Monday, 21 September 2015


Hi all,
Our journey has now brought us to the Market Town of Loughborough in Leicestershire as we get ever closer to the end of our third year on Chyandour. One of Loughborough's claims to fame is that it was the destination of the very first package tour organised by Thomas Cook. On the fifth of July 1841, a group of temperance campaigners travelled here on a chartered train from Leicester. We arrived here earlier today by a much slower means of transport in the company of Val and Pete on Tadpole 2 and, in all honesty, none of us could be said to be temperant. We are moored on the Grand Union Canal, River Soar Navigation, to give it the full title, just a few minutes walk from the centre of town and just around the corner from the CRT Service Block where there's water, Elsan, toilets and showers.
Newark Castle as we passed by on the approach to Newark Town Lock last Tuesday.
We  Left Newark on Trent last Tuesday morning and had another great cruise along the River Trent to Gunthorpe, where we moored on the visitor pontoon a few hundred yards West of the lock. This pontoon has a security gate so you need a Waterways Key to access the land. There's also a good pub near to the pontoon, The Unicorn, and as you can guess, we just had to give it a try, it would be rude not to.

Approaching Gunthorpe Lock. Red and Green lights together shows the Lock Keeper is preparing the lock for us to enter
The next day we moved on from Gunthorpe and made our way to Nottingham and the first  of our stops in the city of my birth. I've allways wanted to take our boat under Trent Bridge and moor on the embankment in front of Nottingham County Hall and on Wednesday I got my chance. The moorings there are just a short walk to both Nottingham Forrest and Notts County Football Grounds as well as the World famous Trent Bridge Cricket Ground. Of the three venues, the only one I've ever been into is Forrest's ground and that was way back on Boxing Day 1968.
Looking back at Radcliffe Railway Viaduct which was built around 1850.The arch to the left is 110 feet wide with 24 feet clearance above the river.
Lisa looking after Chyandour as we wait at Holme Lock. This lock is adjacent to The National Watersports Centre at Holme Pierrepont
Looking back at Trent Bridge on the River Trent in Nottingham
On Thursday we set off again but this time only for a couple of miles and through two locks along The Nottingham Canal which, together with the Beeston Cut, bypasses an unnavigable stretch of the River Trent. We cruised to Castle Meadow moorings, which are overlooked by Nottingham Castle and are next to a Sainsbury's Superstore. These moorings are on the only remaining bit of The Nottingham Canal which originally went from the River Trent below Trent Bridge for fifteen miles up to Langley Mill and the Erewash and Cromford Canals. Opened in 1796 it was closed in 1937 and the section through the City was filled in from Lenton Chain and the junction of the Beeston Cut after 1955. Lenton Chain gets its name from the chain that was strung across the canal on Sundays to prevent boat movements on the Sabbath. I remember playing on some of the towpath of the Nottingham canal to the North of the City with my childhood friends.
A Beautiful day for a cruise. Here we are entering Meadow Lane Lock on the Nottingham Canal
Nottingham Castle overlooking the canal as we approach our mooring at Castle Meadow.
While moored at Castle Meadow we took a walk into the City centre to see if I could find a Nottinghamshire Boat Flag, I've looked for one online and elsewhere but with no luck and Nottingham proved to be just as fruitless. After a few hours browsing around the four of us decided to do some of the Tourist bits, namely The Trip To Jerusalem, The Old Salutation and The Royal Child, three of Nottinghams famous pubs. A great time was had by all I can assure you. We did take time out to have a look at the statue of Robin Hood outside the Castle, he still had his arrow which, if I remember rightly, was always being pinched when I was a kid.
Under Nottingham are a lot of Sandstone caves that have been used over the years for many things from homes to warehouses. Here we all are with the Landlord in the caves beneath The Old Salutation Pub. He kindly gave us a tour of what were cellars and meeting rooms.
Here's Robin Hood looking all smart and complete with his arrow.
On Friday we left Nottingam and cruised for another short distance, this time along The Beeston Cut to Beeston where we parted company from Tadpole 2 for a day or two, and met up with some old friends that we haven't seen for the best part of two years. We knew that John and Sheila on Water Ratz would be on the Cut and we planned to have a couple of days with them before heading off to catch up with Val & Pete again. After enjoying ourselves at Beeston we set off on Sunday morning through Beeston Lock and back down onto the navigable River Trent to Trent Lock where Tadpole 2 was waiting.
A misty morning on Beeston Cut.
Looking downstream from the pontoon at Trent Lock with Radcliffe Power Station in the background. To the right there's Thrumpton Weir and the River Soar, down which we went to Loughborough this morning.To the left is Cranfleet Cut and just off the picture, Trent Lock and the Erewash Canal.
It was from the pontoon moorings at Trent Lock that we set off this morning after a quick chat with Mick, one of the brothers who built Chyandour and who run the nearby Kingfisher Boatyard and Dry Dock. We couldn't have gone without saying hello, that would be bad manners.
Well, that's all again for this week. Since our last blog we have gone through 15 Locks and cruised for 43 Miles. That gives us a Grand Total of 1,321 Locks and 2,337 Miles since we set off back in October 2012. Please Take care everyone.

Monday, 14 September 2015

Newark on Trent

Hi all,
Our blog for this week comes to you from the Nottinghamshire Market Town of Newark on Trent in the East Midlands. As the name suggests it is situated on the River Trent but it is also on a couple of other former major highways, the Great North Road, or A1, between London and Scotland and The Fosse Way, the Roman Road from Exeter to Lincoln. We got here yesterday after cruising up the River from Cromwell Lock where we'd spent a couple of days doing what we do best, relaxing. Our current mooring is outside the CRT offices here and once again we have water and electricity available. The four of us, Lisa, myself, Val and Pete, have had a gentle stroll around the town and it's quite a nice place to stay. The Market Square is surrounded by some lovely buildings and reminds me of some of the towns in Europe that we have visited. There's also the Castle Barge Pub moored almost opposite us on the river. It's a former Spillers grain barge which used to travel between Hull and Gainsborough, carrying, surprise, surprise, grain for flour and it was converted into a public house in 1980. It's very nice inside and there was live music outside when we visited it yesterday, they also serve a nice Real Ale or two, what more could you ask for ??
The Market Square here at Newark. There was a bit of an Antiques fair today.
We left Keadby Lock as planned last Tuesday and made our way up the River Trent for some twenty seven miles or so till we reached the mouth of the Fossdyke Navigation at Torksey, where we turned off the river and moored on the Pontoon below Torksey Lock. Our first ever journey on a tidal river had been excellent, Chyandour and Tadpole 2 performed faultlessly and the river gave us no problems whatsoever. The Lockeepers at Keadby, Mark one and Mark three, had given us sound advice on the best time to set off and as the tide traveled up the river on Tuesday afternoon it took us with it. There are three Lockeepers operating Keadby Lock and they are all named Mark in case you're wondering, Mark two being on holiday. I must admit that I know very little of how tides behave on the river and I understand even less but we did have the benefit of a Neap Tide which, as I understand it, is the most gentle of the tides and also Tuesdays was one of the lowest tides recently, so that's another couple of reasons why we had such a good cruise. I have to say though, anyone entering the river at any of the locks should always consult the Lockeepers about tides and times to be sure of getting the best out of their journey, as well as having a safe one. There are no Commercial boats operating on the river now so that was another problem we no longer had to worry about.
Keadby Lock, first used in 1802 and if the Lockie is to be believed, the only wooden Balance Beam remaining, that's the one in the middle this side, dates back to then
Val and Pete at the helm of Tadpole 2 as she leaves Keadby Lock last Tuesday.

Sally Earl with Martin at the helm as he overtook us on the river after we left Keadby. Sally Earl is better suited for river cruising. Martin gave us a lot of useful advice about mooring etc.
The following day was spent around Torksey and we walked along to the rather large Car Boot Sale that they have every week throughout the year on Wednesdays and Saturdays. We didn't buy much but Lisa does love a Car Boot Sale. I've always wondered though, why would anyone with a car want to buy another boot ??? Anyway, as you would expect of us, we also managed to enjoy the delights of the pub close to the lock, The White Swan, where they serve some good food at reasonable prices as well as a nice pint of Real Ale, the name of which escapes me. It must be an age thing, it couldn't be the ale.
On the Fossdyke Navigation looking to it's junction with the River Trent.
On Thursday we checked things out with Neil, the Lockie at Torksey, with regard to our anticipated departure at about seven o'clock the next morning. After that, armed with our trusty Bus Passes, we took ourselves off for the day and traveled to the nearby City of Lincoln, where we had another good time enjoying the sights. It was graduation day so the the city was pretty busy but we managed to get into the Cathedral and Castle Grounds to have a look around.
Looking at Lincoln Cathedral from a different perspective.
High Bridge in Lincoln, called the Glory Hole, it's on the River Witham and is the oldest bridge with buildings on it in the UK. Built around 1160, the buildings on it are from around 1550.
 The next, and final, leg of our journey on the Tidal Trent started as we expected on Friday morning. Just after seven o'clock, the pontoons on which we were moored began to rise as the tide came upriver and, after casting off, away we went, with the tide helping us against the rather gentle flow that was coming downstream. We think the gentle flow was due to the recent long spell of fine dry weather 'cos we've been told that the Trent can be a bit of a devil after heavy rainfall and we're all glad we didn't find out first hand.  After eighteen miles we came upon the lock at Cromwell, which was ready and waiting for us as I had phoned the Lockie when we were a couple of miles out. All the locks have landlines and mobile phones and the lockies appreciate a call to let them know you're getting close and each Lockeeper also notifies the next if you intend to continue your journey onwards. A quick word with Shaun, the lockie at Cromwell, regarding our intentions for the next day or two and we moored up on the pontoon above the lock where we had the pleasure of electricity and water if we wanted it. Cards to pay for the electric being available from the lockie at a reasonable price.
The two of us in Cromwell Lock, plenty of room for a few other boats. We keep back as far as possible to avoid the turbulence as the lock fills.
A sad sight at Cromwell Lock. It's a memorial to ten Volunteer Paratroopers on night training in September 1975. They were washed over the weir, when a power cut shut off the warning lights, and drowned.
We set off from Cromwell Lock yesterday morning having decided that Saturday should be an easy day because rain was forecast and, as allways, we didn't want to cruise in the rain if we didn't have too. It was another  good trip up the river and we arrived at Newark Nether Lock after about an hour and a half cruising. After leaving the lock we cruised for another three quarters of a mile till we got here at The Kiln moorings on the West bank of the river, there was enough room for us to breast up so here we've stayed, today being a bit damp and dismal, with heavy rain and thunder as I write.
The approach to Newark Nether Lock from Cromwell. the red lights ask us to wait for the gates to open, once they go to green in we go.
Well that's it again for this week folks. Since last week we have gone through 3 locks and cruised 51 Miles, that gives us a Grand Total of 1,306 Locks and 2,294 Miles since we set off on our journey in October 2012. Please take care everyone.

Monday, 7 September 2015

Stainforth and Keadby Canal.

Hi all,
This week our story comes to you from the Stainforth & Keadby Canal in South Yorkshire. We're moored just West of Keadby Lock as we wait to get onto the River Trent which will take us towards our final destination of this year, Trent Lock and the Erewash Canal, where Chyandour first entered the water three years ago. The next leg of our journey on the Trent is a little nerve racking as it will be the first time either ourselves or Val and Pete on Tadpole 2 have ever been on a tidal river. We've heard many conflicting stories of what to expect but my instinct is to go with the positive experiences and not be put off by the negatives. We've planned for it and prepared for it as best we can so bring it on.After a chat with Mark the Lockie here at Keadby this afternoon, he assured us we had picked a good time to go, so we will be locking down onto the river after lunch tomorrow.
Last week we spent Monday night in Clarence Dock while we recovered from Sunday nights celebrations with John and Dianne, aka "the Chillies", who live in nearby Birstall. We met them last Winter in Corralejo and the six of us planned to meet up when our boats arrived in Leeds so we could go for a "Kerry", as John calls it, a curry, to the rest of us. He took us to a great Indian Restaurant near Birstall and together with his brother, Steve and his wife Josie, we all had large quantities of alcoholic beverages to wash down the very reasonably priced and enjoyable meal.
The eight of us preparing to enjoy our "Kerry".
As a result, it was Tuesday morning when, together with the brothers Steve and John as passengers, Tadpole 2 and Chyandour set off to make our way to our next stop at Woodlesford Lock, which was three locks and four and a half miles along the Aire and Calder Navigation. The Aire and Calder is a mix of river and canal and the first bit of canal starts where it leaves the River Aire just outside Clarence Dock and runs parallel to the river before rejoining it at Lemonroyd. At Woodlesford the brothers said farewell and made their way back to Leeds on the train. We meanwhile had a walk around what had once been an area of industrialisation but has now been given back to nature. There were coal mines and a power station close to the canal but now there's little to be seen except some obviously landscaped spoil heaps that are already being covered with trees and shrubs.
Leaving Leeds Lock on our way down the Aire and Calder Navigation.
An unusual view. Along the Navigation from under the A1/M1 Link Bridge.
Just one of the many animal carvings that can be seen around a very well looked after Woodlesford Lock.
Woodlesford Lock. At a guess you could probably get eight narrowboats in this lock.
The next day, Wednesday, we set off once again, this time to Castleford where, having got back onto the river, we meet the Aire and Calder Navigation, another part river, part canal waterway, and the Castleford Cut, obviously a canal. We spent a couple of nights moored on The Cut, enjoying some of the delights of Castleford which has a large open Market as well as a large covered one and the usual shops, and there's also The Griffin, near to the canal, which is a pub that sells a rather enjoyable pint of John Smiths Bitter.
The weir at Castleford on the River Aire.The Barge with the shrubbery growing out of it broke free from her moorings and was washed downstream till she founded here. She's been here about thirty years now.
 On Friday we set off from the Visitor Moorings at Castleford to cover the remaining bit of The  Cut before entering Bulholme Lock, this dropped us down the eight feet to return to the river on which we cruised for the four miles or so to Ferrybridge to rejoin the canal to make our way to Whitley Lock where we planned to stay the night. Again the banks of both the river and the canal showed signs of past industrialisation, as well as Power Stations still in use, as we passed, first under The Ferrybridge and then through the town of Ferrybridge itself.
The Ferrybridge at Ferrybridge in West Yorkshire which was an important crossing on the River Aire for The Great North Road
 After staying overnight below Whitley Lock we left the lovely,but a bit noisy from the nearby Motorway, moorings on Saturday morning and cruised along the wide and relatively straight Aire and Calder to it's junction with the New Junction Canal. This canal was one of the last canals to be built and it shows, it is wide and dead straight for it's entire five and a half mile length and has just one lock, Skyehouse, which had a Lock keeper on duty who worked us through. Below the lock we moored for the night and went for a walk along a very seldom used, and difficult to find, Footpath to the nearby village of Skyehouse. There we spent very comfortable and friendly few hours in The Old George Inn as we watched England win at rugby.
Yesterday we left Skyehouse and cruised to the end of The New Junction Canal and turned sharp left onto the Stainforth and Keadby Canal at Bramwith Junction where we travelled parallel to the River Don on an embankment to our left. Tadpole 2 was, by this stage, getting a bit low on Diesel so we stopped at Stanisland Marina, just before Thorne Lock, and fuelled up. They're a friendly lot at this marina, pretty much as we find at most marinas, and they invited us to stay the night, enabling us to visit the nearby town of Thorne instead of chancing our luck at the Visitor Moorings below the lock. A nice gesture that was much appreciated. While there we had the bonus of the AVRO Vulcan Bomber XH558, fly overhead on it's way back to Doncaster Airport. Sadly this aircraft will be grounded at the end of this season and it's unlikely it will ever fly again.
Skyhouse Road Bridge on the New Junction Canal. Just one of the many Lift or Swing Bridges we encountered.
The Guillotine Gates on the Don Aqueduct that carries the New Junction Canal over the River Don.
 This morning we said our farewells to all at the marina and set off to make our way just over ten miles to Keadby. Travelling through countryside that looks very much like East Anglia we made our steady way through one lock and eight movable bridges, taking us a bit over four hours. The last few miles reminded us of the Erewash Canal as it had a covering of weed just like a lawn, it looks as though you could walk on it in places.
Chyandour making her way through the weed on the Stainforth and Keadby Canal.

The Vazon Sliding Railway Bridge about half a mile from Keadby Lock. This bridge slides sideways to allow boats to pass. We had to wait for a convenient gap in the rail traffic before we could go through.
The bridge opens and through we can go.
 Well thats the lot again for this week folks. Since last week we have gone through 12 Locks and 14 Bridges and cruised 46 Miles which brings our Grand Total to 1,303 Locks and 2,243 Miles since we set off on our travels in October 2012.Please take care everyone.