Stenson, 2nd June

Sarson’s Bridge to Branston Lock 8, Trent and Mersey

Alarm was set to get us up and at it this morning. So how come we only pushed off at 9:30?! Does it really take us three hours to have breakfast?!

One boat had already passed us this morning before we set off. In an ideal world it would be good to have another boat to share the next two locks with, especially Stenson Lock which is 12ft 6″ deep. We’d see if we would find a partner.

Swarkestone Pavillion

The Tudor twin towers of Swarkestone Pavillion still grab your attention as you cruise past. In the past I’ve tried to find out a bit about it, but not been too successful, however today I’ve found out that it is a Landmark Trust property Link it belonged to Swarkestone Hall which was demolished in 1750.

On the moorings below the lock was a narrowboat, there was activity, engine keys were picked up and the ladies onboard NB Puzzle made ready to join us which was great.

Bit late telling us that now!

Mick brought us in to the lock landing where faded signs announce, once you are already there, of a sunken boat. These signs would be much better set a touch further away from the lock as you almost have to be on top of the sunken boat to read them! We reversed back for me to hop off, by which time Emily from Puzzle was already emptying the lock.

Yesterday they had teamed up with a boat for the locks, but when Puzzle stopped to help a widebeam that kept grounding their partner boat continued onwards and obviously headed up the lock without them. Well they had a new partner now.

Swarkestone Lock

Emily and I worked the lock whilst Mick and Emily’s Mum (sorry didn’t catch your name) stayed at the helm. We were soon up. We wanted to fill with water, but another boat had only just set up their hose pipe, so rubbish was disposed of and we’d hope to fill later in the day.

Cricket seems to have started, how did I know this, well Mick started to play with his phone, then voices of commentators sprouted forth. After a minute Mick decided to silence his phone, not wanting to disturb our cruise. I did say he could plug himself into it, but his ear phones were in the bedroom!

Today a blue field of Linseed waved in the breeze, the occasional poppy flower boosting the blue that surrounded them. We think it was early 2016 that we last did this stretch, Tilly was a new boat cat heading to Tamworth for her first vaccinations. Back then the fields were filled with swans, who then escorted us along the cut.

At Ragley Boat Stop signs on the electric post say they are now charging £10 a night. This will be reimbursed when purchasing food and drink in the bar. It sounds like they’ve had boats staying for free and using the hook up.

Trying to clear gravel from below the gates

A widebeam sat at the end of the lock landing for Stenson Lock, the owners hanging onto their ropes. A couple of boats having just come down. We could see the stern of a boat just entering the lock, was it a narrowboat requiring a partner? Well it turned out to be a work boat, two chaps from C&RT clearing growth off the gates and doing their best to dig gravel out from under the gates so that they would close better.

Pulling onto the lock landing I walked up to see how long the chaps would be. Ten minutes or an early lunch? An early lunch was the reply. I walked down and relayed the information to the widebeam and NB Puzzle. Spikes were hammered in.

Of course because we were all prepared for a wait the problem was fixed quickly and within ten minutes the work boat was backing out and the widebeam taking it’s place in the lock. Two boats then came down before it was our turn.

Going up Stenson Lock, it’s big for round here

One of the C&RT chaps was very chatty, happy to help with the big heavy gates, then he left us to it

Stenson Lock is contrary. Normally in a broadlock you would first open the ground paddle on the same side as your boat. The water enters the lock, hits the wall opposite and then returns to hold your boat against the wall. But here should you do that your boat will career across the lock. As Puzzle was shorter than us Emily and I opened the paddle opposite Oleanna to hold her there before opening up the other paddle. Then as the level rose to the cill line we carefully opened the gate paddles.

Helpful C&RT chaps

A lady waiting to come down the lock chatted, this would be the first time she’d used ground paddles. Yes they were going down, but would be coming back up later in the day. She and her husband have been liveaboards for three weeks and so far have been enjoying it. After telling her of our latest adventure she decided they would leave tidal waters for a few more weeks.

Strange shaped arch, would a horse have fitted under it on the towpath?

Up the two boats came, we were on our way again. NB Puzzle stopped in Willington to meet a friend and we paused at the surprisingly empty water point to fill the tank. The pressure of the tap was good, this was a touch disappointing as we’d hoped to be able to have lunch whilst filling as our destination was still a distance ahead.

River Dove

Over the River Dove Aqueduct where we once got absolutely soaked as a thunder storm suddenly hit. We passed a boat with a rather effective paint job, created by holding fronds of fir tree against the cabin and spraying over it with different colours.

According to our route plan we should be stopping today at bridge 32, near to Horninglow Basin. Our plan was to continue onwards to Branston Water Park.

Back into the narrow world

Soon Dallow Lane Lock arrived, our first narrow lock this year. A quick check back to last year and it turns out we are just a week short of eleven months since we’ve been in a narrow lock. I can’t remember a gap so long, maybe it was before we bought a share in NB Winding Down.

Small gates, easy to lift paddles all helped by an oncoming boat who’s crew came to help. There was a space at Shobnall Fields, but we decided to continue, a few more miles would serve us better.

It’s gone!

I got myself ready for a touch of pruning. Five years ago a large rosemary bush grew at Shobnall Road Bridge, I fancied a sprig to go with our roast chicken this evening. Things change over time and sadly the huge bush has been replaced with terracing filled with bark. Oh well!

69p for over 50 litres

Diesel 69p, maybe we could have waited to top up the tank , but we were glad we’d had peace of mind after the Trent.

New buildings have popped up, several large warehouses all with blue smiling trucks parked outside. Another part of the Amazon empire.

Today seemed to have been longer than it should have been. Our average cruise time should be just under 4 hours, yes we’d pushed on further today and had a wait at Stenson Lock, but not too long. By the time we pulled up just short of Branston Lock we’d been on the go for 7 hours. Canalplan suggests this should have been 4 hours 47 minutes. Waterway Routes has half hour markers on the maps, here Paul has our journey at just under 5 hours 30 minutes. Interesting, are there more moored boats to slow down past, did we really loose an hour and a half?

Don’t be so rude Tilly!

We stopped just short of Branston Lock, whilst Tilly was out I could cook our dinner, roast chicken. Not something I’d normally choose to cook on a hot day, but with all the doors open it wasn’t too bad. I even decided to spatchcock the chicken to reduce the time the oven had to be on. It turned out very well and cooked in half an hour less than suggested for a normal bird.

During the afternoon (14:50) a notice had come in from C&RT, we’d first seen mention of it on social media.

Due to a boat sinking in Stenson Lock, the Lock is currently out of action to other users.  Canal River Rescue is being called out as a point of urgency to assist the boat out of the lock. 

I had a hunt through my photos for one of the new liveaboards boat, they had a trad stern, the sunk boat a cruiser stern. It appears the boat had been coming up the lock and somehow had got caught, water quickly overwhelming it. It looked like a fairly new boat. Old or new it is still someone’s pride and joy now filled with water. We hope the crew are all safe and that the boat can be raised soon.

3 locks, 2 broad, 1 narrow, 11 months, 13.32 miles, 26.11 volts, 1 full water tank, 1 partner, 0 rosemary, 1 flattened chicken, 1 rainy evening, 2 hours.

One thought on “Stenson, 2nd June

  1. Anonymous

    Great post Pip, just caught up in the early hours of Tuesday 8th.
    Reason being been rather busy this last week partially as our daughter became Mrs Collins! No longer Miss Moore.

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