Fun at Foxton

Having topped up with water, we set off from Kilby Bridge with another boat “Iris” owned by a lovely couple called Rob and Sue.  We arranged to go through the next 11 locks with them as they were double locks and it made it so much easier with the two ladies operating the locks.

After a busy day both boats moored up for the day just outside the village of Fleckney and David walked across the fields to the local Co-op to get some provisions.

We set off the next day, having said our goodbyes to Rob and Sue (they were heading towards Market Harborough) and navigated through the Saddington Tunnel and were surprised to see another boat coming the other way.  Having realised we could both travel through the tunnel we relaxed a little.  It is a little  eerie heading towards another boat in whilst travelling underground, but we managed it with relative ease

20160627_092503.jpgin this photo you can just about see the light of the other boat in the tunnel.

We reached our next obstacle a couple of hours later – Foxton Locks, and what a fantastic afternoon we spent travelling up the 10 staircase locks in the lovely British sunshiine.

While Rachel did her usual job of operating the locks, with the assistance of some Canal and River Trust Volunteers, David had a great time talking to a number of tourists on his way up. He enjoyed it so much he invited some of them onto the boat to go up a couple of locks  and also allowed them to look inside the boat.  Rachel was slightly alarmed as she had recently done a load of washing and various under garments were hanging on the radiators!!!  An Indian family particularly enjoyed the experience and kept returning to ask questions and have another ride.


Here is a little more information about Foxton Locks….a great day out if you ever get chance.

We moored up for the evening just at the top of the locks.

The next day we travelled through another tunnel – Husbands Bosworths tunnel.  There were no locks, much to Rachel’s relief ! but lots of bridges and we moored up just outside the village of Yelvertoft.

The next day was very grey so no photos taken I’m afraid, but we enjoyed travelling through Crick Tunnel passing 4 boats in the tunnel.  One guy moaned about our light being too bright!!  Then, in the rain we queued up to go through Watford Locks which would have been lovely on a sunny day.  We did manage to get some shelter for a while under the M1 bridge and through the weather was not too pleasant we managed well, again with the assistance of a friendly lock keeper.

Here is some info and photo is you want a read

We moored up for the evening near Norton Junction ready for our onward trip to Braunston the next day.

We had a fairly easy day travelling to Braunston.  We first navigated through the longest tunnel so far, Braunston Tunnel which is 2042 yards long and took about 30 minutes to travel through.


There were then 6 locks before we arrived at Braunston.  A very busy hub for the canal boat industry with the Grand Union Canal joining the North Oxford Canal.  We found Braunston a very interesting place, though quite busy and moored up for the night just outside the marina.

Here are some views of the Marina which we had a stroll around


We made the decision to have a week’s stopover at Wigram’s  Turn Marina. One, because we needed to clean and maintain Black Velvet – she also needed to be assessed for her Boat Safety Certificate which we decided to have done while we were moored up in the marina and two, because we thought it would be nice to have a rest and chill out for a week, especially as it was our 30th Wedding Anniversary during the week.

We travelled down to Wigram’s Turn through some pretty countryside having booked in at the marina for a week.


We will update you on our stay at Wigram’s Turn Marina on our next blog.  Needless to say, we had a lovely week there exploring the area and celebrating our anniversary!





Leicester and the Locks

The day of 17 locks !!

Having set off at 7am we planned to reach our mooring for the day at Kilby Bridge by mid afternoon (8hrs in total), but 17 locks in one day would be quite an achievement for just the 2 of us.

The first stumbling block was the first lock (Birstall Lock) – one of the gates was virtually impossible for Rachel to move so a kind gentleman who was walking his dog helped close the gate.

As we chugged along we soon realised we were heading towards the city, as the amount of rubbish increased both on the towpath and in the river.  A sad sight to see, but always an inevitable sight on the outskirts of a large city.

Leicester itself was quite a nice place to travel through with many bridges and flocks and flocks of swans


As we travelled on through and out of the city we stopped for ‘Elevensies’ at Kings Lock Cafe and had a Vanilla Icecream for a treat – just to keep us going!!


Private mooring on the River


Rachel started flagging towards the end of the trip, with very sore hands and bruising to both her arms and legs (apparently rushing too much! – which is probably true) and David came to the rescue helping at the locks.

We reached Kilby Bridge at 3.10pm so 8 hours 10 minutes…..only 10 minutes late.  Not bad for us novices!

Evening sunset at Kilby Bridge


The River Soar turns into the Grand Union Canal at Blaby Bridge (upstream from Leicester), we think so that now we are on the Grand Union Canal and heading south on our journey towards Market Harborough- though we are not actually reaching the town as the canal branches off to reach it.

Hopefully in the next week we should reach the Oxford Canal, weather permitting….so watch this space!



Sailing The Soar

At Cranfleet Cut, it rained most of Sunday night, the river levels had dropped significantly on Monday morning and at 8.30am we were given the go ahead….we were given our freedom!.

About 10 boats queued to leave the cut, as we were told that the river may go into flood again later in the day.  We were the 2nd to ‘Escape’ and headed onto the Trent and Mersey canal before making an immediate right turn onto the River Soar…Pheww.

It was still a rainy day and so the first part of our journey was not very pleasant, though we realised that the river was a lot narrower than the Trent.  We went through 3 locks before reaching our destination at Zouch.  The main event of the day was Jess deciding to jump off the boat while it was rising up one of the locks.  Luckily David managed to grab her just before she was sucked below the boat….a very scary moment to say the least.

This is the spot where we moored up for the day.


Zouch is a little village close to another very pictureque village called Normanton-on-Soar. We had previously invited to moor up beside our son-in-law’s grandparents in Normanton, so we walked from Zouch into the village to conform that it would be ok for us to moored there the next day.  We visited the village community shop, a very quaint shop selling essential goods to the village folk.  We bought a few items and had a cup of tea and cake from the ladies there, who were playing a game of scrabble in the middle of the shop. Mark’s grandfather met us there and we arranged to moor our boat at their house the next day.

They made us very welcome and we really appreciated their hospitality….and what a beautiful setting.

We had lunch at a local pub and wandered round the village on the Tuesday before settling in for the evening, having made the decision to move on through Loughborough to Barrow-on-Soar the next day.



Having travelled through Loughborough (not much to write home about) and stopping for provisions and water, we moored up in the afternoon at Barrow-on-Soar.  Again, a lovely spot with many private moorings with lovely properties and peaceful surroundings.  We moored right next to a roaring weir, of which there are many on the River Soar.


Children having a canoe lesson on the River near Barrow-on-Soar


We set off reasonably early the next day travelling through Mountsorrel – which looked to be a lovely little canal side village..


and on we sailed on this lovely river to our final destination for the day at Birstall, just on the outskirts of the city of Leicester

We had a surprise visit from a new friend of ours, Mandy -the manager at Swanley Bridge Marina, where we had bought our boat and moored over last  Winter.  She was staying at her daughters house and realised we were close by…it was lovely to catch up – especially about both weddings (Mandy’s daughter recently got married too!)


Our plan was to travel through Leicester the next day…it was going to be a long 8 hour day with 17 locks in 12 miles…so we had an early night ready for an early start the next day.

West Stockwith to Cranfleet Cut – River Journey ‘June flood”

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.



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 journeyIMG_1587

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:


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.

3c.Meadow Lane Lock - workboat, grappling and veg teams. Nottingham clean up sept 2014. Alison Smedley

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….



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

Chugging on the Charming Chesterfield

We have spent over a week on the Chesterfield and are now on our way back to West Stockwith Basin, our starting point.

The Trip

Our route was, and is as follows:

West Stockwith basin passing Misterton, Drakeholes and mooring for the first night at Clayworth. The second and third nights were spent at Clarborough (mooring neat The Gate Inn).  Our fourth night was spent at Forest Lock no 55 after travelling through the town of Retford on a very wet day, so we stayed there another night. On the sixth night we moored at the Osberton Estate in a remote stretch of the canal. We travelled to Worksop on the seventh day and turned around to make our way back along the canal and moored again at Forest Lock no 55. The eighth and ninth days were spent in Clarborough again and we are making our way to some moorings at Drakeholes tunnel for a couple of nights before chugging our way back to the basin.

Though we have thoroughly enjoyed our stay on the Chesterfield Canal we found the days heading to and from Worksop quite frustrating with a lot of weed and branches in the water and also the canal is quite shallow.  With it being quite twisty in places it was somewhat difficult to navigate in places.

Having said that it is a very pretty canal and, as they say “a picture paints a thousand words” so here is a collection of photos from Day 1 to date giving a little description on some of the photos:


Drakeholes Tunnel

Our Moorings along the way


The Weed and overgrown Trees:

Some Views of our journey….


A Little Learning

Whilst on this really quiet canal Rachel found time to practice on the tiller and is happy with chugging along the canal, apart from the very twisty bits.  She is now getting more confident navigating through bridges but has ‘chickened out’ of managing the locks herself.  We have decided that the whole process of learning will take some time!! However, she is quite an expert operating the locks now, with a little help from Jess!!.  On the narrow locks, David was able to get involved too leaving the boat in the lock while assisting with opening the gates and so on.Needless to say David is quite an expert at  captaining the boat and is very patient while in teaching mode.

Rachel looking chilled on the tiller !


Floral and Fauna 

This peaceful canal offers some beautiful wildflowers and trees along it’s banks.  Here are a few photos to whet your appetite:-


Wildlife and Animals

And here are a few photos of the wildlife and animals we have encountered along the way…



Our little travelling companion, Jess, has loved this canal.  She made lots of lots of other canine friends – Woody, Ruby, Major to name but a few. She has also found out that she can swim, initially by mistake but now voluntarily jumps in! We both have been practicing with Rachel’s camera taking many shots of Jess – so here you go.

Jess and Friends…



We have met some very friendly boaters on the Chesterfield which gives you a great sense of community and, because you are up and down the canal you tend to meet your fellow boaters time and time again.

One of the most friendly couples and their unusual craft we met on our way back from Worksop to West Stockwith. They were sailing along the canal in a CARABOAT.- basically a caravan on water.  The craft itself had wheels that came down so that when they come out of the water they can tow it back to their home.  David in particular found it fascinating.  Here is some info about the caraboat which was invented in the 1970’s

Unfortunately, we didn’t catch the name of the couple but she was in the early stages of Alzheimers and they didn’t know how much longer they would be able to use the boat as she struggles with remember how to operate the locks and so on, so they were making the most of using their boat as much as possible. A lovely couple. Here are a few photos of this marvelous boat, which not only transported the couple themselves but their SIX dogs as well, yes SIX !!


Villages and Churches

While mooching along the canal and having ‘days off’ we thought we would  visit some of the local villages either next to, or near to the canal. We visited Misterton, Clayworth, Clarborough, Ranby and Hayton not only to have a nosey round but to put up some essential shopping. (Our main shopping was done in the towns of Retford and Worksop where groceries are a little cheaper.  Village shops tend to charge a little more, which is only to be expected).

Throughout our marriage, and probably even before, we have always found it interesting visiting local churches and the history behind them so we also visited a couple of churches in the villages too.


This was a quiet pleasant village extending along a single main street.  The houses are from many periods, the new blending well with the old.

We visited the pretty village church (built between 1150 and 1180) with a handsome sundial sitting over the porch inscribed with the words ‘Our days on earth are as a shadow’.Inside there are a series of beautiful wall paintings called the Traquair Murals – painted by Phoebe Traquair in 1904/5.

St Peter’s Church

More views of the village..


Ranby is a small rambling village with a pub on the canal. We were moored at Forest Lock No 55 about a 2 hour walk from the village so we called at The Chequers for a little light relief!


We visited the old village church at Hayton, just outside Clarborough.  It was again named St Peter’s built in the 12th century. Another pretty church which, unfortunately was locked due to some previous vandalism. The church yard was interesting to walk around and found almost all the gravestones to be leaning at an angle.  A very peaceful place.


Fun Times

We have had a lovely time on the Chesterfield Canal.  It has been very relaxing and a change from the rivers we had been recently travelling along. Having said that we have had some busy days in relation to that dreadful word ‘Work’, having to sort through emails and accounts.  But all in all it has been great.

Now fully rested we are ready for our next episode of travel down the River Trent and on towards Nottingham.

We have enjoyed the Chesterfield Canal but were disappointed with the problems with weed and the shallow canal.  There are plans in the future to extend the canal to the rest of the canal system which would improve the use by other boats along the canal so that the weed would not be such a problem and hopefully the canal would be dredged so that it would be an acceptable depth.

We would love to travel along here again but not for a few more years to see if things improve to make it a more pleasant experience.

Having said that we have had a great time, so here are some photos to prove it…


Here’s to the next chapter !! …..keep reading  x



Rivers Galore! Castleford to West Stockwith

Day 1 – Castleford to Pollington

Having filled up with water again (we have realised in the short time we have been travelling how much water is used in one day, even with limiting ourselves with showers, washing, even brews!…it certainly makes you appreciate the value and preciousness of this simple commodity), on we cruised down the Aire and Calder navigation.


We have certainly found a difference between travelling on the narrow canals and broader rivers. On the smaller canal systems, there seems to be much more to participate in – locks, walking, bridges and yes, Swing bridges!!. On the wider rivers there is much more time to appreciate the countryside and wild life, particularly as we were cruising through the “Five Mile Pond’ just outside Castleford, where there was an abundance of birds. This area is still owned by the coal board but rented to the RSPB and was designated a statutory bird sanctuary in 1968. We saw a multitude of different birds, including the usual ducks, and their ducklings, many swans (too numerous to count), moorhens, herons and cormorants to name a few. It was very calming travelling through this area though after a time a little boring, as there was not much else to do!  But this stress free life is what we have chosen, so we have to embrace every moment.  Needless to say we had coffee and toast (and jam) as we chugged our way along.

We reached Ferrybridge and Knottingley by late morning and travelled through this quite industrial area passing the huge chimneys of Ferrybridge Power Station, an old flour mill and the chemical industrial areas of Knottingley.  There was also a large boatyard on the outskirts of the town which was quite impressive too.



From here we took the Knottingley to Goole Canal on the Aire and Calder Navigation which is a man made section of canal with hundreds, if not thousands of sheet piles shoring up the side of the canal.  Although initially quite interesting it did get a bit monotonous after a while.

We reached our destination at just past Pollington Lock in the mid afternoon  and spent the rest of the day in the lovely sunshine.  Rachel hanging out the washing she had done in the morning whilst on the move.  We had a wander through the sleepy village of Pollington searching for a village store for milk, bread and so on.  There was not a sole in sight apart from a friendly farmer who David had a nice chat to. We found out that the local pub sells the essentials of milk, bread, cheese and butter, but they don’t open on Mondays! Nevermind, there was always tomorrow and black  coffee isn’t so bad!


Day 2 – Pollington to Maud Swing Bridge (no moorings in Thorne)

We had decided to travel from Pollington to Thorne to get some essential shopping, so off we went for just a couple more miles on the Knottingley to Goole Canal before taking a sharp right turn onto the New Junction Canal which provides a link between the Aire & Calder and the South Yorkshire Navigations.  This was one of the last canals to be constructed in this country, 5 1/2 miles long and completely straight all the way.

We thought that the day would be quite mundane and boring but, as it turned out was quite interesting with quite a number of automated swing bridges and lift bridges, locks and aquaducts, the main one being the aquaduct over the River Don. In between the various structures to navigate, Rachel managed to have a much needed shower! and put another load of washing in the machine. On such a sunny day, we could not miss the opportunity of putting some more washing out!.

We reached out next canal around midday, taking a sharp left onto the Stainforth and Keadby Canal and to Bramwith lock where we filled again with water and made lunch to eat ‘on the go’.

We were told there would be plenty of moorings in Thorne so on we travelled through Stainforth, resisting stopping at a canal side pub on the way.


Having reached our intended destination, we struggled finding visitor moorings in the town.  All the visitor moorings were heaving and so on we travelled thinking that we could moor elsewhere close to the town.  Unfortunately, this was not possible, so we moored just past a swing bridge (Maud’s Swing Bridge)about 2 miles outside of the town, with the intention of walking back to do a little shopping.

Having moored up in a really remote place, we were reluctant to leave the boat for a couple of hours (plus we were absolutely shattered after 7 hours of travelling), so decided that we would definitely do our much needed shopping in the morning at a place called Crowle just a 2 mile chug down the canal.

We spent the remainder of the day relaxing and listening to the birds chirping outside along with the sudden noise of a high speed train passing by – about 15 metres from the canal bank.  We hoped that the trains would be few and far between and that we would get a good night’s rest.


Day 3 – Maud Swing Bridge to Godnow Swing Bridge – Shopping Day

We woke after a good night’s sleep, despite the closeness of the train line. We must have been tired from the previous day’s travel.

We travelled about 2 miles down the canal to Godnow Swing Bridge where there were some excellent visitor moorings in quite a remote little place next to a small swing bridge and a railway crossing, so again we would have the trains flying past for our stay.

We walked about a mile into the large village of Crowle for some shopping.  There was an attractive town square with a butchers, bakers, (not a candlestick makers!!), pie shop, a Co-op and a local pub. We loaded up with a rucksack full and 2 large bags of shopping before having a pint of Guinness before heading back to Black Velvet just in time before an afternoon storm.

After the storm cleared Rachel went for a short walk with Jess down a pretty farm track.  Here are a few photos…North Lincolnshire is quite a lovely place although a little flat!


Our plan for the next day was to arrive at Keadby where we would navigate onto the River Trent. We were advised to phone the lock keeper at Keadby in order to book our passage as it all depends on the tide.  He told us that we needed to be there at 6am on Friday morning so an early start for us on that day. We also phoned through to the lock keeper at West Stockwith to let him know our plans and he spoke with David about how to steer the boat into the lock at West Stockwith, as it was notoriously difficult due to the tide.

Our plan was to set off mid morning on Thursday to arrive at Keadby by early afternoon and take it easy for the rest of the day in readiness for the early start the next day.

Day 4- Godnow Swing Bridge to Keadby

We had a little lie in on this day knowing we only had about 4 1/2 miles to travel and set off about 10am. The journey was again a little monotonous – we decided that River travel is not as exciting or interesting as the canal where there is a lot more to see and do.

There were no swing bridges until near the end of the journey at the Vazon Swing Bridge and Sliding Railway bridge which was really interesting in it’s construction. Here is a link showing various photos if you are interested..


Rachel opened the swing bridge and the slinging bridge was operated by a railway man. Another boat came cruising through as well as us with a lovely friendly couple, Bob and Maureen, from Castleford.

Both boats moored up at Keadby ready for our onward passage onto the mighty River Trent!

Bob and Maureen had a wide beam boat, which they kindly showed us round and also assured us that our trepidation about sailing on the River Trent was nothing to worry about.  They had their passage booked for 4pm that day so we watched and saw them off.

Day 5 – Keadby to West Stockwith – The Mighty River Trent

We both woke before the alarm, quite excited but also quite nervous too about our journey for today.

David watched a schooner called Pickle – A replica of the HMS Schooner Pickle which was in the battle of Trafalgar – go through the locks at 6am.


We then readied our vessel for the journey. Life jackets were put on, the anchor was put on the front of the boat and we contacted the lock keeper for his direction.

At 6.30am we entered the lock along with a little sailing boat that was travelling downstream (we were travelling upstream) and the huge gates of the lock were opened onto the River Trent -wow!

David was told to steer straight across towards the opposite bank as the tide would then take us upstream, and yes, it worked a treat. Compared to the little canals and broader rivers, this was in a league of it’s own.  It felt completely different both in the steering of the boat and the feeling of vulnerability we felt.  The weather was quite windy and parts of the journey up the river were quite choppy with a few waves gently crashing over the bow. It was also very cold and we both had to put on an extra layer and had 3 cups of coffee each, the last with a shot whiskey to warm us up ! (this was at 8am in the morning – but was very much appreciated!)

There were some pleasant looking villages to see while sailing along, but in the main it was countryside with a few water birds along the way including a cormorant that had just caught an eel and we watched it struggling to take a grip then eat it.  Unfortunately, Rachel was not quick enough to capture it on camera.

We arrived on the outskirts of West Stockwith at 8.45am and phoned the lock keeper to ask what to do next. He said we had arrived at just the right time as the flood had just passed.  He explained to David how to enter the lock and also directed him from the lock side.  A very helpful guy who said David had done extremely well for a first-timer.  He gave him 7/10 but Rachel thought it was full marks as he entered the lock without hitting any of the sides whatsoever, which is quite an achievement for this particular lock.

After the early start and nervous exhaustion, we decided to moor up in West Stockwith Basin for the rest of the day and set off again down the Chesterfield Canal in the morning.  It was 9.15am but felt like early afternoon!. We celebrated our first trip on the River Trent with a well deserved bacon and egg buttie.







“Going Solo” Skipton to Castleford – Our first week

Day 1 – Snaygill to Riddlesdon

After a busy few weekends in the Ribble Valley, we set off on our first journey ‘going solo’!

We keenly set off from Snaygill Boats at 7.30am on Monday 9th on a beautiful sunny morning, passing the lovely picturesque village of Low Bradley – a place we fell in love with while staying in Skipton.


The theme of the day was beautiful Yorkshire countryside, bluebell covered woods and, much to Rachel’s despair swing bridges, swing bridges swing bridges….17 in all one day!! Back breaking is the word!! Having said this, a few of them were automated but all the same it was pretty exhausting!


We made our way through the pretty village of Kildwick, which unfortunately we did not visit on our stay in Skipton.  We made a note to visit on our next trip to North Yorkshire.



We travelled through the town of Silsden in the afternoon passing Silsden Boat Hire company as we passed through with their many hire boats lying at the side of the bridge and canal.

We finally moored for the evening just outside Riddlesdon ready for a rest after quite a long ‘back straining’ day!

Day 2 – Riddlesdon to Dowley Gap

We woke the next day to a few drops of rain but set off around 8am meeting the commuter traffic as we operated the 2 automated swing bridges and halting cars and workers for 5 minutes or so, much to their disgust!

After filling the water tank we headed to Bingley Five-Ride Staircase locks with excitement!

Bingley Five-Rise Staircase locks are a very impressive piece of historical engineering and with the help of a friendly lock keeper, who is permanently stationed there over the summer months, made it through these locks and the Bingley Three-Rise Staircase Locks without too much effort.  The lock keeper was extremely helpful and explained in detail how the staircase locks worked to us, as complete novices! He also walked to the second set of locks to help us through along with his colleague which enabled Rachel to go through the locks with David and appreciate the magnificent structures and engineering genius that these locks are.

Here are a few photos of our trip through the locks….We hope you can appreciate them as much as we did


Here is a little further information is your are interested..

David was dressed as a pirate for the day – ” Arrrr Jim Lad!”.  The lock keeper advised him that he was likely to get a bit of a soaking going through the locks so David, took off his cloggies and rolled up his jeans, along with wearing his Australian bandanna to protect his head from the sun.

So here is Dave the Pirate!!


We  moored up at Dowley Gap in the early afternoon after our exciting morning and spent the rest of the day catching up with emails and going for walks in between the showers.


Day 3 – Dowley Gap to Rodley Wharf – ‘A day of disappointments and disasters’

We had another early start at the beginning of day 3 as we had a couple of staircase locks to navigate through and we were keen to do these ourselves.

We travelled from Dowley Gap through the village of Saltaire which is an estate village that owes it’s existence to the Utopian dream of Sir Titus Salt, a wealthy Victorian mill owner.  He was so appalled by the working and living conditions of his workers in Bradford that he decided to build the ideal industrial settlement.  This he did in 1850 on he banks of the canal and the River Aire- hence the name of Saltaire!.  A very interesting place with lots to see and do….well worth a visit.

We chugged on through the lovely countryside


And arrived at the Field 3 Locks a staircase of three locks which we had to operate on our own. We arrived just before a boat coming the other way and as the top lock, which we were going through was full went straight in the lock.  The very disgruntled skipper of the boat below was extremely rude and ranted and raved about us using the locks first, swearing and shouting at his poor embarrassed wife, and us.  What an idiot…We thought that canal life was supposed to be stress free..obviously not for this couple!  So, our first experience of staircase locks on our own was not the best and we were pleased to get through as quickly as possible.

We reached the next staircase locks – Dobson Locks hoping that we didn’t encounter another stressed out skipper.  There were 2 boats coming up the locks together so when they reached the top we moved Black Velvet into the top lock with little problem and the people on the two other boats were very friendly so put us at our ease again.

Then, as we shut the gates of the first lock a group of people arrived carried many bunches of flowers and all waling and crying.  We found out that a body had been found there the previous night and they were the family of the deceased…so sad. They wanted to throw flowers into the second lock, where he had been found and Rachel spoke to them saying that we would be through as fast as possible so we could leave them in peace.  We hurriedly tried to go through the locks, Rachel making a couple of mistakes with the paddles so it took longer than necessary, rushing the process never helps!!.  The family were very understanding but then there was another disaster.  A boater coming up the locks decided to try and hurry through and started to open the paddles on the top lock while David and the boat were in the bottom lock.  Water came rushing and pounding through sending the boat from side to side, David losing his footing and getting absolutely drenched…..a very dangerous situation. The man quickly closed the top lock paddles and David sailed out of the bottom lock collecting Rachel further down stream after he had calmed down.  Needless to say Black Velvet suffered a few knocks and bumps and will need prettying up again soon.  David is fine, but it taught us a lesson about safety around locks and making sure everyone is aware what is going on as things can go from bad to worse within seconds.

We moored up at Rodley Wharf Visitor moorings for the evening and went for a pint of Yorkshire Warrior, which we thought was quite appropriate after the day’s events!


Day 4 – Rodley Wharf to Leeds – ‘Bandit Country’

 After our upsetting day the previous day, we woke to a lovely morning at Rodley Wharf Visitor Moorings feeling more positive about the day ahead.

Rachel took the second photo of the boat Water Gypsy, as it reminded us of the recent speech Mark, our new Son-In-Law had made at their wedding, referring to us as Water Gypsies!  We had a little laugh 🙂

We had been told by a number of canal boaters that the canal between Newly 3 locks, just a mile or so away from Rodley, and Leeds was named ‘Bandit Country’ due to the bad behaviour of local teenagers, particularly on sunny days where they had the reputation of causing trouble to canal users by swimming in the locks, stealing, throwing stones etc, so we chugged along with some trepidation, particularly as the day was obviously going to be glorious!

We reached Newly 3 locks with no problem and as the lock was manned by a lock keeper were happy to carry on our journey comfortably.  The locks were being used by a boat ahead of us when we arrived so we had some tea and toast whilst waiting to go through. We arranged with the boat hirers on the boat that we would travel through the next locks together as navigating the locks with two boats is a lot easier, especially with more hands to help.

We travelled though the next staircase lock with our new ‘Friends’, whose surname was actually Friend! and they kindly suggested we travel with them right through to Leeds as that was where they were travelling to and it would be much easier and safer.

We moored up for the evening in Granary Wharf in the centre of Leeds along with the Friends and had a celebratory drink or two for making it through Bandit Country with no problems whatsoever.!


Day 5 – Stopover in Lovely Leeds

As Granary Wharf was such a lovely pleasant place to moor even with bars, restaurants, hotels and the railway all in the vacinity, we decided to stay in Leeds for the day.

Rachel went to the closest supermarket for some shopping of essentials for the next week and we both went exploring in the afternoon along the canal and River Aire with Jess in tow. What a pleasant surprise Leeds turned out to be with lots of new developments and re-developments of old mills along the banks of the river into residential apartments. We also visited the Leeds Armories and Leeds Dock which were well worth a visit.

Here are a few photos of the afternoon..


Day 6 – Leeds to Castleford

We woke the next morning looking forward to our first navigation on a river – the River Aire on the Aire and Calder Navigation.

There were a number of locks to travel through during the day but bar the first lock which was a manual lock from Granary Wharf into the river, the remaining locks were automated – much easier !  However, they were huge compared to the previous ones and were quite daunting at first but we soon got into the swing of it. Best of all for Rachel was that there were NO Swing Bridges!

We travelled along the river though Leeds, again marveling at all the new developments along the banks

The river was obviously much wider than the canal and although we were were warned that we could encounter 600 tonne barges along the way, not one appeared.  We did come across some Saturday rowers training on one part of the river – David giving them some encouragement (you can imagine their faces when he shouted ‘ give it some welly!’)

Here are some photos of our lovely day..

We arrived at Castleford mid afternoon where we have decided to stay another night on the picturesque riverbank before heading off on our second week.  We will be heading off to Pollington on Monday 16th May then on towards Keadby and the mighty tidal River Trent towards the end of the week….Updates to follow so keep watching this space!


Ready to go, but what a beautiful place

Today was a sort out kind of day….we desperately needed a ‘pump out’ so decided to empty the loo and fill up with diesel ready for out onwards travel planned for next week.

We spent the morning completing this task, which was quite difficult as we were moored up next to another boat, whose owners were away so had to move their boat by rope then reverse our boat to the pump out station about 100m down the cut.

David was very tired after all the mornings events so Rachel left him to have a nap while going on another country walk.

Having described what a lovely place we are currently moored at, I won’t ‘harp on’ about it, but just show you a few photos taken on the walk.

Lovely Yorkshire!

We are setting off on our travels on Monday 9th May…so keep watching, there will be many more posts to follow….here’s to the next adventure!!

Reflections and flowers

After a lovely evening walk along the Leeds and Liverpool Canal yesterday near Snaygill Boatyard, where we are currently moored, I have decided that there is nothing more beautiful on a lovely Spring day then reflections of light on the water of the canal, still and peaceful,  and the beauty of the countryside through the pretty wild flowers and berries you come across.  “Very descriptive” you might say, but Rachel was overwhelmed by the stunning British countryside.  You forget how beautiful the world is where you actually live and don’t fully appreciate the place where you live.



Having lived in Western Australia for nearly 10 years with it’s fabulous beaches and the raw beauty of the Australian outback, we forgot how wonderful the British countryside is on a lovely Spring day……our memories have been rekindled.

The famous poem by William Wordsworth was brought to mind, yes you’ve guessed it…

I wandered lonely as a Cloud
That floats on high o’er Vales and Hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd
A host of dancing Daffodils;
Along the Lake, beneath the trees,
Ten thousand dancing in the breeze.

The waves beside them danced, but they
Outdid the sparkling waves in glee: —
A poet could not but be gay
In such a laughing company:
I gazed — and gazed — but little thought
What wealth the show to me had brought:

For oft when on my couch I lie
In vacant or in pensive mood,
They flash upon that inward eye
Which is the bliss of solitude,
And then my heart with pleasure fills,
And dances with the Daffodils.

Composed, 1804
Published, Poems in Two Volumes 1807

Remember to appreciate where you live….it’s a beautiful place, just go out there and drink it in!!



Settling in at Snaygill


We arrived at Snaygill Boatyard a couple of weeks ago, so that we would be close to the Ribble Valley for our daughters wedding.  It was a hectic couple of weeks and now after the big event we are taking it easy for a week or so before heading off again.  Needless to say the Helen and Mark’s wedding was magnificent and we are still on a high from the whole event.  Very proud parents indeed.


Snaygill boatyard is about 1/2 hour walking distance to the market town of Skipton where there is a fabulous market 4 times a week and a host of great local shops and eateries. Skipton Castle is supposed to be a great place to visit so we will hopefully get chance to go before we leave.

There a plenty of lovely countryside walks which we have completed and enjoyed.  A beautiful area and well worth a visit.

This is Lower Bradley where we have walked to on a number of occasions.


The local pub in Lower Bradley is very welcoming and the beer is a great pint – according to David.

We met some very friendly locals who frequent the pub on a regular basis….one fellow in particular was very ‘particular’ about his order…..3egg omelette with 6 (yes, 6) chips!!  and he counted them!!

With the coming bank holiday weekend we are planning on visiting the Waterways Festival in Skipton itself…hopefully the weather will be good.

Here are a few shots in and around Snaygill