Monday, 28 May 2012

It’s an Adventure…..

Now that we have left the relative safety of the canals and are on the Trent, it’s also a completely different ball game.  Yes, the Trent is wide and yes, the Trent is deep but, the weather being as it is at the moment, it is also very calm and very pretty – much prettier than I had expected it to be.Trent 021 (800x600)

Another expectation which proved to be wrong was travelling through Nottingham.  I had expected it to be like other major cities we have travelled to and from e.g. Birmingham, Leicester, parts of London and Coventry but it was so much nicer.  Young people were everywhere (I guess the majority of them are Uni students) and there was minimum litter and minimum graffiti.  Good for Nottingham!  As we made our way to the last lock on the canal before joining the river, a  procession of pedestrians were walking along the tow path.  On the other side, another procession of pedestrians were walking along the pavement towards the bridge.  Why so busy!  Cricket of course!  The bridge was Trent Bridge and the cricket grounds are just on the other side!    Just past the bridge we had been told there were good moorings on some steps in front of County Hall – it looked chocker!

We headed downstream insteadTrentJ 002 (800x600) and went through Holme Lock where I was very pleased to meet the lock keeper! There’s a canoe slalom by this lock and  it all looked very interesting so I think we will make a point of stopping there on our return journey. 

We carried on to Stoke Lock and that’s where we stayed for the weekend.  Like on all rivers, mooring is at a premium and I can understand the cruiser-skippers being a bit resentful of the n/b’s – three n/b’s and the available space is all gone!  Despite it being a really hot weekend, very little boat traffic was in evidence.Trent 023 (600x800)

We’ve discovered a very good reason for not having a big cruiser though – the lock keeper at Holme told us it cost £2,000 to put fuel in a boat like this – in fact, this might just be the actual one!

Just as we arrived at Stoke Lock who should be heading upstream but Ken and Mary on n/b “Wineberry”.  We met them in the Saltisford Arm back in 2009 and we haven’t seen them since!  Rodney, Derek – I’m sure you remember them too?  And then, along came n/b “Much Gigglin” – we’ve seen them around our neck-of-the-woods quite a bit so they too had found themselves exploring this way.

TrentJ 007 (800x600)

Today, we have only moved a few miles downstream to Gunthorpe – Gunthorpe Bridge is the only road bridge between Nottingham and Newark. We are in the fortunate position to be able to stop whenever the opportunity arises and explore the surrounding area.  Besides, John has painting to do on Ellen’s front ‘cheeks’!

It’s SO hot though!  I think this might be the hottest weather we have experienced on board!


I apologise to anyone who thinks swans are boring (you can look away now) but:-

TrentJ 005 (800x600)            TrentJ 006 (640x480)

I just think they are so majestic.  Does the Queen also own these?


Thursday, 24 May 2012


We are not city-lovers but, on probably the hottest day of the year so far, we decided that we couldn’t go straight through Nottingham – we ought to stop for at least a bit of a look-around.  For those committed to the exploration of a city (and not having to worrynottingham1 023 (600x800) about two little dogs) Nottingham seems to have a lot to offer.  It’s a big place!  We moored up just past Castle Marina where there are lots of mooring rings.  We thought we would at least go to see the castle and imagined that we would be able to sit innottingham1 022 (800x600) the shade with the dogs inside the castle walls.  Wrong!  To get into the castle and the grounds it’s full-on tourist stuff.  We were able to walk by some of the man-made caves in Castle Rock that were used by about 20 families for storage.  Apparently they were also very good air-raid shelters during the war.  Also built into the cliff face below the castle is a pub called“Ye Olde Trip to Jerusalem”.  It claims to be the oldest pub in England.  We paid our respects to the somewhat unflattering statue of Robin Hood.  As a little and not-so-little girl I have watched and enjoyed all the TV programmes and films based on the legend of good old Robin.  Richard Greene, Errol Flynn, Kevin Costner – even the rather skinny Jonas Armstrong … have all had my faithful support.

nottingham1 027 (600x800)

We decided to treat ourselves to lunch so we went to a bar/restaurant housed in an old warehouse once owned by Fellows, Morton & Clayton.  Over-looking the canal here are several bars and restaurants and they were all busy with customers.  The FMC was heaving too and I’m pretty certain that wnottingham1 028 (800x600)e were the only two over the age of about 30!!  John went off to order some food.  Eventually, with the help of a young waitress with bright pink hair (nothing wrong with that but it is a somewhat noticeable feature!) John managed to organise some lunch.  He was given a little gadget and was told that when it buzzed it would mean that our food was ready for collection.  We waited …… and waited …………and waited ……….well, they were busy but, at last, the little machine beeped!  Off went John in excited anticipation of getting his lunch.  A few minutes later he returned empty handed!  “It’s no good it just beeping”, he had been told, “it has to vibrate and flash as well!”.  All this just for burgers and chips which ………….. we did get soon afterwards and they were very nice!  We have only just grown accustomed to the numbered wooden spoon!

Monday, 21 May 2012

The Erewash Canal–A Personal Assessment

Before coming on the Erewash we didn’t really know what to expect as we only knew of two other boats that had previously ventured onto it.  So, this post is for any boater who might be considering a visit and anyone else who just might be interested!

Back on the Trent & Mersey I met a man from Nottingham and, when I asked him about the Erewash, he said three things:-

  1. It’s shallow
  2. It’s hard work and …………
  3. It’s a bit rough in places.

So, having now travelled to Langley Mill and back, what do we make of his summary?

1.  The stuff we need to cruise on!

I’m sure the depth off the water must vary according to weather conditions but we had no trouble and that’s unusual for us on a canal!  In fact, some of the by-washes were quite fierce.  Overall, the canal itself is more like a small river – the water is clean, the majority of the banks environmentally friendly with plenty of reeds and lilies growing.  Certainly whilst we have been on here there has been very little boat movement and ducks, swans, coots and moorhens are all thriving.  The young fox who fell in near the back of our boat in the early hours of this morning had a bit of a scramble to get out but declined the use of our plank and did it independently in the end!  Some of the bridges are very low apparently due to subsidence.

2.  Labour

Yes!  Very hard work!  Visually the locks are all in excellent condition.  The lock gates, many of which are new, are all clean and tidy and I especially liked the fact that the walkways are all covered in a non-slip material.  HOWEVER, the gates are amongst the heaviest I have yet to encounter anywhere on the system AND many of the paddles are really, really stiff.  On one occasion, a local chap who watched with amusement as myself and another lady struggled, told me that it’s all to do with incorrect gearing.  That was no consolation to either of us!  Complicating matters further are the anti-vandal locking devices which in many cases are stiff, knackered or both!!  All of this could act as a deterrent for return visits?

3.  Surrounding areas.

Yes, it is a bit rough in places but it’s basically an urban canal – roads, the railway and suburbia is never very far away.  However, it’s a lot better than many other urban areas we have been through!  Any rubbish and graffiti we saw tended to prevail around the towns where the concentration of people is highest – nothing new there then – something that never fails to sadden me and make me feel ashamed of some of the fellow members of our human race. 

Recommended Mooring spots:-

  • just below Pasture Lock
  • just above Potters Lock  From here you can access the old Nottingham Canal.
  • the visitor moorings at Trent Lock.  The area all around here is really interesting.
  • the visitor moorings at Langley Mill.  From here the bus into Nottingham takes 45 minutes.  It’s also a good place to receive visitors as there is a secure BW car park.  For any lady wanting a hair cut  I would like to put in a good word for Melissa at “Effleurage”, 87, Station Road.

We found the prettiest, least urban areas to be around Shipley and Eastwood Locks.  Throughout the length of the canal there are interesting remains of the evidence of previous industrial activity.  In it’s time it was obviously a very affluent canal.

All in all, we are really glad we came up here – we feel it’s been well worth the effort.  Members of the ECP&DA (Erewash Canal Preservation & Development Association!) whose headquarters are at Sandiacre Lock Cottage are right to feel really proud of all they have achieved.  Their next boat rally at Langley Mill is planned for 2013.

Erewash 026

Thursday, 17 May 2012

Pushing the Boundaries

Whilst Megan has been with us we have made both good use of her car and of her as a chauffeur! 
We have been exploring the area of Derbyshire in and around Cromford.  We have walked most of the Cromford Canal between Cromford Wharf and Ambergate as well as part of the High Peak Trail around Black Rocks.  If the Cromford Canal was still navigable I feel sure it would be enormously popular with boaters because it goes through an area of both stunning scenery and interesting industrial history.
I’ve heard it said that a picture paints a thousand words so:-

A Walk along The Cromford Canal and part of the High Peak Trail:-

The Canal:-
basinagain 004 (800x600) (800x600)
Lots of wild garlic. 
                        basinagain 012 (600x800) (600x800)           
              Canal, railway, road and river all following the same route. 

basinagain 009 (800x600)
High Peak Junction
Cromford Canal Wark 001
The canal is a stronghold for Little Grebes.
Cromford Canal Wark 005 (800x600)
Walking along the canal towards Ambergate.

Cromford Canal Wark 022 (800x600)
Water voles are well-established on the canal.

Cromford Canal Wark 012 (600x800)

An old Pumping Station - still in use today.  Water is pumped up into the canal from the River Derwent.

And up to Black Rocks:-

basinagain 018 (800x600)        basinagain 017 (800x600)  
Views of Cromford  nearby and Matlock in the distance.
  John, myself and the rest of the then 5th Staines Venture Unit were all banned from Matlock back in 1974!  We were most definitely not in the wrong but, none of us to my knowledge have ever been back since!
      basinagain 013 (600x800)
basinagain 021 (800x600)A steep path goes up through the forest to Black Rocks.
The path follows the route of an old tramway which went down to the Junction.  There are lots of other walks through the forest too.

Black (Gritstone) Rocks – very popular with climbers.  There are lots of different climbs – all with interesting names.  Lead used to be mined from here.  Quarrying is still very active and very much in evidence.

All of this is very much on the Derbyshire Tourist Trail.  Beautiful countryside not far from Langley Mill – I’m so glad we were able to access some of it whilst we were here.

Tuesday, 15 May 2012

As far as boats can go …….

Yesterday, we reached the end of the navigation and we had company!  Another boat had moored up by us on Sunday night so we did the last stretch together and it made it so much easier for all of us! Everyone we have met agrees that the locks are SO physically hard to operate.
the basin 004 (800x600)            the basin 005 (800x600)
The area around Shipley and Eastwood Locks was especially pretty……….
the basin 008 (800x600)            the basin 006 (800x600)
We have been wrongly thinking that we we going to Langley Mill but actually, the Langley Mill Basin, which was the original terminus of the Erewash Canal, no longer exists – it was built over years ago.  The limit of navigation today is the Great Northern Basin which is in fact the former terminus basin of the Nottingham canal which joined the Cromford canal here.  The basin itself is now used for private mooring and is called The Great Northern Basin as a result of the Nottingham canal once being owned by the Great Northern Railway.  Visiting boaters can moor above Langley Bridge Lock on a short restored section of the Cromford canal.
the basin 010 (800x600)    the basin 014 (800x600)      the basin 015 (600x800)
When we arrived at the basin we were greeted by yet another boat and then, later in the day, two others turned up!!  It’s only a little basin so mooring was a juggle!!  We are moored up opposite a former toll house.
001 (800x600)            the basin 016 (800x600)
Anyway, this is where we will stay for a while as Maisie May Allebone is to be re-united with us this afternoon and then Megan is going to stay for a couple of days.  The forecast for today is …………… more rain!  Might as well go to Asda then!!

Thursday, 10 May 2012

Into the Unknown ….

This is all new territory for us.

Today we have enjoyed very clean water and, certainly at the moment, plenty of it.  It’s so nice not to be scraping the bottom all the time!

Erewash 013 (800x600)            Erewash 024 (800x600)

I was pre-warned that the double locks are hard work – some of the paddles are very stiff to wind up and the gates are very heavy.  Ground paddles and top gate paddles are fitted with locking devices to prevent abuse but some of the threads are stripped so need to be either replaced or repaired.

It’s not often that you come across a kind, strong, cheerful, handsome(!) cyclist who is only too happy to help.

Erewash 008 (800x600)            Erewash 027 (600x800)           

Location, Location, Location

Available for seasonal, short-term occupancy:-

A desirable 1st storey, canal-side bedsit.  Solid construction and panoramic view. 

Partners allowed to visit.

Erewash 001

Boat traffic today has been very light – we have only seen three other boats on the move.  The excellent tow path, however, (which is part of the 30 mile Erewash Valley Trail) has been swamped with serious cyclists and cyclists more like us (!),  ramblers, walkers with dogs, walkers without dogs,  power walkers with wiggles, joggers in lycra and plodders in tee-shirts.  Everyone has been really friendly.  Going through Sandiacre Lock we collected quite an audience.

Erewash 032 (800x600)


One of the chaps accused John of “having the easy job.”  John was ready with his reply – “No.  I  just make it look easy!”

Such arrogance but it did make the chap laugh.Erewash 033 (800x600)


                     We have already passed lots of evidence of this area’s interesting industrial past.

              Such fabulous old architecture.  On the Geo map this is marked as being Springfield Mill.

P.S.  The expensive coal we bought is proving to be very economical actually.  It’s burning very hot and very slowly so, Derek my little cup cake,………. I think we can make 2 nuggets last a whole evening!  xxoo

Wednesday, 9 May 2012

Heading North

Yesterday was sunny all day so we went for a long cycle ride to the Attenborough Nature Reserve.  What a lovely reserve.  You can cycle, walk the dog (even off a lead if you wish), go in hides, visit the cafe and buy ‘stuff’ from the shop.  We did it all!  The tow path alongside the river is brilliant.  Although we saw no boats moving on the river it all looked very calm so:Shardlow to Trent Lock 003 (800x600)-

Today, at long last, we have made it onto the Erewash.  When you come out of Derwent Lock and leave the relative confines of the T&M canal behind, the expanse of the river seems vast in comparison.   

We stopped off at Sawley Marina to get some more coal.  It’s MAY and there shouldn’t still be the need to have fires but there-you-are!  The price of coal!!  We had to pay more than ever before AND they were smaller bags!  Rip off Britain strikes again!  We obviously need some lessons in how to make three nuggets last all evening!  I know just who to ask!  There might even be a badge involved!

Shardlow to Trent Lock 009 (600x800)

Anyway, the next challenge was to get through Sawley locks without making too much of a fool of myself.  The locks are now mechanised and boaters themselves have to operate them.  Oh, help!  I AM SUCH A TECHNAPHOBE!  If there’s a wrong way to do something mechanical – I will!  If it’s possible to mess it up – I will!  AND I had gongoozlers to contend with.  The first obstacle was to put the key in the right lock!  In fairness the instructions were idiot proof but, when it comes to anything mechanical, I am such an idiot!  In the end, this time at least, it was all very easy.Shardlow to Trent Lock 017 (800x600)

So, on into the Erewash.  It was a bit tricky turning off the river against the current but we were the only boat on the move so at least we didn’t have to worry about anyone else.  We’ve had mixed reports about the Erewash so we’ve come to find out for ourselves.


We wanted to moor on the Trent Lock Visitor moorings but others were/are hogging it so there was no room left for us.

Shardlow to Trent Lock 021 (600x800)      Shardlow to Trent Lock 020 (600x800)      Shardlow to Trent Lock 006 (800x600)

                         Sometimes B. W. never fail to amaze me!                          And, what is this all about?  So whose NOT allowed in then?

We are now moored just behind the ‘landscaping’ barge.  Apparently it’s all loaded up ready for an early start tomorrow!  We will see.

Entering Trent Lock we discovered that, back at Sawley Marina, we should have purchased a special Erewash key.

Shardlow to Trent Lock 019 (800x600)

Now, we have a B.W. key, a Nene key, a Middle Levels key, an anti-vandal key but not an Erewash key!

So, back to Sawley marina then.  I hope the price of their conservation keys is more favourable than the price of their coal!

And now?  It’s raining!  If the last couple of weeks is repeated weather-wise we could be on here for some time!  One chap told me that a week ago the river was 6 feet higher than it is today; another chap told me the river was 3 feet higher.  I suppose I’d best settle for 4'6 ins!

Tuesday, 8 May 2012

On a Slow Boat to ………

We can’t make up our minds and stick to that decision!  Hope everybody had a good bank holiday weekend.

We are now at a little place called Shardlow – we’ve never travelled so slowly!  There are good reasons/excuses – call them what-you-like:-

shardlow 005 (600x800)

*Meg has been to find us.  She spent a couple of days with us and has now taken Maisie back with her for a ‘holiday’ down South for ten days.  We’re always conscious of Megan having to travel quite a long way to come and find us and so we decided we would stay south of Nottingham in an attempt to make it a bit easier for her.  AMAZINGLY – the jumper fits, she actually likes it and wants another one!!    (The picture is for you, Jane!) 

Bienvenida En Casa, Megan (or something like that!)

Maisie may only be a little dog but, now she’s not here, her absence on the boat is enormous!

shardlow 011 (800x600)

*Our Sat Map needed to go back for repair.  Our friend, Ron, works out of the East Midlands Airport right near here so we had it returned to him at his office.  The hitch was – he had gone home to Southampton for two weeks so we had to wait for his return at the weekend!  Jane came up too and on Sunday we all went out to a carvery called the ‘Coopers Arms’ at Weston-on-Trent for dinner.  Nice!

* Because of all the rain we have been having over the last two weeks the rivers Trent, Soar, Dove and Derwent have been in flood, out-of flood, in flood, out-of flood etc and it has definitely un-nerved us.       Apart from anything else, when we do go on the Trent we want to be able to take our time and enjoy it.  If a river is in such a volatile mood, we just want to get off it as quickly as possible!  It’s all fine at the moment – it’s back on green boards.  We are about a mile away from Derwent Lock where the canal enters the Trent. 

shardlow 021 (600x800)      shardlow 025 (800x600)      shardlow 026 (800x600)      shardlow 028 (800x600)

                                                                The River Derwent joins the Trent just after the last canal lock.

Today, we have been promised some sunshine so we are going to go off on a bike ride.  South Derbyshire really looks after cyclists – there are lots of well-maintained routes.  Shardlow is a good base from which to explore the surrounding area.  It used to be an inland port so there are lots and lots of old, interesting buildings and warehouses – many of which have been renovated and converted into other things.

+ I found an enormouse nursery/garden centre at Swakestone so my tubs on the roof have all been re-planted ready for the summer!  They just need to be able to survive the rain and …… frost……  in May!!                                                                                                 

- One grumble about this stretch of canal – there are insufficient places at which to dispose of rubbish.

- Big minus ….. my brother is back in Hospital.  He has an infection so is being pumped full of antibiotics.  Quite understandably he is very despondent as it seems such a backward step.  His throat is back to being really, really sore both inside and out.  What a battle he is having.

Right – I’m off to get my lycra on ready for that cycle ride!  JUST JOKING!  They don’t make it in my size anyway!  Just as well!