Friday, August 28, 2009

The Tidal Trent – Day 2

It was pitch black when my alarm went off at 5 o’clock this morning. Even Meg, who’s always ready for a walk, looked at me a little strangely when I suggested that we go out.
There was a lightening in the sky to the east as we got back, revealing a cloudless morning.

We had a quick breakfast and a cup of coffee to kickstart the circulation, then prepared to move out. We had to wait for our breasted-up neighbour to go before we could reverse back to the junction and out onto the river.

Reversing out of Torksey Cut at sparrow f**t.
Waiting for the neighbours, then carefully reversing without waking too many people up took a little time, and by the time we’d got going downriver, there were none of our fellow travellers to be seen.

Lonely out on the river.
It was quite cold, with a brisk wind from the south-west, but the sun slowly rose to the right and made things seem warmer. I didn’t take my jacket off for the whole trip though. A good job, I needed it’s waterproof properties later.

Once again, the river is of limited interest from the low deck of a narrowboat. Only things at the water’s edge are visible.

There’s not a lot to see of the Roman ford at Littleborough.
This is where King Harold led his ill-fated army across the river, after trouncing the Danes at Stamford Bridge. Unfortunately he was not so lucky at Hastings….
In his defense, he’d already marched an army 200 miles north, defeated a Viking army, and now had to march south again to meet the threat of a Norman invasion. Amazingly he was back in London in 4 days, consolidated his forces and arrived at Hastings just 18 days after Stamford Bridge. The following day, on October 14th 1066, battle commenced. The rest, as they say, is History.
There’s an excellent website describing events before, during and after The Battle here.

Back to the present, and the next major landmark is the power station at West Burton. There’s a new gas powered facility being built here.

West Burton

We overhauled the wide-beam shortly after. At a comfortable 1100 RPM we were covering the ground at an average of 7 MPH. Not bad, hey.

Not much of Gainsborough can be seen from the river. The town is protected by high wharves, now of course disused.

Gainsborough Arches
The only mooring in Gainsborough for our sized boats.
West Stockwith Lock is the entrance to the Chesterfield Canal, which we had a look at last year with Carol on NB Corbierre.

West Stockwith Lock. Several of the overnighters at Torksey are heading here later.
At this point we’d covered 14½ miles since Torksey, and were just over half-way to Keadby.

We were overtaken in our turn by the cruiser Penrose, who’d also left Torksey this morning. With more horses under his counter, he’d had a bit of a lie in before leaving.

Penrose showing off.
The open flat countryside is ideally suited to wind power. There are several ex-windmills on the banks, some converted….
And some not.
Only one windfarm yet, though.

The approach to Keadby is heralded by the sight of the unusual road and rail bridge.

Keadby Bridge. Black clouds gathering.
The structure on the right hand end is a tank which is filled with river water to counterbalance the bridge deck and lift it for large vessels. It's been fixed in a closed position since 1955.
There are some excellent old photos here.

Then we arrived at the lock. I’d rung the lockie, and he’d told me that the tide was slack and I’d be able to come straight in. So I did, completely disregarding the red light glaring at me from the lockside.

Heading for Keadby Lock, Penrose is waiting on the high wall.

Into the entrance, and of course the gates were shut! There were three narrowboats in already, rising up onto the canal.

No entry.
We backed out into the river, and did a couple of gentle circuits while waiting for the lock to be emptied again, before being invited to come in by the lock-keeper.
By this time it was absolutely slinging it down, the first of the very heavy showers we’ve had this afternoon.

In Keadby Lock, second time of trying. The cruiser,
Penrose, is on the right.
Up to the level of the canal, waiting for the swing bridge to open.
There was a queue of cruisers waiting to go into the lock, to catch the flood back upstream. So we hung around till the moorings were free and we could get in.

And that’s it for the day. 26 miles in 4½ hours. It’s been OK coming down, but Mags is glad to be off the river. And Meg was desperate for a pee by the time we’d tied up.

Locks 1, miles 26

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