It was cold out on the river today as we headed north to Torksey. The day started fairly still and bright, but the sun soon disappeared and the south-westerly picked up.
I managed to catch an oystercatcher on film as I walked Meg this morning…
It shows you how good my bird identification is; I thought it was a sandpiper! My bird book says it’s the most easily recognised of all the waders, and remarks “…the long orange-red bill suggests that it is carrying a carrot.” Everyone’s a comic…
Cromwell Weir, lock and lower landing.
The potential change in water level is clear from the rise-and-fall posts securing the pontoon.
It was here, in 1975, that 10 young men were drowned during a military training exercise.
Memorial to those lost, 28 September 1975
The river was an important trade route for the Romans
We were all up and ready to go by half past nine, so assembled in the lock cut as the lock-keeper readied the lock. There’s no self-operation on this tidal lock, but summer working hours for the C&RT staff are long enough to accommodate most boaters. The tidal range here is small compared to that further downstream, and more powerful cruisers can punch the tide. We ditch crawlers have to go with the flow…
Snug fit across the lock chamber, but there’s room for another four behind.
Out of Cromwell Lock, me leading. I’m the one with the chart!
The chart isn’t really needed, the shoals are well marked by warning signs and we were leaving at high water so they were well covered. But we followed the directions anyway. You don’t want to go aground on a falling tide. It’d be sometime tonight when you started to float again.
Out on the tideway
No mad races today, we set off at around 5 mph which increased to about 6½ as the ebb tide took hold.
Besthorpe Staithe, built to load the gravel barges, lies unused now.
It’ll probably go the way of another couple of disused wharves further north. Stripped of everything salvageable and left to decay.
Strung out. Fladborough railway viaduct in the background
Just past Dunham Toll Bridge we were overhauled and overtaken by a large cruiser…
… who’s skipper showed us what several hundred horse power can do when he’d passed us.
These guys weren’t hanging about, either.
I called up the Torksey lock-keeper on the VHF radio, the first time I’ve used it in a real situation. That seemed to go well, he’d got the lock prepared for us as we turned into the short lock cut.
Torksey Lock, open ready for us
We‘ve not been up this one before, having never ventured onto the Fossdyke. But we’ve often stopped overnight on those pontoons, breaking the tidal trip up into South Yorkshire.
Tight fit for four narrowboats in Torksey Lock, but the lockie said he could have squeezed a little one in at the back…
The lock has three sets of uphill gates, you can see the intermediate ones in the picture. This enables the lock to be used for just one or two boats without using so much water. It also has outward pointing gates at the lower end for those occasions when the river gets stroppy.
A gentle chug past the lines of permanent moorings saw us pulling up on the almost empty 72 hour visitor moorings. No breasting up and a bank level with the gunnel. Joy.
It’s going to wet tonight and tomorrow, so we’ll be staying put I reckon. No rush now, we’ve 12 days to cover the 30-odd miles to Boston.
Locks 2, miles 17