Thursday, August 22, 2019

Downriver and lucky at Gunthorpe

We were off fairly early this morning, leaving the moorings near Sainsbury’s in Nottingham at just after nine. Dave and Barbara were picking up Barbara’s brother at the bus station to join them for the next two days.

Since we arrived on Tuesday I don’t think there have been any arrivals or departures on these 48 hour moorings, apart from us. I guess CRT aren’t interested in enforcing the rules here…

Nottingham was a major destination for canal traffic in the day. Goods from the north coming up the Trent, from the west on the Nottingham Canal and south from the Soar and the Trent all had to have secure storage, hence the large contemporary warehouses built along the canal.





We dropped down Castle Lock, now number 6 on the Trent Navigation but originally Lock 2 of 19 on the Nottingham Canal.


Filling with water above Meadow Lane Lock completed we dropped down onto the river again, heading downstream towards Newark.

Grass snake in the canal above Meadow Lane Lock.
They apparently like damp areas, ponds and slow-moving waterways, and are strong swimmers. 

Under Lady Bay Bridge

Not sure that the Trent Basin development is much of an improvement on the 1930’s concrete warehouses that used to stand here…


Holme Lock was our first proper river lock, and we had to wait for a gaggle of boats to come up before it was our chance to go down.

Dave got his knickers in a bit of a twist trying to get into the side of the chamber.
It was windy, though…

With volunteers on the locks life was easy today, and we were off and heading to Stoke Lock in good time.

Radcliffe Railway Viaduct….

…followed by the sharp left turn below the village.

The delightful Stoke Lock comes next, with quiet, peaceful moorings above the lock cut.
I don’t doubt we’ll spend a couple of nights here on the way back upriver.

Fine cruising now we’ve left the fringes of the city behind.

Egrets, I've had a few, but then again, too few to mention...




The Ferry Boat Inn at Stoke Bardolph

The river wasn’t busy, but there were one or two boats about.

Bottoms up!


Approaching Gunthorpe Bridge our plan of using the mooring pontoon here looked to be going awry…

…but there was just enough room for us on the inside.

It’s been an enjoyable day, not much sun, quite breezy but warm.

Tomorrow we’ll be off early again to try to get to Newark soon after lunch.

Locks 4, miles 11½

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Canals and rivers to Nottingham

Yesterday morning we pushed across to the services to fill the water tank and drop off the rubbish, then motored a mile up the canal to moor and wait for Dave and Barbara who were heading our way having left Shobnall Marina earlier.

Mercia Marina


They arrived at about half-twelve, and we set off for Stenson Lock. All the locks we’ll encounter for the next few days are broad, which is why we chose to travel together.

Sharing Stenson Lock

We made steady progress down the valley, Stenson Lock had volunteers on to help, the others didn’t but we only had one hold-up, a short queue at Weston Lock.

Down the Trent Valley


Swarkestone Lock, with the old Derby Canal joining from the left.
The Derby Canal is now derelict and partially filled in apart from a short stub used for moorings. It actually crossed the Trent and Mersey here, a short channel dropping down to lock down onto the river.

Cruising in the shade under Weston Cliff

Making hay while the sun shines near Weston.
A dusty job, that.

We pulled in just above Aston Lock, on piling but with the edge very overgrown.
Nothing that the garden shears couldn’t deal with.

D and B came to us for dinner, so consequently I didn’t have time to post. That’s why you’re getting two for the price of one.

After a cool night which gave way to a fine sunny morning, we were thinking of getting going at around half-nine. But then a boat came around the corner, followed by another, then another. Bugger.
By the time we’d descended Aston Lock it was half-ten. It took a long time to fill for us, the gate sluices were pretty well bunged up with weed.

Dave on gate duty…

…and the Tiller Girls!


It’s about 45 minutes to Shardlow Lock from here, and we were lucky to have a boat just leaving to leave the gates open for us.

Below Shardlow Lock, with the Clock Warehouse to the right.

Shardlow’s claim to fame is it’s canal-related architecture, with several buildings contemporary to the canal’s industrial period. Most of them are still in use, though not for their original purpose.

Leaving the town the navigation passes through a flood lock, with indicator lights advising of the state of the Trent and the Soar.

But we ignored the red light today, boats have been coming up off the Trent for the last 2 days!

We had a volunteer to help at Derwent Mouth Lock, and then were out onto the wide river junction where the Derwent comes in from the left and the Trent comes in from the right.

Under the M1

Passing the large Sawley Weir on the left we motored in to Sawley Cut, negotiating the flood lock then on past the marina and the visitor moorings to the paired Sawley Locks.
We had volunteers on here, so didn’t have to get off to operate the lock.

Then once again we were on wide open water for a mile or so to Cranfleet Cut.

Out of Sawley Lock, with the river coming back in on the right.

Another junction, the Erewash Canal on the left, the Soar on the right and Cranfleet Cut and points north ahead.

Back on the river below Cranfleet Lock.

Although the river levels are down again, there’s still quite a bit of flow.

Beautifully restored, the Lady Sylvia was one of the Little Ships that supported Operation Dynamo, the evacuation of troops from the Dunkirk beaches in May and June 1940.

I think this one needs a bit of TLC…


Beeston Weir and lock.
The shallow lock brings the navigation up onto the Beeston Cut, a wide and deep waterway which runs for 2½ miles to the western edge of the City of Nottingham, where it merges with the Nottingham Canal at Lenton Chain.

Another fine boat, Vermoyden, at Trevethick’s Yard.

Lenton Chain and the lost junction with the Nottingham Canal.

We stay on the Notts Canal through the city to rejoin the river below Meadow Lane Lock, but the north-western part of the navigation that used to join the top of the Erewash at Langley Mill is mostly filled and built over.

It was busy around Nottingham Castle Marina, but we managed to find room for both boats.

Day off tomorrow, Barbara needs some retail therapy…

Mustn’t forget hellos to Maggie and hubby, Forever Moore, met near Stenson, Ray on Stronghold moored in Shardlow and Pete and Dawn on White Atlas heading upstream from Beeston.

Locks 3, miles 9¼ (Monday) 7, 13¼  (today).

Sunday, August 18, 2019

Still killing time… but it’s all change tomorrow!

We left the countryside mooring near Bridge 25 on Thursday, there was a gap in the poor weather and supplies of fresh food were running low and we didn’t want to risk scurvy…

Still dull, but at least it stayed dry.


We pulled in Bridge 29a so I could make a quick trip up to the small but close Co-op, then pushed on into Burton.

Up the shallow Dallow Lock.

Steel lock gates may be ugly, but at least they last well…
“Nov, 1.11.62”
Wooden gates have a life expectancy of around 20 years.

Doing a U’ey at Shobnall at the entrance to the marina.

Shobnall Marina occupies the terminal basin of the Bond End Canal, in fact the covered dry dock at the end of the basin was Lock 1, Lock 2 dropped the short canal onto the River Trent at Bond End, a mile to the east.
Although the river was a difficult waterway to navigate, by the early 1700s the route between Wilden Ferry (now known as Derwent Mouth) and Burton had been improved by dredging and the construction of locks. Wharves and warehouses were built at Bond End to service the burgeoning brewing industry in the town.

Now enter Josiah Wedgwood and the remarkable Mr Brindley. Wedgwood wanted a fast and safe method of carrying his crockery from The Potteries to the Midlands and south, Brindley had a dream of connecting the Trent in the east to the Mersey in the west by water, what he called The Grand Trunk, later to become the Trent and Mersey Canal. 
The Burton Boat Company were at odds with the proposal of the canal from Derwent Mouth (the Trent end) to and through Burton, petitioning the canal company to move the eastern start of the canal to Burton and to join the Trent there. But Brindley was having none of it, sticking to his plans. The canal up from the Trent past Burton to Stone opened in 1772, and, as a further snub to the BBC (that’s Burton Boat Company not the broadcaster…) built the canal to broad dimensions up to Horninglow Basin to allow Trent barges to offload here at the edge of the town.
In an effort to mitigate what must have been a serious threat to their trade, the BBC built a 1⅛ mile long cut from the canal to the river, the Bond End Canal. But the T&M wouldn’t allow a connection at Shobnall, so all goods from the T&M to the Bond End had to be transhipped across Shobnall Bar, a situation that wasn’t resolved until 1794.

The arrival of railway competition inevitable led to the demise of the Bond End, and by the 1870s it was pretty much unused. Finally the North Staffs Railway Company laid their spur line in the bed of the canal, leaving just the top lock and Shobnall Basin in water. The basin was still useful though as a transhipment point and sidings. By the 1970s the railways had gone the same way as the canal, and roads now follow the original line.

Jannel Cruisers took over the basin in 1973 and have developed the site into the marina and dry dock we see today.

Back to the present and we pulled in at Shobnall Fields just as the sun came out…

Friday was grim all across the country and Burton was no exception so we stayed put, heading back to Willington yesterday morning.

We stopped to fill the water tank at Horninglow, then toddled on in intermittent sunshine.
Horninglow, as I mentioned, was the limit of navigation for wide barges, just a half-mile up the canal is the first of the narrow locks. I don’t know why Brindley didn’t make this one wide too, starting the narrow locks at Branston instead. Would have made more sense, but the old chap didn’t do anything without a good reason…

The Dove was full as we crossed in on the aqueduct.
Both the Soar and the Trent at Sawley and Cranfleet are in flood at the moment, and ironically restrictions on the Leicester Line of the Grand Union are just being eased, restrictions in place due to low water levels in the feeder reservoirs. Don’t you just love British weather!

We timed our arrival in Willington just right securing a spot just past the winding hole and opposite the service wharf.


We wanted to be up this end of the moorings near the car park to make it easier for our visitors. KevinToo and his mum Sheila arrived at around a quarter to one, bringing gifts in the form of cream doughnuts for Mags, pork pie for me and treats for Meg. It’s always good to see them… A good afternoon nattering caught us up with all the news and gossip before they headed home later in the day.

And that’s about it. We’re going to be rather busier over the next few days than of late, joining up with Dave and Barbara on Liberty Bell tomorrow and aiming to be at Newark by Friday. At least the weather is looking better, so the Trent should be back in sensible mode by the time we get to Derwent Mouth.

Locks 2 (same one twice…) miles 9½