Monday, August 31, 2009

Onto fresh waters.

After spending yesterday tied to the bank and watching the boats go past, today was our first day on The Don.

Thorpe Marsh Power Station

It’s been a rather good day in fact. Our first potential obstacle was the lift bridge at Barnby Dun, carrying a fairly busy B road.
Cruising slowly up to look for the landing, we saw someone waving from the bank. It turned out to be “Bob the Gas”, who we met at Torksey, and who we followed on the Trent to Keadby. He cruises with his Mum, during the summer, on their boat “Leet Gi’in II” , and had moored just short of the bridge last night.

He was kind enough to open the bridge for us, and waved us through.

“Bob the Gas” stopping the traffic.
Through Barmby Dun Lift Bridge.
We followed the broad, deep navigation for a couple of miles, past Sandall Grove, and arrived at the first of the barge locks heading up to Rotherham.

Long Sandall Lock.

I was delighted to see that the traffic lights on the lock were on red and green, indicating that the lock was manned but empty. As we approached the red went out and the gates opened. We were in and the gates shut behind us, and the lockie peered out of his control tower over head. “ Orl Reet?” “Aye” I replied. Well, we are in Yorkshire now, aren't we.

While we were rising the 3’ in a lock that’s 230 feet long by 20 feet wide, I asked him why the lock was manned, when we were expecting ‘Boater Operation’. “Bank Holiday” was the reply, “Gonna be busy…”

At this point we’d not seen a boat moving, but we did see 2 cruisers coming the other way before we reached Doncaster. That’d keep him going for another 10 minutes…..

We pulled onto the pontoon moorings below Doncaster Town Lock so I could get some groceries from the Tesco just a couple of minutes away, had a spot of lunch, then were into the lock, after waiting for a boat to come out. Another one!

On the Visitor Moorings at Doncaster. A handy spot in the middle of town, but not pooch friendly.
Didn’t have a chance to pass the time of day with this lock keeper, he was too busy putting the world to rights with a colleague. Just pushed the appropriate buttons and gave us a wave as we pulled away 5 minutes later.

Doncaster Town Lock, hiding under road and rail bridges.
Leaving the lock
From this point on we were off the artificial cut and onto the River Don.

3 Bridges over the Don – railway, dismantled railway and the A1.
We saw another narrowboat, then a rather larger vessel came into view.

Trip Boat Wyre Lady.
I’d been disappointed not to see any commercial boats at all yet, so had to make do with this. Registered at Fleetwood, she’s a long way from home. Built in 1938 on the Clyde, she acted as a tender during the trials of the 2 Cunard "Queens", then as a ferry at Fleetwood and is rumoured to have been at Dunkirk! She now does Bank Holiday and Sunday trips from Sprotborough to Doncaster and the other way to Conisborough in graceful semi-retirement.

Through Sprotborough Lock with no less than 3 narrowboats waiting to go down river, then we moored on the Visitor Moorings a couple of hundred yards along.

Sprotborough VM

This is a pleasant spot, actually on the lock island. It’s popular with the locals, with some walks and a nature reserve and pub on the opposite bank. A lot quieter this side, though.

The Wyre Lady is based here, and embarks passengers just opposite.

Another batch of passengers for a cruise.
I guess with the Bank Holiday over and traffic back to normal levels!! we'll have to do our own locks tomorrow. Ah well.

Locks 3, Miles 9

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