Tuesday, September 01, 2009

A surprising journey into an industrial heartland

I had a walk back downstream with Meg this morning to have a closer look at an iron railway bridge over the river to the east of Sprotborough.

The support pillars are constructed of riveted iron plates, as are the trusses and the span.

It sort of looks “right”, if you see what I mean.

Not so sure about the A1 bridge nearby, though.
I was a bit concerned about a handful of guys across the canal late last night, a bit shouty and loud, but they stayed on that side and cleared off before midnight.
After that we had a quiet night, and were away this morning before 10.
3 miles of very pleasant scenery through the Don Gorge took us to the start of the industrial sprawl at Mexborough.

Wooded slopes of the Don Gorge

Under Conisborough Viaduct, an impressive structure but no longer in use.

Almost as impressive is the nerve of Daz, Fisher and Mel who’ve managed to paint their names on the span, around 70’ above the river.

Conisborough Castle, just visible over the trees, seems to have escaped their artistic aspirations.
Arriving at Mexborough, there are 2 locks to be negotiated, and both had to be emptied before we could use them. The painters were busy doing the bollards and ladders, so we experimented with not tying up, Mags holding the boat steady using tiller and engine. It worked really well, and saved me a lot of to-ing and fro-ing, so we did the same on the rest of the locks today.

In Mexborough Top Lock

We probably would have felt obliged to rope up if we had to share the locks, but we only saw 3 other boats today, and they were going the other way.

Just below Waddington Lock there’s a BW Sanitary Station we’d planned to use, so pulled in on the wharf. The tap to fill the tank was considerably further away than the length of our combined hoses, so a chap on the mooring lent us his so we could fill. Loo tank emptied and rubbish disposed of, we threaded our way through the laid up fleet of EV Waddingtons bulk carriers.

Approaching Waddington Lock

Waddingtons use the first pound and lock of the derelict Dearne and Dove Canal as a maintenance yard and dock, and are still running some boats on the canal, carrying oil. We’ve not seen any yet though, just this forlorn reminder of a lost opportunity to use the waterway as it was meant to be used.

Part of Waddingtons fleet, waiting for orders.
Waddingtons were instrumental in keeping the waterway serviceable, chasing contracts and lobbying for improvements. In recognition of their efforts, the rebuilt Swinton Lock was renamed Waddington Lock.

Leaving Swinton behind, the river is rejoined at Kilnhurst Flood Lock which was wide open at both ends as expected.

Yorkshire Spelling.....

Zipping through Kilnhurst Flood Lock

And back onto the river
Industry lines both banks, using the river water, but very little can be seen over the trees.

Glimpses of industry
We met our only group of boats at Aldwarke Lock, coming in as we arrived.

Aldwarke Lock
I helped them down, then we went up, alone again, naturally. Just a mile further on is the last of the big locks, at Eastwood.

In Eastwood Lock.
We pulled onto the Visitor Moorings above the lock, just 1½ spaces available.

Eastwood VM

It’s not exactly rural here, being surrounded by industrial estates, but it’s fairly quiet, and secure behind locked gates which fence off the lock and residential moorings alongside.

It’s not been a bad day, just one heavy shower at Aldwarke. It’s the persistent wind which is a pain. Since we’ve moored we’ve had a couple more thundery showers.

Locks 5, miles 10

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