Friday, 19 September 2014

Swarkestone to Barrow-upon-Soar

Monday 15th September

Swarkestone to Sawley

We found a gift from Hugo on the stern deck – a bank vole, very stiff.

A boat went past and we cast off to catch up and share Swarkestone lock. When we arrived at the lock there was another boat in the lock already so we had to wait and fill the lock after they had gone down.

If we had known, we could have used the water tap but by the time we had reached the lock we had passed the tap.

Swarkestone Lock

The Derby Canal used to leave from just above the lock, and the first few yards are used as moorings.  This is marked as a winding hole in the Nicholson Guide, but there is a sign saying “No turning in the basin”.  There was plenty of space to turn, so I would take issue with this sign. Why should we not turn a boat at a canal junction?

No turning sign

Thankfully we had no intention of turning, so we continued down the lock and on three miles to Weston Lock.  The two boats were just going down, so we stopped at the water point and filled the tank.  While we were doing this, another boat appeared below the lock and by the time we had finished with the tap, the lock was ready for us.

We stopped for lunch just after the lock, by a railway bridge, as we wanted to see what trains were using the line. We had heard them but not seen them.  Two trains passed while we were there – both were freight trains.

Another boat went past just as we finished lunch, so we set off after them and were able to join them in Aston Lock. Sapphire was the first boat we had shared a lock with since the end of May on the Thames.

We shared Shardlow Lock before cruising through this lovely village with its historic buildings.


Derwent Mouth Lock had a boat coming up, and then we shared our last lock with Sapphire, as they were going on towards Nottingham.

We opened up the throttle on the short River Trent section, passing under the M1,  before arriving at Sawley visitor moorings, to discover that the boat moored in front was another Sapphire, BCF friends of ours Robin and Mary Bielby.  We had a cuppa together and caught up with news.

Under the M1

Robin and Mary

Threat of rain so we put up the hood overnight

5 locks, 8 miles, 1mouse, 4hr15

Tuesday 16th September

Sawley to Trent Lock.

No rain after all.  Robin and Mary set off before we were ready to go so we said our farewells.

We moved the boat across to the fuel pontoon to visit the chandlery, only to find it is closed on Tuesdays.

Onwards to the facilities block near the lock for rubbish and loo, before taking the boat down the right lock. The left one had tape across suggesting it was out of order.

These locks are mechanised, without the need for pushing things and turning things, so Hazel applied the necessary key.

Sawley Locks

River Trent

Out onto the Trent and round the corner to Trent Lock, where we found Sapphire (Robin and Mary) moored on the pontoon.  They were just about to leave, so we took their mooring.  We only just fitted onto the pontoon, with our bows tucked inside the bows of a wide beam barge named Galatea, and our stern level with the downstream end, so Hugo could just step ashore without having to walk along the gunwale.

Amanda phoned to say she was likely to exchange contracts this week. We did some shuffling of finances in preparation. She also said she would join us for lunch on Saturday in Southampton.

James caught up a bit with the blog, which had fallen behind ever since the Taft weekend.

We went for tea at the tearooms, but they are closed on Mondays and Tuesdays.  We were approached by two CRT chaps who tried to persuade us to become members of CRT.

Back to the boat for our tea.

Hugo was quite happy going up and down the gangplank from the floating pontoon, although he wasn’t too keen on the Canada Geese.

Wednesday 17th September

Trent Lock to Zouch    

A mild windless morning, overlooking this wide piece of water.

James trundled a cassette to the facilities block on the Erewash Canal, and disposed of some rubbish at the same time.

Pontoon mooring at Trent Lock

We reversed out from under Galatea, and backed round in an arc, just as someone else was reversing out of Cranfleet Cut to go into the Erewash Canal.  We went past the Erewash entrance, and past Cranfleet Cut, past the sailing club and turned off the Trent into the Soar just by Thrumpton Weir.

Junction sign

Entrance to the Erewash Canal

Redcliffe Lock and bridge

We passed Redhill Marina, which is not a marina at all really, just a long line of moored boats, with a few portacabins and a fuel jetty (88p).

At Ratcliffe Lock there was no one to share with so we went up on our own.  The remains of a previous lock are visible alongside the present lock.

We saw a kingfisher, and noticed lots of floating pennywort, which reminded us of the River Wey.  We stopped at Kegworth, mooring by the “Shallow Lock”, which is a flood lock in the summer, with all gates kept open.

We visited the village, a half mile walk each way, for one or two basics from the Co-op there.  We had lunch on board when we returned to the boat.

Wild flowers

Just as we set off from Kegworth, we noticed a boat coming into view behind us, and we were able to share Kegworth Deep Lock with them, a boat called Corniche. The lock is quite fierce, and a single hander was going up in front of us, very slowly.  When it was our turn, we were halfway up when a hire boat appeared below us, so we now had a single boat, then two boats, then a single boat.

On the next section, but there are some lovely looking moorings, but the flight path to East Midlands airport passes overhead, so it is noisy.  We tried to catch up with the single hander, but when we arrived at Zouch Lock, he was already in the lock and going up, so we ended up sharing with Corniche once again.

Sharing with Corniche in Zouch Lock

Above the lock there are lots of bollards, and there is no sign to say where the lock bollards end and the mooring bollards begin.  Corniche tucked in leaving one boat length of lock bollards.  We carried on, passing the single hander who had also found a spot, and finding a place further on where we could use one bollard, and one mooring pin, in very hard earth.  Despite the road not far away, and a pub nearly opposite, the mooring was fairly peaceful.

3 locks, 6 miles, 2hr50

Thursday 18th September

Zouch to Loughborough

Another cloudy start to the day, with a very fine dampness in the air which you could hardly even call rain.  Several boats seemed to set off at once, including Corniche.  We had a cooked breakfast, with lovely sausages bought in Alrewas, so we were a few minutes behind. A boat called My Sharona went past, and we said we would catch them up at the lock.

We pulled out, and went past all the moored boats and under the road bridge.  My Sharona was nowhere in sight, so we put on some speed, and as we were passing Soar Boating Club, we spotted them way ahead, going at quite a lick.  It was two miles to Bishop Meadow Lock, and we managed to close the gap, but to no avail, because there was another boat already at the lock for My Sharona to share with.

We went up on our own, and used the water tap and rubbish facilities at the top, before cruising into Loughborough, and mooring in the small basin at the end (5 boats max). 

The junction in Loughborough

Flying practice

We then spent three hours pottering round the charity shops and market, buying several things we hadn’t planned.

The basin isn’t somewhere you would want to spend the night, as there are busy roads all around, so we set off once more, doing the loop round Loughborough, before mooring on some bollards before Millers Bridge 34.  There was a small white cruiser moored slap in the middle of the line of bollards, leaving not quite enough room for us either in front or behind, so we checked no-one was aboard, and moved the boat up to the end of the line, leaving room for us behind.

A lovely sunny evening.

Moored outside Loughborough

2 locks, 5 miles, 1 mouse, 2hr55

Friday 19th September

Managed to catch up with the blog backlog, before departing.  There were not many boats around as we headed for Barrow-upon-Soar.

There was CRT volunteer to help us through the deep lock at Barrow, and he had a collie and labrador cross that wanted us to throw stones all the time.  We moored just beyond the bollards.  The piling there wasn’t the usual sort, so we used mooring pins in the slots which seemed more secure.

We went to explore possible eating and parking places, and decided on the Indian restaurant for both.

Enterprise came to collect us, after a chaser phone call, and took us into Loughborough where we were allocated a white Vauxhall Astra 1.6.  

We returned to Barrow and had a good meal at the Bengal Indian restaurant. They said it would be OK to leave our car there overnight.

Lots of driving this weekend: Barrow – Farnborough – Southampton – Farnborough – Chertsey – Weybridge – Leatherhead – London – Barrow.

1 lock, 2 miles, 0hr55

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