town to the east.IMG_4788

The castle has two major historical claims to fame. It saw the demise, probably of peritonitis, of King John in 1216, and it fought a valiant but ultimately futile defence against Oliver Cromwell’s Parliamentary forces in support of Charles I.
The garrison was ordered to surrender by the King in 1648, and was allowed to leave the castle with honour.
The structure which had protected them during the protracted siege didn’t fare so well. To prevent it being used as stronghold again it was ordered to be “slighted”, or demolished, and now only the north curtain wall and parts of the West Gate survive.

Decorative Norman arch…

…and Tudor modifications.IMG_4790

In the undercroft, essentially the castle’s larder.IMG_4794

Fine vaulted ceiling

The Bishop’s quarters were above the West GateIMG_4793

The town also contains some interesting buildings, a good market and a range of shops to satisfy most requirements. Well worth the visit.

So, back to boating. We’d arranged to head off down the tideway on Sunday morning, so decided to make for Cromwell Lock later this afternoon so we didn’t have to get off so early in the morning.
Half past four saw us waiting for the green light above Newark Nether Lock although the lockie was expecting us. There was some muddle over the light system following a temporary power cut, but by 5 o’clock we were on the river again, rejoining the main stream at Crankley Point.

Leaving Newark Nether LockIMG_4803

Joe was on a mission, winding Yarwood up, and I decided he wasn’t coming past us!IMG_4805

Cruising at around 7½ mph the 4½ miles between locks took about 35 minutes. We finished up breasted up on the moorings above the lock, time for a quick beer before we retired to our respective boats for tea.

Hoof spa

A jumble of boat roofs at Cromwell LockIMG_4811

Cormorants enjoying the evening sun on the weir barrierIMG_4814

Tomorrow we should be down at Torksey before 1 o’clock. If we’re lucky we’ll get up onto the Fossdyke when we arrive, otherwise we’ll have to wait for the evening tide to make enough for us to get into the lock.

Locks 1, miles 5