Thursday, August 29, 2019

Hazleford to Holme with an overnight stop at Gunthorpe

We’ve a steady couple of days, taking twice as long to return upstream than we did going down.
We left the Hazleford moorings at about half-nine yesterday, straight into the lock, and were back out again 15 minutes later.

These lengthy mooring pontoons have been open for a couple of years now, and certainly seem to have been a good investment, with pretty well 100% occupancy.

An Egyptian geese family keeps a wary eye on us as we cruise past.

It’s 4¾ miles from Hazleford to Gunthorpe Lock which took us a steady 80 minutes, averaging around 4mph against the flow.

Waiting at Gunthorpe Lock for the green light.

There was no point in going any faster, we were still tying up on the mooring pontoon above the lock at half-eleven.

By mid-afternoon the fine, bright weather had given way to heavy clouds and rain, on and off for most of the rest of the day.

But this morning dawned fine again, but considerably cooler than it has been.

Another half-nine start and we were heading for Gunthorpe Bridge, carrying the A6097 Lowdham Road.
This is the only road crossing of the river between Nottingham and Newark, and didn’t exist before 1875. A new toll bridge, financed by a shares issued by The Gunthorpe Bridge Company opened at this time, replacing a ferry.
By 1925 modern commercial traffic was unable to use the 6-ton weight limit span. The Nottinghamshire County Council bought out the original company, built the new bridge we have today and demolished the earlier one.

The parapet sports the now-obsolete coat of arms of the Nottinghamshire County Council from when it was built.

Corrugated river as we head into the brisk breeze.

A 4½ mile cruise brought us to Stoke Lock, ready and waiting for us after a call to the lockie.

Looking back down the wide reach to Burton Joyce.

These anglers don’t need fancy tackle and bait, just an awful lot of patience!

Above the lock we pulled in for five minutes on the pleasant moorings for Meg to have a comfort break, then pushed on, under Ratcliffe Railway Bridge and past the decaying loading wharves at Colwick Oil Terminal.

Ratcliffe Railway Bridge.

The industrial suburbs of Nottingham start to make their appearance as we head up the last couple of miles to Holme Lock.

We had to wait for this one, I’d spoken to the lockie while we were 20 minutes out and he suggested that we “throw another log on” and he’d hold the lock for us. But I told him to go ahead and send the boats already in the lock away, and we’d wait for the next penning up. So I slowed down to make sure we didn’t have too long to wait.

Heading into the holding mooring, disturbing the ducks relaxing in the sunshine.

We only had about 20 minutes to wait before a downstream boat emerged from the now-empty lock and it was our turn to go up.

It takes a while to rise up to the level of the river above, this lock is around twice the depth of those further downstream. But we were out and tied up by twenty past twelve.

It turned a bit cloudier this afternoon, but we’ve not had any rain yet. On to Nottingham tomorrow.

Locks 4, miles 12½ (2 days)

Tuesday, August 27, 2019

Back up the way we came…

We intended to leave yesterday, but an unexpected leak on a joint on the water tank delayed our departure while I fixed it. It was past lunchtime by the time I was happy with the repair, so we decided to stay put.

With our trip back upriver put back, Dave and Barbara came down to the marina to see us off.

So, this morning, in bright sunshine, we reversed out of A29 and pulled back out onto the navigation.

Newark Bridge, with Newark Castle rising beyond.
The west wall is the only mainly-intact section of the 12th-century castle. Henry I gave Alexander, Bishop of Lincoln, permission to build a castle here in around 1135. Originally of wood, it was replaced by a stone construction at the end of the century.
King John died here in October 1216 of what it is believed to be dysentery. He’d had a tough couple of years. An unpopular monarch, he was forced into signing the Magna Carta in June 1215 by a group of disaffected barons, a document which limited his regnal powers and that he later had declared void by the Pope.
Then followed a campaign which ranged from Rochester in the south to above Berwick in the north as he attempted to control the rebellious barons. It all started to go wrong when the barons brought in Prince Louis of France giving them access to more troops, and naval and siege equipment. John had to head south again, being reactive to the rebels as they attacked towns in East Anglia. In Kings Lynn he fell ill but continued on to Newark, losing part of his baggage train in the tidal mudflats around The Wash on the way, and died here.

I’d rung through to the lockie at Newark Town Lock so it was ready for us as we arrived, and we gently rose up the seven feet to the level of the river.

Warehouses and wharves lined the Newark Dyke, some still remain.

Half an hour after leaving the lock we popped out of the Dyke and back onto the wide river at Averham Weir.

Cormorant panting in the hot sun.

Getting the harvest in before the rain comes…
It was a lot quieter on the river than we expected, the lockie at Newark said it was a bit manic yesterday, so that leaky tank probably did us a favour!

There was space on the visitor moorings at both Farndon and Fiskerton, although to get on at Fiskerton would have required shifting the four canoes right in the middle of the pontoon!

Heading towards Hazleford Lock the rising ground on the left was the scene of more conflict, this time a couple of hundred years later.

The Wars of the Roses between the houses of Lancaster and York over who should be in charge had been going on for about 30 years when the Yorkist King Richard III was killed at Bosworth Field and the Tudor Henry VII assumed the throne with unseemly haste. This should have been the end of it, but York’s supporters waged a series of minor skirmishes against the incumbent king which culminated in a set-piece battle at East Stoke, just a quarter mile from the river, on the Roman Fosse Way.

An 8,000 strong army, led by the Earl of Lincoln and Viscount Lovell, had crossed from Ireland on the 4th of June 1487, marched through Yorkshire and crossed the Trent, somewhere near Fiskerton. Here, on the 16th of June and south of the river, they met the vanguard of Henry’s forces, under the Earl of Oxford. Oxford was a seasoned campaigner and veteran of Bosworth Field, and although outnumbered, held the rebel troops up for around 3 hours until the king’s main forces arrived. The battle swiftly turned against Lincoln and Lovell, and quickly became a rout.

Estimates of casualties vary between 4,000 and 7,000, the majority of them rebels. Almost all of the rebel commanders died, and this ended any chance of re-establishing the Yorkist Crown. The Plantagenet Dynasty had ruled for 350 years through 14 kings, the Tudors were now firmly established and would hold power until the death of Elizabeth I in 1603.

We swung around the last corner above Hazleford Lock and were delighted to see the low-level moorings here empty.
I love it when a plan comes together…

We pulled in at around twenty past twelve after an enjoyable but very warm trip.

Meg was straight off and lying on cool concrete at the top of the steps.
She’s quite a bit better, a combination of the antibiotics and switching back to steroids instead of anti-inflammatories seems to be doing her good.

Tomorrow we’ll push on, hoping for mooring at Gunthorpe but prepared to go to Stoke if we need to.

Locks 1, miles 9   

Saturday, August 24, 2019

A grand day from Gunthorpe to Newark

There was a small funfair in the field near the mooring pontoon at Gunthorpe Bridge, but they knocked off at about eight and we had a quiet night.

We wanted to make an early start so were reversing out from the pontoon at half-eight yesterday morning.

We were too early for a lockie to be in attendance, so worked through Gunthorpe Lock ourselves, dropping down and on our way by a quarter to ten.
We had the river to ourselves, well us and the anglers…

The fine buildings of Ferry Farm near Hoveringham.
There were several small ferries crossing the river, mainly to carry livestock to and from the fertile pastures on the opposite side.

Below the Trent Hills.

I’d rung ahead to Hazleford Lock, and the gates were just opening as we arrived. It saves a lot of time if you can let the lockies know you’re on the way.

We’d been cruising for almost two hours before we saw our first boat, then there was a steady stream of them heading upstream.

Egyptian Geese

Staythorpe Power Station

Shortly after passing the power station the river runs off over the long Averham Weir, while the navigation continues along the Newark Dyke into the town.

This canal section opened in 1773 during improvements to the river navigation. The river had been passable up to Burton since 1700, but the route was unpredictable and often dangerous.
The first stage of improvements involving dredging of the channel to increase depth and the construction of locks and lock cuts was completed in 1787. The current locks date from further improvements in the 1920s.

Newark Town Lock was ready for us, dropping us down our final 7 feet on this trip.

Newark Town Lock, with the remains of Newark Castle in the background.

As expected for a Bank Holiday weekend the moorings in the town were busy, but we had a cunning plan…

Turning into Kings Marina

We’d booked a berth in the marina for the weekend to ensure we had somewhere to tie up.
Liberty Belle is also in here, but they’re staying for just over a week.

Meg hasn’t been well over the last couple of weeks, very lethargic and sore in the joints. So I’d made an appointment to see Mr Owen at the Animal Care Clinic in the afternoon. He was very good when we saw him last January.
The upshot of the check-up and samples results is that we’re coming off the anti-inflammatories again and going back onto steroids. She should be better on them. And she’s got a course of antibiotics for a minor infection which has elevated her temperature a bit. That will be making her feel miserable too. So, fingers crossed she’ll be getting better in the next week or so.
I was thinking of renaming her Handbag. I’m having to carry her most of the time…

Back up river on Monday, all being well.

Hi Diane, good to hear from you. Yes, we remember very well that meeting down on the Thames. Hope you are well. We've had a great few days travelling with Dave and Barbara.

Locks 3, miles 14

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