Monday, September 30, 2013

Back to ditch-crawling

What ever happened to the showers we were expecting today? It’s been mild and dry, if a little breezy.

My first job of the day, well, after taking Meg out, was to mount my rusty steed and cycle back to Loughborough. As well as the cable and connectors for the TV, I’d also bought an adaptor to allow us to watch content from my laptop on the TV. Or that’s what I thought I‘d bought. It transpired that I’d got a HDMI to VGA convertor, instead of a VGA to HDMI convertor. DOH! Although it wasn’t all my fault, I’d enlisted the aid of one of the assistants in Maplins, and I hadn’t got my reading glasses!

Anyway, first thing I pedalled the 5½ miles back to the shop, part towpath and part road. Not bad, I was there and back in 90 minutes. And the gadget that I’ve got this time does the job.SAM_6573

SAM_6576So now when Mags misses a soap and I download it, she can watch it on the big screen. I hope she appreciates it. After 11 miles on John Sage my bum is a tad sore….

After the toing and froing it was gone 11 by the time we got under way, arriving at Kegworth Deep Lock to find a boat just coming up. By the time they were up and clear, we’d been joined by another boat, NB Valden heading for Sawley.

Kegworth Deep LockSAM_6541

Leaving the lock, Kegworth church spire in the backgroundSAM_6542

Kegworth Shallow Lock was open both ends as expected, as I explained the other day these flood control locks are only in use through the winter months.

There’s a bit of activity near Ratcliffe as the A453 bridge is being widened.SAM_6545
There’s no restriction on the navigation at the moment, but I imagine there’ll be a stoppage when the bridge deck is hoisted into place. A bit of work to do first, though.

Out of Ratcliffe Lock and the large power station dominates the view to the north.

Ratcliffe Power StationSAM_6546

The last lock on the Soar is Redhill, also a flood lock and open, before the river loses itself in the Trent just above Thrumpton Weir.

Out onto the TrentSAM_6552
Thrumpton Weir is out of sight to the right, the bridge just visible left of centre marks the entrance to the Erewash Canal, Cranfleet Cut, the navigable Trent, heads off to the right at that point, and the river itself comes in from the left.

Wide open spacesSAM_6555
The Trent has had 90 miles from it’s source up on Biddulph Moor in Staffordshire to collect water from several tributaries, so is a substantial river at this point. It’s got another 90 miles to go, before joining with the River Ouse to create the Humber Estuary.

Approaching Sawley, the locks to the left, the service wharf on the backwater to the right.SAM_6557
We watered up and emptied the relevant receptacles, then swung around, back under the railway bridge to join NB Valden waiting in one of the mechanised locks for us.

Sawley paired locks, goods train on the bridge.SAM_6560

We left our locking companions after the lock, they moor in Sawley Marina, and pushed on through Sawley Cut and back out onto the river to Derwent Mouth.

Looking back along Sawley Cut, Derby Motor Boat Club moorings on the right, visitor moorings on the left, the locks in the distance and Ratcliffe Power Station on the horizonSAM_6564

Derwent Mouth, where the River Derwent joins from Derbyshire.SAM_6566
Dead ahead is the insignificant entrance to the Trent and Mersey Canal, our destination.


We moored just above Derwent Mouth Lock, Lock 1 on the T&M. SAM_6569

That’s it then, off the clear, fresh waters of the river, onto the turbid, shallow waters of the cut for another year. Ah well.



We had a visitor this evening, Carol who moors in Shardlow Marina had a walk round to see us with her little Jack Russell, Sealey. Both really good company, we’ve cruised with them on several occasions.

We’ll push on tomorrow, probably stopping at Swarkestone. Depends on the weather. We might be getting today’s showers tomorrow…

Locks 4 miles 6

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Last of the fine days?

The forecast is predicting showers for tomorrow, and slowly dropping temperatures through the week. So there were a lot of people out and about on the water today, making the most of what might be the last sunny day for a while.

We had visitors yesterday evening, sister Kay, partner Paul and my niece and nephew Samantha and Aiden came to see us before we move out of the area. The last of Mags' third ginger cake in a week miraculously disappeared... It was good to see you all again.

I had some shopping to do, a visit to Maplin’s followed by a visit to Aldi, so it was 11 o’clock again by the time we got away. By this time the day had warmed up after a chilly night, the sun was shining, the birds were singing, the dog walkers were, well, dog walking.

Out onto the Loughborough Canal at Chain BridgeSAM_6517

I was just topping up Loughborough Lock when a day boat out of Pillings Lock Marina arrived to share the lock with us.

Loughborough LockSAM_6520

If you’re on your own when filling this lock, don’t make the mistake of closing the paddles on one side, crossing over and attempting to open the gate on the other. By the time you’ve got across the gates, the lock will be emptying again! You need all the paddles up to overcome the leak between and through the lower gates.

Bishops Meadow Lock is the last on the canal section, below this the river rejoins the navigation after it’s detour around the town.

Bishops Meadow LockSAM_6523


The river comes in from the right just below Bishops Meadow BridgeSAM_6525

The river is starting to broaden as it heads towards the Trent.

Approaching NormantonSAM_6526
Bonny, isn’t it.

Zouch Lock was our third and last for today. We’d lost our day boat companions by this time; they’d intended to stop at The Plough at Normanton, or maybe the Rose and Crown at Zouch, for lunch. Just above the lock is moored a fine looking Dutch barge replica.

MV Galatea

Now that I do like….

Mags in Zouch LockSAM_6533

One of our favourite spots near Devil’s Elbow was occupied, there was only one boat there and room for another, but why encroach on someone’s space when there’s lots of opportunity to moor further on? So we pushed on, past The Otter, and moored nearer Kegworth.


One reason I went to Maplin’s this morning was to pick up some satellite cable and “F” connectors. Our new aerial, although the same as Chance’s, does not seem as good as theirs. So I’ve swapped the old co-axial cable for the decent satellite stuff, and changed the co-ax connecters as well.SAM_6539 The signal strength seems to be much better now.

All being well, the Trent and Mersey Canal and Shardlow tomorrow.

Locks 3, miles 5¾

Saturday, September 28, 2013

There’s a bit of a theme developing…

There seem to be an awful lot of them on the Soar at the moment. After the crew we shared locks with yesterday, there was another boat load this morning.SAM_6507
This one was celebrating a birthday, and what a cracking day they had for it!

Spotted on the way back, somewhat less inhibited!SAM_6513
We left at around 11, I had some shopping to do before hand, and while I was up in Sileby I popped in to see Dad and Ann having missed her yesterday. She’s a lot better today.

There have been a few boats about, though none around when we wanted to share locks, unfortunately.

On the river at Barrow upon SoarSAM_6510 

Barrow Deep Lock

Pillings Flood Lock is still open both endsSAM_6515
This one, and those at Kegworth and Redhill, are generally open during the summer months. From October onwards they revert to normal lock operation to maintain the water levels in the artificial sections and prevent flooding. This year, with the river so low, it’ll maybe be a little later.

Heading into Loughborough we spotted a familiar boat heading towards us; it was Dave and Dilys on their boat Trundle.

Dave and Dil
We were hoping to catch up with them while we were down here, but all we managed was a brief shouted conversation. Never mind, next time, eh.

We pottered into Loughborough, mooring up short of Chain Bridge. Onward towards the Trent tomorrow.

Locks 3, miles 6¾

Friday, September 27, 2013

What a great couple of days!

Mark (one of the “M”s in MGM Boatbuilders) invited us to moor on their wharf while we were visiting Doug and James on Chance, an offer we accepted with alacrity. It would have been OK over on the opposite side of the river, but it was pretty busy with walkers and anglers at times. From here it was a lot easier for the two boat crews to get together, and we did!

The fish and chip supper on Wednesday night was good, a chance to get to know each other. Then on Thursday morning I helped with a bit of the blacking on Chance’s hull, and last evening we had another get together over a chicken casserole. My brother Andy also joined us for that one.
Then this morning we had elevenses on board Chance, up on the slipway. A fine couple of days of good food, good wine and good company. I’m really glad we took the opportunity to travel up to Thurmaston to catch up with the lads.

Not many photos over the last two days, but I took the camera when we went aboard Chance this morning. It’s a beautiful boat, well built and lovingly maintained.

Mags and NB Chance

Inside the very smart boatSAM_6494
James is pointing out the L-shaped dinette, Mags’ reaction – “Could ours be like this”? Oh heck… I can feel a project coming on…

Mags, James and DougSAM_6496
The boat is a credit to the builders, MGM, and Doug and James who look after it. You wouldn’t believe it’s two years old.

We left a little later than planned, heading back downstream to Sileby.

Leaving MGM
See you soon guys, looking forward to doing it again.

Today has been the best day of the week so far, after a cool start it’s been a bright, warm day. We left following two boats that had just dropped down Thurmaston Lock, I think it was James that said “You might be lucky, one of them might stop at The Hope and Anchor and you’ll be able to share the locks with the other”
Sorry to disappoint, both stopped for a drink!SAM_6501

They couldn’t pull onto the pub moorings, there’s a bit of work in progress…SAM_6502

We arrived at Junction Lock to find a day boat full of pirates going down, they were in no rush so helped us down too.SAM_6503

They joined us in Cossington Lock…SAM_6504
They were having a good day…

We moored in our regular spot above Sileby Lock, and Dad drove down from the village for a cup of tea. It’s maybe the last chance we’ll see him till we’re down this way again. Unfortunately Ann is not so good today, the cast on her broken wrist and hand having had a close encounter with a shopping basket in Tesco yesterday, so she stayed at home.

We’ll be moving on down to Loughborough tomorrow.

Locks 2, miles 4

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Home Turf

I was born in Syston and spent most of my teenage years in Thurmaston, so this stretch of the navigation is very familiar, initially from the cockpit of a canoe.

This morning was murky and misty as predicted, Meg and I had a walk up to the village for some supplies and had an encounter with horses. They were no trouble, obviously quite used to sharing their paddock with dog-walkers. It was on the way back  thought we might have a spot of bother. Meg doesn’t do large four-legged animals, equine, bovine or even ovine. So when this guy was reluctant to move from his chin-scratching post I thought she might panic.
But with a bit of shoving and pushing I managed to get the gate open, Meg standing alongside completely unflustered.

Through the gate, time for a sniff.DSC_0129

We were ready to move off at around half-ten, but a short shower delayed departure till about 11:15. No rush, two locks and four miles to get to Thurmaston.

The worked out gravel pits at Cossington Meadows are now a wetland nature reserve.SAM_6467

Lots of backwaters to explore by canoe around here, Jill and SueSAM_6469

Narrow wiggly bits lead to wide open reachesSAM_6470

Cossington Lock, half an hour away, was our first for today. If it wasn’t for the traffic noise from the A6 almost alongside it’d be a lovely place to moor.

Turning into Cossington Lock cut. Straight on under the bridge leads around to Cossington MillSAM_6471

Two boats were just leaving the lock as we arrived so we timed that well.

Holding off…..

Not before time, the balance beams on the lower gates have recently been replaced. They were certainly past their sell-by date!

Taken last summer…..
SAM_2473 Cossington Lock[4]

Just above the lock there’s a fork, the navigation taking the left hand branch. The right branch has a short stretch of moorings before becoming un-navigable.SAM_6473

We actually follow the River Wreake for a mile, although it’s still known as the Soar Navigation. The Soar is the water coming in from the right-hand branch, after it meanders around Wanlip.

The navigable bit of the River WreakeSAM_6477
This is like what we’d be able to enjoy if MOWS has it’s way….

Junction Lock lifts the navigation another six feet or so, then there’s a straight section to Turnwater Meadow, where the Melton Mowbray Navigation heads off towards the town, with a branch to Oakham. Or at least it did, but it was abandoned in 1877.

The new bridge across Wreake Junction.SAM_6481
This was built to accommodate the new cycleway from Syston to Cossington. The old one was lower, flatter and had steps at either end, therefore unsuitable for wheeled traffic. This one is now high enough for boats, for when (if) the navigation is ultimately restored. Every cloud, eh.
There’s a boom across the entrance for now, to discourage those with an adventurous spirit…

From here the channel is wholly artificial, passing extensive worked-out gravel pits, those to the west now forming part of Watermead Country Park.

Definitely a canal….SAM_6485

The long straight ends just before Thurmaston, at Johnson’s (we used to call it Jonno’s) Bridge, where the river is rejoined.

Off goes the Soar, under the towpath bridge to CossingtonSAM_6487

I’ve launched many a canoe at Thurmaston Scout HQ… and capsized plenty, too!SAM_6488

Ah, Doug and James must be around here somewhere…SAM_6489

…yes, there’s Chance in the tunnel!SAM_6490

We moored directly opposite MGM, below the lock.

Moored in ThurmastonSAM_6491

Doug and James are joining us this evening for a fish and chip supper. Looking forward to that.

Locks 2, miles 4.