Category Archives: Houses For Sale

Whilst Kathleen Blows Away. 6th April

Lock 46

After breakfast and writing the blog, on what feels like the smallest keyboard ever, we headed into town to do a bit of shopping, find a newspaper and have a look round.

They are rather fine

Two fine front doors stood out, one house for sale. You get quite a bit of house for your money in these parts. We’ve been spotting a lot of places named Royd recently. Old Royd Lock, Royd Street. Looking the name up it turns out that Royd is local dialect for ‘cleared land’ especially in a wood.

The centre of Littleborough has a mix of shops, not many unoccupied. Some smart clothes shops, a couple of butchers, a discount hardware shop and a knickers shop! Just who had the money for the fancy grave?

Who was so important to have such a grand grave

We got a newspaper, some thick cut bacon, a disappoinitng pork pie and a few bits and bobs fom Sainsburys before heading to the Co-op to see if their cat food was cheaper. It was, especially with a members card which we applied for whilst stood in the pet food isle.

As we headed towards the canal we spotted signs in the station window for a museum. Well that needed looking at, so we made our way up onto the platform where a chap asked if we knew there were no trains today. Yes, but we were looking for the museum. ‘Round the corner, there’s three chaps in there’.

No trains today

The main waiting room/old ticket office is now a museum for Littleborough Historical and Archaeologocal Society. We were welcomed in by a chap who immediatley mentioned about their flint collection and Roman coins. Flint is not found in the area, so was imported from other parts of the country. He also appologised that their main computer was broken so he wouldn’t be able to show us much from their archieve. This however didn’t stop him from chatting away to his hearts content.

As it says on the door

The chap chatted on for ages, he could have carried on for hours. Don’t get me wrong he was interesting, possibly being shown images and maps would have been even more interesting, but when someone wanted to show him a recent find that was almost certainly Roman we were quick in heading for the door. More a place for serious research on the local area than just a browse around.

Back at Oleanna we had lunch and enjoyed the last Hot Paw Bun of the year. These were the best I’ve made by far and Mick doesn’t see why they should just be for Easter!

Tilly came and went, then as the winds increased into the afternoon she was grounded. Kathleen was showing her force. Thankfully our mooring means Oleanna’s bow faces into the wind and with a few extra fenders out we are held into the side, so no bumping about.

Plans for the next few days were discussed. How long it will take us to get down into Manchester, which moorings to stop at, will the wind have died down sufficiently to make this all possible?

Tilly slept the afternoon away. The yellow water tank was emptied, Tilly’s pooh box refreshed and quite a bit of knitting done. I should just about finish pair 14 by the end of Sunday, Hooray!

Our evening meal was accompanied by growing winds and torrential rain. Really! Surely there can’t be anymore rain!!

0 locks, 0 miles, 1 windy walk, 1 puzzled baker, 9 rashers bacon, 1 pie, 1 paper, 0 knickers bought, 1 very knowledgable man, 0 wedding ring, 1 very blustery afternoon, 2 salmon steaks with red pepper sauce, 13.5 pairs of socks knitted so far.

Smiles All Round. 29th March

Salter Hebble Bottom Basin to Hebden Bridge, Rochdale Canal

Heading ton the top Salter Hebble Lock

A boat was coming down the middle Salter Hebble Lock as we were getting ready. Mick walked up for a chat and got them to leave the gates open for us. These top two locks are the shortest of the Calder Hebble Locks. On NB Lillyanne we had to come down these two locks backwards just so that we could get out of the bottom gate, we only had an inch to spare. We must have been so careful back then working these locks.

Sunny morning and smiles

The lock cottage alongside the top lock was fairly recently for sale, it’s certainly in desperate need of some tlc the roof couldn’t even be considered to being classified as a sieve! The last use of the Hebble Spike to get us up to the top and then the turn towards Sowerby Bridge.

Is that this outside?

We’d called ahead to Shire Cruisers to see if they’d sell us some diesel, so we carried on into the basin ready to back up to their pump. All the hire boats were lined up, front doors open and some engines running. A chap popped his head out of a door, ‘Are you wanting the services? The hire boats are about to go out, maybe you should come back after lunch’ I relayed this back to Mick. We reversed back out of the basin and pulled into the first space on the Rochdale Canal. Mick walked over the lock and went to see the people in the office, they of course said just come in and reverse up to the pump.

Topping up the tank the first time this year

We reversed back to the junction, and headed back to the pump where a helpful chap was stood waiting to grab our stern line. He filled the tank up then Mick went into the office to pay. We both remember the slightly stern lady here from when we’d hired from them years ago, she rightly wanted hirers to listen to her instructions on how to work a lock!

Another reverse back out of the basin. We discussed what we should do, maybe have a quick lunch and try to get going before all the hire boats came out and grabbed the moorings in Hebden Bridge, or maybe we’d be able to join the first one going up in Tuel Lane Lock. Three quarters of an hour later we pulled back out, no other boat had come along to share with so we’d be on our own.

What a pretty view

Spring blossom brought a smile to my face framing the scene below Lock 1. People stopped to watch, a couple of gents tried to open a gate for us but failed, they did help close it. Oh how stiff the paddles are! Am I out of practice? Or are they worse than five years ago?

Crossing the pound between 1 and 2 was very slow, it took a lot of effort getting into the lock, Oleanna sitting on the bottom! The paddles only just opened, one click on each side and then no amount of adjusting the windlass helped they simply wouldn’t budge. By now we had one of those silent crowds watching us. Thankfully some water was going into the lock and Oleanna was afloat again.

I walked up to Tuel Lane Lock to let the Lock Keeper know we were wanting to come through. You shouldn’t enter the tunnel below the lock as it may need to be emptied of it’s 130,000 gallons of water first! The Lock was full, thankfully the extra water would help us get over the cill at Lock 2 as the level looked quite low. We were instructed to sound our horn as we entered the tunnel. We paused to let the initial wave of water coming from the lock to settle, closed Lock 2 behind us, Mick had only just managed to raise one of the paddles when the water pressure had reduced. We sounded our horn on entering the tunnel and got three whistle blows back, not sure what that meant, the chap hadn’t told me.

Coming into the lock

The lock was waiting, all grey, dripping wet. It’s a modern interior to a lock, concrete built in 1996 to replace locks 3 and 4 as part of the restoration of the canal. Most of the canal had been closed to navigation and officially abandoned by an Act of Parliament in 1952 and parts of the route through Sowerby Bridge had been filled in for a road widening scheme. The IWA petitioned against various building proposals keeping the possibility of connecting the Rochdale to the Calder Hebble alive. In 1991 £2.5 million of funding meant the connection would be possible. The original plans were for the lock to be 57ft 6″ long, similar to the shorter Calder Hebble Locks, but a reworking meant they could accommodate a standard length lock of 72ft. The first boat to use the lock was on the 11th April 1996, the official opening in May.

Part way up Tuel Lane Lock

Passing a rope around the riser at the bow we then moved Oleanna forward to get the stern line around one too. The huge gates were wound closed behind us then a thumbs up from Gary the volunteer and a paddle was raised.

THANK YOU. Dave to the left and Gary to the right.

Down in the depths of the deepest lock on the network I was glad of the bright blue sky overhead. I was also surprised how still Oleanna stayed as we rose up, our ropes hardly needed. Gary was assisted by Dave, who had come down to see what was happening today, he will be a volunteer at the lock after his training which is to be on Monday. I think he was imparted some pearls of wisdom by Gary. As the noise died down I was asked if we’d been through before, ‘Yes our fifth time’. ‘You’ll have got a certificate then.’ ‘No, we’ve never been offered one!’ He returned and handed one over.

Now we wiggled our way along the side of the valley, views stretching out. Oleanna had smiled in the lock, now a smiley face beamed at us from the wood followed by a very happy jumper walking along the towpath.

Views don’t come without some work

Where to moor for the night? Should we stop part way to Hebden or carry on to ensure we got a space. Locks 5 and 6 were pretty heavy work, but I got the paddles up and Oleanna rising. However when it came to Lock 7 it was a different matter all together.


In came Oleanna, gates closed, I went to lift one of the paddles. I tried repositioning my windlass to make the very most of umph power to get it raised and onto the first notch. Nothing! I walked all the way round to the other side (no walkway on the top gates) and tried again. Nothing! Oh B***er!

It’s when you can feel your steel windlass bending that you know you’ve got a problem! Mick climbed the ladder, we roped Oleanna up. It took a lot of doing and Mick’s extra weighted umph to get them shifted, they eventually moved.

Mile posts, they don’t mention how many locks there are though!

Thankfully we were through and headed for Lock 8. I’d re-read the blog post from five years ago which mentioned how hard it had been to close the near side bottom gate, Frank and I had serious problems with it. So this time we avoided it opening in the first place. Mick opened the off side gate whilst I kept the problem gate closed. It worked and the paddles were a breeze! Just the short distance now to moor up for the day.

Lucy in the sky

It was just gone 6pm, too late for shore leave for Tilly but there was plenty of room on the moorings to choose from for the weekend. The cruiser we’d seen at Brighouse was sat on the service mooring facing downstream. Is he waiting for someone else to share locks with? Don’t blame him if he is.

Hello Hebden!

9 locks, 7.9 miles, 19ft 8″, 5th time through Tuel Lane for us, twice for Tilly, Lock 7!!!!! 91 litres, 3 reverses, 1 left twice, 1 certificate, 2 boaters with weather worn cheeks.

Click the photo for details

PS if you’ve a spare million pounds take a look at this house we passed today. The gardens were immaculate.

The Brink Of Red. 22nd March

Above Lemonroyd Lock to above Birkwood Lock, Aire and Calder Navigation, Wakefield Branch

The plan started well. Get up have breakfast, sorry Tilly no shore leave. As we made ready to push off we noticed that the light at Lemonroyd Lock was amber, no longer red! Hopefully it had been fixed and we’d be free to head off down stream. We winded and returned to the water point.

What are they doing?

A group of engineers huddled around a cabinet by the off side top gate of the lock. At least three C&RT vans could be seen. We walked down to see what was happening whilst Oleanna’s water tank filled. There was still a problem with the top gate, if we were narrow we’d be okay and we could operate the lock as normal. Phew we’d be able to escape!

Squeezing in through the one gate

When we were ready I walked up to the lock to get it going, Mick not wanting to untie until the top gates were open due to the amount of wind. This amount of wind would normally put us off cruising, but the chance to get moving somewhere, anywhere wasn’t to be missed. I called up to the chaps in the tower, they’d operate the lock for us.

I think it’s the first time I’ve been on a boat through Lemonroyd Lock. Have to say I think it looks much bigger from above than it does from inside it, but maybe that’s different when heading uphill. With the chaps in the tower, they could open the sluices all the way up straight away, from the pedestal it is phased and takes quite a while. It only took 4 minutes before the gates were open and we could be on our way. The river level board just on the brink of red!

By 14:30 a new stoppage notice had been issued for Lemonroyd Lock. It would remain closed until Monday whilst a new part was sourced. Thank you chaps for letting us through, we’d timed our escape well.

Here comes the junction

Sunshine, clouds skidding overhead, we made quick progress heading down stream. It felt good to be moving again.

Skidding round the junction

The sad houses came into view (have a nosy around one of them), time to get ourselves ready to turn into the flow from the River Calder and the wind! Our zooming stopped, Mick cranked Oleanna’s engine up and swung the tiller over, she leant to one side, had our progress just been stopped totally? She then gradually straightened up to face the flow, slowly picking up pace we started to move again.

A boat on the move

A widebeam came towards us, blimey it was blowy out there! Under several bridges each framing views. Past Fairies Hill Lock and on to Woodnook Lock which had been closed until last Friday. Key of power to turn and buttons to press we made our way up off the river, we’d be safe to rising levels for a while now we were back on the cut.

The disused railway bridge

Our blowy journey towards Kings Road Lock was accompanied by a cyclist who rode back and forth back and forth along the track, the head wind not seeming to bother them. Pulling into the lock landing I spotted fishing rods sticking out from behind a widebeam. Frantic activity followed as two young lads fought to reel their lines in. This took quite some doing as they seemed to have caught items on the bed of the canal.

Woodnook Lock

We’d been hoping to stop here for the day, safely off the river, moor on the offside so Tilly could explore safely, but what gaps there were certainly wouldn’t accommodate us, we’d have to continue.

Little boats below Kings Road Lock

At Birkwood Lock there was space on the mooring above. A lady was off loading groceries from her car and carrying them over to her boat on the off side. They’ve moored here for 18 years, loved it, but now it’s time to find somewhere on land to live. They’d been to see a council bungalow and noted their interest, just a shame there had also been over 200 other people interested. Hopefully they’ll find somewhere soon.

Float free little ball, float free!

We pulled in, had a late lunch and let Tilly out to do her own catering!

We may stay put tomorrow as the wind will be stronger still. All the while we’re mindful that the river levels may come up again halting our progress.

On a positive note, I only just took longer than Mick to eat tonight, so my teeth are settling down at last.

3 locks, 8.6 miles, 1 wind, 1 hand brake turn right, £399,995, 1 full water tank, 4 CRT vans, 0 required part, 1 blowy day, 3 hours shore leave, 1 friend at least, 6 courgette bacon and feta fritters, 2 git gaps, 1 hopefully sheltered mooring, 1 Mrs Tilly stamp of approval, I’ll let you have this one.

Torksey Central. 22nd September

Torksey Top Side to Torksey Bottom Side Pontoon, River Trent

A quiet morning catching up on things and down loading a free trial of Photoshop. Tilly was kept in, no shore leave granted today, we weren’t going far but we had the tide to catch.

Heading into Torksey Lock

At midday we moved up to the water point, topped up on fresh and disposed of the yellow. The rubbish would have to wait as the top lock gates were already open meaning getting to the bins would take longer.

Going down

We pulled in next to NB Olive J in the lock, ropes around bollards, the volunteer closed up behind us then lifted the paddles, down we went. He said we might need to do a bit of jiggling about on the pontoons as they were already quite full.

Back out onto the tidal Trent

One space behind a boat of the south bank, NB Olive J headed to a space behind their friend on the north, there looked to be more room right at the end of the long pontoon. Yes 60ft, we’d fit nicely. We pulled in tied up and settled in for the remainder of the day.

The Lock Cottage up for auction soon

A while later four boats pulled off, comments of ‘last one there buys the drinks tonight’. The lead boat beeped their horn five times as they reached the junction to turn north. Five beeps means ‘I don’t understand your intentions, keep clear!’ Yes it was the same chap who’d beeped his horn to indicate turning to port the other day.

One boat without anyone at the helm!

Blimey it was busy down here. Boats arrived, some radioing the lock to go up, others just pulling in to wait for the next suitable tide. One boat didn’t move off even though they’d intended to, their cat hadn’t returned in time for the tide. Hopefully it’ll be back for their next suitable tide. Tilly has only once almost affected our departure with a tide. That was when a chink was left in the rear hatch and she made the most of it at West Stockwith, half an hour of trying my best not to panic and eventually a well timed rugby tackle worked and we were able to catch the tide.

This one went backwards to the junction

Soon the pontoons were full again. One chap asked Mick which the best way was to get to Ripon, without going by the Humber estuary. A conversation followed which gave Mick the impression that no locks had been booked, no lock keepers phone numbers were at hand, they’d arrived without life jackets on, Mick didn’t dare ask if they had the charts, knowing that the answer would possibly be no. Mick and someone else tried to impress on the chap that Keadby would need to be booked otherwise there might not be anyone there to let them in! Gainsborough pontoon was mentioned by another boater. But who knows!

Boats left waiting

During the afternoon I had a go at starting to learn about Photoshop. One tool looked like it would do the job of removing hairs and replacing them with a suitable background. Photoshop has come on miles since I dabbled a touch ten/fifteen years ago. One demonstration shows you how to remove a house on a mountain side and photoshop just replaces it with more mountain. You can even change the house to being pink and at night time with lights on whilst the scene around it is very obviously daytime.

All calm at the junction this evening

I loaded up part of a portal to have a go at removing hairs, the tool didn’t work, something about not enough something or other. I decided that maybe I should start at the very beginning on the tutorial. This I started but then Mick came to tell me about the man who had NO idea. Then Tilly came and shouted at the back door, stating that it really wasn’t fare being kept locked in when another cat had been allowed to roam free all morning. I gave up, time to do some knitting.

Todays film Wildlife (2018) about a family in 1960’s Montana struggling to make ends meet. Dad goes off to fight fire, their son takes a job at a photographic studio and Mum starts to teach swimming. Things go array for them all, their poor son observing more than a 14 year old should. A sad tale in which I got the start of another sock knitted.

1 lock, 0.4 miles, 4 going down stream, 6 or more arriving, 1 missing cat, 1 mardy cat, 1 AI program on my laptop, 1 clueless chap, 6th pair started, 1 leaking bath.

PS. I made a complaint to C&RT regarding the boat on the Kiln Pontoon in Newark. This week I was asked for the boats name and number, which of course I couldn’t give them as we’d not seen them displayed. I could however give them a photograph of the boat and suggested that their local team were VERY likely to know of it. The local team have since been in touch to inform me that they are very aware of the boat, so are the police. ‘Our Licence Support Team are dealing with it through our official process, but unfortunately this does take time. We are also monitoring the anti-social behaviour and building a case with regards this.’

Going Down Kegworth. 30th August

Zouch Lock to between Kegworth Marine and Radcliffe Bridge 46

Coats were required when we pushed off this morning. Two boats had just come past heading southwards and as we rolled the covers up one headed towards Zouch lock, we had ourselves a locking partner.


The chap with the boat asked straight away how far we’d be going today, ‘We’re definitely going down Kegworth Deep Lock today’. Then the lady at the lock asked the same, my reply was the same too. After that we’d then see, we’re not in a rush to get anywhere so if we saw somewhere good to stop then we would. This sounded good to our partners.

The lock was surprisingly half full, the reason soon became obvious a paddle had been left partly up at the bottom end, it still took quite sometime to fill. A C&RT chap arrived with windlass in hand he’d come to help a crane boat up the lock, he ended up being a handy extra bum to push the top gates open.

Breath in!

Below the crane boat appeared, Pride of Sherwood, you can tell we’re getting closer to Nottingham now. We exited and the crane boat squeezed into the lock only a few inches to spare on the width, most probably length wise too.

Time to add waterproof trousers to the mix. Thankfully soon blue skies were ahead of us and dark grey behind. We’d considered moving down to one of the moorings shown on Waterway Routes yesterday, but with the flight path directly overhead for East Midlands Airport we’d decided against it.

The first glimpse of the cooling towers at Ratcliffe on Soar power station, NB Somewhere Else had a good mooring for the view.

First glimpse of The NORF

Shortly before Kegworth Deep (New) Lock as the weir stream moves to the west you get a view of a fine house. Stone work and brick suggest the building has had several lives and scaffolding on the far end suggests a new roof was happening.

Flight path

It took a while for me to find information about the house, The Hermitage. It was sold last year and I found several articles in local newspapers from when it went on the market. Each one suggested a different asking price ranging from £2,000,000 down to £1,500,000, quite a big difference only over the space of a couple of weeks. I wonder what it sold for in the end.

Such a pretty setting

Back in the 16th C the house was used as a religious retreat for church dignitaries travelling between Nottinghamshire and Leicestershire. The property was owned by the Parr family and used as a hunting box, Catherine Parr (Henry VIII wife) never lived here but it is thought that she’d have visited. Bay windows were added in Victorian days and an extension was added in the 20th C.

There are gardens of all kinds, rose, water in the 5 acre grounds. Eight bedrooms, 2 pantries, a wine cellar, a beer room, quite a house and somewhere mentioned a boat room!

More details here and photos inside.[0]/zawPywL1gkyKv_dyF2nsSg.pdf


Our partners slowed as they came round the bend to the top of Kegworth Deep Lock a boat was just exiting, we swapped positions and were helped down by a cruiser that was waiting below. In a couple of weeks the lock will be having some remedial work done to one of the paddles, a notice has been in existence for the lock for a couple of months now. Despite the notice all paddles worked, stiff but that’s only to be expected on such a deep lock.

We followed through Kegworth Shallow Flood Lock and then pulled in at Kegworth Marine. A gas bottle had run out last night. If we hadn’t filled with diesel we’d have topped up here £1 a litre, but you have to pay cash. We cobbled together enough cash for a couple of bags of coal too and chatted away to the chap. We’d arrived just in time as they were closing up for the day to do some grit blasting.

Onwards, what would a mooring be like that we’d got our eyes on? Round a couple more kinks and there it was, high up but accessible. We pulled in, a nappy pin at the stern, but at the bow this wasn’t possible the armco having a solid top to it so no gaps, spikes were brought out and hammered in.

Kegworth Marine

Tilly was given five hours, we didn’t see her for quite a while. Thigfs ogtsdies gd, i sorldt hevos a Thissy stbieo od aprooel! Another day of her talking with her mouth full!

This afternoon I sent an email to the chap who knows what he’s doing regarding printing for scenery. I explained how I’d made my model and was concerned that I’ve shot myself in the foot by making it as a collage. He agreed that a scanner only focuses on one level, but suggested I send in a piece of model and he’ll do a test print. I’m so hoping he can find a way of making it work, otherwise I’ll have to repaint everything flat for the cloths to be printed. It took ages to do the original! Fingers crossed.

Late afternoon I had a catch up chat with Jo the props maker, she’s been doing woodwork, making trick boxes and working out mechanisms for collapsing chairs.

2 locks, 1 flood lock, 4 miles, 40kg coal, 1 gas bottle, 1 cat evicted, £500,000 difference, 1 high mooring, 55cm a touch too wide, 1 Mrs Tilly stamp of approval.

A Purple Morgan. 27th August

Sileby Lock to Barrow upon Soar Visitor Mooring

The Empire Pool, apples, Canary Wharf and Water Butts were covered on the Geraghty zoom this morning and we wish one of our number a speedy recovery from Covid.

This got me thinking, I still had a headache. Maybe I should do a test. The first test I did was aborted as there was not even one drop of liquid to drop on the test strip, yes I had put the liquid in the tube! There just hadn’t been enough of it. So another was done, only one line, negative.

Sileby Mill

We pottered away the morning whilst it rained. Boats came past quite frequently everyone wrapped up in water proofs. How many boats were headed for North Lock on Tuesday? We opted to have an early lunch before pushing off.

Around the lock at Sileby there are wood carvings, every character seems to be looking down, all very calm and thoughtful. We dropped down the lock, both bottom paddles required being lifted as water bubbled up from under the top gate. Mick paused to pick me up, then we zoomed across the bottom of the weir and slowed to pass the moored boats. One had just filled up with diesel, £1.18.

Almost bank to bank carpet

Gosh the pennywort was bad along here. It almost reached right across the river in parts. Someone has been trying to clear it, dying mounds sit on the banks. But it’s obviously growing just as fast as it can be collected.

I’ll go down the front to get off somewhere

At Mountsorrel we were greeted with no available lock landing. The charity boat from yesterday was partly on the landing, then a Wheelyboat had tied to the next to last bollard. The crew from the charity boat rushed to make their stern accessible for me from our bow, then one of them picked up a windlass and came to help at the lock. Their passengers were enjoying Sunday lunch at the pub whilst they got to eat their homemade butties.

We spotted a couple of houses for sale. One by the Wharf for £1,000,000. They like funny sofas and toilets in corners.

One of the Dutch style houses in the award winning development, £525,000. For extra money you could moor your boat outside.

A box with a view

We rounded the big wide bend where Meadow Farm Marina sits to the side, almost cut off by pennywort. Grey boxes look down the river, a great view.

Long gardens on the north bank of the river gradually bring you in towards Barrow upon Soar. Several houses have boats, one cruiser looked like it can’t have been out for a few years as weed and reeds blocked it in.

Another house for sale, this one with an end of garden mooring. £675,000. If you can cope with the virtual tour (eventually coming into focus!) you’ll see that someone really likes their feature curtains. Have to say if we bought it the bungaloo would be replaced. But the mooring isn’t long enough for Oleanna, so we’ll not bother.

A car! A purple Morgan maybe? With a roll bar? On the river? Just how old was the driver! Thankfully Dad stopped pedaling so that we didn’t have a collision.

A purple Morgan?

A space on the 48 hour moorings was available, we pulled in. Tilly was over the moon with the choice of trees, however the nosy woofers did spoil her fun.

Just by our mooring is a very smart bench for Brian Henman, he was obviously a well liked local man. Mayor of Charnwood and possibly a Ukulele player.

A very fine bench indeed

A nice roast chicken with all the extras was enjoyed onboard this evening, just a shame we had to put up with some very bad karaoke from across the way later on.

2 locks, 2.6 miles, 5 boats heading to Leicester, 1 Jolly Lamb with lady, 1 head still not sorted, 1 carpet of pennywort, 3.5 hours, 1 morgan, 2 nosy woofers, 1 sunday roast.

Cadburys Take Em… 21st August

Ellis’s Bridge 86 to Gees Lock 36

A boat! NB Golden Eagle passed us heading towards Leicester, would they be stopping at Kilby Bridge services or carrying on? It’s a rare thing to see a moving boat round here at the moment, I suspect that will change tomorrow. We moved up to the services ourselves and topped up with water, disposed of rubbish and Tilly got a fresh pooh box, no sign of NB Golden Eagle.

Eye eye!

Up to Kilby Lock, set against us as we knew it would be. As we made our way to the next lock a C&RT chap was walking the towpath with a keb (a rake with bent ends used to clear bywashes and remove reeds from the canal. He shouted across to us that there were paddles up at the next lock, he was running water down to a low pound. Once he was out of view we then asked ourselves should we leave the paddles up, or leave them down at the next lock. A touch of a moral dilemma for a boater, it feels wrong to leave a pound emptying itself with no-one watching. But once Oleanna was down I went back and lifted a top paddle, we’d possibly be grateful for the extra water further ahead.

Below Ervin’s Lock a group of lads were noisily fishing, they weren’t doing so well. I remembered that I hadn’t locked the front door, a thing we do when in built up areas and going through locks, you just never know. Below the lock was the low pound, the bywash gushing forth into it from above. Blimey it was slow going! We remembered this from four years ago, the really shallow pound, at least it gives you time to appreciate peoples back gardens.

£220,000 Click photo for details

A house for sale, no end of garden mooring, wonder if you could persuade your two neighbours (and C&RT) to let you moor across their gardens? A slightly disturbing giant gnome, nowhere near as good as Monty (Neighbourhood Watch by Alan Ayckbourn). This gnome looked as if someone had been wrapped in fibreglass to create it.

I think it was Whetstone Lock that was finally in our favour, a boat moored above a short distance must have recently come up, it made a change from having to close gates and fill it. At the bottom gates I found myself standing in a squirrels left overs, a carpet of cracked hazelnut shells covering the ground, not many nuts left in the canopy.

As we turned the big bend at Glen Parva we hoped for a space to pull in. NB Ragamuffin sat at one end of the mooring, a fisherman the other. Maybe we’d have been able to squeeze in but it would have been really quite cosy. We decided to carry on a few more options available ahead.

Gees Lock, empty with a bottom gate open. I walked down to close it and start filling the lock. Mick followed but didn’t lift a paddle as I expected. He was suggesting to moor up on the lock landing, it was a long one and we could tuck ourselves at the far end, after all there’s hardly any traffic about if any. This we did knowing we’d be moving first thing.

Still quite a busy towpath, but Tilly made good use of it. One boat came past making use of that closed gate and letting it swing back open as they left. Oh well, I’ve closed it once I can do it again.

99% plastic garden, 1 dying plant in a corner

Our friend Chris on NB Elektra got in touch this morning regarding my printing problems for panto. He was willing to have a go at improving the image with various programs he has. Many thanks to him for his hours tinkering away, they are an improvement. However it could be that I’ve shot myself in the foot with my original artwork, a collage may not be the best thing to scan to be enlarged. 0.5mm depth between layers may not be helping. Maybe a really good photograph would be better? Maybe I just need to have a chat with Peter, the man who deals with such things all the time, only tricksy thing is we’d not been planning for his company to print everything.

Blaby Mill

At midday a notice came through about the leak on the Stainforth and Keadby Canal.

A leak has occurred close to the M18 Bridge and it affecting a section of towpath between M18 Bridge running parallel to East Ings Road track at Thorne. The team are working to repair the leak as soon as possible. The navigation is currently open and but this section of towpath above the leak will be closed until the repair is carried out. During the afternoon photos of a tug and skip filled with clay were posted on facebook, presumably heading towards Thorne. Fingers crossed they get the leak bunged up quickly.

Another notice came through regarding the Chesterfield Canal.

Low rainfall and diminishing reservoir levels mean we have no option but to close the Chesterfield Canal from Boundary Lock 41 upstream, as we are unable to provide enough water to accommodate boat movements. The closure will commence on Friday 1st September. We’d been thinking of heading that way, but with the best part of the canal closed we’ll leave it for another time.

6 locks, 4.4 miles, 1 giant gnome, 1 low pound, 1 dilema, 2 moving boats, 565783 hazelnuts, 0 covered in chocolate, 2 notices, 40 tonnes of clay! 1 closure, 1 plan changing, 1 phone call needed, 1 more Mrs Tilly stamp of approval.

From One Catwalk To Another. 4th July

Chisnell Lift Bridge to Dashwood Lock

A sausage day! Well it seemed like it would be a sausage day a I was allowed out to explore first thing, but it turned out not to be. She and Tom were up and outside chatting to Roots Tom and She quite early. I went along to check out their boat and their catwalk. A suitable size, but not such a good view inside. How’s a cat meant to be nosy?! They untied the outside, we’d still got hold of it so it couldn’t get away, and then they drifted silently away.

Bye, until next time

Time to find some friends!

A good vantage point, now go away!

Soon after breakfast there was a toot of a horn. Julie and Simon on NB Perseus had arrived a few boats back quite late yesterday evening. They’d seen a gap near us but hadn’t wanted to moor next to someone they didn’t know at that time of evening, little did they know at the time it was us.

Simon and Julie another Lady of Finesse

They pulled in for a quick catch up in the rain. We’d all be getting wet today! Good to see them again and be less aware of keeping space between us, last time we met we had covid. Hopefully we’ll get chance one day to sit out on the towpath and have an evening with them, but today they were on a more serious mission than us, hoping to reach Henley by Thursday.

By the time we’d finished our morning routine several boats had come past. Paul yesterday had warned us that only one top paddle was working at Somerton Deep Lock so it was taking an eternity to fill. We didn’t rush to get away, but also sooner or later we’d need to join the queue.

Notes, photos and phone calls

A group of high vis stood looking at the underside of Chisnell Lift Bridge. Was there something wrong with the bridge, we’ve seen it down before when the farmer has been in the field across the way.

Wonder how long this will take to move?

Arriving at Somerton Deep Lock we joined the end of the queue, three boats ahead of us and one already going down. The boats nudged up. One boat came up, another down, the filling of the lock taking forever. One boat was mob handed opening and closing the heavy gates. I picked up a windlass and walked up to see if I could help as did the lady from the hire boat in front.

A chap who’d been helping, headed to get his boat from below, he was a boat mover heading for Wilton. People around the lock helped him with the gates. A chap lifted the one working paddle to fill the lock. He paused halfway up and left his windlass on the paddle gear. This always makes me wince as it is bad practice. When he did it again after lifting the paddle fully I shouted across. I can’t remember exactly what I said, but I did follow it up explaining that if anything should break on the paddle gear then that windlass would likely spin off at great speed, a broken arm, lost teeth possibly.

As we waited for the boat to come up I chatted away to the lady from the hire boat, they’ve been hiring for around twenty years, so quite a bit of experience.

The boat mover thanked everyone as he left and the next boat was brought into the lock. The gate was being closed by a lady from the boat and I walked up to add my bum to the job. As I walked up she walked away saying that as the paddles get lifted it would close. The gate was quite a bit away from being closed and would likely make a big bang closing this way. I continued to push the gate, the lady walked down towards the bottom gates then because she wasn’t needed she got onto her now descending boat, saying that she was now redundant.

Then mutterings could be heard about hire boaters from the couple on the boat as it descended. Were they complaining that the hire boat crew weren’t helping. The lady I was chatting to had to say something, did they have a problem with her? They obviously did have a problem. I walked up to see what it was. A tirade came from the chap at the helm. ‘Don’t you know you should ask before helping at locks!’

Leaving Somerton

I explained that we’d come along to help if needed and to be sociable. ‘My crew are more than capable!’ Well we hadn’t done anything other than help close a gate for them, no risk of us sinking their boat! If there had been need of anyone lifting paddles I would most certainly have asked if they wanted assistance, I never assume and never lift a paddle without confirmation, I even wait for someone to reappear at the helm if they’ve gone inside before winding my windlass.

The man was so rude. ‘Well we’ll have to make sure we don’t catch you up’ I said. Maybe he’d had a problem with me calling over to his crew regarding the windlass, or maybe he was just Hireist, those who are prejudiced against hire boaters no matter what. The lady from the hire boat was quite rightly p*d off with the amount of abuse they are getting from boat owners. We stood back and let them leave.

No-one was coming, time to fill the lock. I then asked the hire boat lady, ‘Can I help you with the lock?’ We both laughed.

One arriving to go up

Still a queue of four boats behind. Mick and I worked ourselves down, the following boat only coming to close the gate behind us. Except there was a boat arriving below, the chap walked away. Hope someone asked if they could help!

It was now raining quite hard. Should we continue or pull in on the meadows? There was space. If we carried on we’d want to get to Muddy Slipper before stopping due to there being a big black hole of everythingness around Heyford (no phone signal, internet or TV). With a zoom meeting planned for tomorrow and slow progress today we decided we’d best stay wet and carry on to the other side.

Googlie eyes

Heyford Common Lock, Allens (Alan! Alan!!) Lock, then the long section before you reach Mill Lift Bridge. Key of power was utilised here. Many hire boats were at home in Lower Heyford, one couple being briefed for a few days afloat.

Dashwood Lock then appeared on the soggy horizon. The hire boat just going down, another lady assisting with the bottom gate. I walked up to see if Muddy Slipper was free, it was occupied. Thankfully there is space for a couple of boats before the lock landing above the lock, so we pulled back and tucked ourselves up close to another boat. Time to dry off.

Still a temporary beam

An afternoon of Tilly not being overly impressed of the wet outside that we’d tied up. I got my paints out to see how best to paint my rain forest portals and cloths. Of course as usual I changed my mind. Tomorrow I’ll give it another go.


This evening to help warm us and the boat up we’ve had a roast, well nut roast, but with squash, beetroot and roasted potatoes. Very tasty and just what we needed at the beginning of July!

3 locks, 6.2 miles, 2 lift bridges, 1 under examination, 2 cat walks, 2nd Lady of Finesse in a week, 1 very wet day, 2 miserable sods, 1.5 hours to get through Somerton Deep, 1 black hole cruised through, 1 router not working, 1 hot spot better, 2 versions to be revised.

Paddles Up! 6th June

Croxton Flash to Morris Bridge 15, Middlewich Branch

What A Lark

A discussion was being had about todays aimed for mooring as a boat came past. As the stern came level with the hatch I noticed ‘Lark’. Was that NB What A Lark? We’ve never met Lisa and David and today they were rounding the bend at the flash before I managed to get my head out of the hatch. Hello!

No need to stop at Middlewich tip this morning, the need was more for jumpers, blimey it was cold, we almost brought out our coats too.

There was activity at Big Lock a boat just starting to go up, I walked up to help with the gates. It was their first lock in 18 months and their dogs first ever lock. He was so excited to see his owner as she stood by the open gate he tried to get off but his lead prevented this, just assisted it to slip off the side of the boat.

Our turn next, I made sure no-one appeared behind us that we could share the broad lock with. A new sign (?) points its way towards a Roman Fort, Middlewich was where five Roman roads met and was important due to the local salt. The Big Lock pub was popular, bacon butties and coffees norishing the gongoozlers sat outside.

We pulled up just past the park, collected shopping bags together and headed off to Morrisons. Lidl is closer but wouldn’t have various things such as the type of yoghurt I prefer. It turned out that this Morrisons didn’t either but had the next best. Hopefully we stocked up on enough fresh produce to keep us going for a while. Cruising around four hours a day, working and essential boat chores is taking up most of hours at the moment.

Middlewich Bottom Lock

After lunch we pushed off and headed to the bottom of the Middlewich locks, three narrow chambers raise the canal 31ft 9″ around a tight bend. A single hander was just in front of us, he’d been waiting for a boat to come down or for the volunteers to show their faces. A boat was coming down, exiting the middle lock and waiting for the bottom lock to fill. The single hander chatted away to the lady as I walked up, the pound between the locks getting lower all the time, those bottom gates must leak quite a bit. Well they did mainly because one of the bottom paddles was up by six inches. It took quite a bit of force to get it closed, the lock now filled up.

By the time the single hander was heading into the lock volunteers were showing themselves and the antipodean crew from a hire boat behind us had walked up to gleam information before working their first lock (they’d had help at Big Lock). The bywash did it’s thing and refilled the pound between locks. When it was our turn another boat was coming down the middle lock, so there was a do-ci-do to do in the pound between, followed by a very shiny boat coming down from the top lock with fresh out of the box walkie talkies, quite a manoeuvre getting round the bend with an oncoming boat for a new person at the helm.


The walk along the towpath to the junction with the Wardle Canal is one I’ve done numerous times before, stooping low to get under the bridge. The single hander was just finishing going up, I closed up behind him and emptied the chamber, Mick holding Oleanna back until the initial wave had passed.

Maureen’s Lock Cottage hasn’t changed much since we last were here, just some children’s drawings in the window. This lock can be quite fierce so I took my time lifting the paddles, no volunteers to help here, have to say I like doing these locks on my own.

There was space along the moorings, but we wouldn’t be stopping just yet. On the off side a For Sale sign caught our eye. A wonderful garden with lots of lawn and borders even rhododendrons sat below a white bungalow, it even had a generous mooring.

A lovely garden

Looking at the details the bungalow would require quite a bit of modernisation, or replacing. The garden was so lovely and had obviously been someone’s labour of love. We both spent a while considering it, it would certainly make moving Tilly to the boat a far less stressful journey than the hour and a half by car. ‘Tilly it’s time to go cruising, time to get on your shelf’. We wondered whether having house and boat so close together where she would prefer to be if she had the choice. I think it might confuse her, the outside not moving most days. The only thing not in the houses favour was that it wasn’t in Scarborough by the sea. We’ll leave it for someone else to buy.

Worn steps up to Stanthorne Lock

Stanthorne Lock a boat was just coming down, negotiating getting past the single handers canoe. By the time I got up to the lock his boat was rising with the assistance of the lady from the downhill boat, they knew each other and there was much chatting going on. He was taking it slowly not want to damage his trailing canoe, so one paddle was raised half way. It was however taking a very long time.

A typical view long the Middlewich branch

A click noise of a pawl came from behind. We all turned, people about to shout to stop the lock from being emptied. However it was Mick who’d noticed boiling water below the lock, he’d come to close both bottom paddles! All sorted the boat rose without wasting anymore water.

One hire boat to help down, they were hoping to reach Harecastle Tunnel to go through tomorrow, all the Cheshire Locks to do. They planned on cruising til 7pm today, maybe they’d make it in time before the tunnel closed, but they were showing signs of too many locks in a day confusion.

Were the new shutters there last time?

We pootled along, past the mooring where we’ve been for two bonfire nights. The cottage with shutters. Hang on another For Sale sign at the stables! Chance to have a good nosy around rather than just peek in through the kitchen windows. £850,000 including an air source heat pump. It’s a nice property, but lacks a touch of character in the photos, the kitchen is by far the best room in my opinion.

The stables

Onwards a while longer passing NB Linnet, yesterday the chap was sat on his tug deck in shorts, today he most certainly had long trousers and a jumper on. Eventually we pulled in to a mooring we’ve not stayed at before, just before Yankee Candles. It was 5pm, a longer colder day than planned. Only an hours shore leave for Tilly today. Time for a Tuesday night roast chicken to warm us back up!

6 locks, 6.2 miles, 3 canals, 1 right, 3 paddles left up, 1 new old fort, 3 volunteers, 1 canoe, 0 work, 14 strawberries, 1 roast chicken.

Misty Morning. 6th October

Shiplake to Pangbourne

The stove isn’t being kept in overnight as yet so on a chilly morning it’s hard to crawl out from under the duvet, but we succeeded this morning. Breakfasted and on our way at 8am, today would be a busy day.

Such calmness after yesterday

As we pushed our mooring away the mist on the river rose and swirled around us. It reminded me of one of my first trips out in the theatre van in Scarborough. Heading to Bempton to find props for a show we drove through my first proper experience of sea fret. The mist drifting through the transit vans cab from one window to the other right in front of our noses. Today with the low sunlight catching it at the right angle it was magical.

Still misty water

Shiplake Lock was on self service so I did the honours. The lock was empty but the bottom gates didn’t want to open, it took forever for the lock to go through the sluice cycle before the gate button would work. The still water below the lock reflected trails in the sky. Oh what a beautiful morning. I just needed to find my gloves!

The lock island here has sheds with large tents. Earlier in the year these are all occupied, but now in October there were only a couple of tents erected, the rest removed and most probably stored til spring. We pulled in to top up on water. A Kris hire boat arrived and the couple on board had difficulty with their ropes as a gentle breeze caught them and pushed the stern out across the river, so we went to help, the chap on board saying he’d rather be on a narrowboat! It turned out that they used to own a shareboat with Carefree Cruising as did we. Their boat was an earlier one and the syndicate has just sold it, each of them getting a nice return.

Hold back!

At Sonning we had to put the brakes on as a cruiser was heading downstream under the bridge. It’s easier for us to stop as we were facing the current. We paused for a second boat to come through and then made our way up to the lock which was on blue boards, self service. However there were plenty of people around the lock and one came to open the gates, a large tug and skip boat came through leaving one chap on land to work the lock for us.

Hollyhocks replaced by courgettes?

The massive display of Hollyhocks we’d seen last year are now reduced to one rogue plant still with a couple of flowers showing. Get the Lock Keeper chatting about the hollyhocks and you’ll never stop him!

New moorings

Paul from Waterway Routes had asked us to check on reports he’d been having about new moorings at Sonning Lock. The reports had been correct a new length of good edge has been added to the nearest length of moorings, add to that nice new bollards. This does however mean that there are now signs saying to see the Lock Keeper as the moorings are chargeable.

No room for us today!

Our hopes of a mooring close to Tescos were dashed for the first time. In the past there has either been just one space left that we’ve shoehorned ourselves into or someone has been about to leave. Today we tried one space, but it was far too shallow and the stump of a tree overhung it. We regrouped, stocks onboard were low, but I was certain I’d be able to rustle up three meals, we carried onwards.

Cranes and boats everywhere

Next was diesel. Could we remember which of the boat yards was known for being the cheaper one, above or below Caversham Lock? I thought it was below so we pulled onto the service pontoon. A chap who was craning boats in and out shouted to help ourselves, ‘Okay, but how much is it?’ £1.39! Yes please the cheapest we’ve paid in months and on the Thames.

Once the tank was full we headed into the shop to pay. What a curious shop! Did we want to buy a hat? A ceramic bust of Churchill, some slippers, Javanese puppets, a tin train, a model ship with rigging, a clockwork rower or a Dalek? Eventually someone came to take our money, they were having a busy day moving boats.

Reading Town Hall

Caversham Lock had a keeper on duty, we asked her if we could stop at the end of the lock landing to head to the shops. Thankfully she was fine about it. We headed to Aldi who supplied us with much of what we wanted, but there were a few annoying gaps. Mick took the majority back to the boat whilst I tried M&S in the Station, then M&S in town, then Sainsburys finally had some cereal I could eat without added slugs or flies.

I love this house, ship weather vane and a bell in the tower

On we pressed, water diesel and food stocks replenished. Would we be able to make up for time we’d lost yesterday? We passed the wonderful house with the nautical theme.

£325,000 click on the photo for details

A summer house was being shown to prospective new owners with it’s grass and 70ft mooring. Nice.

Above Mapledurham we disposed of our rubbish, then continued on to try to find a mooring. The first place we were about to pull into we were warned was too shallow by a chap chopping wood. On to Pangbourne, we’ve never managed to find a space here, but today there was room along the high bank.

Sort the woofers out!

Tilly wasn’t overly keen due to lots of footfall and woofers, but when next door came back with his dog and started to sand things she decided she’d rather be inside. At least we’d got back on track today and achieved all the chores.

4 locks, 13.2 miles, 1 full water tank, 1 clean pooh box, 3 bags rubbish gone, 88.02 litres diesel, 3 bags shopping, 4 shops, 0 room for us, 1 postbox, 1 Lara, 1 last Pangbourne space, 2 hours shore leave, 1 final goodnight to Janis x