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.

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