Thursday, 28 April 2016

Nottingham to Newark

Sun 24th Apr  Nottingham to Holme Lock

After church (see previous entry) we both had lunch in Sainsbury’s Cafe.  Hazel stayed to do the shopping, while James returned to the boat to prepare for cruising. This included cleaning the pram hood, stern and port side where it seemed that a gaggle of geese had been having dive bombing practice.

The crew of Eunoia (Roger and Diana) were ready to go, but they said they would wait for Hazel to return so we could share the locks.  Hazel took longer than anticipated, so Roger and Diana decided to go anyway. 

Eunoia departing

As they were setting off, Hazel appeared out of the Sainsbury’s hedge, so we set off in pursuit, and caught them up as they were waiting for Castle Lock to fill.  As Hazel was taking Gabriel into the lock, the boat was pulled by the bypass weir and for a while got stuck. It needed some bow hauling and lots of engine power to get off again.

Castle Lock

Fellows, Morton and Clayton warehouse

1 mile to the Trent

We cruised down the Nottingham Canal past the old FMC warehouse, once a museum, now a pub, and round a right-angle bend and alongside a main road, before arriving at Meadow Lane Lock.  We went on the left, so that we could use the elsan point. Then we discovered that things had changed since last time, and the old (very grubby) facility had been demolished, and there was a new facility on the right. This now involved a bit of a trundle with the cassette, up some steps, over a bridge and down a ramp to do the deed.

Meadow Lane Lock

This area is full of sports stadia, with Notts County near the canal, and Nottingham Forest across the Trent, and Trent Bridge cricket ground almost next door.

We set off down river for just over two miles, negotiating a path through some sailing boats, before arriving at the Holme Lock visitor moorings, which are not designed for narrowboats. We had to put our fenders on the cabin sides to avoiding scraping on the concrete. We moored behind a larger vessel called Eternity.

Heading for Eternity

 Lady Mallard

We invited Roger and Diana for cheese and wine on board Gabriel, where we got to know them a little better. They are heading for York and Ripon.

Mon 25th Apr  Holme Lock to Gunthorpe

Our roof level mooring at Holme Lock

James went for a short stroll and saw oyster catchers, common terns, tufted ducks, cormorants, and sand martins. He discovered that there was a recycling bin, which is unusual on the waterways.  There was also a water tap, but it was on the wrong side of the access road, and therefore too far from the boat to be able to use properly.  There is also an elsan point here.

We shared Holme Lock and Stoke Lock with Eunoia and The Mighty Quinn. Then came a long railway viaduct, and steep wooded bank near Radcliffe (presumably originally Red Cliff).

Holme Lock

 Railway viaduct


 Stoke Lock

Diana took photos of us, and we took photos of them on Eunoia.

Gabriel on the Trent


We stopped early at Gunthorpe pontoon mooring.  No phone signal, so emailed Elaine.

She came at 5pm, in rush hour traffic, and took us to her bungalow in Burton Joyce, where she prepared a lovely chicken curry for us. 

It was dark by the time we returned to the boat, so we used our phone torches to avoid nasty things in the grass.

2 locks, 7 miles

Tue 26th Apr  Gunthorpe to Hazelford Lock

Moored at Gunthorpe

 Morning light

Gunthorpe Weir

James walked down to the lock to see if there was anywhere selling gas or coal.  There is nowhere. The tearoom at the lock is now called Biondi Bistro.  There is also a plush Indian restaurant called the Bridge and Bayleaf, another cafe, Tom Brown’s restaurant and the Unicorn. The Anchor Inn has become an Italian restaurant, Pontefino. Plenty of eating choices.

Gunthorpe Lock

The water tap at the lock was high up and difficult to reach, so we didn’t use it. We had the lock to ourselves, followed by a very cold and windy cruise for 5 miles to Hazelford Lock, where we finally managed to fill the water tank above the lock. As we were doing this, A CRT man was showing a volunteer round. We asked them about the length of stay on the visitor moorings in Newark, and they said “technically 48 hours, but it won’t be a problem if you stay longer.” We went through the lock to some lovely low level (for a change!) moorings, with grass, trees and rabbits.  Hugo was chivvied by crows. James saw a fox that presumably had come across the footbridge over the weir, in search of rabbits.

Rabbits on the lock island

Hazelford Lock moorings

We did some research and we plan to stop at Farndon Marina for gas on the way into Newark.  We haven’t yet found a coal supplier.  We contacted Mary and Rod, and arranged to find an eatery with them on Friday evening.  We also rang Caroline Bonnett and arranged to have lunch with her and Shirley on Sunday.  The Baptist church looks a bit gone away, so we looked around at other options. We rang the Church of Promise, and they offered to collect us on Sunday morning, so we took them up on their offer.

In the afternoon we had heavy rain and sleety snow, followed by lovely sunshine.

Stormy weather

2 locks, 5 miles

Wed 27th Apr  Hazelford to Newark

Moored at Hazelford Lock

James went to empty a cassette and discovered that there was no facility for this. We set off downstream in biting winds, and paused at Farndon marina to buy gas. We also took the opportunity to empty the cassette here.

Then there was another open stretch of windy river.  How different this was from the memorable day several years ago when we took Hazel’s two aunts, Frances and Rene and cousin-in-law Mary for a boat trip here in beautiful sunshine. The two aunts are no longer with us, and we will be seeing Mary on Friday.

One of the boatyards had told us there was a coal merchant near Mill Lane.  We had looked online, and found a coal merchant, but they didn’t answer their phone. We also found a car mechanics at the same address.  Looking on Google Earth we hadn’t been able to see either. We were on our last bag of coal, with cold weather forecast, so we stopped on some handy bollards (rooftop level), and James went to investigate.

Near Mill Lane in Newark

He had to ask a native, because the entrance had no sign outside.  It was an old building with an arch and cobbles, and was where a forge had once been. There was a huge pile of discarded horse shoes on display.  There were three types of coal in piles, plus all sorts of items rescued from demolition such as fireplaces. There was also a garage where some car maintenance was taking place.  They lent James wheelbarrow, and he took two bags at a time back to the boat. Fortunately he had some cash as that was the only acceptable form of payment!

The coal merchants / car mechanics

Cobbled entrance

 Pile of horse shoes

Then we completed our journey through Newark Lock, past old wharf buildings and Newark Castle. 

Wharf buildings

Newark Castle

We asked the volunteer on duty at the lock about the length of stay on the visitor moorings, and he said “48 hours, but no-one takes any notice and no-one checks”. So that’s two with the same message.

As we were turning to face upstream, who should come up river round the corner but Eunoia, who we thought were meant to be on the tideway by then.  Apparently there was some maintenance work taking place on the weir, and they weren’t allowed through, so they decided to return to Newark and go tomorrow instead.

They invited us for cheese and wine on board in the evening. How very civilised!

1 lock, 8 miles

Now that we are in Newark, our programme is: Friday evening – meal with Mary and Rod, who should have brought our post.  Saturday evening – visit to theatre to see Simon and Garfunkel Story. Sunday morning -  visit to Church of Promise. Sunday lunchtime – visiting Caroline Bonnett and Shirley Novak.

Next week – down the Trent to Keadby.

Sunday, 24 April 2016

Sileby to Nottingham

Wed 20th Apr  Sileby to Loughborough

A beautiful sunny day greeted us this morning.  The two weirs were shining in the sun, and even the bubbles floating down the river looked interesting!

Sileby Mill

Sunshine on the weir



We had a visit from the engineer at 8.30, and we started the engine to demonstrate the loud screech we had been experiencing for several days.  In accordance with a certain law, there was no screech this morning!  He adjusted one which was a little slack, but they didn’t need replacing.

We filled up with diesel while we could, and visited the chandlery. We need a new flagpole, something adhesive to hold cables in place, and a new mop. We couldn’t find any of these things, although the chandlery looks quite good for other things.

We have noticed that footpaths in Leicestershire are marked with a high pole, painted yellow at the top. These are easy to see from the other side of a field, and are much better than the tiny little circle with an arrow favoured by other councils. 

Footpath marker

The first lock was Mountsorrel, where usually there are lots of people patronising the adjacent pub. Today we were there before the pub was open, but a hire boat was ascending in the lock. They had some difficulty collecting their crew as no-one could make up their mind which side to get on. Soon after the lock there are some houses which would make a good film set for a scene in Amsterdam.

Mountsorrel Lock

 Dutch houses

We used the facilities at Barrow-upon-Soar, the first opportunity since Kilby Bridge. It took half an hour as our tank was low.  Another boat arrived and waited for us to finish.

When we arrived at Barrow Deep Lock there was a volunteer who operated it for us.  He was interested in BCF so we gave him a leaflet.

At Pilling’s Flood Lock we were surprised to see the gates closed. Usually this is open and we cruise through on the level.  This time there was a small difference in levels, and we were asked to leave a paddle open at the top and bottom.  There was a fisherman below the lock who had three small fish in his keep net, but a large pike had just tried to carry off the net.

Flood lock sign

We cruised into Loughborough, and moored just before the T-junction, where the towpath area is wide with a few bushes. It is a good place to moor, but we needed to use our mooring pins, as there was no piling.  We were near Aldi and B&Q, so we went to visit both establishments. We managed to buy some adhesive cable fixings, and a mop, as well as several other things we hadn’t been looking for.

There was some beautiful blossom on some trees there.


3 locks, 6 miles

Thu 21st Apr  Loughborough to Trent Lock

It was sunny this morning, but slightly cooler than yesterday.  We left our mooring and turned right at the T-junction, which marks the end of the Leicester Navigation, and the start of the Loughborough Navigation, which is the oldest section.

Loughborough T-junction

There were two boats coming into view behind us as we turned, and ahead was a hire boat waiting for Loughborough Lock to fill.  Apparently it had taken half an hour to fill, and we arrived just as they got the gates open, so we shared with them.

We left first as they had crew to collect, and as we approached Bishop Meadow Lock, there was a boat going entering the lock to go down.  We signalled the hire boat to go in, as they were in more of a hurry than we were, and we had just effectively overtaken them.

It then got complicated, with two boats coming up, and a wide beam also waiting.  We shared with one of the two who had appeared behind us – Plan B

Sharing locks with Plan B

Some river sections followed and we cruised past Normanton-on-Soar, through Zouch, and the wide two mile reach, passing under the flight path for East Midlands Airport. There are some nice looking moorings here but the planes mean we don’t stop here.


Then we arrived at Kegworth Deep Lock, where there was a fox who was watching the boats going through. We guessed that some people feed it, because at one point James dropped a glove, and the fox came running over to investigate!

Fox by the locks

Encounter with wildlife

We moored up for lunch at Kegworth Shallow Lock, and checked the weather forecast. Saturday didn’t look so good, so we decided to move on while we had the sunshine. Plan B left just before us, and we passed them at Kegworth Marine to have their bottom blacked. They are not the same Plan B that we met on the Llangollen two years ago. 

Kegworth Shallow Lock

Plan B stopped for bottom blacking

There was only one more lock, at Ratcliffe, before the end of the Soar, where we joined the Trent. We needed a fair bit of power to go upstream to the floating pontoon where we found a space to moor.

Ratcliffe-on-Soar power station

Trent Lock pontoon

There were some threatening rain clouds and unusual light effects soon afterwards, but the rain missed us.

Threatening weather

One more boat arrived later, rafting up with the one behind us, and it turned out that three of the five boats there were friends, and there was a lot of merry making until quite late. We asked them where they were heading, but they had no destination in mind, other than other local moorings. They were continuous cruisers / continuous moorers.  The length of stay here is 72 hours, but it should really be 24 hours, as an overnight stop. There are 14 day moorings on the banks here.  One of them had a dog, so Hugo was a bit limited in his explorations.

5 locks, 9 miles

Fri 22nd Apr  Trent Lock to Nottingham

We left at the leisurely hour of 1040, and no-one else was around. We think they had all left for work by car.  We turned and went downstream to the Cranfleet Cut, with the Erewash Canal on the left, and the Soar over to the right by Thrumpton Weir. At the end of Cranfleet Cut, Cranfleet Lock takes us down onto a wide section of the River Trent, past the Attenborough Nature Reserve.

Trent Lock Junction

Cranfleet Lock

River Trent steel girders

We didn’t understand what these strange sets of steel girders were for, until we saw one with a sign on it.  Presumably the signs had come off this one.

There was quite a strong flow carrying us along, but there was a cold wind and it was chilly work at the helm. We came off the river at Beeston Lock, which is next to a large weir.  We used the facilities here, and we had considered mooring here, but the moorings have a road alongside, so we moved on into Nottingham.

Garden loos

We moored near the Castle Marina, behind a Hungry Horse pub. We went shopping to find a gadget to clamp Hazel’s computer tablet onto a microphone stand.  After some bus rides and visits to two music shops we were successful.

Nottingham Castle rock

2 locks, 8 miles

Sat 23rd Apr  Nottingham

We visited Pets at Home (Cat biscuits) and PC World (SD card) before getting some items in Sainsbury’s.  Then a wander to the Marina Chandlery where we bought a replacement flagpole.

Alan and Hazel Dilnot came to visit, and after tea and chat we all went to the cinema to see Eddie the Eagle.  Good fun.   Frankie and Benny’s had a long wait, so we returned to near the boat and went to a Beefeater for a meal. Then coffee back on board.  It was good to catch up properly as there never seems to be enough time at BCF events.

Alan and Hazel

There are three large churches in the area – Trent Vineyard, Grace Church, and Cornerstone.  We think we may go to Cornerstone tomorrow as it is right opposite.

No boating today

Sun 24th Apr  Nottingham

Moored in Nottingham

 Cornerstone Church

We decided to go to Cornerstone this morning as we have not been there before, and it was facing us across the canal. It is a large church, and there were several people on welcome duty. Apart from those, others came up to us to say hello.  This is a good achievement for a large church where it must be difficult to know who is new and who isn’t.  The people in the row in front were David and Jenny (Godmother to Anne Clark’s daughter).

David and Jenny

Band Practice

The worship band had around 7 to 8 members, competently led by a young man on guitar, who had a strong and tuneful voice. They managed to avoid being the centre of attention, and were not in performance mode, unlike some modern churches. We were able to hear ourselves sing and worship. There were a few good songs we did not know, noted for the future.

The talk was based around the letter to Thyatira in Revelation.

Over coffee afterwards we met Mark, “Just a church member” who introduced us to Colin Webster, the Evangelism Pastor.  We also met Peter Lewis, who, until retirement recently, was the senior Pastor. He knows Gerald Coates, and Paul and Christine Dicken.

Peter Lewis

We returned to the boat and discovered a BCF boat, Eunoia, moored behind us.  We arranged to moor with them this evening. Meanwhile we had some shopping to do in Sainsbury’s.

No boating this morning

Sunday afternoon to be continued in next entry.  Next week – dinner in Gunthorpe with Elaine on Monday (BCF / Canal Ministries). Plans to see Hazel’s cousin Rod and Mary in Newark later in the week, also Caroline Bonnet (friend, musician and ex lodger from Cobham).  A visit to the theatre in Newark also booked for next Saturday “The Simon and Garfunkel Story”.