Saturday, August 27, 2016

Three canals, three-quarters of an hour.

It was fine first thing this morning, so Meg and I took a walk around the canals that meet here.

A beautiful sunset yesterday.
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First off, I’ve a couple of errors to correct. On Thursday, coming into Thorne, I mentioned that our shell was built here, at Jonathon Wilson’s. In 2006, when it was built, Wilson’s was still at the workshop in Sheffield, not here.
And yesterday’s talk of Bramwith Lock being made up with three sets of gates was right, but the sizes were wrong. The lower chamber is almost twice as long as the upper. Coal from Hatfield Colliery on the south bank of the canal below Stainforth was loaded at a wharf, and the lock extended in 1932 to allow the use of compartment boats.

OK. Meg and I walked back to Bramwith Lock this morning, crossing over the lock and continuing on the north bank of the Stainforth and Keadby for a short distance.

Bramwith Lock. The top section is considerably shorter than the bottom!IMG_1585
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We followed a path across the narrow peninsula between this and the New Junction Canal, arriving at the aqueduct carrying the canal over the River Don.
The aqueduct is flanked by large guillotine gates that are closed when the Don floods, protecting the canal from the excess water.IMG_1588

Looking east towards the Aire and Calder
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We walked back along the north bank past the junction, crossing over the River Don Navigation at Northfield Road Bridge and returning home.

Bramwith Junction, you can see Seyella in the centre. IMG_1595

It’s awfully wide for a canal!
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I was looking forward to getting some good blackberrys along here, we have in the past. But this year’s crop are poor, wizened little things.
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Leave them for the birds.

I got a coat of gloss on the new top box this morning as soon as the dew had dried off. The forecast was for rain after mid-afternoon, so it should have been tacked-off by then. But it came early, starting at half-eleven, so I’m not sure whether I’ve got away with it or not. More showers tomorrow, so we’ll be staying here.

Friday, August 26, 2016

Somewhere for the weekend…

We wanted to get somewhere peaceful and out of the way for the weekend, let the mad crowd have the water for the next couple of days. We knew just the place…

We were later away from Thorne than planned, chatting to neighbouring boaters takes up some time, doesn’t it! It had turned half-ten by the time we reversed away from the moorings and headed up to Thorne Lock.

Off from Thorne, we’d filled with water before we pulled out.IMG_1560

Thorne Lock, just 5 minutes into today’s trip
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We’re waiting for NB Shugley, moored near us overnight and almost ready to leave as we did. And there they are in the distance.
This lock is mechanised, all push-button, but the swing bridge just above has to opened and closed manually.

Top side of Thorne Lock and swing bridge
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We had about 4 miles to go to the next swing bridge at Kirk Bramwith, and our locking partners set off while I closed up, they would deal with the bridge. A complication arose; a boat pulled out between us and was going slower than our friends, so they were getting further and further ahead.

It’s very pleasant along here, the River Don runs alongside and the banks are pleasantly wooded.IMG_1567

It looks like the local joy-riders have been busy.  IMG_1565
It must be a popular dumping spot here, another time we passed a car was still smouldering from the night before. There’s a track running to the canal from the main road.

Stainforth is a place we’ve never stopped at before; we should really. It looks worth a visit.

Converted Humber keels at Thorne Boat Club
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The New Inn and a row of cottages at Stainforth
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Stainforth Bridge has taken some punishment…
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A motor boat was coming through Bramwith Swing bridge as the first boat of our strung-out convoy approached, so they held it open for them. But our middle boat was too far back to leave it that long so they closed up. But Derek on NB Shugley, good as his word, pulled in beyond then came back to open it for us.

We motored down to the lock and I jumped off to open the gates while Mags waited to come in. I expected us to be joined by the “interloper” but she (turned out to a female single-hander) waved Shugley in to join us.

Bramwith Lock
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The lock has three sets of gates, so can be used as a 65 x 17 foot single chamber, or with the extreme end gates in use, double the length. Probably for towed strings of barges, I would think. We just used the top end, of course. It’s all manual operation as well, and the gates are heavy.

After leaving the lock Shugley set off towards Doncaster, we pulled onto the water point just above and I did the gentlemanly thing and fetched the lady single-hander up. She set off, turning right at Bramwith Junction and Goole. She’ll have fun with the barge locks on the New Junction and Aire and Calder…

We cruised to the end of the Stainforth and Keadby, and pulled in at the junction. It’s a fine spot here. Not to much in the way of pedestrians, but wide open views of the junction and passing boats.

Bramwith Junction
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Behind us the the Stainforth and Keadby, to the left is the New Junction Canal leading to Sykehouse Junction and the Aire and Calder, and behind me is the Don Navigation to Doncaster and Sheffield.

I took advantage of the fine afternoon to get the second undercoat on the new top box. I might get the first top coat on tomorrow, although there’s rain forecast for later in the day. We’ll see.

Locks 2, miles 5

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Through the green carpet to Thorne

Red sky at night?
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This wouldn’t have given shepherds any delight though, it rained on and off all night! It had cleared up by the time Meg and I went out, but remained dull and overcast all day.

Leaving Keadby
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This end of the Stainforth and Keadby Canal is infested with duckweed, lemnoideae, and seems to be worse each time we come this way. Luckily it doesn’t have any effect on the prop, not consolidated enough I guess.

It was pretty thick as we approached our first of several moving bridges, Vazon Sliding Rail Bridge.IMG_1544
The line crosses the canal at an acute angle, so the solution to allow boat passage is to slide a section of the track away, at 90° to the alignment. They do like their clever engineering up here, don’t they! There’s a bridge keeper on duty, and we timed it well between trains, opening the bridge for us as we approached.

Through the gap you can see the next bridge, a conventional one, this.

Mags comes through Vazon Swing Bridge, the railway bridge in the background.
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Cutting a channel through the green stuff
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Built for large commercial barges the canal is wide, deep and very straight!

Since everyone cleared off from the Keadby moorings yesterday it’s been very quiet. In fact we were the only boat there for most of day. No-one was moving on the water this morning, then we had the excitement of seeing one approaching in the distance. It looked a bit odd, and as we got nearer we saw why. It was a weed collector for the duckweed.
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I think they’re fighting a losing battle. I reckon it’s growing as fast as they’re removing it! There were some clearer patches where they'd been working, but they were being encroached upon again.

The farmers around here have diversified into wind!
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We had several bridges to deal with, mostly swinging, some manual and some semi-automated. The last but one carries a road near Wyke Well and, just to be different, is a mechanised lift bridge.

Wykewell Lift Bridge.
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The weed thins out as we get near Thorne, passing Tyler Wilson’s boatyard. Our shell was built here in Thorne and shipped to Northwich for fitting out.IMG_1558

One more bridge to go, and it’s the sneakily hidden footbridge, lurking under the new Thorne Road Bridge. The chap off the last boat on the permanent moorings waved us forward, then walked up and opened it for us.

The grandly-named Princess Royal Swing Footbridge being opened by the kind gentleman on the left.
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It can be a bit of a pain; the latches on the gates don’t always engage properly so you can finish up walking backwards and forwards across the bridge, giving them a rattle then trying again. All with your boat waiting below and pedestrians waiting at either end.

Just beyond are end-on moorings in front of the sanitary station, and we were able to manoeuvre into one berth. This’ll do for tonight, we can fill with water before we leave and the village is handy for shopping.
Tomorrow we’ll head on, looking for somewhere quiet for the Bank Holiday weekend.

Locks 0, miles 10

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

A good day for a trip downriver.

We had a fairly lazy morning, we didn’t intend to move out from Torksey till noon. That would give us an hour or so punching the tide before slack water, then a faster run down as the tide turned and carried us with it.
I had engine checks to do and sorting out longer ropes for fore and aft in case we needed them when we arrived at Keadby. And Meg needed a good walk as she’d be stuck on board for a few hours. We crossed over the lock and followed the flood bank around a ways.

Torksey Lock has two opposing sets of gates, the inner ones used as normal to pen boats down from the higher level of the Fossdyke, the outer ones used for flood protection.
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Teapot collection on the inside of one of the lock gates.IMG_1485

Looking downstream, a beautiful morning.
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Typical Trent Path gates.
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Two gates opening in opposite directions ensure that stock can’t push them open, and the shape and the sloping hinge post act as a self-closing device.

Some of the overnight boats moved out mid-morning, but it was 12:10 when we untied, chugged gently down the short cut, and turned north.IMG_1492

Torksey doesn’t have a lot, but it does have a castle!
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Not strictly a castle, more of a fortified manor house, it was built in the 16th century by the Jermyn family. It fell victim to the destruction wrought during the Civil War, in 1645. It was occupied by Parliamentarian forces, then later burned by the Royalists. The remains, in poor condition have been stabilised by English Heritage, but there is no access to the site for the public.

We weren’t alone on the river, we were following two motor cruisers, and occasionally a boat would come upstream.IMG_1496 
The leader of the two cruisers ahead was lame, having only one of it’s pair of diesels running. This didn’t stop them slowly pulling away from us though. We averaged less than 4mph for the first 1¼ hours, till near Knaith.

Sparkling water…
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With a brisk breeze blowing from behind, the tide running from ahead raised a bit of a chop at times.
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There was a Roman fortification at Littleborough, protecting the ford here. Made from stone slabs flanked by oak staves, it was removed to improve the depth of the navigation in 1820. A ferry replaced it, but little remains of either crossing now.IMG_1502

On a hillside overlooking the river sits Burton Chateau, built as a folly on the Gate Burton Estate in 1747.
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It’s now managed by the Landmark Trust, and is available for holiday let.

The tide is well on the turn as we approach West Burton Power Station, exposing the mud banks on the inside of the bends.IMG_1507
That’s not a shopping trolley, surely? No, just a tangle of branches!

Into Gainsborough and we’re really motoring now as we pass under Gainsborough Bridge.
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You can tell the tide and wind are in the same direction now; there’s hardly a ripple on the surface.
Ten miles in and it's taken us two hours and ten minutes. Seventeen to go, but they’ll be a lot quicker!

West Stockwith, with the lock leading up onto the Chesterfield Canal, is about halfway.

West Stockwith
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Just around the corner a pair of boats were waiting for the lock, having just missed out as a launch, having overtaken us at a rate of knots, beat them to it as well.

Man on a mission…
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…beating these two to the lock
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These boats had come down Torksey Lock this morning, and set off about 40 minutes ahead of us. There’s not a lot of point in leaving there too early, it just means you spend longer punching the tide.

The river gets considerably wider now, and much less interesting.

Two pubs in Owston Ferry, the Crooked Billet and The White Hart, can’t get any passing boater’s trade; there’s no-where to moor!IMG_1518

Although I’m guessing that this chap would have had some sort of wharf or staithe at one time.   IMG_1519

Getting wider as we pass South and North Ewster…
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The delightfully named Butterwick is the next village, sitting on the west bank.IMG_1524

Opposite are barge lay-over moorings though if you were desperate for a pint at the Dog and Gun on this side of the river they’d do at a pinch…IMG_1525
It’s a long climb up the ladders, though!

Landmarks count down the distance to Keadby now…

A converted windmill, with the M180 bridge in the distance…IMG_1527

…Althorpe Church…
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…and the amazing bascule bridge at Gunness.
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The right-hand section lifts to allow taller vessels to go further upstream. River water is pumped into the tank on the end till it outweighs the road and rail bridge deck, then up it goes. Simples!

There’s often coasters unloading on Gunness wharfs, but not today.IMG_1532

Keadby Lock entrance isn’t easy to spot, you have to look for the control cabin just past the crane.IMG_1534

I motored just past the entrance, then turned across the stream, angling gently across the flow to ease into the ready-open chamber. I’d already contacted the lock-keeper to advise him of our imminent arrival.

And we’re in!
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Bye bye to the tidal Trent for another trip.
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With just the centre rope tied off by the lockie, he brought us up gently. Once the lock was full he opened the gates then went to swing the road bridge just above.
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Moored just past the bridge.
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It’s taken us just under 5 hours from casting off to tying up. Not bad, but that’s long enough. I’m glad it’s been fine, if a little warm. One trip was done in wet, miserable weather, and that was a bit grim!

Not sure what we’re doing tomorrow, might take a day off.

Locks 1, miles 27½