Our river began after a lovely weekend back in the Ribble Valley celebrating David’s sister’s (40th – sorry Sally!!) birthday. Jess had her first experience of kennels at West Stockwith and had a great time by all accounts. This has put our minds at rest for any further kennel trips she has to make.
Day 1 -West Stockwith to Torksey
We left West Stockwith after filling up with fuel and water at 8.30am on Monday 6th June having been advised that the river was calm and to break our journey down the tidal Trent at Torksey. The wide river still worried us a little but we soon got used to the expanse of it again. The tide was not as strong upstream as previously and we chugged down the wide river withe ease passing through Gainsborough,Gainsborough Arches being the main attraction but also seeing the industrial side of the town.
Jess looking a little bored with the river journey!!
We arrived at Torksey Lock at about 10.30am after a smooth journey and moored up on the pontoons below the lock as we had planned our journey onwards for the following day. We spoke to the lock keeper and were advised that we should set off about 10.30am on the next day. It was very interesting watching the tide decrease throughout the afternoon, the pontoon creaking as it did so.
So, we had a whole 24 hours to kill….Rachel (& Jess) went for a wander into Torksey village about 1 1/2 miles to the north of the lock. She came across Torksey Castle (which unfortunately was not very accessible), a Church and a pub, of course!!
We walked up to the lock and took photos of the lock itself, the view of Black Velvet on the pontoon and the Torksey Tea Room. A very quiet and peaceful place.
Map at the lock showing part of our journey
Day 2 -Torksey to Cromwell Lock – the last section on the tidal Trent
We began our onward journey at 10.30am on the dot. We found this section of the tidal Trent very twisty but using common sense we kept to the centre of the river and used the Trent Tidal Chart, which shows the best course to take. David did an excellent job!
Unfortunately, some boaters try to cut the corners on this windy section and we came across a small narrowboat that had just been beached on a bend. Sadly, we were unable to help as they were really quite high up on the bank and we didn’t want to risk getting stuck ourselves. We hope they managed to sort out their predicament!
We reached Cromwell Lock in the early afternoon,which had an expansive weir right next to it which send huge amounts of water thundering down river. Very impressive and a little scary. We filled up with water and moored up for the day on a small pontoon just up from the lock.
Cromwell Lock is massive lock which probably can take up to 6 boats. The lock is manned by a lock keeper, as are all the large locks on the river, and he saw us through very professionally.
We have found all the lock keepers very helpful and friendly on all sections of the British Waterways…very commendable!
Around the lock it was very picturesque….here are a few photos of the area..
There is an interesting and sad story at the lock about 10 volunteers of the 131 Independent Parachute Squadron of the Royal Engineers, who in September 1975 lost their lives on teh weir whilst taking part in a Expedition Trent Chase. There is a memorial to them at the lock.
We spent the rest of the day enjoying the sunshine and a glass of beer.
Day 3 – Cromwell Lock to Newark-on-Trent
The next day we travelled on the non-tidal section of the Trent and through Newark Nether Lock to the town of Newark-on-Trent and moored up opposite the Castle and next to a lovely park.
We spent the afternoon wandering through the town – sometimes it’s nice to get back into civilisation ! We did some food shopping and also spent a little cultural time visiting Newark Castle.
Newark Castle and Gardens are lovely, formal gardens bordered by the remaining walls of Newark Castle which was partly destroyed in 1646 at the end of the English Civil War. The Castle has stood proudly on the banks of the River Trent for nearly 900 years.
Newark Castle sits proudly next to the river Trent in the centre of Newark in Nottinghamshire. Its foundations date back to Saxon times but it was developed as a castle by the Bishop of Lincoln in 1123. Known as the Gateway to the North, the castle endured numerous sieges during the Baronial and English Civil war.
Read more: http://www.tourist-information-uk.com/newark-castle.htm#ixzz4BvdNa3EL
Day 4- Newark to Gunthorpe – and a change of weather!
We said our goodbyes to the super town of Newark and set off from Newark Town Lock to travel to Gunthorpe, just north of Nottingham.
We passed Newark Marina and reached Farndon Marina for a pump out on the way.
The day became grayer and grayer as we sailed along the sky turning darker as we reached Hazleford Lock, where the the heavens opened as we came up the lock…much to the lock keeper’s amusement, as he was in his lovely dry office seeing us through.
As we came out of the lock the thunder and lightening started and David decided it best to moor up on some pontoon moorings until the rain subsided. He was absolutely drenched needing a complete change of clothes. After a couple of hours and when the rain turned to drizzle, Rachel decided to take Jess for a little walk but couldn’t get off the pontoon as they were private moorings and only accessed/ exited by key. We decided best to move on, and were about to set off when the manager of the moorings came to see if we were staying – at 15.00 quid..I don’t think so!!. We explained our mistake and went on our way, heading for Gunthorpe.
We arrived at Gunthorpe at 7pm, the rain having started about 1/2 hour before and David did the honours of mooring up as the rain was getting pretty bad again. Then came the first dunking….as he was mooring the boat, David slipped and fell in !! Rachel was preparing a meal and didn’t hear the splash but heard a few expletives…as you can imagine!! Luckily, a fellow boater, Martin (David’s new friend!) grabbed the rope from David as he hauled himself out of the water. Another drenching for Captain David!. He has smashed his elbow on the side of the pontoon but luckily nothing too serious and he also lost his glassed, which are now floating down the river or stuck on the riverbed. But at least he was ok which is the main thing.
Day 5 – Day 8 – Staying in Gunthorpe
Having reached our destination in Gunthorpe, we planned to stay a few days over the weekend catching up with some work colleagues / friends. This we did and thoroughly enjoyed our stay. We went out for a meal with Andy and Denise Martin and visited The Old Ship Inn in Lowdham, where Adam stayed when working in Nottingham a few years ago. It was great to have a catch up!
Views around Gunthorpe
Visiting the Old Ship Inn, Lowdham
Day 9 – Gunthorpe to Beeston Lock – Through the City of Nottingham
We had a disastrous start to the day !!!
As we were casting off, Rachel untied the front rope and jumped on the boat. The boat was then caught in the current and pulled away from the pontoon. Luckily the rear rope was still tied on so we managed to pull it in middle rope after a good ten minutes, as the current was really strong. We both jumped off the boat ready to go, then Rachel realised that Jess had jumped off onto the pontoon. David jumped onto the pontoon to catch her and she was so frightened that she jumped back off the pontoon into the river!! Disaster!! Rachel had, in the meantime, jumped off the boat and grabbed the middle rope to pull it into the side and David managed to scoop Jess out of the river. Pheww!
We all jumped back on the boat and David saw us off, Rachel and Jess, looking like a drowned rat, went inside to recover.
Not a good start to the day!!
As the day went on, things definitely improved, including the weather. We reached the outskirts of Nottingham by lunchtime
and went through Meadow Lane Lock with no problems.
We met up with another novice boater, Andy, who had just bought a boat a couple of weeks before and was sailing down to London with the aid of a professional boat transporter, who was leaving Andy in Nottingham so we arranged to meet up with him to travel together after going through Nottingham.
The Nottingham Canal was quite picturesque, having been on the river for so long it was a welcome relief.
We reached Beeston Lock and moored for the evening, in the rain before heading back onto the River Trent in the morning for our onward travel to the River Soar.
Day 10 – Beeston Lock to Cranfleet Cut – Journey’s End!
After a night of heavy rain, we woke early having planned an early start so that we could reach the Zouch on the River Soar, about 12 miles away. Andy had phoned us the previous evening saying that he would not be able to make it to us on time.
We thought the River looked pretty flooded but decided to set off after a couple of narrowboats went through the lock before us.
The current on the river was very strong and it took some time ( 3 Hours in fact) to get to Cranfleet Lock which normally should take about 1 1/2 hours to navigate. We passed a number of moored craft and moorings of various types along the way…
..and Rachel spent the morning making homemade chicken soup for lunch. David, soon realised that the river was really getting unmanageable and the last 1/2 mile to Cranfleet lock was hard work, the boat was making no headway and felt as though we were not gaining ground at all, though he managed to keep this information to himself so as not to panic the galley chef!!
The Trent beginning to flood
We reached Cromwell Lock with 3 other boats that had gone before us and managed to get through with the assistance of a lock keeper, who told us that the river was in flood and that we should not have set off in RED.
There are flood notices on the river locks stating when you can proceed:-
GREEN – Ok to proceed
AMBER – Proceed with caution
RED – do not proceed
All the boaters that had travelled up that morning had not seen the board at Beeston Lock, so the lock keeper said he would report back to the ‘powers that be’ about siting the board so that it would be more noticeable. He also told us that if anything had happened – damage, loss etc to the boat we would not have been covered by our insurance as we had travelled through a RED notice. A lesson to be learned.
Rachel phoned Andy to let him know that the River was in flood and not to travel, but unfortunately he had already set off. Luckily he made it to Cranfleet by mid afternoon after quite a tortuous journey. Both he and another boater had also not seen the warning sign.
We have now been stuck at Cranfleet Cut for 3 days waiting for the flood waters to recede. We have had more thunder storms but the weather now seems to be improving and we will hopefully be on the move again in a few days time.
We have had to learn to be very careful in the use of water (basin washes only at the moment, not using the washing machine, limit on toilet use (we’ll let your imagination take care of that!!)) and electricity (switching off the inverter when possible, boiling the kettle for warm water etc).
We have been on a few walks into the local town of Long Eaton which is along the Erewash Canal, which we wouldn’t have seen if we had continued along our journey, so there are always positives to every situation. The Erewash canal is a very pretty canal, even to walk along and great to see all the various types of boats along the way…
Here are a few photos of Black Velvet the floods in the area at Cranfleet Cut and Trent Lock….
Flood lock – Padlocked so we are Trapped!!
Not a bad place to be marooned but we will be happy to be heading off on our travels as soon as the weather improved