Wednesday, August 26, 2009

And so to Newark

It’s all very well saying that we’ll move in bad weather, but the reality when you open the curtains and look out upon a windy, rainswept lock cut is somewhat different. We’d pretty much decided to stay put today and wait for better conditions tomorrow. I went for a short 40 minute run to let the weather settle down a bit, and then took Meg for a walk. By this time the sky had brightened and the rain had eased, so we made the decision to go for it after all.

Holme Lock is the first of the large barge locks encountered heading downstream, and 3 narrowboats and 1 cruiser in the 165’ x 18’ chamber looked a bit lost.

Into Holme Lock. The workboat is moored in the lock cut, outside the lock.
Today’s cruise has been one of wide open expanses of water, interspersed with locks. There are very few bridges crossing the river, in fact there’s only one road bridge between Nottingham and Newark.
At Radcliffe on Trent (not to be confused with Ratcliffe on Soar), the river is forced through a 90° left turn by the outcrop of the Trent Hills, which disuade the river from any ambitions it has to head west.

Hard left at Radcliffe on Trent
We lost the cruiser above Stoke Lock, and, there being no lock keeper on, worked the 3 narrowboats through ourselves. The controls are pretty much idiot proof, anyway.

Gunthorpe Bridge (the one bridge) carries the A6097 over the river, and prompts you to wake up. The lock is just around the corner.

Gunthorpe Bridge….
And lock.
Even though these locks are big, there’re not difficult, as you’re generally invited in by a green traffic light on arrival, and then met by a friendly lock-keeper. They keep in touch with each other up and down the waterway, and can judge arrival times of boats quite accurately.

Ready to Leave Gunthorpe Lock.
Looking back, the lock on the right, and the huge weir on the left.
Hazelford Lock is the next on the list, where we got stuck for a few days eighteen months ago when the river rose 4 feet in a matter of hours. No problem today though. In fact we’d seen no rain since we’d left Holme, but the showers started soon after, accompanied by an increase in the wind.

Leaving the constraining hills behind, the river feels obliged to loop backwards and forwards, past Fiskerton and Farndon.

The Bromley Arms at Fiskerton
The winding course through most points of the compass meant that we caught the rising wind from the side, bow and stern.

Following wind
With the wind beam-on, the boat took on quite an alarming list, and stern on the prop rattled industriously as a trough passed under the counter.

The showers turned to persistent rain as we approached Newark, past the very long Averham Weir which carries the river around the north of the town.

Averham Weir
The waterway through Newark is mainly artificial, known as the Newark Branch, or Dyke.

Just past the old Trent Navigation Company Warehouse, now a popular pub and museum, is Newark Town Lock.

We hung on to a BW dredger moored outside the maintenance depot while a trip boat, Sonning, came up.

Waiting for Town Lock
Into Newark Town Lock, Newark Castle in the background.
Passing under the castle walls.
We moored for the night on the pontoon moorings below the BW offices at The Kiln. We secured the last gap, David and Dorothy on NB Blackbird, who we’ve shared today’s trip with as well, have moored on the wall opposite. And just a bit further along there’s a familiar boat – Granny Buttons. Andrew must have come out onto the river from Lincoln at Torksey, after his excursion across The Wash.
The wind and rain have eased again now, and the forecast is OK for tomorrow. Apparently today’s gales were the tail end of Hurricane Bill. I’m glad we only caught the tail end!

Locks 5, miles 20

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