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The 1997 Mega Cruise

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2. Nottingham to Boston to Torksey, River Trent, Tidal River Trent. Fossdyke, River Witham inc. Kyme Eau and Witham Drains taster. 

Yet another early start on Tuesday 24th June as we were booked out of Cromwell Lock at 13.30. The weather was reasonable and we started at 6.25, getting out of Meadow Lane lock and back onto the Trent at 7.15. The River Trent was up but not excessively so, we made good progress arriving at Cromwell Lock at 13.00. Cromwell was a hive of activity, two van loads of B.W. men were replacing one of the upper gate rams. Gary was on duty and came over saying that they had just put the new one on temporarily as they needed both gates open for the B.W. gravel barge we had just seen coming up stream. By 13.30 we were in the lock sharing it with a pair of small cruisers, which were breasted up as one of their engines was broken. Gary asked us to keep an eye on them as they were also going to Torksey.

 We arrived at Torksey at 15.45 spoke with the friendly lock keeper who said it was only two hours to Saxilby and three to Lincoln. We shot off thinking if we got to Lincoln tonight we could also visit Boston. We arrived at Stamp End Lock at 18.45 having cruised through the famous "Glory Hole" for the first time. We had avoided Brayford Pool and its 4 a night sign believing the new Nicholson Guide when it said moorings were available at Stamp End. We certainly did not fancy them so we headed back to Brayford Pool with the Thames mentality of "If we are gone by 7.30 we wont get caught by the mooring Warden". We found a nice mooring and were tied up by 19.05, yet another 12 hour day of solid cruising. We had a quick walk round town and up to the old town near the cathedral. Neither Ian or Neil had been to Lincoln before and it certainly is a beautiful town, especially around the castle and cathedral. We ate at a pub-bistro recommended by Julian's wife Jackie, "The Wig and Mitre" and very good it was to.


We made a quick get-away the next morning at 6.05 (Wednesday 25th June) just as it was starting that lovely misty Lincolnshire rain that we saw so much of over the next few days. The River Witham was wide and fast, we left Bardney Lock at 8.30 and arrived at the junction with the Kyme Eau at 11.25. We made a spot snap decision to "polish off" this tiny waterway as we thought we had only another couple of hours to Boston.

We passed through the strange bridge hole with its mitre flood gates and found the little waterway surprisingly deep and fast. Bottom Lock was passed at 12.00 and we soon reached the pretty little village of Lower Kyme with its ruined manor. It was after Lower Kyme that we ran into trouble as the 25ft wide drain became totally silted up. We realised that we were not going to turn "Beatty" until we got to Cobblers Lock, that's if we did! What followed was the most fraught bit of ditch crawling in our lives, much worse depth-wise than any thing in the B.C.N.(we gained our I.W.A. B.C.N. Silver Award in 1994). 
We found that the best method of making progress was to set the throttle fairly high and just let the boat dig a trench through the silt, at least there were no plastic bags or hard objects to hit. Above Halfpenny hatch you enter the course of the River Slea and this had dropped all its silt. In front of the boat the water was crystal clear, but behind it was like black treacle! This section was defiantly the worse, three times the counter was lifted out of the water and the boat nearly stopped. It was a long way back to Bottom Lock, with no tow path, high banks and only two people to bow-haul the boat. With much forward and reverse our sturdy B.M.C. 1.5 dredged a channel, this happened three times before we saw the welcoming site of the derelict Cobblers Lock chamber . 
We worked out that the "Winding Point" was the stream run round channel junction some way before the lock, we thought we would try to reach the lock chamber and reverse back to the winding point. This was a mistake, we got about 100ft and the bow just slid upwards on the silt. We reversed back and had a jolly time dredging the winding point as we tried to get the bow up the totally silted by-weir channel. The prop was then cleared as we wondered how the ridiculous new Nicholson Guide implies that this waterway is navigable by 70ft deep draughed  Narrowboats. We were amazed with our progress on the way back, we truly had dredged a channel by putting all the silt into suspension. It took us 3 hours to get to Cobblers Lock and just 2 hours to get back to the River Witham.

We arrived in Boston at 20.00 having taken 2 hours from the Kyme Eau. Our late arrival had one good outcome, we would miss the 4 mooring fee! T.N.C. On Tour is getting a bit sick up of the mooring charges creeping in on this waterway and as a visiting overnight B.W. registered craft we would certainly resist paying them at Boston. Brayford Pool is another matter, the pool is still managed by a charitable trust, do B.W. own it, or does Lincoln City Council ? If B.W. do not own the pool then they should free up some decent managed Visitor Moorings near the pool, as opposed to the line of Long Term and Residential Moorings. Boston on a dark, rainy and cold summer evening is not the most welcoming of places, but we managed to find a half decent Indian Restaurant to warm ourselves up.


On Thursday 26th June we were going to return to Lincoln so we had 4-5 hours free, how about a drains taster?, they could not be worse than the Kyme Eau. We left at 6.45 arrived at Antons Gowt at 7.15, the entrance lock down to the Witham and Navigable Drains. The Drainage Board had not been phoned, and we expected the levels to be up, due to all the rain. The lock was easy to use, B.W. manages this one and we were soon on our way down Frith Bank Drain to Cowbridge Lock, the hub of the drains system. At Cowbridge we met a pair of friendly Narrowboater's who were very despondent, they were trying to do all the drains, but a lot bridges were impassable due to the high level. They said we would probably not get into Boston the back way and to watch out for the upturned car which skidded off into the main Maud Foster Drain. 
We crept under all the bridges into the centre of town and got stuck at the small concrete bridge beyond the main town bridge. We winded easily in the bloated Main Drain and moored in the centre of town, handy for the ASDA Supermarket. After provisioning the boat we set off up the main Maud Foster Drain, turning at West Fen junction. On the way back in the pouring rain Ian started wearing a large pair of bright blue rubber gloves over his knitted gloves, the only way to keep some feeling in his hands while steering in this freezing driving rain. Antons Gowt Lock was cleared at 12.00 and we were back in Brayford Pool, Lincoln by 19.35. That night we went up to the Old Town again and tried out "Brown's Pie Pub", this was a bit disappointing, my pie had obviously been frozen and we wished we had gone back to "The Wig and Mitre".


The next day Friday 27th June saw us have our first lay-in, we went shopping to the central Co-op and left at 11.50, having got diesel at Lincoln Marina. We were not caught by the Mooring Warden, but Ian felt guilty, so we went into the Harbour Masters office and paid our 4. When we were in there we asked him about going round Trent Falls, he said he had no experience of it in a Narrowboat at low tide, but in a cruiser at mid tide it could be pretty rough. He also mentioned that the Tidal Trent had been over its banks just above Torksey, and someone had mentioned that Naburn Weir on the River Ouse had been up 6ft.

We arrived at Torksey at 14.25 and while filling with water met the Locky. We told him of our plans and that crew were arriving at about 17.00. He told us to wait on the water points as it would be easy to get the car through his yard. After this he would then lock us out onto the tidal transit moorings. A phone call from Julian told us of an accident on the A1 and they would be with us about 17.30. Locky came over saying that there was quite a gathering on the transit moorings with only one spot left for a 50 ft Narrowboat and would we like to lock out now. 
We thought it was and being near high tide and the Trent being up, he just opened all his gates and we motored straight through. In the interim Ian had been out examining the old Torksey Rail Viaduct. Julian was coming up in Neil's trusty Passat estate along with John Rushbrook, Colin and Ian Clark. John R and Ian S had wanted to stay for a few days more and Ian Scott had been formulating their route home. Ian Scott decided that he would drive the Passat to Retford station with the "Beatty" mountain bike in the back and cycle back to Torksey "The quick way" via the Toksey Viaduct.

Wherever Ian Scott and John Rushbrook got to they would get a taxi to York station then get the East Coast Mainline to Retford to pick up the Passat. Julian and the team arrived in the pouring rain, stuffed the Passat in the field by the transit mooring and quickly unloaded their gear. Ian Scott shot off in the Passat plus mountain bike and the new crew settled in. Scotty arrived back at about 19.00 looking a bit disheveled. Apparently the security fences erected by Railtrack to stop said crossing had been a bit difficult to get over, especially with a mountain bike. Ian had ripped the pocket off his new "Biological analogy" 200 jacket and he had not been too keen crossing the bridge, it has no deck and track and you have to walk from girder to girder with the raging Trent below! 
We went off to the "Wheelhouse Restaurant" near the lock, Scotty still morning loss of his pocket. We had not booked and they were full, with what looked like non-boating boaters, so we walked up the road to the "White Swan". As the only diners were made very welcome, having the restaurant room to ourselves to enjoy decent ale and huge portions of home cooked food. We retired fairly early as we had the early 4.00 start the next day.


Meadow Lane Lock, Nottingham entrance back onto Trent.

Back on the River Trent. Meadow Lane Lock far right.

Lady Bay Bridge Nottingham, River Trent. This old railway bridge has been converted to a road bridge.

We have just left Gunthorpe Lock , River Trent.

We have just left Hazelford Lock, River Trent.

Approach to Newark on the River Devon. Here you by pass the River Trent on the Newark Dyke, which joins up with the River Devon through the town. Below Nether Newark Lock this joins with the River Trent.

Leaving Newark Town Lock.

The approach to Nether Newark Lock. The new road bridge is the A46.

Cromwell Lock Cottage. This is the end of the River Trent tideway.

Just beyond Torksey on the Fossdyke, heading towards Lincoln.

Saxilby, half way point between Torksey and Lincoln on the Fossdyke.

Saxilby,  Fossdyke.

Approach to Brayford Pool, Lincoln. The new bridge in the distance has only just opened, this replaced a bottleneck lift bridge.

Brayford Pool, Lincoln. Visitor mooring (4 / Night) to the left. The River Witham comes in from the far right. The River Witham navigation starts to the far left.

Misty shot of Lincoln Cathedral. This is as clear as is got!

The excellent "Wig and Mitre" pub / bistro on Steep Hill, Lincoln.

The much photographed backside of the Glory Hole, Lincoln.

The Glory Hole, Lincoln

Leaving Stamp End Lock, Lincoln. We are now truly on the River Witham.

Fiskerton visitor moorings, River Witham. The building is an abandoned railway station.

Above Bardney Lock. River Witham.

Below Bardney Lock. Abandoned railway line to left. River Witham.

Bardney. We have come from under the old railway bridge. To the left is the Bank Side Drain, although not shown as navigable, we may investigate this one day!

Bardney visitor moorings and Bridge. River Witham.

Kirkstead Bridge and visitor moorings. River Witham. The bridges are the main centre of interest around here, most have visitor moorings and a nearby pub!

Tattershall Bridges and visitor moorings beyond. The blob in the sky is a Tornado Fighter plane landing at nearby RAF Conigsby. River Witham. 

The entrance to Kyme Eau. River Witham. We did go up here on the way to Boston, but these images are at the end of this page.

Langrick Bridge. River Witham.

Antons Gowt Lock, entrance to the Witham Navigable Drains. We did go down to the drains on the way back from Boston, these images are next on this page. River Witham.

The God awful weather on the final straight down to Boston. River Witham. This is where the temperature went below 10 C and we had waves breaking over the bow!

The pathetic visitor moorings for Boston. At 4 a night I would want something nearer the town, needless to say we left early and did not pay! We thought this was a B.W. waterway!


Boston Stump (St Botolph's), Grand Sluice under bridge.

Boston. Grand Sluice, non salty side. At 51ft it is not really that grand! (Longer craft can get through on the level)

Boston Grand Sluice.

Boston Grand Sluice. Salty side.

St Botolph's, beside the tidal section of the River Witham. Boston.

Our early morning departure from Boston.

Going down to Drains at Antons Gowt Lock.

Antons Gowt Lock, going down off the River Witham.

On Frith Bank Drain, comming up to the new Paul's Bridge and the junction with Maud Foster Drain. Witham Navigable Drains.

Entering Cowbridge Lock. It was hard to work out which sluice held the lock! Ian Clarke please note headroom, no cruisers here!

Cowbridge Lock, hub of the Drains. Witham Navigable Drains. (Well actually not many of them were navigable, owing to the level being up, due to all the rain.)

The one bit of ancient paddle gear on the bottom gates of Cowbridge Lock, these have no balance beams and you have to close them with a chain.

Cowbridge Lock is to the left, straight ahead is Stonebridge Drain. The other boat is in fact waiting for the lock. They have given up, not even being able to get into the back of Boston. They wished us better luck. Witham Navigable Drains.

Footbridge over Maud Foster Drain, just below Cowbridge Lock. Stonebridge Drain is to right.

On Maud Foster Drain approaching Boston. Witham Navigable Drains.

Maud Foster Windmill, Boston. Will we get under that low footbridge?

Yes! this end we will.

The super friendly moorings in Boston. ASDA Supermarket is just to the right. Witham Navigable Drains.

Ian return's from ASDA.

We do attempt to get to the un-navigable drain exit into the tidal River Witham. This bridge was OK. Witham Navigable Drains.

Will we make the next bridge?

NO!

After passing back through Cowbridge Lock we carry on up Maud Foster Drain, passing Lush's Drain to the right. Witham Navigable Drains.

We get as far as the junction with West Fen Drain (To left) and go under the bridge and turn just beyond (Just!)

Looking up West Fen Drain. Witham Navigable Drains.

Here we are just heading off the River Witham, up Kyme Eau. Ahead are the single flood doors.

Nudging the flood doors open on the way back.

Bottom lock, Kyme Eau.

Bottom Bridge, South Kyme, Kyme Eau.

Footbridge in the centre of bustling down town South Kyme.

Bridge at the end of South Kyme.

Remains of Kyme manor and Priory. Kyme Eau.

The Heckington "Tunnel". Kyme Eau.

Turning just below Cobblers Lock, Kyme Eau. We had to dredge ourselves a passage all the way from Heckington Tunnel. 

Turning just below Cobblers Lock, Kyme Eau. By-weir is to right. Lock chamber that we should have been able to get to is in the distance.

Telephoto shot of Cobbler's lock chamber. The start of the Seaford Navigation section. Kyme Eau.

Tangoed! These industrial rubber gloves over ordinary gloves were the only way to keep your hands from freezing at summer temperatures of below 10 C!

Ian Scott cheers up after having conquered Kyme Eau.

Our arrival back at Torksey. Fossdyke.

Torksey Lock. (On the way to Boston.)

Locking out at Torksey onto Tidal River Trent transit moorings, ready for our early morning start.


"Fossdyke Hall" Cottage style narrowboat seen on long term moorings above Torksey on the Fossdyke


"Fossdyke Hall" Cottage style narrowboat seen on long term moorings above Torksey on the Fossdyke

The Tour continues...


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