Monday, September 03, 2012

Fine day for a trip downriver

Today we finished the run downstream on the tidal Trent. The weather made it an easier trip than we’ve had in the past, warm, dry and sunny, with just a bit of a breeze.

Sunset at Cottam Power Station last nightSAM_2793 Cottam Power Stn Sunset

We had to wait for the tide to be right so we could get into Keadby Lock comfortably, so got away at around 10:40. We were getting ready to go when the lockie set the lock up for traffic going up onto the Fossdyke to Lincoln, so stayed tied up until they were out of the way.
First was a common-or-garden white cruiser, followed by this venerable craft.

MV John H VincentSAM_2801 MV John H Vincent
Maybe started life as a fishing boat?

Out of the lock cut, back onto the riverSAM_2802 Back on the Trent
Just disturbed a gaggle of geese…

We led a party of three downriver, NB Lyra was behind followed by NB Bessie. Lyra was coming all the way to Keadby, but Bessie planned to break the journey by stopping overnight at West Stockwith. There’s an elderly dog on board and her bladder control is not what it was…

Torksey Viaduct crosses the river downstream of the lock cut, and we met three boats coming up.

Under Torksey ViaductSAM_2803 Torksey Viaduct
They’d have had an early start to catch the flood tide from Keadby.

For the first hour or so we were punching that same tide, necessary to ensure we reach Keadby before low water prevents access to the lock. But it meant that we were only making about 3½ mph over the ground.

Unlike the aggregate carrier Battlestone, met at a bend near Marton.

You don’t argue, you just get out of the way!SAM_2806 Battlestone
She (he?)’ll be heading up to Besthorpe to load. Fusedale H went past earlier and another also went upstream in the early hours.

It’s funny, unloaded it’s still quite a few tonnes of vessel, but creates less wash than the 32 foot cruiser we met a little later. Probably not so if loaded to 650 tonnes, though.

Littleborough was a Roman settlement, built on a strategically important ford over the river. The ford was improved (as the Romans were wont to do), and it was still in use 1000 years later.

In 1066 Harold had successfully led his army to victory over the invading Norse at Stamford Bridge, then had word of another invader in the form of the Normans threatening the south coast. Just three days before Harold had been in the south, anticipating the Normans, and had to force march up into Yorkshire catching the army under Harald Hardraada and Tostig Godwinson unawares.
Then he had to march his weary troops all the way back, to meet the Norman threat near Hastings. As history records, this engagement didn’t go so well…
Anyway, on the way back he used the Roman ford here, so it was still a viable crossing after all those years.

Littleborough, there was a Roman ford here somewhere….SAM_2808 Littleborough Roman Ford
Brick and limestone folly built in grounds of Gate Burton Hall in 1747SAM_2810 Folley Near Knaith

After spending over an hour winding our way towards it, we finally put West Burton Power Station behind us.

Bye, bye West BurtonSAM_2814 West Burton
There’s actually two generating plants here, a coal-fired one and a later gas powered one.

The next bridge encountered carries a railway line, and is near the municipal land-fill site, hence the gulls.
SAM_2816 Seagulls and Gainsborough Railway Br

Gainsborough is announced by the large Kerry’s Mill on the right bank.

Kerry’s MillSAM_2817 Kerry Mill
The blob is a Red Admiral butterfly that wandered into shot as I hit the button.

During the 18th and 19th centuries Gainsborough was an important inland port, the furthest inland, in fact. Extensive wharves handled goods from Hull, brought down by Humber keels, and larger vessels could trade as far as Gainsborough Bridge.

The city was an Anglo-Saxon settlement, captured in around 1013 by Danes under Sweyn Forkbeard (those pesky Vikings again, but didn’t they have great names…) and his son Canute. Forkbeard had himself proclaimed King of England and set up court at Gainsborough. It could have been the capital, but old Forkbeard fell off his horse and killed himself, and his son Canute moved out.
It is rumoured that the legendary “holding back the tide” thing by Canute actually happened at Gainsborough. The Trent has it’s own bore, called the Aegir, which occurs at certain stages of the tides. But it only reaches as far as Gainsborough, and Canute or his advisors would have known that. How better to show your power than to stop a tidal wave?
Pity it didn’t work. Maybe that’s why he moved…

Gainsborough Arches, built 1791SAM_2818 Gainsborough Arches

Daunting visitor moorings under the high flood wallsSAM_2821 Gainsborough
TV and phone reception might be a problem…

About three miles below Gainsborough the entrance to the Chesterfield Canal at West Stockwith is passed.

Blink and you’ll miss it!SAM_2824 West Stockwith
No water shortage up there, then.

The River Idle comes in through a large sluice.SAM_2825 West Stockwith, R Idle

A fairly straight section follows, passing hamlets of Heckdyke, Gunthorpe and Wildsworth, before a bit more concentrated civilisation at Owston Ferry.

Gleadells had a wharf in Gainsborough and storage warehouses at Owston Ferry. They still supply grain and feed, part of a large multinational since 2001.
SAM_2827 Owston Ferry

The two Butterwicks, East and West, straddle the river. There are commercial mooring “dolphins” on the right bank and a windmill under renovation on the left.

Commercial holding mooringsSAM_2829 Commercial moorings at Butterwick

Windmill des-res to be?SAM_2831 Project mill

The M180 motorway soars over the navigation on elegant slender spans, time to ring the lockie at Keadby so he can get the lock ready. It’s about 20 minutes from here.

M180 BridgeSAM_2833 M180 Bridge

My favourite bridge comes next, the railway bridge at Keadby. This remarkable structure was built in 1916 and opened by King George V. It’s formal name is King George V Bridge.
SAM_2834 Keadby Railway Br
It carries both a road and a double track railway, and the right hand span lifted to accommodate tall ships. The lump on the right hand end is the counterbalance to aid the electrically operated bascule.
Since 1956 it’s not been lifted, and is now fixed in position.

Through the centre span the coaster FastWil is unloading steel at a wharf.
SAM_2837 Coaster, bridge and NB Lyra
NB Lyra can just be seen coming under the railway bridge.

The recommended way to get into Keadby Lock is to go past then turn around, keeping close to the wall and turning into the lock as the fore-end comes level. Not as easy as it sounds with a strong current running across the entrance, but both boats made it without touching the sides.

Keadby Lock entranceSAM_2838 Keadby Lock

We’re in, NB Lyra followsSAM_2839 Keadby Lock

In Keadby LockSAM_2840 Keadby Lock
The top gates are open, we’re now waiting for the swing bridge. The scum on the surface is weed, completely covering the lock approach.

We filled with water then snuck into a Seyella-sized slot on the visitor moorings. It’s been a good day, long by our standards but the fine weather made it enjoyable. We’ve a bit of canal work now, then the River Aire from Knottingley.

Locks 1, miles 28


Lisa said...

Very interesting. We moor at Debdale and passed you by one morning on the Leicester Arm so I have been following your progress since then. This is a trip or at least part of a trip us newbies will make ..... one day...
NB What a Lark

Nev Wells said...

Sitting at my desk reading your excellent account of the trip on the Trent makes me even more keen to get my boat moving again for an extended period....


NB Waterlily

Steve Heaven said...

We're at Gunthorpe so a couple of days behind you.