Sunday 24th July.
Quite an early start for me this morning and the first boat through Mountsorrel Lock on a much cooler day for a change. All was going well until I came to Barrow upon Soar, where I spotted a waterpoint and services to dump the rubbish. As I moored up another boat slowly cruised past going in the same direction, so I called out and asked if they were going through the next lock, which they were. I had no need to rush, because this was Barrow Deep Lock and a wide beam was on the way up, supervised by a CRT volunteer. The paddles were only half opened for us going down, which I queried and it appeared that there were many boats moored below the lock and there was no wish to disturb them with a large rush of water from such a deep lock.
Dutch gables in this part of the country?
We continued together through Pillings Lock and past the Pillings Marina, where there had been so much trouble over unpaid dues to CRT last year and there were threats to dam the entrance by CRT.
Strange trip boat.
In Loughborough the other crew turned off to empty cassettes and I waited below the turning and had something to eat. Cruising with them was too good an opportunity to pass by as we each made locking easier for both boats. I passed by The Boat Inn, which had fond memories when I was on a summer course at Loughborough University many years ago. It did not look so attractive now as it did then.
Normanton on Soar church.
At Bishop Meadow Lock we met five boats waiting to go up through, which was surprising on this river, but then it was Sunday and nb Frayed Knot, who I was travelling with, was only out for the weekend. We eventually parted company just below Zouch Lock, where they had their home mooring and I continued to The Otter, a very large Vintage Inns establishment on a wide bend in the river. The jetty was a rather ad hoc affair and it took some juggling to get the boat into position to be able to disembark at all.
I decided to treat myself to a meal out for a change, but was suspicious of Vintage Inns, although it had been several years since I had last eaten in one of their pubs. Although the sea bass was off the menu, I had cod and thrice cooked chips with mushy peas and samphire tartare sauce and I have to say that it was very good indeed. There was a good choice of beers on tap and I even went so far as to have a crème brulee to finish.
Monday 25th July.
I let go at 10.00 and got to Kegworth Deep Lock in short order, hoping to see the tame fox that normally resided there, but there was no sign of him. Another boat was on the way up, so no effort to fill the lock. I decided that rather than attempt the long slippery ladder, I would bow haul the boat out, The advice was to use the wire risers fitted to the lock walls as three boats had hung up on the cill in the last year, so said the notice. However, if I did that I would need to be on board to untie them – not on. All went well and after closing the gate, I was on my way to Kegworth Shallow Lock, where I caught up with another solo boater. Finally, I was out on the wide River Trent, with a chilly wind blowing across the water and making my way up to Sawley Locks, which were keeper operated. Above that lock there were hundreds of moored boats on the bank and in the marinas. I can’t remember ever seeing so many boats at one time before.
Sawley Marina and so many boats.
The final lock was Derwent Mouth, where another boat had caught me up, so we did it together and on into Shardlow. I decided to sail through to the winding hole and water point to suss out the possible moorings and that was nearly my downfall, because I spotted The Shardlow Heritage Centre with a vacant visitor mooring and where I spent the next hour, at least. It was nearly my downfall because when I got back to the visitor moorings, there was only one place left to moor, but it was right outside The New Inn and The Malt Shovel.
The Heritage Centre was very interesting, with a fantastic collection of canal and village memorabilia collected by one lady over many years and displayed in sections and old shop display cases. To read all the paperwork alone would have taken an age and the collection of canal reference books topped my own by a long way. She was very willing to talk about anything to do with the Trent and Mersey and village life in general and she was well aware of The Narrow Boat Trust pair of boats. She introduced me to Tom Foxon’s latest book on the T&M and having just finished reading his last of the trilogy, I just had to buy it.
The Heritage Centre, Shardlow.
The Clock Wharehouse was next door so I had to pay that a visit too and although they had restored it to a modern pub, I was not impressed with the rather shabby interior or the service, which reminded me of a Harvester house – pity. There was also a pseudo barge appearing under the main archway – need I say more?
After mooring up, I decided to change the engine oil and filter, which was a little overdue, but as the engine was still warm, it was the ideal time. The fuel filters need changing too and as I will be travelling down the Trent, some of it being tidal, the last thing I need is a fuel blockage, but that can wait until tomorrow
Tuesday 26th July.
It was time to bite the bullet once again and change the fuel filters – not a job that I relish with any enthusiasm. I suppose I could always get it done at a boatyard, but I hate anyone else poking about in my engine hole. First of all, they don’t know where to put their feet and often step on a fuel pipe or the gear change mechanism or some other vital piece of kit and very often I don’t find out until they have been paid and disappeared, so I prefer to do it myself and find out by my mistakes, like missing out a rubber sealing ring, as I did this morning. Anyway the job is now done and there are no diesel leaks so far. I have also found that instead of bleeding the fuel through each individual connection, I can release two injector unions and bleed the whole system by running the starter motor. OK, so it takes a while, but it gets the job done sooner and without the need to hand pump the fuel pump up and down.
I had a pint to celebrate my success in The Malt Shovel, as having already been to The New Inn, it would be rude not to visit the other one. There are four pubs in this little village; how they all survive is a bit of a mystery, although in times of plenty, when this was an inland port, there were eight pubs in all.
I set off on a short trip to Sawley, so that I had a chance to rectify any problems before tackling the Trent. Upon mooring up I saw another boat on the pump out pontoon opposite and noted that the name was Tramper No.2. My friend Colin Wilks, Chairman of the Narrow Boat Trust, Captain with Iron Cross and Bar, also owns a boat called Tramper, which I thought was unusual, so I took a pic of Tramper No.2 and sent it to him. Low and behold, it turns out that the boat is known to him, as the owners of No.2 sold him the original Tramper eight years ago. They moored on the same side as me later and we had quite a conversation. I also found out that they keep their boat in the garden during the winter months, having it transported on a lorry and craned on and off at each end. Quite likely, it is more economical to do this than pay for marina moorings throughout the year. There would be other advantages too, such as prolonged periods between hull blackings, no insurance necessary for time out of the water and the boat is always on hand for jobs to be done, so less travelling to and from home.
John and Myra on Tramper No.2
Wednesday 27th July.
The weather has certainly turned now, with lots of cloud and wind. I am in need of food supplies again and the nearest place is going to be Beeston on the outskirts of Nottingham, so that is my goal for today.
Approaching Sawley Locks, I hung around waiting for the lockie to open the gates just as they had been on my arrival from the Soar, but this time there was no one on duty, so it was DIY time. Fortunately, they were BW key operated, so no windlass required.
Coming through Beeston Lock, which was volunteer operated, I asked a local boater about shopping and found out that there was a large Sainsbury’s beside the cut in Nottingham and ended up stocking up there. The Trent is not navigable at Nottingham, so there is a canal that goes through the city, eventually ending at Meadow Lane Lock back onto the Trent.
The cut through Nottingham.
Here I turned up into the weir stream, where there were good moorings to be found alongside the steps of County Hall.
Nottingham County Hall moorings.
Plenty of activity on the river here.
Thurday 28th July.
Rain to begin the day, which was intermittent throughout the morning. Finding several launderettes on Google Maps, I stripped the bed and made off to the nearest one and in all, this took about two and a half hours to complete, which was my total sum of achievements for the day. Well, I did pay Wetherspoon’s a visit at 6pm for a pint of porter. This is the Trent Bridge Inn, situated in the Trent Bridge cricket complex. I imagine the pub has quite a history associated with cricket. There are photos of various teams, including W.G. Grace of course as well as various cricket bats on display signed by international teams. It has a very interesting interior for a Wetherspoon’s pub, divided up into different rooms and cubicles for groups of four, instead of the usual cinema or music hall type of atmosphere.
The real Trent Bridge.
Friday 29th July.
I let go about 10.00 heading downstream at last and reached Holme Lock in an hour. As I was slowly negotiating the lock cut, I asked a moored boater where the water point was. He pointed it out and warned me of the strong stream leaving the lock cut just where the water point was situated. I could see the boat moving across towards this weir and put on a few revs to keep up steerage until I was past the danger point and the water point. No way was I taking the boat back to get water there. The lock keeper walked up to have a word about faulty top gate sluices, so it was going to be a twenty minute wait for the lock to fill. He also told me that three ladies on a plastic boat were pulled onto the weir yesterday and that there were no warning signs in place.
It seems that all the locks have riser wires to attach mooring lines to when locking through, as the locks vary in depth according to the river levels. The lockies were quite happy for me to use the centre line through the riser going down in the locks and standing on the cabin top was the easiest way to do this. I also found out that VHF channel 74 can be used to call the lock keepers; there is no mention of this in Nicholson’s Guide to the Trent until the navigation reaches Gainsborough, which seems a little late to me.
I reached Gunthorpe Bridge and the mooring pontoon just beyond about 14.00 and decided to stop for some lunch, but on questioning another boater there about moorings in Newark, he suggested that I stop here rather than try and moor in Newark town – a wise decision. Shortly after that, two cruisers from Doncaster turned up and the moorings were full up.
One space left on Gunthorpe pontoon.