Saturday 24 October 2020

The last leg home

 Thursday 22 October Solar Panels, mended locks and VHF

Yesterday was horribly wet, so Liana did not use our car to see a friend. Instead, I drove a hundred miles to the Grand Union Canal near Stockton, Warwickshire, to collect a solar panel system I had bought on eBay. 

Liveaboard David Tinker has upgraded on NB Tinker, and we are the beneficiary.We have everything installed by Onboard Solar five years ago, including all cables, supports and MPPT controller.

Today, now Misterton Top Lock has been repaired, we can return the ten miles to our home moorings at RWBC Clayworth.

John removed our old solar panels and fitted the three 100W panels from NB Tinker in their place, to see if there was an improvement: There was! In fact, we both liked them flat and side by side, as they take up less roof space and are less intrusive. We know tilting them is more efficient, but they should provide enough power flat. 

Thankfully, the day started off with sun and blue skies, so after thanking Bridget and Wilf for keeping an eye on Annie, we set off with Jan and Dave Warsop on NB Delhi. After a fortnight on the River Witham and Foss Dyke, they had arrived at West Stockwith yesterday.

  We passed through the two Misterton Locks in the sun, and enjoyed the weather as we journeyed the few miles to the last two locks at Gringley.

The wind was strengthening and cool, so we had to get coats out later. 

Liana has found out that my Cowling ancestors once owned two of the Walkeringham brickworks, where the chimney is and new marina will be.

Through the tunnel we turned past newly repaired banks homewards, reaching our moorings without incident. It’s fine to be back.

While home, John found he could get a ship’s radio license from Ofcom, so the radio now has a Call Sign and the radio code number to input. We are supposed to get an operator’s license to use it from RYA, who know how to charge, even though John was a Naval Officer as a young man, using VHF on warships.
I failed to do this a year or so ago, so maybe they have made it easier to do online. Try

Friday 2 October 2020

Homeward Bound - but locked out!

 Friday 2 October Torksey to West Stockwith and home (15 miles, 1 lock)

We’ve had a great time travelling with Jan and Dave Warsop and NB Delhi. This morning we said au revoir, as they have decided to spend a couple of weeks on the Witham. Misterton Top Lock, on the Chesterfield Canal near West Stockwith, is chained shut pending repairs, so we will not be able to take Annie back to her home moorings. John has arranged with Lock keeper Jim to leave Annie moored safely in the basin.

NB Lady Florence set off with us, but the lady steerer said we should go ahead as she was going slowly. We both hit the last of the flood tide, and Lady Florence dropped far behind. As usual when we were passing through Gainsborough, John rang the West Stockwith lock keeper, Dan, so he knew when to get the lock ready for us. When asked about Lady Florence, John suggested Dan might like to check she was ok. She arrived safely, an hour or so after Annie.

The trip downriver was surprisingly pleasant, given the weather forecast! Cloudy with sunny intervals and mild, for the most part. However, the wind increased steadily until waves were breaking around Annie’s bow as we reached the Gainsborough area, and the ebb tide increased in speed.

 John turned Annie as we passed the lock at West Stockwith, stemmed the tide and moved Annie crab fashion across the river towards the lock. At the last moment he turned towards the lock and gunned the motor to get in as the strong ebb tide pushed us downriver. We got in the lock without a bump, thankfully. 😝 

We have now moored her beside friends Wilf and Debbie’s Dutch barge, at West Stockwith Basin. They blacked Annie’s hull last year. Wilf very kindly drove Liana the six miles to our car at RWBC Clayworth, even though it was rather out of his way to the bank. Mick Ogden filled up our diesel tank and swapped our gas bottle for a new one. We try to support our local small businesses!

Thursday 1 October 2020

Tides and Time

 Thursday 1 October Cromwell Lock to Torksey Cut on the tidal Trent (15 miles, 1 lock)

The sun is shining as clouds scud across the blue sky, this morning. We set off on the fifteen miles to Torksey cut about 10am, to arrive about 1.30pm, hopefully. We stop there overnight, as today the tide would be too low at the time we would arrive at West Stockwith. We usually don’t ascend Torksey Lock onto the Fosse Dyke, in case the river is too low to get down out of the lock again when we want to set off, tomorrow.

I had left a phone message for lock keepers Jim and Wilf af West Stockwith, to keep two berths at the basin for Annie and Delhi, as we had heard Misterton Top Lock was out of action, stopping us going up the Chesterfield Canal. However, they told Jan that we may be able to use the lock using just the other top gate. We will see!

As a large Dutch barge passed us, we recognised Nevaeh (Heaven backwards!), whose crew we had met on our August cruise in Yorkshire.

For part of the trip, we cruised side by side.
Reaching Torksey, we turned and moored on the pontoon. Sadly,he lock  tea shop Is shut due to the pandemic, but we managed to book a meal at the White Swan for 6pm, to try their famous pies! The pies were delicious! We will go again.

 Rachel sent us a stunning picture of Honeypie on the beach at Bamburgh, at sunset.

Wednesday 30 September 2020

Nottingham to Newark - the English Loire

 Tuesday 29 September a beautiful day on the River Trent (22 miles, 5 locks)

John finished the delicious calves liver with bacon, eggs, cherry tomatoes and mushrooms for breakfast, after which we awaited daughter Rachel with her lovely dog Honeypie, popping in on her way North to see friends in Alnwick. We were able to sit put in the sun and enjoy the view.

It was late morning before we unmoored and turned downriver in the sunshine under blue skies, under Trent Bridge to Holme Lock. The North bank redevelopment proceeds apace, new apartment blocks filling the riverside. With our vhf radio receiving only, John used the IPhone to contact the lock. The lock keepers then passed news of our passage from lock to lock via vhf.

Liana steered us through the curving Radcliffe railway viaduct, past the cliffs to Stoke Lock.

Wildfowl abound on the riverbank and meadows around Burton Joyce and The Hams. 

At Gunthorpe, the lock was ready for us. As we left, the water from the weir was foaming. We passed anglers and walkers on the Idyllic five mile trip to Hazleford Lock, where we waited a while for a large Dutch barge to come up.

For much of the final eight mile stretch to Newark, Dehli motored up alongside, so we enjoyed shouted conversations and took photos. At Fiskerton, the architect designed glass fronted riverside house is For Sale, but Liana couldn’t find it online.
Round the scenic bends of East Stoke, famous for a bloody War of the Roses battle, we went, Going lime astern as large cruisers approached, past plenty of anglers to Farndon, then on to the ever modernising Staythoroe Power Station, now with its German gas turbines.
Past Averham Weir we entered Newark Dyke, passed under the ring road and were impressed by the newly constructed basin at Newark Marina, which looks to have pontoons suitable for narrowboats. 

As it was after 5pm, Jan and Liana operated Town Lock, after which we both found spaces on the CRT Office visitors moorings (2 days per year only!). Either one top gate paddle wouldn’t close or the top cill is damaged, as water was surging in and pushing Annie about. It was good that John had a rope around a bollard.

Newark to Cromwell Lock

 Wednesday 30 September Visiting Newark and downriver to Cromwell Lock (5 miles, 1 lock)

Today’s weather forecast is rainy from lunchtime, so John has booked Annie and Delhi in at Cromwell Lock to leave for Torksey at 10am. 

We walked the short distance via Town Lock to Newark’s Wednesday retail market. Liana bought a warmer duvet set!

As rain fell, we read and watched tv.

Later on, under grey skies, we cruised a breezy but not unpleasant five miles through Nether Lock, under the A1, past North Muskham to moor on the visitor pontoon above Cromwell Tidal Lock, ready for a 10am start tomorrow.

T Cromwell, a workboat digger arm was being repaired by the lock. Four brick BBQs and picnic tables were near the pontoon.

Monday 28 September 2020

On to Nottingham

Monday 28 September Shardlow to Nottingham 

 At Shardlow, met Linda Tyler and Susie Turner who are canal walking to London. See Facebook.

Liana and Jan walked to Derwentmouth Lock, past the large Meadow Farm Marina. Shardlow is a scenic Victorian inland port, always a pleasure to visit.

A short river passage brought us under the M1 through Sawley Flood Lock to the huge marina and Derby Motor Boat Club moorings. 

One of the two river locks was having new gates. Volunteers operated the other powered lock for us, after which we passed onto the River Trent the mile or so to Trent Lock, the River Soar, Erewash Canal and Cranfleet Cut, our passage to Nottingham.

More volunteers operated this lock, too. We enjoyed the five miles downriver in the sun, with less wind, to Beeston Lock and Canal. On the way, we passed the dredger and tug/dumb barge near Barton Island.

We used the Elsan services here, and followed Delhi the three miles past Boots factory and Trevethick’s Boatyard, where we spotted RWBC member Harry Richardson’s narrowboat Lady Lee.

Reaching Castle Marina, we moored outside Sainsbury’s, as usual. Liana departed to visit her mum, Flo. Jan and Dave shopped. John rested and mended a light. 
Later, we took Annie and Delhi through Castle Lock and the newly developed canal side area after, down to Meadow Lane Lock. 

After Delhi had been watered, we went on to the River Trent, past Nottingham Forest’s City Ground, where I used to go with Liana’s dad Eddie, a true Forest and County fan, then upriver under Trent Bridge to moor on the Wilford side steps beyond the pedestrian suspension bridge, quiet and pretty.

The steps proved to be a pleasant place to moor and chat with passers by.

Side by side

Sunday  27 August Shobnall Fields to Shardlow (16.5 miles, 5 locks)

The chaotic moorers had gone when we awoke! Sunday joggers and cyclists were in abundance at Shobnall Fields.

Jan and Dave were to meet her brother/Father Christmas at Shardlow tonight, so we reckoned seven hours steady travel, and set off about 0930.

It was cloudy and cold, but the sun did its best for us and more blue sky and sunshine appeared as the day progressed.

The nearby lock was our last narrow lock, after which we travelled seven pleasant rural miles to Stenson lock, the first/last wide lock, which has an over 12 feet rise. Annie and Delhi were able to share the wide locks from now on, which makes the job a lot easier all round.

You pass Willington Marina, with all its shops, on the way, near the “Toyota” road junction of A50 and A38.

 Avoiding one or two fallen trees,  made our way through Weston, Aston (where volunteers helped us) and Shardlow Locks to moor on the towpath  near Dobson’s boatyard in Shardlow.