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Tour 2002

Index

1 - Sawley Marina to West Stockwith - River Trent and Tidal Trent

Saturday 22nd June 2002

Although John Chapman's NB Frogmoore had spent some time at Sawley Marina (after the Clarke Family boat move), John had left earlier as he and Pat wanted to experience the Erewash Canal and were to meet up with us at Kings Marina at Newark on Sunday 23rd June. Linda brought Neil up along with press ganged crew member - Junior TNC member Wendy plus tons of Neil's food / clothes and assorted rubbish. Linda had agreed to help Neil through to Nottingham (manual locks) and leave Sunday. The Passat was to be retrieved by Linda on the TNC mountain bike. 
We arrived at 11.30. Earnest was at the end of a rather long pontoon at Sawley, but we soon requisitioned the large trolley. Linda and Wendy transported about 5 trolley fulls of junk to the boat, while Neil opened up, prepared the boat and stowed the goods. We set of at 12.10.destination the rather awkward to get on diesel point at Sawley. This plus winding took 10 minutes. After diesel, served yet again by Keith the R&D Narrowbeam barge "Misty Dawn" owner, of we set in "Earnest" at 12.35. The Sawley locky was in full swing, with a plague of small plastic boats about. We followed a rather slow cruiser from Beeston Lock to Nottingham. Moored up at 15.15, just downstream from the Sainsbury moorings. Linda went to do final shopping for Neil in Sainsbury's while Neil continued to sort out boat and tidy up, after this she did the car retrieval, in rather record time! Linda was determined to have a half decent "final supper", so directory enquiries was foned up, to ascertain if Nottingham boasted a Cafe Rouge. It did but the staff seemed unable to give directions from the canal (or even the castle!) Cafe Rouge eventually found (in an old bank type building). Normal half decent food / red was scoffed.

Sunday 23rd June 2002

We started off at 08.40. Linda cranked Castle and Meadow Lane Locks. Linda and Wendy tried to leave Meadow Lane by the towpath gate (just beyond the sanitary station) but it is rather stupidly secured by a non BW padlock, eventually they found that they could escape though the adjacent transport firm yard. After a brief farewell Earnest  shot out of the lock (09.35), Neil on his own, with the object of catching up the disappearing narrowboat, that was also making down stream. Neil hoped for a "straight in" at Holme Lock. Neil did indeed catch up with the other boat, but it was stopping for water. By the time Earnest had summoned the locky, got in, waited for the St John's ambulance Brigade Community boat, the water filling narrowboat just ambled in. Uneventful trip until Hazelford  Lock. here the locky warned Neil that he may be held up in Newark..............due to the dead body that had been found!
There was no problem in Newark (15.00), the Newark Town Locky said that the body had been found on the weir by Nether Newark Lock. The relief locky had found it that morning, while clearing the weir. He had gone home feeling a bit off colour. The police had shut the river while investigations were under way. This was not to worry Neil as he was going into Kings Marina, to rendezvous with John and Pat, who were coming back to NB Frogmoore II around 17.00, after meeting some friends in Chesterfield, who helped them with a car shuffle to West Stockwith, where Pat was to leave. As Neil was trying to wind to stem the current and go into Kings Marina a hoard of boats zoomed up river. Apparently these were held at Cromwell for half a day, while the dead body incident was being sorted. Neil had to push in front of a couple of narrowboats, which was just as well as Earnest got the last easy to get on visitor mooring in the Marina. Neil watched with amusement as three narrowboats made a pigs ear of getting on the inner spare pontoons. It is a ill wind that blows across Kings Marina. Neil was moored up by 15.30 and managed to get Earnest's long water hose to reach, so filled with water. John and Pat arrived at 17.00 and eventually we shoved off at 18.20. John pushed the buttons at Nether Newark Lock (18.35 to 18.50), which showed no signs of police activity. Some kids were wandering about on the weir - don't they ever learn???
We arrived at Cromwell Lock at 20.05. Being in not much of a hurry John and Neil had a good chat with the locky while Pat started getting the food ready. Eventually we were settled breasted up, on the newish floating pontoon below the lock (20.50). It was a lovely evening to be stranded on the tideway. We were locked out that evening as we had to make and early start to get to West Stockwith at the right time.

Monday 24th June 2002

Neil awoke first with no sign of life on the Frog Boat. Brilliant clear morning. Large "icebergs" of floating foam were wafting down from Cromwell weir. Neil cast off at 06.20 with Frogmoore and it's occupants still dead to the world. Within half an hour the Chapman's appeared. The Frogboat was started up to gain a bit more speed and Neil settled down to steering the strange combo, at least he was supplied with copious cups of tea and toast. John did manage some steering. We were meant to pass Torksey Cut around 09.00, but were a bit late - 09.40. It is around this point that you are meant to meet the flood, which you have to meet on a passage direct from Cromwell to West Stockwith. We in fact  met it just below Dunham Toll Bridge (08.35). Although the Trent floods for around two hours, the effect of moving through it, means that you only have to endure it for just over an hour. 
We passed though Gainsborough Arches (11.30), still breasted up, but decide to split up just below this as the ebb was getting going and there are some sharp bends below. Having the longer boat and being single handed, it was decided to let Neil go ahead and settle Earnest in West Stockwith Lock before Frogmoore attacked it. We had been brushing up on our methodology of entering these difficult to get in tidal locks. Neil winded Earnest below the lock and crept over CLOSE to the piling down stream of the lock. Here the ebb is not so strong, even though it is on the outside of a bend. Reasonable approach, with only a slight bump on the wing wall. Frogmoore also made a good approach. Sue, the locky was off duty, the relief locky was a liveaboard narrowboater who moors in the basin. We were in the lock at 12.15, 15 minutes late on our predicted time, having made up time after Torksey. We both filled up with diesel (there was not going to be much of this where we were bound!). Reasonable 28p / litre for a BW diesel point. 
The relief lockies told John and Neil the best way to get stern on to the rafted between poles moorings. This involved going into the limited sized basin, winding, going past the desired hole, then reversing back. Amazingly it worked well for both craft, without the slightest hint of a bowthruster! Moored up at 13.00. Having John and Pat's car to hand, that afternoon we went on a explo. Firstly we tried to fone up Barry Turner, the Idle Sluices / pumping station master, to confirm our booking for Wednesday, but he was not about. So we decided to walk over to the Idle Sluices and investigate. The first, outer sluice was the earlier one, used on its own, before the pumping station (enabling the river to be dropped even against a head of tide) and upper sluice were built in the late 1970's. The distance between the two sluices is some half a mile of high bank dyke. This is effectively what is used as a rather long turf sided lock. We would imagine at least 100 narrowboats could fit in at one go! being a long walk we decided to investigate the pumping station by car. 
The gate was open, an EA Landrover was present and the security shutters were up, but the door was locked and Barry not about. We tried the fone and heard it ringing in the office. At that moment a little voice piped up "Are you looking for the pumping station man?" On a grassy knoll, overlooking the car park was a reclining lady. We said that we were trying to contact Barry "He has gone out in his green Xantia and will be back at five past four, to lock up and let his boys clock out." We thanked her for this VERY detailed description about Barry's whereabouts and being 15.30 decided to wait. The lady became known as the "Idle Lady". The first vehicle was another EA 4x4. The bloke was, of course not Barry. He said that, yes he will be back soon and that he was definitely expecting some boats Wednesday morning. Predictably a green Xantia arrived at 16.05. Barry was a friendly chap and gave us a tour round his pumping station. It had four symphonic pumps, the two large ones had 9ft
impellers, the smaller only 5ft! He said that if all four pumps were running he could drain the river in minutes. We finalized the time with Barry, he said that the lower sluice was about a foot lower than the road bridge. The sluice would be up by the time of our arrival, at high tide (11.00), but we might have to wait a while in the entrance cut to get under, while the river ebbed. John thought, that not being Springs, then we would probably be able to go straight in.
That early evening we investigated the River Idle - The Gate Inn at Haxey Gate, probable mooring at Misson and Bawtry Bridge. We thought that passage under Bawtry Bridge would be just possible, but due to water levels we would not make it up the next quarter of a mile to the junction with the River Ryton. Here Frogmoore (45ft) had enough width to wind, but there were large rocks only a foot below the surface. Neil was also worried about finding a 60ft winding point below the bridge, one possible one was found about a quarter of a mile below, but it looked very debatable as the water level looked recently lowered. We were late getting back to the boats, so had a quick fish and chip supper in the car. That night Neil down loaded his latest lot of digital camera images onto his laptop. This he managed, then he decided to post the first batch of trip reports onto the newsgroups. At this point Neil's Sony Vaio laptop started behaving funny and could not get Outlook Express. After a reboot, all would be well thought Neil.................WRONG! Windows would not load. A basic scandisk showed all was not well, so Neil packed it in for the night. 

Tuesday 25th June 2002

This was a day off - so we went to Scunthorpe! Not as bad as it sounded, huge brand new mega Tesco on the outskirts. Next was a visit to Keadby Lock to finalise the timings with Don, the locky. Don was off duty, so did not get the normal "You don't want to go downstream in a narrowboat!" warnings. The relief locky was OK and our plan of going straight out of the Idle Sluices at high water, was the normal method of leaving the very nearby West Stockwith Lock. Finally we investigated Gainsborough and its completely empty new visitor mooring pontoons. John found a junk shop and bought a very nautical looking "porthole" mirror for his bathroom, to replace a broken one. 
We arrived back in plenty of time for the arrival of crew. Captain Beeky - Andrew Goodland and Martin Wilson at 18.30. Pat invited us all for a roast turkey breast supper on Frogmoore. After the meal  Earnest's crew departed for the pub overlooking the basin - "The Waterfront Inn" and had a good pint. John Chapman came in for a quickie later on. That night the crew of Earnest had to endure Neil's attempts to revive the Vaio - to no avail - the hard disc was pronounced dead, with probable controller fault, as after a full scandisk / repair, yet more disk faults were found. Neil was now in the market for a new laptop PRONTO as there were going to be a lot of digital camera images to download!

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West Stockwith Lock, entrance from Tidal River Trent to the Chesterfield Canal Basin. Picture Martin Wilson.

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NB Frogmoore II and NB Earnest at rest in West Stockwith Basin. Picture Martin Wilson.

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Graveler on the Tidal River Trent. Picture Martin Wilson.

The Tour Continues...


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