Category Archives: Erewash Canal

Dodging Balls. 31st August

Kegworth Marine and Ratcliffe Bridge 46 to Trent Junction, River Trent

Ratcliffe Lock

A cruiser just beat us to Ratcliffe Lock, a crew member sent ahead to set it. I checked with the skipper if they would be willing to share or if they’d rather be on their own. Some cruisers are weary of narrowboats in locks, but on this occasion they were fine about sharing just so long as we went into the lock first. Fine with us.

Closing in a years time

Now close to Ratcliffe on Soar powerstation, the cooling towers in just about every photograph. Through Redhill Flood Lock and on towards the Trent. A narrowboat came towards us at speed, had they misjudged the bend by the big weir? Plenty of wellie and they managed to adjust their course to avoid us.

Trent Junction

Now the water stretches out as the Soar meets the Trent, meets the Erewash Canal, meets Cranfleet Cut. Sadly no space on the pontoon mooring, one of our favourites which is a favourite with many others, can’t remember the last time we managed to get moored there. However a space against the wall was available, we winded and pulled in, here Tilly would be allowed shore leave and we’d still have quite a view from the side hatch and our bed in the morning.

It was still quite early, before midday. The height of the bank and forecast rain in the afternoon put me off doing the mushroom vents, again!

Trent Lock onto the Erewash

I planned a walk, checked when rain was due and set off hoping to remain dry today. I walked over the bottom of Trent Lock Junction, we’d forgotten the existence of the Lock Cafe, maybe we should have gone there for lunch.


I walked along the banks of the Trent up to he small garden centre where I checked to see what was for sale. Diddy Christmas trees! Our new Christmas tree had been doing quite well back in Scarborough when last checked and this year we don’t plan on being onboard for the big day, so no need for one.


My plotted route brought me to the edge of a golf course. I could just make out the next yellow post marking the footpath across the neat grass. Groups of men swung clubs. Would I make it across without getting hit? Would I be a distraction? Should I change my route? I decided that the course would have to accomodate me and other walkers, so hopefully I’d not be in the firing line and have to dodge balls.

I survived and then walked right down the far side of the course. I didn’t bother trying to count how many balls were sitting in the grass of the driving range. Presumably they have a sit on hoover to collect them at the end of the day.

Mills Dockyard

The footpath popped out at a bridge over the Erewash Canal. We’d considered having a trip up to Langley Mill, but decided against it. Eight years ago we’d cruised to the end, we enjoyed it (apart from the chap with a shotgun), but it isn’t one we simply must return to. Mills Dockyard did look very picturesque today.

Under the railway lines

Across a field to walk round a lake, under two railway lines, then across another field back to Cranfleet Cut where I rejoined the towpath back to Oleanna.


Time to make that carrot cake. Tilly mumbled something at me as she came in the stern doors, she was ushered straight out the front doors before she’d finished what she was saying, the doors closed firmly behind her. WHAT IS RULE NUMBER ONE TILLY!!!!

Only just enough wind

Early evening three sailing boats came out for a race, a very slow motion race as there was just about no breeze. One of the boats needed motorised assistance to return to the club house.

1 lock, 1 flood lock, 1.9 miles, 2.5 miles walked, 1 dry boater, 4 times in 3 days! 200 grams of carrots, 1 apple, 75 grams cream cheese, 1 improved internet, 1 loose connection, 1 stove lit, 0 Mrs Tilly stamps of approval, 1 cat grounded!

It Bends The Other Way! 21st January

Derwent Mouth Lock to Boots Footbridge, Nottingham and Beeston Canal

Ice surrounded us this morning, maybe we should have followed the boats yesterday. Was today going to be another day breaking ice, or should we sit tight and hope that the sun would make a difference? 7 hours cruising between the Trent and Mersey to Stoke Lock for our booked passage on Monday morning. We suspected we’d not be able to cancel the booking now in time to save a volunteer from coming out to meet us. Oh well, we’d see what happened.

Thank you!

Well what happened was the high bow of NB Hadley came past at quite a lick heading for the lock, churning it’s way through the ice. ‘We’ll be following you, thank you!’ Mick shouted out of the hatch. By the time we’d had breakfast another boat had come up Derwent Mouth Lock and reset it for us, brilliant!

Solid ropes

Frosty mornings means stiff ropes. Wiggles of lines are hard to untie from T studs and then pull through nappy pins, it’s a bit like that game where you move a hoop round a bent wire trying not to connect the circuit by touching it.

Green! Plus a first outing for new waterproof thermal kid gloves

Fog. There was a lock somewhere ahead of us, it had been there yesterday, honest! The river level was now in the green, below the lock a channel cut through the ice could be made out vanishing into the fog. Working the lock I took care not wanting to slip. Frosty lock beams were avoided as much as possible meaning walking round the lock more than I normally would, but I’d rather the extra exercise than slip in.

Derwent to the left, Trent to the right, I think!

Life jackets on, anchor attached we were ready for the river. Straight on where the Derwent meets the Trent, we were glad we know the river quite well. The pipe bridge, the M1 bridge, keep right so as not to get too close to the weir.

Come on sun, you can do it!

Would Sawley Flood Lock be open or closed? Where was Sawley Flood Lock? At about three boat lengths away the lock beams could be seen. Was it open? No. The flood lock has a paddle left open at both ends to keep a flow of water heading to the locks at the other end of the cut back onto the Trent.

Key of power time

We soon arrived at Sawley Locks, the right hand one out of use currently. Time for the Key of Power. The lock was in our favour but still had to work it’s way through it’s programming of opening the sluices a bit at a time, four times before the next press would actually open the gates.

Ron helping out

The lock cottage, tea rooms and pub have recently been sold and today we got to meet it’s new owner Ron Gooding who came out to say hello, he then offered to work the lock for us so I could hop back on board. A friendly chap who is used to Thames Locks, he’s a BSS Examiner and a marine gas engineer, according to his card. The pub will reopen at some point, ‘there’s lots to do’ along with the tea room. Today must have been his first go at working the lock, which doesn’t work in the same way as the Thames locks. I kept saying to press and hold the button til it started to flash, but he was too busy chatting.

Back on the main river Oleanna skidded round with the flow of water coming from the weir. Here we most certainly needed Waterway Routes! ‘The river bends here Mick’ ‘In the other direction!’ Landmarks appeared out of the gloom, moored boats, the scout place, the pontoon, Erewash, mind that rib, left now, mind that other rib, we’d made it to Cranfleet Cut and the flood gates that have been closed for a month.

Ratcliffe Power Station could only be made out by the clouds of steam rising above the fog back lit by the sun doing it’s best to burn it’s way through.

Setting Cranfleet Lock

At Cranfleet Lock the Lock Keeper was a touch frosty sitting at an angle in his flower bed. The lock was full of logs and crud brought down by the floods. Both bottom gates needed opening as there was so much sitting behind the gates to get one fully opened.

Adding to the fog on the river

Now onto the long reach to Beeston, the fog kept coming and going. Small cruisers appeared round bends swerving to our starboard to avoid us, we’d already moved over to give them more room, so they ended up being a long way over.

£325,000 2 bedrooms though

We wondered how high the floods had been along here, had the houses on stilts been affected, did they ever flood? One house has just recently been sold. It has it’s own floating pontoon and is on a double plot. Rather a lovely house. Link to it’s details.

Beeston Lock

Beeston came into view, the sun having cleared most of the fog by now. Pulling in to the lock landing took a bit of doing, the flow preferring to keep us moving towards the weir. A few days ago we’d seen pictures of how much rubbish was just outside the lock gates, thankfully most of it had been moved away but both gates required opening.

Familiar from the Great Ouse last year

As I worked Oleanna through the lock a lady with blue hair and a dog chatted away. Obviously a boat owner wanting to head upstream. How had our trip been, speedy! What was it like at Cranfleet? We chatted away, me wondering where we’d met before. After she’d walked away I realised it was the lady from NB Watt Way who had been at Bedford River Festival and she’d followed us across the tidal section to Salters Lode.

I think I preferred the donkeys!

A top up with water, we then carried on a short distance to find a mooring for the day. Some shore leave was allocated to Tilly, but she really wasn’t enamoured with the wall and all the foot fall.

As soon as we’d tied up I had a look at The Victoria Hotel’s website to see if there might just be a table for us this evening. Last night I’d checked and there were quite a few left, but now there were none. Oh well, we’ll go another time when the weather might not stop us. Instead of very nice pub food we had the remains of our chilli with jacket potatoes, not quite the celebratory meal we’d hoped for on reaching Nottingham, but a tasty one never the less.

A better solution is required, this one was free though

Checking Nebo as we were moving today, my phone kept up with us very well. However the phone inside seemed to stall a couple of times and had only recorded four miles of the eight plus. I remember this occasionally happening early last year when I was trying it out, it would loose us for a while, I’d assumed it was because I was using my phone for other things, but maybe that wasn’t the case. We’ll keep recording on two devices for the time being.

5 locks, 1 a flood lock, 1 set of flood gates open, 9.54 miles, 1 straight, 1 left not left left, 1 left, 1 very white day, 2 many bits of tree, 1 lady, 1 disappointed cat, 1 canal without ice, 0 table.

Which Way Now? 9th April

Trent Junction to Cuttle Bridge 13, Trent and Mersey Canal

Depending on which route we take we are either an hour behind or a day behind our schedule, this will almost certainly determine which way we go. But which way is that?

Morning view

Tilly was given 90 minutes shore leave as we had breakfast and joined Mick’s sisters on the Geraghty Zoom this morning. It’s lovely that we are all still doing this two years on. Tilly came home within time so we were able to push off as planned.

The rowers were out and one of their support boats was doing its best to try to move what could only really be described as a tree in the river. They attached a rope, nudged it this way and that, tried to get it up the club slipway without much luck. Hope they got it sorted in the end.

Which way?

Trent Junction is where the River Trent meets the River Soar and the Erewash Canal. The Erewash is a dead end, so we wouldn’t be going that way this time. Cranfleet Cut we’d just come from, so we’d not be going back. This left us two options, the Soar or the Trent. Our summers cruising plans would suggest going onto the Soar would be the most direct route, but a detour is required, so we’d be sticking with the Trent for a little bit longer.

We headed upstream, past Trent Lock pontoon, the chilled medication van already stationed to serve todays gongoozlers. It was chilly out there, we were glad of our winter layers despite the sunshine.

Big controls

Sawley Lock, the left hand lock had it’s gates open waiting for us as the right hand one was already being filled by another boat. I hopped off and headed to the panel a big shiny box with exactly the same instructions as those on the small pedestals downstream. There were only a couple of spaces available opposite the marina, this is where we should have been last night, but we’d had a much nicer mooring.

Sawley Flood lock was open so we could pass straight through and back out onto the river before we were to join the Trent and Mersey Canal. Another junction, not left to the marina, not right onto the non navigable Derwent, but straight on to the canal.

Boaters PPE out with the windlass

Two boats were ascending the lock, the chaps stood chatting on the top gates, only the ground paddles lifted. ‘We’re in no hurry’ said one chap as they moved to open the gates. We emptied the lock and worked Oleanna up off the river. Last year this signalled our successful escape from Goole, today it meant that apart from the river section at Alrewas we shouldn’t now get stuck if the river level comes up.

Broughton House

A pause for lunch in Shardlow before I walked ahead to make use of the post box by Broughton House which commands its position on London Road. Eight semi-circular stone steps lead up to the front door of the house which was built in the early 19th Century by James Sutton one of the merchants who developed the inland port of Shardlow.

Across the way at a side door to Holden House people were being served hot drinks and what looked like a blackboard menu of sandwiches sat against the wall. May have been worth a proper look if we’d been staying longer.

Swapping over at Shardlow

Shardlow lock was just being exited by two boats, a small narrowboat exiting second with novice crew on board, they seemed to be enjoying themselves but were a little bit confused as to which side they should pass Mick as he approached. I’d already lifted the ground paddles before I spotted another narrowboat pulling up below, we apologised and said we’d wait at the next lock, but the chap wasn’t going that far.

A quick chat with David to see how he was today before Aston Lock. Today wasn’t as positive as the last few days, but he was still making progress with the boat. Not everyday will be a great day, but this week he has certainly achieved lots.

At Aston Lock we gained eleven gongoozlers a family of cousins out for a walk. This meant we had extra hands to work the gates.

A self emptying lock

I’d been warned by a boat going downhill that the bottom gates at Weston Lock were leaking like a sieve and it was taking an absolute age to fill. When we got there we’d caught up with the two boats ahead of us, the chaps again stood on the top gates chatting away with only the ground paddles opened.

Big chunky gates at Weston Lock

‘We’re in no hurry’ the chap said again. I did point out that the bottom gates were leaking and that maybe opening the gate paddles would help fill the lock. It took a little while for the penny to drop, all that was happening right now was that they were letting water flow through the lock whilst it still had another foot to rise, they could be there forever, well until the pound above ran out of water!

We followed up. Are all these wide locks counter intuitive like Stenson Lock? Opening the same side ground paddle really didn’t hold Oleanna against the wall. Here we got a shower of hail too, just enough to get us all soggy and chilly before the sun did it’s best to return.

There really is a shelf there

As we approached the stretch where there is an underwater stone shelf, keep to the off-side, a boat was coming towards us. They were going at quite a rate, their bow faced towards us and just as they passed the yellow sign their stern hit the shelf, lifting the boat out of the water! Blimey!! The chap on the front thankfully didn’t fall in. We checked they were all alright before we carried on, all seemed fine.


It was cold now, should we catch up with ourselves, or pull in before Swarkstone Lock? The latter was more attractive with fields alongside the canal that Tilly would enjoy. We tried several places, but ground to a halt at least a foot out from the bank. In the end we gave up and moored up with a gap between us and the towpath, Tilly could easily jump it, so could we. Time now to warm up inside.

5 locks, 8.42 miles, 2 straight ons, 5 siblings, 2 outsides, 2 catty men, 1 leaky lock, 2 shallow to moor, 1 card, 1 shelf rearing, 1 cosy stove, 1 orchestra conductor in the making.