Thursday, November 17, 2016

Just about made it…

We wanted to leave Stoke Lock and get tied up near Meadow Lane Junction on the edge of Nottingham by the time the forecasted blustery showers arrived. And we made it, although there were a few drops of rain in the wind as we came up Holme Lock and headed on the last leg of the short trip.
It’s very pleasant at Stoke Lock, I don’t know why we’ve not stopped here before.

Stoke Weir.
These long Trent weirs have a fascination for me.

Stoke Woods, just below the lock, where Meg gave the local squirrels a bit of exercise. IMG_2567

It was another bright and breezy morning as we set off from the moorings below Stoke Lock.

Not far upriver is a sharp bend, caused by the river being deflected by a ridge of red sedimentary shales forming a terrace.
The village of Radcliffe-on-Trent sits on top of the ridge, it’s name presumably derived from colour of the rock.

Around the bend…
This right-angle bend can be a bit tricky if there’s a lot of flow on. The water accelerates around the outside of the curve, catching the stern of a downstream vessel and pushing it round, causing an oversteer. A friend of ours did a full 360° in front of us one time!

Ratcliffe Railway Viaduct spans the river about halfway between Stoke and Holme Locks. IMG_2575 

Constructed between 1848 and 1850, it has a cast iron span over the navigable channel, three smaller brick arches completing the water crossing. To the south, on the left of the picture, 28 more brick arches carry the permanent way over the valley.

Colwick, on the northwestern bank of the river started out as an agricultural area, but by the 19th century was heavily industrialised. Several staithes were built to allow access to water transport, all disused now and in various states of decay.IMG_2580 
A sugar beet refinery, concrete works and an oil terminal would have used the river for transport, but the railway had a considerable impact, with a large area of sidings constructed at the turn of the 20th century.

The area around Holme Lock has changed since the 1950s. In 1955 the Colwick Sluices came into operation as part of Nottingham’s flood management plans. Before they were built the river described a loop to the north and west, Holme Cut, with a lock at each end, cutting across the base of the loop. With the sluices now built alongside the single, deeper lock in the place of the Holme Lower Lock and the river substantially widened to feed water to the sluices, the land enclosed by the loop, always prone to flooding, is now part marina, part water park.

Approaching Holme Lock, with the Colwick Sluices to the right.IMG_2589
A bit of a gloomy picture, now. The cloud has started to build… On the left is the exit from the slalom course at the Holme Pierrepont National Water Sports Centre.

As it repalced two pre-1950s locks, Holme Lock is deep, at 12 feet twice as deep as most of the other Trent locks. Consequently it takes a while to empty and fill. Half an hour, in fact.

Mags being patient as the lock slowly fills.

The slalom course runs down alongside the lock
I didn’t see any canoes sampling the waters, but there were a couple of inflatables doing the circuit.

Going back around for another go.

We’d had a few spits and spots of rain while in the lock, but it cleared for a few minutes before returning a bit heavier.

Getting damp as we approach Nottingham. I do like that house…IMG_2597

Lady Bay Bridge, the entrance to the Nottingham Canal is just visible through the left-hand arch.

The entrance to the long-abandoned Grantham Canal lies just upstream, alongside the EA offices.IMG_2603 
The 33 mile-long canal was built to transport coal to Grantham, rising through 18 locks. Opened in 1797 it did quite well until railway competition made it uneconomical, finally abandoned officially in 1936. In the 1920s one of the regular cargos was “night soil” from Nottingham for fertiliser in the Vale of Belvoir.
Since then road building has effectively destroyed the first couple of miles, but the Grantham Canal Society has plans to create a new canal, upstream of Holme Lock, to gain access to the sections further east and still in water.

Our first option for mooring was on the pontoon just below Meadow Lane Lock, but a couple of boats had beaten us to it…

…so we went for the fall-back option on the County Hall steps, just upstream of Trent Bridge.IMG_2606


Not before time, either. Shortly after we pulled in the wind increased alarmingly and the rain came down.

I’m so glad we weren’t still out in that!

Up onto the canal tomorrow, but if the weather’s favourable we might first head all the way upstream to Clifton Bridge, the limit of navigation. Not been up there before.

Locks 1, miles 5½


Paul (from Waterway Routes) said...

I imply Clifton Bridge is the limit of navigation on my Waterway Routes maps for safety. We've been as far as the narrows with the island where the cycle track / towpath separates from the main channel. We only gave up navigating there when boredom overtook us.

We did surprise several rowers who claimed never to have seen a boat up there before and our horn got more use than usual.

I did read somewhere that another narrow boater recently made it all the way to the weir - then had to be rescued by RCR - more because they were inexperienced boaters who were lost, rather than in need of rescue.

Chas and Ann said...

It has been quite an adventure to read about, thanks from Chas.

John Lawson said...

you have been so lucky with the weather! It seems to have done nothing but rain the last few days in North Yorkshire despite a dry forecast. The Ouse is up 1.5m and rising sharply! Looks like it's scuppered a run up to Linton which is normally a 4 hour run but it becomes a 6 hour slog in these conditions. I hope the weather remains in your favour.

Naughty-Cal said...

We don't really like that mooring on the embankment. We always head up onto the canal as it is much less exposed.

Geoff and Mags said...

Hi Naughty-Cal. yes, it was a bit draughty out on the County Hall steps!
Hi John. It looks like we're going to be getting some of that Yorkshire liquid sunshine this weekend. At least we're off the Trent for the time being. Be careful.
Hi Chas and Ann, glad you're enjoying the trip.
Hiya Paul. As you'll see from today's post we only went as far as the toll bridge, not sure about conditions further up. I wouldn't have wanted to go up as far as Beeston Weir! Anyway, it was bloody cold!

Paul (from Waterway Routes) said...

That End of Navigation sign wasn't there last year or I'd have marked it on my map. You did save a GPS waypoint for me, didn't you, so I can add it in exactly the right place