Friday, November 04, 2016

Down the S&K

Another day, another canal. A chilly night, but not as cold as the previous two. And the clear skies gave us a bright morning, but it had started to cloud up by the time we left the junction. We’ve even had a couple of short showers this afternoon.

Away from our quiet mooring at Bramwith Junction

Bramwith Lock was just 200 yards ahead, and you need a windlass and muscle power for this one. IMG_2265
It’s the only one between Leeds and the Trent that isn’t mechanised.

We’re in the short, 60 foot chamber, but it’s been extended to allow larger boats or trains of towed barges to move coal up from a colliery near Stainforth.IMG_2266

There are several keels moored along here and at Stainforth, I mentioned yesterday that they are popular for conversion. But this, I think, is the oldest.
Registered in 1876, the Fair Maiden must be one of the earliest riveted iron keels built.

We topped off the water tank and disposed of rubbish at Bramwith Swing Bridge, before I opened it for Mags to come through.IMG_2268

Stainforth is about a mile and a half further along, the road bridge here has taken it’s share of damage from errant boats!

Stainforth High Bridge
This is one of the few fixed bridges across the canal, and definitely the oldest.

The navigation, opened in 1802, was constructed with sailing keels in mind, and swing bridges were the norm so that the tall masts didn’t have to be lowered. Even two of the four railway crossings had opening decks, and the two that don’t probably post-date the introduction of diesel- rather than wind-power.

More converted keels tied up near the Thorne Cruising Club basin.IMG_2273

Judging by the construction, this one could be contemporary to Fair MaidenIMG_2274

Hatfield Colliery operated about half a mile south of the canal, opened in 1910, closed during the massive pit closures of 1993, re-opened under a management scheme and staying open for the next 7 years. Plans to build a coal-fired power station on the site came and went, but the pit kept producing intermittently until final closure in 2015. A spur line led to loading wharfs on the south bank of the canal.

Hatfield Colliery loading wharf

The M18 crosses the canal…

…then the Doncaster to Scunthorpe railway line just before Staniland Marina.IMG_2280
Early in 2013 a landslip of pit waste at Hatfield Colliery, destabilised after heavy rain, poured across the line. Over a million tons of material had to be shifted before the quadruple lines could be re-laid. The line was closed for 6 months.

Having failed to secure any free fuel (logs) and with the weather turning colder we pulled in to the marina and purchased another 3 bags of solid fuel. Then we had Thorne Lock and swing bridge to deal with.

The swing bridge lies just above the lock and has to opened before the lock is used.

Mags dropping down Thorne Lock, with the swing bridge, now closed, just above.IMG_2282
Back to pushing buttons for the lock, but the bridge and barriers have to swung by hand.

Heading into the town I was pleased to see plenty of space on the finger pontoons at the service wharf. So that’s where we’ve finished up tonight.IMG_2284
There was room on the grass on the left, but the ground here is covered in swan and duck poo. Anyway, the pontoons are behind a fence with a locked gate. Much more secure if there are herberts around with fireworks…

Locks 2, miles 5

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