Saturday, January 19, 2019

Meeting friends and medical appointments in Newark, then pushing on up to Gunthorpe.

This post is a day late, I'm afraid. We've problems with uploading pictures into Blogger... again. There's a tedious work-around. But it takes time.

We pushed on from the moorings above Cromwell Lock on Tuesday morning after topping up the water tank.

Leaving Cromwell Lock on a fine but chilly morning.
That’s the CRT tug Maid Marion tied up on the pontoon.

On the tidal reaches above Cromwell the villages stand well back from the river, up here where it’s at least partially tamed they approach the waters edge, somewhat tentatively behind high flood banks.

North Muskham



























Approaching the A1 road bridge just to the north of Newark.
The busy road used to go through the town, which must have been a nightmare!

The A1 swings around Newark to the east, and the river swings around to the west.
The Newark Dyke was opened in 1772 to provide the mill-owners and warehouses with direct access to water transport. This is the navigable route through the town, bypassing the shallows and weirs of the old route through two locks. There’s an interesting article about how the streams developed here.

Just above the bridge is Crankley Point where the river and the navigation re-unite.










The smoke (and smell…) is from the stack of the sugar beet factory.










Newark Nether Lock protects the Dyke from the varying height of the river to the north of the town. It’s quite deep and is the first of the large Trent locks Mags has had to deal with.







After the barge locks up in Yorkshire these don’t bother Mags at all. The only difference is that we’re going up rather than down.





We were hoping to get onto the floating pontoon outside The Kiln and were lucky to have space right on the end.
 Following on from Mags’ and Meg’s “issues” while we were up north, we’d agreed to get blood tests done for both of them after about a month. Newark was an ideal spot for this; a local hospital with a phlebotomy clinic and a vet 1o minutes for the moorings. I’d an appointment for Meg on Tuesday afternoon, and the vet was very thorough. They’d got Meg’s recent history from Ashland’s in Skipton, so knew what to look for. Samples were taken and analysed and the results show that Meg is now completely clear of any infection. There are still some issues associated with the medication for her arthritis, and her age, but generally she’s doing ok.
My other girl, Mags, had to go to Newark Hospital on Wednesday morning. We’ve good friends in Newark whom we met through boating, and they invited us to lunch.  But first Dave collected us and took us up to the hospital for Mags’ blood-letting. Then we had a very enjoyable afternoon at Dave and Barbara’s home catching up.
Yesterday afternoon they came to us for tea, cakes and cookies, and we had another good natter.
This morning it was time to push on again. After a frosty night we had high cloud, masking any heat from the winter sun. I’d topped up, the cupboards from the  handy Morrison’s and Waitrose supermarkets, so we were away before 10:00.

A very nice converted Dutch Tjalk launched in 1892.

I bet she’s got some tales to tell!

A little Dutch influence in the design of Muskham View’s clock tower, too!

Newark Trent Bridge, with the remains of Newark Castle beyond

And from upstream


In 1216 King John died here after a short illness. He hadn’t had a good month, a few days before his baggage train containing valuables, jewelry, fine clothes, embroideries and the like, was lost while traversing the salt marshes around The Wash. Apparently the waggoneers got lost in mist and the train was drowned in the incoming tide. The treasure is still out there, despite many attempts to find it.

I’d already put Mags on standby, expecting the Town Lock to be on self-service, and it was, with the traffic lights on amber. But as I walked up to set the lock a CRT lady doing some tidying up around the lock volunteered to do it for us. I accepted the offer quickly before she had a chance to change her mind. So we were through with a minimum of fuss, and Mags could stay inside.

In to Newark Town Lock…


…and out the other end.















The dyke runs for another 2 miles before it rejoins the river at the large Averham Weir.
















The weir is a good spot for cormorant spotting, or from the other point of view, boat spotting!
The exhaust stacks of the gas-fired Staythorpe Power Station rise above the trees.

Near Farndon the elegant sweeping  lines of another converted Tjalk contrast sharply with the utilitarian floating shed of a houseboat.

Egyptian Geese













Fiskerton stands next to the river, but has made sure that the river stays where it belongs with a high wall of steel piling.

There’s a short public mooring pontoon here, below the pub.

The course of the river follows a large loop above Fiskerton, enclosing the rising ground below East Stoke. It was here that the last, decisive battle of the Wars of the Roses was fought. Two years earlier, in 1485, Richard III had lost his life while defending his crown from the upstart Tudor, Henry, at Bosworth Field. Henry didn’t delay in getting himself crowned, but supporters of the House of York were still causing unrest, rumblings of discontent heard throughout the kingdom despite a program of imprisonment and execution of anyone suspected of supporting the deposed and murdered king.

Rampire Hill, site of the Battle of East Stoke 1487.

Various skirmishes through the following months led to one final set-piece battle here at East Stoke, that would decide the future of the monarchy. The Plantagenet Dynasty had provided 14 kings over the previous 350 years, but the line ended abruptly at and after Bosworth.

The Yorkists had raised an army of around 8000, including Irish infantrymen and German mercenaries. After two successful but minor engagements with Tudor forces, they finally met the full force of Henry’s army. Outnumbered and under-equipped, the Yorkists were defeated after 3 hours of intense combat. The survivors broke and tried to flee but many were caught in the loop of the river and cut down. All bar one of the defeated commanders died with their troops. Henry VII was now secure and the Tudors reigned in England for the next 116 years, until the death, without an heir, of Elizabeth I.

Hazleford Lock is just a little further along, and we’d planned to pull in below to give Meg a stretch of the legs, and for both of the humans to grab a cup of soup before doing the lock. But the lights were on red and then changed to red and green, indicating that there was a lockie on duty and the lock was being prepared for us.
Like at Newark, there was a CRT lady doing some basic ground maintenance, keeping an eye out for boats as she worked. I did pull in while the lock was emptying, lifting Meg off and up onto the grass so she could have a quick wee then back aboard ready to go in.

Going in to Hazleford Lock.


We did tie up temporarily on the high wall above the lock for a human comfort break, but inside 15 minutes were on our way again.

A cormorant takes flight as we get too near.

Between Hazleford and Gunthorpe Locks the Trent Hills start to rise on the east bank.

On the opposite bank the fertile flat arable land stretches away across the broad valley. The village of Hoveringham lies over that way, as do large expired and water-filled gravel pits. The company that extracted massive amounts of sand and gravel from the valley floor was named after the village.

The Hoveringham Gravel Company started removal of the deposits in 1939, and had a mammoth logo on the trucks after mammoth fossils were found on one of the sites. I had a Dinky toy of one of their Foden tippers…











A covey of pochard get panicky as we come alongside

Gunthorpe Lock was next, and we were out of luck here, with no-one in CRT gear to be seen. Ah well, 2 out of 3 ain’t bad.

Mags waiting for me to set Gunthorpe Lock

It’s awkward here, the flow from the large weir tries to push you off the landing. Or, if you go on the other side, you can’t get off! The wall opposite is a good 12 feet high with ladders.

Mags in Gunthorpe Lock


After the lock we’d planned on mooring on the visitor pontoons around the corner. I didn’t expect it to be full, and in fact it was nearly empty.
The bridge in the distance carries the A6097 Lowdham Road and is the only road crossing between Nottingham and Newark.

We’ll head to Holme Lock tomorrow, mooring above the lock for Sunday, then into Nottingham on Monday. That’s the plan, anyway.

Locks 4, miles 19 (two days)

Monday, January 14, 2019

Off the tideway a day later than planned.

We wimped out yesterday. Thirty to forty mph winds from the west would have made an uncomfortable if not downright dangerous trip upstream to Cromwell Lock. So we stayed put on the pontoons below Torksey Lock, watching the waves go by.DSCF5422

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Even in our somewhat sheltered channel the waves were quite high. The wind died overnight and it was a calm, cool morning we woke up to.

Cottam cooling towers glowing in the early sunlight.DSCF5430

Glass smooth water, a bit different to yesterday!DSCF5431

With the tide times as they are at the moment, we decided to hang about till 11:00 to see if we could catch at least some of the flood to help us up to Cromwell Lock.

Back out onto the river.
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I quite enjoyed Saturday’s trip up from Keadby, but today seemed a bit of a slog. From Keadby we averaged around 6 mph, but with facing the tail end of the ebb tide and the natural flow of the river we barely made 4 mph for the first 90 minutes.

Slipway and watersports jetty at Laneham FerryDSCF5441

I decided to take a few minutes out at the moorings just up from Dunham Bridges. Meg would have a long run without a break if we went to Cromwell in one go, and I was hoping that the flood tide would catch up with us. in fact it was another 1½ hours before we saw any assistance from the incoming flow, and that was minimal.

The low sun was a bit of a pain, but gave me some excellent contrast photos…DSCF5450

Behind us the cloudscape was enhanced by the vapour from Cottam’s stackDSCF5449

Under Fledborough Railway Viaduct
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Sunlight through the clouds near Carlton
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There’s a fair population of little egrets on this stretch, I kept trying and failing to catch one sitting still, but they’re pretty shy.
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Finally I came across one willing to pose!
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Disused gravel staithe at Besthorpe
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After a long 4 hours we came around the last bend to Cromwell Lock, with the large weir off to the side.DSCF5476

An average of just over 4 mph for the trip didn’t compare very favourably with Saturday’s 6-plus. But on the higher stretches of the river the tidal advantage is far less significant. Next time we’ll schedule the trip upstream on a high spring tide…

Into Cromwell Lock.
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I’d already been in touch with the lockie so it was open and ready for us.

By the time we were up and on the non-tidal river it was a quarter to four, far to late for us to carry on into Newark. So we pulled in on the visitor pontoon a little way above the lock.
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I was glad to get tied up. With the continuous engine noise and the sun in my eyes I’d developed a bit of a headache. A cup of tea soon sorted me out, though.
We could have done today’s trip a little faster, but I kept the engine revs down to around 1500rpm. The old donk is getting on a bit, you know. Coming up to 11,800 hours on the clock. But she’s not used a drop of water or oil coming up from Keadby.

Newark tomorrow.

Locks 1, miles 17

Saturday, January 12, 2019

Cool and windy on a lonely river.

An early start this morning, it was just starting to lighten in the east when Meg and I went out for her morning constitutional.DSCF5378
That’s not the sun, it’s yet to make an appearance.

A little later we moved down close to the swing bridge to wait for the lockie who would pen us out onto the river, and I went to have a look at the state of the tide.

It’s still out, exposing mud banks on the sides…DSCF5380

…and in the lock entrance.
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Mark the lockie gently dropped us down to the river level at 08:25, and we pulled out of the lock, leaving a groove through the silt, and out onto the wide water.
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Looking north towards Trent Falls, the Yorkshire Ouse, the Humber Estuary and the North Sea.
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That’s the route for the big boys. We’re heading south, upstream.

Under Keadby Bridge.
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The span on the left that we’re heading for lifts to allow tall vessels through. Well, it did do. I’m not sure now… River water was pumped into the tank on the left until it’s weight counterbalanced the bridge deck and the span lifted. Neat, eh.

There’s not a lot to see from the river, the high flood banks obscure all but the immediate surroundings.

A very des res assuming you like stairs…
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East and West Butterwick glare at each other across the river.DSCF5394
To get from one to the other requires a boat or a seven mile trip by road.

It’s a bit lonely out here…
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…Ah, a splash of civilisation at Owston Ferry!DSCF5398
The ferry has long gone, in fact there’s nowhere to pull in for a pint either!

Chugging on, with the tide now pushing us along handily, the next place of note is West Stockwith, where the lock gives access to the Chesterfield Canal.
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We had rain overnight, which thankfully had stopped by the time we set off. But there was a chill wind from the north and west. It was blowing up whitecaps on the stretches where it was opposing the incoming tide. It was also making me feel rather cold. Approaching Gainsborough I decided to pull in on mooring pontoon to stretch my legs and for Meg to have a comfort break too.

Converted gravel barge, now a floating crane, near Morton.DSCF5404

Looking forward to a brew, a bite to eat and a wee (not necessarily in that order), as we come into Gainsborough.
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The access to the pontoon is by locked gate, but it’s not the sort of place I’d want to stay overnight.

A half-hour later we were on the move again, heading for Gainsborough Arches.DSCF5406

Above Gainsborough the river gets quite tortuous, twisting back on it’s self several times. The power stations along here are the main landmarks, and you’re never quite sure whether they’ll appear to the left or right, ahead or even behind!

West Burton Power Station, unusually dead ahead as we head west into the wind-generated chop.DSCF5409
Over to the left of the picture can be seen the stack of the next one up the valley at Cottam.
The proximity of fuel from the Nottinghamshire and Yorkshire coalfields, and the abundant availability of water for steam turbines, made the Trent valley ideal for electricity generation. In the 1980s the 13 generating sites in the valley produced a quarter of the electricity consumed in England and Wales, earning it the nickname Megawatt Valley. In the 90s many plants were converted to gas, and several of the older ones closed down. There are now only three still burning coal, those at West Burton, Cottam and Ratcliffe.

While to the west the land remains flat, to the east a series of red sandstone ridges start to close in on the valley.
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This change in the geology of the valley might explain why it’s so bendy along here, as the course of the river is diverted by the harder ridges.

Cottam Power Station
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After passing under the now-disused Torksey Railway Viaduct, Torksey Castle can be seen through the trees on the left.DSCF5416

The Elizabethan fortified manor house is a Grade 1 listed building. It suffered badly during the Civil War. It’s on private land with no public access, but that doesn’t stop the pigeons who find the ruins a handy roost.
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Our overnight stop is just a bit further on, in the entrance channel to Torksey Lock. Just look out for the big sign on the east bank…DSCF5418

There are good mooring pontoons here for those like us who don’t want to do the tideway in one go.
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The lock takes you up onto The Fossdyke, the route to Lincoln and Boston. It was interesting turning around here, with the wind blowing straight up the channel, but we made it and tied up, facing back towards the main river.

We’ve a later start in the morning, the flood doesn’t start here till around 11:20, but we’ll shove off soon after half-ten. Should be in Newark tomorrow afternoon.

Locks 1, miles 27.