Wednesday, 20 June 2012


We quickly transferred the remaining items for home to the car which we had parked close by overnight. We anticipated that it would be easier here than at the reserved moorings at Clayworth.

Just before 8, Christine set off with the boat to cruise the three miles left top Clayworth, whilst Mike took the car. After locating the exact place where we were to leave the boat, he walked in to the village and then down a footpath to a previous bridge where he had arranged to meet Christine.

Old Man Bridge 72
As he walked along to see where she had reached, a weed harvester came by, but as it had just turned around, the driver did had not seen Take Five.

Weed Harvester

Before long, Christine came around the corner. Although it is only possible to make about 2 miles an hour along this canal, the scenery is very beautiful and, on a sunny day, a pleasant experience.

At Bridge 69, Mike jumped aboard and before long we were at Clayworth. The allocated mooring space - normally used by someone who is away all summer, proved to be inch-perfect! That is to say, we are fender-to-fender with the boats either side.

After emptying the elsan and the final shut-down of the boat we locked up, paid the mooring dues to the friendly caretaker and set off on the six hour journey back home.

3 miles - 0 locks

Tuesday, 19 June 2012


Car shuffle day.

We (Mike that is) made an early start as Mike had to take buses and trains (five in total) back to Barton Marina

Shaw Lock
It was a bright and sunny morning as we set off and worked through a couple of locks.

Former Brickworks
Strangely isolated in a field stood the remains of a former brickworks.

Inside Drakeholes Tunnel
Drakeholes Tunnel is short and, provided that no-one tries to come from the other direction, relatively spacious and dry.

As we reached Drakeholes we spotted one remaining space on the overnight moorings (room for four) which was handy as we believed that a bus would pass here in just over an hour's time.

Having seen a bus at Saxilby go through several minutes ahead of schedule and with the service only every two hours, Mike did not want to miss it. So, he went out early - and, of course, the bus was quite a few minutes late!

What we had not realised is that the station in Retford is quite a walk from the town centre and, as a result, he missed the train he was hoping to catch. It is an hourly service to Sheffield and it was a warm sunny day so sitting and waiting was not too much of a hardship. He was joined on the bench on the station platform by a young lady with a 13 month old baby in a push chair.

She happily chatted away, telling much of her life story and the time soon passed. After several quite traumatic incidents in the past it was great to see how lively and cheerful she remains.

Just after boarding the train, Mike checked his ticket only to realise that he had left his credit card at the booking office. With all that time waiting, if only he had looked a few minutes earlier! However, by various mobile phone calls and some detective work by Christine she discovered that it had been found by the clerk in the office - sadly they only discovered it and reported back just a couple of minutes after she had rung to cancel the card!

From there on, the journey was remarkably efficient and the changes at both Sheffield and Derby were only three or four minutes each! After walking into Burton-on-Trent town centre for the bus back to the marina, it was only a 15 minute wait.

Having sorted out the deposit for the marina gate key and a quite chat with the engineering staff about the batteries, it was on the road with the sat nav and a ninety minute trip back to Drakeholes without incident, picking up rolls for lunch en route tomorrow.

Meanwhile Christine had packed and cleaned and was able, for the first time in a long while, to use one of our fold up chairs to sit on the bank and read in the sunshine.

Later she walked along the road to see the disused gatehouses for the former Wiseton Hall that were mentioned in the guide book. She also took a photo looking down from above the tunnel to the moorings.

Take Five on Drakeholes mooring
3.5 miles - 2 locks

Monday, 18 June 2012


The weather was very much kinder today, remaining sunny and only a gentle breeze throughout the day. Our plan meant that this would be a 'split shift' day with a wait at Torksey for the tide.

St Botolph;s, Saxilby
Above West Door
Inside Saxilby Church
We walked into Saxilby before setting off to buy a newspaper and a few essential supplies. We also walked to the edge of the village to see the church. The outside is quite impressive but the inside is fairly plain, with an almost flat roof and few monuments. The guide books refer to its historic manuscript sheets of church music but on display were a couple of poor quality photocopies. Yesterday they had a teddy bear parachute day!
Fossdyke and Swan
We set off mid morning with just over an hour to go to Torksey. When we arrived we went to the diesel point where we filled up on the way down - almost the same amount to refill the tank. They were busy as we had to wait alongside another boat that had just come up the lock who also needed fuel - and another boat also joined the queue. It turned out they they had both been at Shardlow when we were all waiting for the river to re-open but had spent several days in Newark.

Above Torksey Lock
Inside Torksey Lock
After taking on water and using the sani station we went straight into the lock - fortunately we asked as the keeper was about to go off duty until the evening (for boats coming up on the tide from Stockwith). This meant that we waited on the pontoons below the lock for lunch and until it was time to set off.
Pontoon Mooring below Torksey Lock
Torksey Castle from the land

Torkey Castle from the river
Christine took a walk to Torksey Castle (probably using a footpath that crossed private land, but that's another story!) Now very much a ruin it was originally built in Elizabethan times more as a large house than a fortified castle.

Eventually four o'clock came and we were able to set off at speed down the Trent. We had good views of the power stations we passed along the way - the scenery generally is not unpleasant but there are not too many features to report.
Marton Mill
Burton Chateau
 We passed Gainsborough - it was only five years that we were here last but both of us commented that it seemed different from our memories!

Gainsbrough Moorings
At Morton Corner we reported in to the Stockwith lock keeper who said that she would instruct us on arrival about how to enter the lock. About ten minutes before we reached the lock we began to hit the incoming tide and our speed immediately dropped. The final stretch required us to up the engine revs just to keep moving.
West Stockwith Lock
When we came within sight of the lock the keeper indicated to us to come alongside the upstream piling and then to turn the boat around the corner - fighting the incoming tide - to move slowly into the huge lock.

The Chesterfield canal is a very different navigation from what we have experienced the last week. It is rather shallow and our speed correspondingly slow.

We soon arrived at the two Misterton Locks. The first part of this canal is broad and security locks have been fitted to all of the paddles.

Misterton Top Lock
The towpath bank side is very weedy and so we had to keep a sharp lookout for an overnight stopping place. However, we needed press on a bit (especially so given the slow pace) so that Mike can make his trip back to Barton Turn to collect the car.

We managed as far as a place marked in the Richlow Guide as a 'suggested rural mooring' but there seemed no change in the bank so we pulled in where the weed seemed a little thinner - it still took the gangplank and a boathook to moor up (and a wet foot for Mike who stupidly put in the water which his balance let him down!) By now mit was 9:15 and we were grateful that the chilli con carne was all ready for the table!

23.0 miles - 4 locks

Sunday, 17 June 2012

Lincoln Return

The day had a better forecast than yesterday but even so there were several light showers and precious little sunshine after a bright couple of hours. We needed to made good progress today as there are effectively no moorings in Lincoln. Stopping before then would leave a tight schedule for tomorrow but pressing on means reaching Saxilby at least. Hopefully, we thought, there will still be room there.

The backdrop to all of this is our aim to transit the Trent from Torksey to West Stockwith on tomorrow afternoon's tide. This means leaving the Fossdyke around 4 o'clock.

River Witham - wide and straight
 The wind was not as strong but it still needed attention to ensure that the boat was not blown across into the weeds at the edge. As the normal side of travel was the down wind side, we were frequently quite close! Also, going against the flow meant that we were making significantly slower progress than yesterday.

A Bankful of Poppies
Cows and Clouds
 One of the problems with re-tracing steps immediately is that all the best photo opportunities were grabbed for the blog on the way down! However, this means that we can focus on smaller details which we spotted when not concentrating on the bigger picture of exploring unfamiliar territory.

At least this fisherman will not complain about passing boats
Interesting place for a picnic
Strong pumping
At Southrey, one of the drainage pumps was operating - it was not doing so yesterday - and the flow had quite an effect on our boat as we passed by.

Near the former Sugar factory, an older plane few low overhead but, as a piston engine, made much less intrusive a noise as it came up over the river banks and made off towards Lincoln. No doubt some expert will be able to recognise which particular model of aircraft it was.

Former Sugar Beet Factory
Great Northern Railway below Bardney Lock
Leaving Bardney Lock
The sun shone for a short while as we passed the sugar factory but disappeared by the time we arrived at the nearby Bardney Lock.

If it had fitted our schedule, the isolated Fiskerton Fen moorings would have had our vote, but we had to press on.

Cow Sculptures
We managed a photo of the Cow Sculptures this time - we missed doing so on the way down as we were in the midst of a thunderstorm!

As we reached Stamp End Lock on the outskirts of Lincoln, two river craft were just exiting onto the pontoon. They seemed disinclined to move off which meant a delicate manoeuvre as the slightest touch could do real damage to a 'plastic' boat. Just as we were about to pass, one of the crew pulled their bow rope in, forgetting that this immediately pulls the stern out! Fortunately we made it into the lock without incident.

Stamp End Lock
A narrowboat was waiting above the lock to come down but we could not leave immediately the guillotine gate was open as the control box will not release the key until it is closed once again.

We passed through the centre of Lincoln without stopping - Christine wanted a picture of the underneath of the Glory Hole - she thinks it looks like the crypt of a church.

Underneath the Glory Hole
Once we had passed the long line of moored boats and were back on the Fossdyke, we made very good speed indeed and arrived at Saxilby just after seven o'clock. Warily we passed under the road bridge wondering if there would be any space - lo, there was plenty. Relief! At least we do not have to make an early start tomorrow (unless we opt for the morning tide . . .)

32.8 miles - 2 locks

Saturday, 16 June 2012


Before setting off into Bardney Lock we moved the short distance down to the water point where Mike used all of the facilities including the sani station whilst Christine finished getting up!

As we were about to start working through the lock we could see some movement on the river behind us and we waited for the first boat to arrive and share with us. It turned out that a group of young people were on a sponsored pedalo ride from Lincoln to Boston in a day to raise money for Teenage Cancer Trust. The twisted our arms for a donation!

Bardney Lock from below
The day was very windy and frequent, heavy and sometimes persistent showers was the order for the day - sunshine only emerged after we moored and then only briefly. Generally, we got wet!

Most of the day was a level run now into Boston, some 36 kilometres away. Although on the map there were few features - flat fenland stretches for miles in every direction - it was far from boring. The River Witham is pleasant, quite wide and, for the first half of the journey, the river bends around quite frequently.

Former Sugar Factory
Soon we passed the former sugar factory which at one time processed much of the beet grown in the area. It was visible on the skyline for much of yesterday afternoon.

Several drains, some navigable (just), join  the river and usually have 'pointing doors' - we are unsure about how these are operated but we had no plans to explore off the main line on this trip. (It might have been possible were it not for the delays earlier)

A railway line ran at one time alongside the river - the former station buildings have been converted into houses but some signs of the original use can be seen.

Another isolated sculpture on the bank top.

Kirkstead Old Bridge
Few old bridges cross the river - in most places there was a ferry and only modern car traffic forced their replacement by iron bridges. However, Kirkstead Bridge still remains and dates back several centuries - however it has been replaced by a nearby modern concrete and steel bridge which now carries the traffic.

Several military planes took off from the nearby Coningsby Airfield making what seemed like an impossibly loud noise. It is not easy to snatch a photo especially when still steering the boat! However, this is the best we could do.

As we neared Boston we spotted an interesting lookout structure, part of the Water Rail footpath facility.

Boston Stump
Eventually, Boston Stump made itself visible on the horizon but it still took some time before we actually arrived in the town itself, where we left the boat on the visitor moorings to go shopping and to take a look around the town centre.

St Botolph's Church from market square
Inside tower, looking up
 St Botolph's Church claims to be the largest parish church that has always been a parish church. Certainly, both outside and inside it dominates the town.

Alongside the visitor moorings, on the edge of the town, a new housing estate is being completed. We were interested to see that most of them had solar panels built in from the start.

We began to re-trace our steps along the river, stopping briefly at Anton's Gowt take a look at the lock that gives access to the Witham Navigable Drains. It is a long climb up the ladder if arriving at the lock from the down-side - from the drains that is. There is no other lock landing.

Anton's Gowt Lock from below
It seems that the reason why the latter part of the river is in such straight sections, compared with the more natural meanderings further up, is that the draining of the peat caused problems with drainage and the river was straightened in order to improve the flow.

We passed the pedalo still going strong despite the weather. At the lock we had met a couple who were waiting for it to pass by and were wondering what had happened!

The wind was side on and made steering very difficult. At one stage we ended up having to do a 360 degree turn in order to drive away from the weeds near to bank after an especially strong gust caught us by surprise.

Langrick Bridge Moorings
We moored for the night on the pontoons at Langrick Bridge. Although the moorings are quite a long way apart, they are excellent quality and make tying up for night very easy!

27.6 miles - 1 lock