Gunthorpe At High Noon. 23rd January

Stoke Lock to Low side Hazelford Lock

Sitting waiting

The alarm was set this morning, no time for a cuppa in bed either! Breakfast was followed by emptying the yellow water tank, then we walked our rubbish down to the bins by the lock. There was no sign of a volunteer, just a cleaner in the loos and a chap clearing things away from the works that had been happening at the lock.

Stoke Lock very pretty

The lock has had an upgrade this winter, new LED lights and new boat operated pedestals. At the moment the pedestals are not working so someone from C&RT has to come out and work the lock for you from the cabin, booking required with 24hr notice. Cheryl from the Milton Keynes Office called us to say there had been problems at Holme Lock this morning and the person coming was on their way, they’d just be late. We decided to get Oleanna and move her down into the lock cut ready.

Heading inside for a bit of warmth brought the Lock Keeper, Simon, not a volunteer. He’d been trying to clear all the rubbish at Holme Lock this morning as it was stuck behind the gates. He asked us to wait where we were, Stoke Lock needed emptying to check the gates first before we could go in. He then asked us to pull in on the starboard side, he’d only be able to open the bottom gate that side as they were still having problems with the hydraulics.

One gate only

The gates were tested, then we got the green light to go in. As we descended Mick asked if it was possible to do a radio check with Simon, this was the first opportunity to check his Christmas present worked, thankfully it did. Simon was heading to Gunthorpe Lock next, would we like his assistance? Well it would save me having to jump back onto Oleanna from the pontoon below the lock in the full current from the weir. But it would also mean being in the lock, holding a rope round a blue riser! We accepted his offer and arranged to meet downstream in about an hour.

A perfect winters day

Out of the lock we came, blue skies surrounding us. What a beautiful day. We waved to the ladies who rescued Tilly when she was a kitten as we passed Burton Joyce, round the big sweeping bend. Geese flew overhead. Then a flock of birds, not sure what type swooped in murmuration high above the river, switching and changing direction, then settled again only to take off as we passed them by. What a wonderful sight.

The pontoon at Gunthorpe was empty, but we carried on towards the lock cut, pulling in at the water point. We were early for our rendez vous with Simon. Should we wait or operate the lock ourselves? Hmm, that would mean fighting to get back onboard below the lock. We opted to wait.

Gunthorpe Bridge and moorings

Waiting for the lights to change, which side of the lock to pull in on, the blue risers, the V channels behind them, all very familiar from seven years ago. Simon arrived at noon and worked the lock for us. We took it steady, no need to rush in any lock, especially one with blue risers! I took a deep breath, I still hate this lock with a passion.

Simon checked below and gave us information about rubbish that may lay in our way below. He needed to hang around at the lock so wouldn’t see us at Hazelford. The lock gates opened, we thanked him and sped off down stream again. All 9.75 digits still in tact.

This reach is particularly pretty and today it was just stunning. We were glad of our layers, but the blue sky with wispy clouds above was so beautiful. The last two years we’ve missed cruising in the winter. The views (when there’s no fog) are so different. People say there are 2000 miles of the network to explore, true, but there is there and back again and then all four seasons to enjoy. The river was ours and the birds. Wonderful.

Above Hazelford the lock cut was full of C&RT boats, a skip boat, the crane boat and Maid Marion the tug boat. I climbed a ladder on the island and headed to press buttons. It was hard to see Oleanna as the level dropped, but she reappeared on leaving the lock.

There was a Dutch Barge at the far end of the moorings, we pulled in to the lower section, only recently revealed from the flood waters. Tilly was allowed some shore leave and made the most of it once she’d got to the top of the big steps. She returned with a mouth full and was sent away again.

It’s a chunky outside this one!

A tap on our roof mid afternoon, a chap was here to help remove a rope from a prop. Not us, it must have been someone above the lock. An hour or so later we heard a boat engine, the boat from Stoke Lock.

News came through that the stretch above Town Lock in Newark was iced up from a member of the Trentlink facebook group. They had tried to get through yesterday but had no luck. Maybe we’ll have a sausage day tomorrow and hope it thaws.


Much of the afternoon was spent sorting out future lodgers for the house. Another favourite actor had been in touch today. We’re now booked up for a third of the year ahead.

3 locks, 2 assisted, 9.6 miles, 1 hour late, 1 deja vous, 9.75, 2 hours shore leave, 1 friend at least, 1 happy cat, 1 glorious day boating, 1 cheeky robin, 1 boat behind us, 1st Look North, 6 lodgers, 1 Mrs Tilly stamp of approval.

2 thoughts on “Gunthorpe At High Noon. 23rd January

  1. Brian Anthony Holt

    What’s wrong with blue risers? Also I hope you have your phone number written on those cork balls on your keys. I know you are never going to leave them behind because that is what everyone says.

    1. Pip Post author

      I had an incident with a blue riser seven years ago. There is either a fat fish in the bottom of Gunthorpe Lock or a clone of me. I can now be classed as an amputee.

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