Scampi Shardlow. 20th January

Willowbrook Farm Moorings to Derwent Mouth Lock

1.21m down 11cm from yesterday

Ice again this morning. Whilst I attended a zoom production meeting for #unit21 Mick went for a walk along the canal towards Shardlow Lock to assess the ice situation. My meeting went well and Mick’s verdict was that after lunch we should be fine to move as the sun was out melting the ice. He’d phoned Tracy at the farm to arrange a meter reading and a settling up as we’d be moving on today.


Just before midday we unplugged ourselves and walked up to the stables. Here we could say goodbye to our noisy neighbours, two donkeys who were rescues from Blackpool quite a few years ago. In three weeks we’d used 150 units of electric, we’d not run our engine other than to check the alternator and once to warm the engine bay up. The occasional blast of electric heating in the morning, washing machine and dishwasher along with the electric kettle, sewing machine and iron. Yes we have an iron but it comes out very rarely and mostly for work. We thanked Tracy for helping us out at new year and allowing us to stay for three weeks.

Lunch, another C&RT notice! Stoke Lock was still not operational by boaters so needs to be booked 24hrs in advance. A phone call was made straight away, when would we be there? Monday morning. The lady rang back confirming that a volunteer would be at the lock waiting for us.

Pushing off for the first time this year

Time to roll up the covers for the first time this year. The new version of our trip computer spluttered into life, an old phone placed in a window, this will run Nebo and track our route and miles. I turned Nebo on on my phone too to record locks as we go through them. We untied and I walked ahead to open the lock whilst Mick reversed Oleanna back to meet me.

A patch of thicker ice slowed his progress just as he arrived at the three widebeams. A chap on the last boat stuck his head out and complimented Mick for his reversing skills. He also warned him of thick ice below Derwent Mouth Lock.

The top gates needed a couple of attempts to get them open, the ice behind holding firm on the first go.

Reversing in ice seemed to be quite good. Blasts of forwards every now and then sent water backwards breaking up the ice in front of the blunt end of the boat. The odd blast from the bow thruster also helped to steer the stern towards the lock.

Look at that sun

Down gently in the lock, the ice there breaking up as the water lowered. The aroma of scampi coming from the pub was soon followed by slightly burnt garlic.

The Clockwarehouse

I left Mick to wind whilst I popped to the post box.

Maybe we’d have to moor up

Cat ice was about, easy enough to push your way through. Then at the pub bend we came across thicker ice. Would our escape from the Trent and Mersey be thwarted on this bend? It is quite hard to steer in ice. Narrowboats pivot in the middle and sideways force on ice isn’t very productive. Right on the bend it took several forward and backward manoeuvres to help get into a good position to start carving our way through the ice again. We wouldn’t have to moor there over night. Scampi here too! Maybe on Fridays Shardlow has a special for fish Friday on Scampi!

Both rivers open

The red traffic lights were both turned off at the EA flood lock, both the rivers Soar and Trent were open to boats.

Constant ice ahead

Now we slowed our pace to pass the line of moored boats by Chapel Farm Marina. Is it better to go slowly? Or does it just eek out the noise of cracking ice? A thick patch by the last line of boats had me at the bow, trying to keep us away from a Dutch barge. My pushing only moved the barge and not us. But eventually we worked our way through.


Up ahead was the widebeam that has been waiting for the river for a couple of weeks. More ice in front of them, we’d had enough and wanted to see what the ice was like below Derwent Mouth Lock before venturing any further. We pulled in. A quick cat H&S meeting was held, too much ice, Sorry Tilly! Harumph urumph!!

That’s better

Below the lock the river was in the amber, the lock landing all very visible now. However the chap on the widebeam had been correct the ice below the lock looked thick, snow still sitting on it in the shade. We’d done enough ice breaking for the day, we’d be staying put, after all we’d reached our goal. Hopefully tomorrow the ice would have melted some more to make our journey easier.

Below the lock, thick ice!

We settled down for the remainder of the afternoon to listen to Tilly’s complaints. Then a crack and crackle with music came from the cut. A narrowboat with three chaps at the stern came along, we’d broken the ice for them, would they continue. Sure enough they headed for the lock.

If only we’d known, they could have broken the ice for us!

A little while later Mick popped his head out of the hatch, the widebeam had also gone. Should we follow too? It was too late now to get much further. A check on the weather forecast. We’d both remembered it as getting warmer at the weekend. The forecast didn’t agree, -3C tonight with fog! Oh bum! Would we end up being iced in now away from water and electric?

A rather nice sunset behind tonight

To try to keep the engine bay from getting too cold overnight Mick ran the engine again for an hour, hoping that would help the batteries which don’t like charging at low temperatures.

Nebo Trip recorded from inside Oleanna, lots of back and forth
Nebo Trip recorded in my pocket including a walk to the post box

My Mum’s American Sticky Chicken was made up and sat on the stove to bubble away for 90 minutes before we enjoyed it with some rice noodles. It isn’t the healthiest of recipes, but it’s nice.

1 lock, 1.2 miles, 150 units, 1 reasonable mooring, 2 donkeys, 2 scampi pubs, 2 more overalls, 1 hour breaking ice, 1 challenging bend, 0 red lights, 1 frozen river, 1 ice breaker forging ahead, 1 widebeam, 1 Oleanna who maybe should have followed! 2 sticky chicken thighs, 1 box of rosé!!!