Back To Big Locks. 22nd January

Boots Footbridge to Stoke Lock, River Trent

Frosty eyes

The canal banks were frosty even Oleanna’s eyes were frosty this morning. We decided to let things warm up a touch whilst we joined the Geraghty zoom. Subjects covered, being unique, the difference between English and Scottish NHS, advance packing, we felt slightly left out as we have no spare bed available to collate clothing.

Hello Woofer

Thankfully the flow along the Nottingham and Beeston Canal meant we didn’t have ice to contend with, just the odd bit crackling in the margins. There seem to be new areas that the local boaters moor, several groups have managed to pin themselves to the bank, one stretch with an ice rink for a towpath.

Moorings reduced at Castle Marina

Mick made a call through to Castle Marina, we were wanting a top up of diesel, the answer came back as expected the marina was frozen over, we’d be heading on straight past. There seems to be problems with the pontoons in the marina. As we passed numerous big signs line empty pontoons. Maybe they are getting replaced.

No stopping for a shop today, straight through a first for us. The towpath in parts needs work as it is undulating by the edge. This boat caught our eye NB Bird on a Wire, I like the addition of a squirrel.

Reaching the bend

Castle Lock was surrounded with crud, two life buoys by the weir and a blue fat fender by the lock gates, this was picked up, with a new bit of rope it may be useful. Plenty of the buildings now seemed empty, that may have been because it was Sunday, but dusty windows were not inviting.

Posh new restaurant

By the big bend the building work has been completed. Cleaver and Wake now sits alongside the canal, run by Masterchef Professional winner Laurence Henry, it offers an ‘elevated dining experience’. We cannot afford to eat there so our roast pork this evening would be enjoyed onboard at the fraction of the price for one of their starters.

Fishermen slowed our progress. A new mural along a wall suggests some regeneration money is being ploughed into the area, The Island Quarter, a new ‘destination’!

Meadow Lane Lock

Meadow Lane Lock required a couple of logs removing from behind the top gates then we took quite a bit of rubbish down with us to the river where only a couple of rowing boats were busy zooming past the lock. Two boats on County Hall steps, not surprising after the floods. The occupants of County Hall itself may be moving and the building sold off for a hotel.

Trent Bridge

Back on the river we zoomed along, it was in the green but the flow was quite strong, tick over to keep steerage required. The river was strangely quiet, we’d expected sailing boats and more rowers, but none were seen.

Rufford Hall or Southfork as we call it

Southfork looked dead as usual. A peer in through the first floor windows revealed some dodgy tromp l’oeil around some archways. From Rufford Hall on-line interior design courses are run!

As we approached Holme Lock mad people were climbing into canoes to launch themselves into the river and head down the white water course. The pull towards the hydroelectric plant was strong so more power was required on the lock cut to keep us going straight.

A chap walking his dog said he wasn’t sure what was happening with Stoke Lock, a boat had gone down there yesterday. Luckily we could fill him in that it requires booking.

Ice filled the lock along with more flood detritus. Holme Lock takes SOOOOoooooo long to empty or fill, you could add a half hour to your journey here. But we were soon out, the hydraulic rams on the gates cutting through the ice easily.

Radcliffe Viaduct

One last reach of the river gradually getting more and more rural. Numerous Herons and Egrets sat and watched or flew past. Only one Kingfisher spotted in amongst the trees. A train came with potential for a good photo of Radcliffe Viaduct, except it’s progress was very slow compared to ours, the view left for someone else to see as we headed round a bend.

Stoke Lock

Up ahead at Stoke Lock the low mooring was occupied, presumably the boat that had come down Holme Lock yesterday. This wasn’t good news for Tilly as she isn’t allowed out on pontoon moorings on rivers, especially ones just out of flood. We pulled in, the current wanting to pull the bow out from the pontoon, we’d not wanted to wind to face upstream due to the pull from the weir.

Time for the joint of pork to go in the oven.

3 locks, 9.6 miles, 1 left, 1 marina frozen over, 2 rowing boats, £40 for 2 courses, £10 for both of us onboard, 0 shore leave, 1 blue fat fender.