Staniland Marina,Thorne

Safe and sound in Staniland Marina at Thorne on the Stainforth and Keadby Canal with the rain lashing down all day. We are warm and dry and have a bar, restaurant, chandlery, and launderette at hand. We even have an electric hook-up.

Looking back it has been an eventful, not to say exciting, last three days. On Thursday (26th) we left Stoke Bardolph and made our way towards Newark. The stream was strong but following the lock keepers advice we made good progress downstream.
Gunthorpe Lock, River Trent

Passing Fiskerton, River Trent and the Newark Crusader going upstream

I was a little nervous seeing the enormous amount of water discharging over the Averham side weir where the Newark cut starts but we passed without incident. We finally moored up on the floating visitor moorings just below Newark Town Lock. Good spot.

Averham Weir, Newark, River Trent

Gas Power Station at Staythorpe, Newark

The moorings were almost full but we managed to reverse in to the upstream end of the pontoon, with a little help from our new neighbours. We explored Newark in the afternoon and found it to be a delightful town with great facilities and interesting history.

Mills at Newark on Trent

The Castle, Newark on Trent

Moored up at Newark

After consulting with the lock keeper at Cromwell Lock we decided, despite the increasing water levels to make our way down to Torksey on Friday (28th). The weather was cold dull and quite unpleasant. There was significant flow, or "fresh" as the keepers refer to it, going downriver and lots of debris with it. We had to leave locks with care to avoid fouling the prop. We moored up for the night on the visitor moorings at Torksey, just below the lock entrance to the Fossdyke Navigation, and chatted to the lockeepers about our prospects of travelling down to Keadby and leaving the Trent.

Rampton power station, near Torksey

Torksey Lock Gates and visitor moorings on the River Trent

Torksey Lock Mechanisms, windlass to open gates
Torksey Lock and basin

The ruins of Torsksey Castle, River Trent and Rampton Power Station

Our choices for going down to Keadby appeared to be leave at 6:30 AM or 11:30 AM. We went for the latter. That night we ate at The White Swan close to Torksey Lock and met our mooring neighbours Pete & Ann from the widebeam Tamora. They asked if we could go down to Keadby together. We naturally agreed and it turned out to be a very good move. The food in The White Swan was good, homely and good value. We both had fish.

The weather forecast for the next few days was interesting. It was quite clear that Sunday would be wet and windy. Amber weather warnings were being predicted but on Saturday it was predicted to be dry with "noticeable" wind. As it turned out we certainly noticed the winds, particularly on reaches aligned to the wind direction, which was north easterly. There were rollers with white tops which pushed spray over our cratch canopy and the wind even displaced our hinged engine exhaust several times. It took us around 5 hours to reach Keadby with Albert, being the slower boat, going first. It was fast journey, covering a lot of ground, but a struggle, particularly in the wind. My GPS on the mobile phone indicated that we were doing around 10 kph.

Burton Chateau, River Trent

Gainsborough Wharf

Passing West Stockwith, entrance to the Chesterfield Canal

Tamora ploughing along the River Trent

Keadby Bridge, River Trent

Keadby Lock and Docks, River Trent - Tamora approaching the lock

When we got to Keadby the tide was ebbing and there were strong flows particularly by the lock entrance. We were in for the most difficult boating episode we have had in sixteen years. Tamora went first and with difficulty got into the lock. They went first because they had been through the lock before. It was then our turn. Firstly, turning was not easy and we found ourselves very close to some mooring dolphins along the dockside. We then found that we were still going downstream despite having quite a lot power on -what I normally consider to be full power. I had to increase the power to levels I had not yet used - absolute flat out (around 1000 rpm). Miraculously we managed to inch ourselves along the dock wall towards the entrance and get in to the lock without touching anything! To say we were relieved is an understatement. The lock keeper greeted us with "We thought you were going to Goole" - our reply was "Yes, so did we!".

We locked up with  Tamora and found that above the lock there was another boat. It was NB Lockhart who we found out had travelled down from West Stockwith. They were the first boat we had seen moving all day.

After going up Keadby Lock we immediately approached the wonderful Keadby Sliding Railway Bridge. We waited as a train crossed and the operator in the "signal box" operated the bridge. This was the first of many bridges we met on our way along the Stainforth & Keadby canal. Our aim was to make it to Thorne where Pete & Ann from Tamora had arranged for moorings - our haven from the storm. The weather by then had improved and we had a pleasant trip along this wide and largely straight canal - the journey punctuated by each of the three boats (Tamora, Albert & Lockhart) operating the bridges in turn. Some were power operated, some were manual, some difficult to use, and only a few were easy.

Swing Bridge, Stainforth & Keadby Canal

Wind Turbines & Bridge, Mauds Swing Bridge

We finally moored up at Staniland Marina in Thorne safe, sound and relieved at 8:30 PM - a long very eventful day.

Stoke Lock, River Trent

We left Swarkstone on Monday (23rd) in bright sunshine. We took on water just as the water levels in the canal dropped about a foot. We didn't know why at this happened but we noticed quite a flow. We were joined in the locks by NB The Showman. It was a pleasant journey and relatively uneventful until we got to near Aston Lock. Just above the lock we found our friend, the canoeist who we gave a lift through Blisworth Tunnel, stopped by a bridge. It turns out that he had reached Market Harborough and then continued north up the Leicester Arm. He is intending to reach Ripon but his route is via the Trent & Mersey, not the Trent - so he is going clockwise.

Another meeting with the canoeist

We got into Aston Lock alright but on leaving we became stuck. NB The Showman left the lock OK but Albert, being deeper draughted, was obviously resting on the bottom of the lock. After some pushing and shoving, which came to nothing, we finally resorted to flushing out Albert by running some water down. It was an unnerving experience. Later we found some BW men at Shardlow Lock and reported the incident. They then explained that they had "a little problem" and had dropped the pounds below Swarkstone to sort it out.

Passing The Clock House, Shardlow

For the first time in a while we had a pub lunch at The Clock House in Shardlow and then went on to find our friends Norman & Christine who run Millar Marine. They moved into Dobson's Yard some years ago but earlier they ran their chandlery business from Stowe Hill on the Grand Union. As we reminded them, 16 years ago we bought our first set of ropes from them. We had our taster of the River Trent just after Shardlow going under the M1 and then moored overnight at Sawley. NB Sweden was having signwriting done just below the locks. The wooden cabin has been rebuilt and Phil Speight was attempting to add some authentic Anderton touches to the signage.

Phil Speight at work on NB Sweden

River Trent & M1
Ratcliffe on Soar, from the Trent

On Tuesday, we dropped onto the River Trent and travelled downstream past Ratcliffe-on-Soar power station to Beeston where we joined the Beeston Cut. The sun was shining and the experience was pleasant.

Trent Lock, Erewash Canal

Beeston Lock, Beeston & Nottingham Canal

We moored up by the Castle Marina and spent the afternoon shopping and being tourists in Nottingham. We can certainly recommend exploring The Caves which are below the city and accessible via the Broad Marsh Shopping Centre. In the evening we had a meal in The Olde Trip to Jerusalem. I don't think any visit to Nottingham would be complete without a visit there.

Ye Olde Trip to Jerusalem, Nottingham

Today, Wednesday was one of those difficult days. We left in rain and got stuck on the weir at Castle Lock. The side weir just by above the lock looks innocuous but it has a strong pull as I found out. A call to BW quickly brought response and after a lot of heaving on ropes and drawing off water we finally got Albert moving. Their response to the incident was first-rate.

Wet and miserable we continued down the canal and got onto the River Trent by Meadow Lane. We decided to moor up outside County Hall for lunch and consider our options.

County Hall, Nottingham

Finally we rang Stoke Lock (Stoke Bardolph) with a view to moving down there. The chat with the lock keeper clinched it. A couple of hours later and we had arrived at this delightful spot. The rain abated and we spent a late afternoon enjoying the surroundings and wildlife. Nice quite moorings on the floating pontoon above the lock.

Stoke Lock, River Trent


On Friday (20th), in wet cold weather, we travelled from our overnight mooring at Polesworth to Fradley Junction. It didn't start off too bad. In fact we woke to sunshine and we watched larks singing on the wing over the wheat field opposite. However, by the time we got to Glascote it was raining hard. It was at this point that the Adverc indicator decided to indicate over voltage. It turned out to be an Adverc problem not the alternator. The company are trying hard to help us get it fixed. We hope to have more news on Monday.

Field patterns at Polesworth

We stopped at Fazeley for lunch and NB Calypso Rose from Braunston passed us and stated that it was going to be a fine afternoon. Sadly they were wrong.

Passing Streethay we saw Granny Buttons moored up in a clutch of boats just outside the dock. It appears she has had a bottom blacking and hull paint job. No sign of Andrew Denny - I presume he is busy working.

We got to Fradley Junction at 6:30 and found it difficult to moor, lots of boats that appear to have been there for some time. The only vacant spot was on second water point close to the junction which luckily was not in use. That night we had fish and chips at The Swan.

Fradley Junction

Saturday saw us moving down the Trent & Mersey towards the Trent. It was a good sunny start and we had a delightful cruise through Alrewas. As we approached Barton Turns we ran over something leaving the lock. It appeared not to have caused any problems but as we approached the next lock we heard a load thumping from underneath the prop. The usual removal of the weedhatch revealed nothing. Eventually we found a pipe fender and lanyard wrapped around the bottom of the rudder near the skeg! No wonder it made a noise.

Opening the bottom gates of Alrewas Locks - getting some leverage

We moored up for the night by the water park at Branston - a delightful spot. We enjoyed a good walk around the lakes looking at the birdlife in the late afternoon. That evening  we had an excellent meal at The Bridge inn which is now a pizza and pasta restaurant. We can definitely recommend it. Unfortunately, returning to Albert we found the toilet had suddenly become overfull! How we shall probably never know because the flushing system appears to be working OK. We spent the next day cleaning up the bilges - great smelly job! We shall have to keep an eye on the toilet.

On Sunday (22nd) we had a pump out and refuelled at Shobnall Wharf. Good service but tight entrance. We had a steady cruise to Swarkstone with a lunch stop near to Mercia Marina. Some fierce storms moved around the area in the afternoon - very dramatic but they missed us.

Shobnall Wharf

Stenson Lock Cill - the water has still some way to go with a 12ft 4ins drop


Another wet windy day but unlike yesterday the wind appeared to come from the north and was colder. We left our overnight mooring and travelled through Nuneaton. Lots of allotments with fine sets of leeks growing and the odd gardener turning over the soil. 

Hartshill Wharf
Bluebell wood near Atherstone

We got to Atherstone just as the rain started, took on water and then went down the first part of the flight in heavy rain. The only redeeming grace was the other crews coming up the flight setting them for us and sharing the grief.

Maggie indicating that we are in Lock 2
- not that she doesn't like been photographed looking bedraggled

We managed to stop part way down the flight and have lunch. After that we only had showers. We met a duck with fourteen ducklings by Lock 7. They were delightful and not at all bothered by boats (or boaters).

Duck & fourteen ducklings enjoying a puddle at Lock 7, Atherstone Flight

Our overnight mooring is just before Polesworth at one of our favourite locations. We particularly remember mooring here in 1998 during a hot summer.

The Griff, Nuneaton

It is a wet Wednesday, we're boating and there are water shortages. We are moored up on the Coventry Canal just north of Marston Junction where the Ashby heads off east. All day it has been either heavy showers of just heavy rain. At last it has just abated.

We are on our way to explore Northern Waters, the first stage being a trip down the River Trent. Getting to the Trent needs some thought because of the closure of the Leicester Arm. We are going via the North Oxford, Coventry and Trent & Mersey rather than the more direct route via Leicester; or at least that is the plan.
We left Yardley Gobion on Sunday after spending Saturday night on board Albert in the marina; the idea being we could work out what we left at home and then get it! In the end we did have to return home on Sunday morning to get a favourite fleece. When we got underway on Sunday morning, after purchasing a new gas bottle, the weather was fine but fresh. We went up the first few locks of the Stoke Bruerne flight with a large family group but when we caught up with a single boat ahead and changed partners. As we got towards the top of the flight we were approached by a canoeist who asked about following us through Blisworth Tunnel. When I pointed out that it was not allowed, we offered him a “lift”. He put the kayak on the roof at the Top Lock and enjoyed the experience riding in cabin. He then realised it was two-way working and just how close boats pass in the tunnel. I think he also realised that prohibiting canoes was reasonable. The canoeist was on his way to Market Harborough and was camping out at night. He reckoned that he made around 6 mph so he overtook us. After he had overtaken us he had to walk a section occupied by “Tyson” a viscous swan – he was warned by passing joggers. We finally moored up at Flore Wharf and saw him pass us again.

Canoeist Hitchhiker overtaking us at Bugbrooke

Monday saw us getting up early to try and beat the lock opening restrictions on the Buckby and Braunston flights. We got to Whilton behind another boat, hoping to pair up, but discovered another boat already in the bottom lock so we had to go up alone. It wasn’t easy, it never is on this flight, but in lock 10 we got stuck. An underwater obstruction under one of the gates meant they couldn’t be closed tight. No amount of flushing water and pulling and shoving would make them seal! We were on the point of calling out BW when two crews arrived and lo and behold the obstruction finally moved and we could seal the lock and continue. We made Braunston Top Lock 45 minutes before closure and moored up for the night Braunston. It was quiet.
On Tuesday we visited Midland Chandlers at Braunston and bought some new leisure (domestic) batteries. At Hillmorton only single locks were in use because of the water restrictions. We finally moored up at Rugby and used the opportunity to visit Tesco’s. Not a bad place to moor on a wet day but no TV reception.

NB Callisto passing just north of Braunston

Wednesday, today, found us boating in steady rain. Passed our friends the Westlakes who were going south on NB Morpheus near to Stretton Stop. Bob W and I only managed a few words in the wind driven rain. Stopped for lunch at Ansty and Maggie got really wet as she helped moor up. Later in the afternoon it finally became dry (only just).
Wet day at Sutton Stop (Hawksbury Junction)
Despite the indifferent weather (to use a phrase), we are enjoying our spring boating and looking forward to exploring new waters.

Barton Swing Aqueduct - Towpath

Following my earlier post, and the photograph from Wonderful Britain magazine showing horses on the elevated towpath of the swing bridge, I decided to look back at the pictures I took when we crossed the bridge (twice) back in 2009.

Barton Swing Aqueduct, Bridgwater Canal;
showing the location of a bracket supporting the towpath and control

On several photos I could clearly see evidence of  riveted brackets that supported the towpath structure. On the labelled photo above you can see where the remains of one bracket are located. It is likely, looking at the photo, that the Wonderful Britain photograph was taken from the control tower seen in the photograph that lies between the road and canal swing bridges.

Wonderful Britain

Another foray into reviewing old waterway's magazines rather than books.

Wonderful Britain was published in 1929 as a fortnightly series of magazines which could be bound into a four-volume set. The magazine sold for 1s/3d each and the bindings cost 3s/- each. It was published by The Amalgamated Press which was founded by Alfred Harmsworth (Viscount Northcliffe) who published the Daily Mail. The diverse articles in each edition were heavily illustrated; not unlike the National Geographic magazine but with monochrome illustrations.

The particular edition that caught my eye, when browsing ebay, was Part 26 published on February 27th. It included articles on Prehistoric Roman Roads, Monuments to Heroes and Things to See Around Newcastle. Crucially it also included an article by Ladbroke Black entitled "Our Inland Waterways".  Being a single unbound edition I got the magazine in the auction for £2.50 including post.

Grand Junction Canal, Cassiobury Park, Watford

Grand Junction Canal, Leighton Buzzard

The heart of this article, and the magazine, are of course its illustrations. Although black and white they are of good quality. Some come from Frith. Most feature canal subjects but rivers are also covered. The text by Ladbroke Black is very readable and strays from the usual canal history. I was perplexed by his reference to the abandoned Wendover Junction Canal being used by Alfred Rothschild to raise water-fowl until I found out that the author lived close by.

There is a long description of the Wey and Arun Canal but much of the article is made up of a description of life on "monkey boats" and their decoration. The description tends towards the idylic and he notes that "the pay is good, especially if the skipper has a large and active family".  He does, however, mention the lack of education of the children of boating families and the role of the Brentford Institute.

Grand Junction Canal, Aylesbury

One interesting section, describing the Roman canals around Peterborough, describes how a motorist should find Car Dyke. The directions include road numbers. Since this is before the 1936 Trunk Roads Act they are not the usual A,B,C or D with a number. Labroke Black refers to Road 15 from Peterborough and then Route 1177 to Ripingale station.

Denver Sluice, Great Ouse

Regent's Canal, passing by London Zoo

To me the most interesting are those showing horse-drawn narrow boats on the Grand Junction and Regent's Canals and the trio of images of the Barton Swing Aqueduct. The latter location has family memories for me, and I have posted about it before, but one of images in Wonderful Britain was particularly fascinating. The swing aqueduct allows the Bridgewater Canal to cross the Manchester Ship Canal without restricting the air draught of ships. The photograph (below) shows horses on the aqueduct towpath (Bridgewater Canal). The towpath of the aqueduct is supended some height above the channel of water, presumably to save constructing a wider bridge.

Barton Swing Aqueduct, Manchester Ship and Bridgewater Canals
 - showing horses on the elevated towpath

Barton Aqueduct in operation