Monday, 31 October 2016

Our final full day

We awoke early as we are still on BST to a misty still morning.  Such mornngs often make for atmospheric photographs so here's a couple.

Densie moored at Branston

The island at Branston Water Park

We left Branston at 9:30 and cruised steadily along this pleasant canal in the mist which cleared by mid-morning resulting in sunny and unseasonally warm weather.  After 8 locks and nearly 7 miles we reached Fradley Juction at 1:30 and have moored up for the day.

We plan to arrive back at our marina tomorrow morning and so the final blog entry for this year should ne online tomorrow or the day after.

Sunday, 30 October 2016

Branston, where the pickle comes from

Last night we ate out again, at the Dragon Inn in Willington.  It's the first time we had been there and I am sure we will go again.  The food was very good - I had some halibut off the a la carte menu whilst Denise had fish and chips.

This morning we awoke to find the fire still alight and the boat warm.  The weather outside was much like yesterday's - very damp without actually raining.  Before setting off we walked to the local Coop supermarket to buy a few groceries.  On our return to the boat at 10am we left Willington and cruised back through Burton upon Trent arriving at the good moorings at Branston Water Park at 1pm.  The weather was drier but much colder.  As there aren't any further good moorings for some time we have decided to stay here until tomorrow. 

Saturday, 29 October 2016


After my comments yesterday about keeping our fire alight I am embarrassed to report that it went out overnight.  Fortunately the weather this morning was surprisingly warm, but this was spoilt by it being dark and damp - no real rain, just dampness condensing out of the air onto the boat.  Today was a routine journey, starting at 10am and moving continuously until we reached Willington at 2:30.  We ascended the 3 big locks at Weston, Swarkestone and Stenson without any difficulty, this needs some experience to avoid the force of the incoming water throwing the boat around from one side of the lock to the other.  Just before Stenson, Denise saw a kingfisher, but I missed it as I was preparing lunch.

Friday, 28 October 2016

Return to the Trent & Mersey

Following Serenity off the Trent to Derwent Mouth Lock.
We awoke to find our fire was still alight for the third morning running so after 10 years boating it looks like we have finally cracked the technique.  Our problem right now is that the saloon is very warm with the thermometer showing 23 degC - unfortunately you cant really turn a coal fire down.

We left our mooring on the Trent at 11am and cruised up the river to Sawley Lock where again a volunteer was on hand to operate it.  We stopped at Sawley for lunch and then visited the chandlery for some more smokeless "coal" and an LED light for one of our wall lamps.  Back on the move again at 1pm we left Sawley just behind narrowboat Serentity who we followed for the short journey up the Trent again to Derwent Lock which we ascended together off the river onto the Trent & Mersey Canal near Shardlow.

Another couple of locks and 2 miles of canal took us to our moorings just past Aston Lock arriving at 3pm.

Thursday, 27 October 2016

On our way home

This walk starts with a tricky climb

Approaching Cransfleet Lock from the Trent
A speedy escape when the Trent floods?
 Time to go home.  We dont need to get back too quickly so we didnt set off until 10:40.  Then along the Nottingham & Beeston Canals through Beeston Lock where we were able to ascend wth another boat.  This took us up to the Trent where we continued upstream so the speed was noticeably slower than on our journey into Nottingham.  We left the river at Cransfleet Lock, again with this other boat.  The lock  takes the navigation through Cransfleet Cut avoiding a weir.  We moored at 2pm at the junction of the Cut back with the river.

Wednesday, 26 October 2016

Third day in Nottingham

Looking towards Castle Look - new and old buildings line the canal

A mandarin duck in the canal

Densie moored outside Sainsbury's
 We are still moored in Nottingham though we did a short journey today to go down Castle Lock, turn round, back up Castle Lock and to moor again near Sainsbury's as we needed some groceries for the journey home.

On, Tuesday, our first night here we went to The Olde Trip To Jerusalem for some good food and to sample some of their wide range of small brewery beers, very nice they were.  Densie particularly enjoyed her glasses of Mild, a beer style not often found these days.  Yesterday evening we went to our favourite Indian restaurant.  Sadly the food was some way from the previous excellent standard.  So probably off our list now.

We will start our return cruise tomorrow morning, fortunately the weather forecast continues to look good.

Monday, 24 October 2016


Moored at Sawley

On the Trent - 1

On the Trent - 2
After a quick trip to the chandlers at Sawley Marina to buy a Nicholsons Waterways Guide to the North East we moved a short distance down the waterway to a tap where we could fill up with water.  Then down Sawley Lock which was being operated by volunteers back onto the Trent.  This as a very enjoyable section of river where we could cruise at a steady 5mph through the attractive scenary.  The only problem was the very cold wind which even 5 layers of clothing failed to withstand.

Entering Beeston Lock
We left the river at Beeston Lock and travelled along the Beeston and Nottingham Canals through the light industry surrounding Nottingham into the centre where we moored soon after lunch.

Sunday, 23 October 2016

Sawley Marina

On the Trent & Mersey between Swarkestone and Weston Locks
  Another quiet but pleasant day although the weather is getting colder and windier.  We left Swarkestone at 10:20am and almost immediately descended the 10 foot Swarkestone Lock.  Both this and the following lock, Weston, were very hard work.  The stiff paddle gear necessitated the use of our long handled windlass and the very heavy double width gates took a lot of effort to open and close.  Fortunately there was a volunteer lock keeper at Aston Lock, the last of the really deep ones.  The scenery is particularly attractive in places, the canal being lined with trees in between which on the south side one could get good views across the Trent valley.
The M1 crosses the Trent below Shardlow

We passed through the old canal centre of Shardlow with its collection of canal warehouses, some in poor condition but others have been put to good use.  Beyond Shardlow the canal descends Derwent Mouth Lock to join the  Trent which by now has become a very wide river.  It passes beneath the M1 beyond which the navigation leaves the Trent above a weir and passes through Sawley Flood Lock which blocks flood water from the 1/3 mile stretch of sheltered moorings above Sawley Lock were we moored at 2:30.

Statistics: 8 miles,5 locks 4 hours cruising.

Saturday, 22 October 2016


Black swan in the canal
After yesterday's excitements our trip today was quiet and enjoyable.  We left just before 10am cruising through Burton upon Trent.  Although the domestic battery light was on for much of the time it didnt concern us and the batteries  were getting charged without any problems.  Just beyond Burton we were surprised to see a black swan.  We arrived at Willington around mid-day and as the weather had been fairly cold we decided to stop for lunch and to give me a chance to light the fire.

Boats ascending Stenson Lock

We set off again an hour later, helped down the deep Stenson lock by volunteer lock-keepers and then out through the pleasant agricultural countryside.  On our way we were very pleased to see another kingfisher.  Unusually it didnt fly off as soon as it saw us, but instead stayed perched on a branch until we had nearly passed by and so we were able to get a very good close-up view.  Unfortunately my attempts to photograph it failed, just capturing rather a good picture of some willow leaves.

We moored at Swarkestone at 3pm after a journey of 10 miles and 2 locks.

Friday, 21 October 2016

Did we have a major problem?

On the River Trent section near Wychner
 We left Fradley at 9:20 and cruised to Alrewas descending 4 locks.  There we stopped to shop at the excellent Coates butchers.  Then on the move again down Alrewas Lock to the short stretch where the Trent& Mersey Canal makes use of the River Trent.  This section is closed when the river is in flood but all was calm today.   The canal drops down from the Trent at Wychnor and makes its way alongside the very busy and noisy A38 towards Burton upon Trent.

There was a large column of black smoke in the distance which got closer the further north we travelled.  It became clear that the fire was in Barton Marina and passing by the entrance we saw that a number of boats were on fire.  Checking the news later it seems one cruiser was sunk and two or three others also caught fire.  Although fortunately the boats were unoccupied at the time, nearby boaters were treated for the effects of smoke inhalation and the Air Ambulance was in attendance.

A bit further on Denise noticed that our domestic battery light was flickering.  This was worrying as it indicated that our batteries may not be charging or there was some electrical fault that could damage them.  We stopped as soon as we could and I checked the fan belt and battery voltages.  Everything seemed OK, but the light should not have been flickering.  So I rang the nearest boatyard at Shobnall  marina in Burton.  I was advised that it was safe to continue and they could check the alternator when we arrived.  We were very concerned as if there was a serious problem our journey would have been cut short before it had really begun.  We arrived at the boatyard just before 4pm and the alternator was quickly checked.  The technician diagnosed the problem as one he had seen before - the diode controlling the warning light was failing but apart from that the alternator was fine.  The diode needed replacing but it wasnt urgent, we were safe to carry on.  Phew!!!

We have moored up for the night just outside Shobnall marina.

Thursday, 20 October 2016

Out again for the 4th time this year

We are out again, the weather is bright and the forecast good.  After packing clothes and food this morning we arrived at the boat at around 11am.  Then a trip round to Waitrose to to buy some groceries for the next few days.

Densie finally left her moorings at 1pm and we cruised down the Trent & Mersey through Woodend Lock and on to Fradley.  At Woodend there was a CRT notice saying that the top paddle was partially blocked but should be used.  As far as I could see, raising the paddle had no effect whatsoever, however the gate paddle soon filled the lock for us to enter.  Between Woodend and Fradley we were delighted to see a kingfisher, I think our first one this year.
Ready to leave Middle Lock at Fradley

At Fradley we descended Shadehouse, Middle and Junction Locks to arrive at the good Fradley moorings at 3pm where we moored for the night.  While I was typing this it started to rain heavily so a good job we werent tempted to get some more miles completed.