Monday, September 30, 2019

Chance meetings and dodging the weather.

On Friday we moved into Willington, mooring on the visitor moorings. I’d toddled across to Midland Chandlers at Mercia Marina for a can of paint first thing, moving into the village put us nearer the shops.
I was heading back after a visit to the Co-op when I spotted a familiar boat across on the water point. It was Dave and Dylis on Trundle. We knew they were out and about, we’d passed their empty mooring on The Soar a week or two ago.
There was space on the moorings for them so they came aboard Seyella for a brew and a catch-up, which developed into sharing a fish and chip supper from the local chippy. A good afternoon and evening.

In the morning we bade them farewell, work commitments meant that they needed to be back on their berth at the weekend, but I doubt they made it…

Cheers guys, lovely to see you again!

We pushed across to the services ourselves and there we met a couple looking for Mercia Marina. Neil and Jane were wanting to look at boats for sale and their Sat-Nav had taken them a bit adrift. Anyway, we started chatting, then ended up inviting them aboard for a coffee while we finished off the conversation. If you’re reading this, chaps, I hope you find what you’re looking for. Good luck!

After we saw our guests off we decided to push off, even though it was mid-afternoon.

Half and hour later we were tied up again just past Coach and Horses Bridge, were we stayed until today.

It was quiet on the water yesterday, the continuous rain putting folk off travelling.

This morning was a different story. Under blue skies but with rain forecast later boats were on the move early, we joined them about half-nine.

The reason I doubted whether Dave and Dylis made it back to the Soar? This was the Derwent just upstream of it’s confluence with the Trent as we crossed the aqueduct this morning…

We pulled in for a half-hour just past Bridge 29a so I could nip up to Stretton Co-op. I had an ebay delivery waiting there for collection. That done we carried on, up Dallow Lane Lock, and moored alongside Shobnall Fields on the offside.

Horninglow Basin, the limit of navigation for broad-beamed craft.

Just less than half a mile up is the first of the narrow locks, Dallow Lane.

Busy on the Shobnall Fields moorings, but we fitted snugly on this end.

With the river up the section of canal that uses it this side of Alrewas will be closed, so there’ll be several boats waiting on either side.

Before the rain came I had a couple of jobs to do. The other day we’d gained a scrape down the right-side from a branch lurking in some bushes on a narrow bit below Stenson.
An hour with my electric polisher and Mer and it’s almost impossible to see.

That done I climbed up onto the roof and scrubbed the next two panels due to be repainted. There’s a few bits to repair first but not as many as further forward.

The ebay purchase I’d collected earlier was a large rubber mat to protect the newly painted roof from damage when I carry logs and extra solid fuel. That’s now on the front panel of the roof.

I’d just got finished when it started to rain and it’s been steady ever since.

With more rain forecast tomorrow we’ll probably stay put. No rush to get on as we can only get as far as Barton Turns

Locks 1, miles 5¾

Thursday, September 26, 2019

Up the broad locks.

Yesterday and today we’ve worked our way up the remaining five broad locks at this end of the Trent and Mersey Canal.

Into Shardlow yesterday morning

When the T&M was first proposed, fearing for the future of the existing Trent Navigation, the Burton Boat Company tried to block the first 16 miles of canal that would run parallel to the river in competition to the river navigation. Having successfully defeated the opposition James Brindley then built the locks on this section to broad gauge, enabling barges to come up to the town from Derwent Mouth without having to use the sometimes treacherous river. A bit of spite, perhaps? Whatever the reason, this section of the navigation soon fell into disrepair and very little remains of the locks that once stood on the river.
So we’re left with six broad locks of steadily increasing depth as the canal rises from Sawley Cut to Horninglow Basin in Burton.

We came up the first off the river last Saturday, and we’ve ascended the remainder over the last two days.

Having filled with water below Shardlow Lock we waited for a pair of boats to come down then shared this, Aston and Weston Locks with the couple on Buccaneer.

Below Shardlow Lock

The broad and flat Trent valley

We lost our locking partners above Weston Lock, they were pulling over to wait for a visitor while we carried on to Swarkestone.

Arriving below Swarkestone Lock we had a shall we/shan’t we moment and decided to moor below the lock rather than above.

It was a fine afternoon after a sometimes cloudy day, but we had rain again overnight. Behind us both the Soar and the Trent are closed to navigation, with the flood gates shut.

Autumn is here…

A bright start today gave way to steadily increasing cloud, and we had some heavy showers later.
We took advantage of the empty lock left by a descending boat, passing the moorings at the Derby Canal junction and stopped to drop off rubbish at the old lengthsman’s cottage. Sadly, no recycling here so it all went in the same skip.

Looking back at Swarkestone Stop, with the narrows marking the site of the gauging lock and a crane alongside.

We chased a kingfisher along the cut up to Stenson Lock, but he always stayed fifty yards ahead…

The sky was looking a bit black as we approached Stenson.

Stenson Lock is the deepest of the broad locks, and at 12½ feet the deepest on the canal. And that black cloud decided to let go just as we went in. Five minutes of heavy rain, with Mags sheltering inside, and the sun came out again!

The sunshine didn’t last long, more clouds rolling in and it started to spit with rain again as we moored up just shy of Mercia Marina on the edge of Willington.
We’ll be here or hereabouts for the weekend now, heading into Burton early next week.

Locks 5, miles 11½

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Mixed weather…

At the moment we seem to be having one fine day followed by a wet one. Still, better than wet every day! I suppose we’ve got that to come…

We moved up onto the Trent and Mersey from Sawley Cut on Saturday. Not very far, just 100 yards above Derwent Mouth Lock in fact.

Sawley Marina on Saturday morning.

On the Trent again for a short while.

Upstream from Derwent Mouth the river is navigable only to Cavendish Bridge, just beyond Shardlow Marina, although boats of the Burton Boat Company used to be able to take cargo up to Burton. The opening of the southern section of the Trent and Mersey Canal in 1772 provided an easier and safer route, and the older navigation fell into disuse and dereliction.

For horse-boat traffic on the T&M heading to and from the Trent to Sawley a bridge crossed the river carrying the towpath. This original wooden Long Horse Bridge was damaged by floating ice in 1893 during a thaw, and replaced by a concrete span in 1932. This in turn was demolished in 2003 over safety concerns, and several years of wrangling and consultations took place before the new one, 400 yards upstream, was opened in November 2011.

The abutments of the concrete bridge…

…and the new steel span upstream.

Derwent Mouth Lock, Lock 1 of the Trent and Mersey Canal.

It was one of the fine days and I set to sanding the roof panels that I’d done the paintwork repairs on previously. Rain on Sunday helped wash off the dust, sun and a fresh breeze yesterday morning dried off the roof so I could get the panel borders and vent mounts masked off and the sanded bits painted.
All done by soon after lunch.

On Saturday, before we left Sawley Cut, I walked up to the Co-op in Sawley and on the way back realised that I’d crossed from Leicestershire into Derbyshire on the river bridge.

The Trent, Soar and Erewash form the traditional County Boundaries separating Leicestershire, Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire. Heading downstream on the Soar the right (west) bank is in Nottinghamshire, the left in Leicestershire. At Trent Lock the north bank of the Trent is Derbyshire, the south in Leicestershire if you head upstream. Two and a half miles downstream the Derbyshire boundary heads northwest following the Erewash, so the Trent runs solely in Notts until south of Gainsborough when the Lincolnshire boundary becomes the west bank.
Upstream the Derby/Leicester boundary follows the river until Weston On Trent. The canal, being north of the river, is in Derbyshire and remains there until it crosses into Staffordshire between Willington and Burton.

Wet today, dry tomorrow so we’ll be off up to maybe Swarkestone in the morning.

Locks 1, miles 1¼ 

Friday, September 20, 2019

Now then, where were we?

Ah yes, we left Loughborough bound for Pillings Lock Marina a week ago, Friday 13th. Nothing bad happened on this potentially fateful day, and we pulled onto our allocated berth soon after lunchtime.

Beautiful sunshine as we left Loughborough

We were only there for the weekend, but with a hire car we crammed in several family visits including a big get-together where 17 of us took over a room at The Griffin Inn, Swithland.
An enjoyable few days, then we were away, heading downstream back towards Loughborough, on the Monday.

Back out of our berth at Pillings Lock

The moorhens, at least, enjoy the floating rafts of Pennywort. 

Not sure if they’re eating the weed or mooching in it for insects.

We didn’t go so far, stopping the night near Millers Bridge then moving on to moor around the corner from Chain Bridge in Loughborough on Tuesday.

Mist rising off the water at Millers Bridge first thing on Tuesday morning.

Although I’d topped up the cupboards while we had the car, I had another trip to make to Tesco’s as we’d planned a cruise down the Trent on Thursday with my sisters Sue and Kay and their respective partners.

So Wednesday we set off downstream again, out of Loughborough for the last time this trip.

We’d arranged to meet the guests at Trent Lock so went further than we’d normally do, mooring up a quarter mile above Ratcliffe Lock.

Bishops Meadow Lock, on the northern edge of the town

Back on the river again.

A cheery wave from the very skinny chap and his dog at Normanton.

Zouch Lock filling.

We shared Zouch Lock but were on our own again at the deep Kegworth New Lock. At least I could leave the bottom gates open for a couple of cruisers going up though.

Barge Albert that we saw at Kegworth New Lock heading downstream a week ago.

Yesterday we set off under cloudless blue skies, down Ratcliffe Lock, past Redhill Marina and out onto Trent waters at the junction.

Redhill Marina

Swan grooming parlour…

I was pleased to see a gap on the mooring pontoon near the Trent Lock Inn, so we pulled on there and I did some last preparation for a buffet lunch to pick at we cruised up to Beeston and back.

It wasn’t until a quarter past twelve that we’d got the temporary crew on board and sorted out, and we were able to set off again.

Cranfleet Lock, with Trevor (left) Paul doing the work.

A fine steam launch heading upstream.

Meg dozing…

…and Trevor and Sue on the tiller.

It was a fine day for a river cruise, everyone enjoyed themselves and The Trent was at it’s picturesque best.

We caught up with a boat at Cranfleet Lock so were able to share that, and once again dropped lucky with a space on the pontoon at Trent Lock.

Trev, Sue and Kay, with me lurking in the background.

It was around half-four we were on our own again, so decided to stay put for the rest of the day.

Beautiful sunset

We had a lie-in this morning, it was a long day yesterday, at least by our standards! We didn’t have far to go anyway, just up onto Sawley Cut, stopping for water and rubbish disposal on the backwater on the way.

Another fine morning as we reverse out from the mooring pontoon.

Heading up the backwater at Sawley to the services.

Water topped up and rubbish dealt with we turned around and pulled out onto the main channel, then turned again and into Sawley Lock 2, invitingly open for us with a lockie in attendance.

Out of the lock we cruised another 10 minutes past the permanent CRT moorings on the towpath side and the Derby Motor Boat Club opposite, mooring opposite the entrance to Sawley Marina at just after mid-day.

Leaving Sawley Locks behind.

That’s it for the pottering about, now we’ll be heading decisively (but steadily) up and over the Trent and Mersey to Middlewich, then across to Hurleston Junction to get up onto the Llangollen Canal before the major stoppage at Hurleston Locks starting 4th November.

Over the last week - Locks 8, miles 27.

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Up to town

We’ve had good weather these last couple of days, so I continued with work on the boat roof, tidying up any paint damage ready for repainting. The first three panels are now sorted out, but I’ll only be able to repaint two at once, I’ve got the two top boxes and the coal pallet to move along as I go. The bike, John Sage, is now back on the rack behind the tiller.

We woke up to sunshine this morning, but by ten o’clock grey clouds had rolled in and brought a short, light shower. So we waited till it brightened up again before setting off.

Leaving our out-of-the-way mooring near Kegworth.

Twenty minutes after leaving we were waiting below Zouch Lock for a boat to descend.
This was the first of just three today.

Zouch Lock done we motored along the lock cut, rejoining the river just above Zouch Bridge, alongside the weirs.

The Elephant Bush is looking a bit shaggy at this end of the season…

St. James’, Normanton on Soar. 

A few years ago a programme of spraying almost cleared the Floating Pennywort that plagues the river. But it’s back with a vengeance this year, lining the banks and extending out across the stream. Floating Pennywort is a non-native invasive species, rapidly growing and a threat to native plants and animals.

We left the river again just down from Bishop’s Meadow Lock on the outskirts of Loughborough. A CRT team were doing some maintenance on the lockside and penned us up.
We put a splash of water in the tank from the very slow tap just above the lock, then carried on into town, turning left at Chain Bridge and pulling in a couple of hundred yards up.

Chain Bridge on the left.
That heavy-looking cloud held onto it’s load before it drifted away, luckily!

We’ll be here for two nights, then we’re heading into Pillings Lock Marina for the weekend. We’ve a family gathering locally on Sunday.

Locks 3, miles 5