Category Archives: Trent and Mersey Canal

2023 A Sociable Year

A long post, it’s the annual round up.

January, we sat waiting. Waiting for a new alternator to arrive, for the River Trent to come out of flood and then for the canal to defrost sufficiently for us move. This meant Pip doing work on the boat instead of in the house, this made for smelly days and a very cold workshop under the pram cover.

After almost three weeks we were on the move again having to navigate through thick fog, navigational aids helping us not to bump into the banks! Ahead of us in Yorkshire was a troublesome swing bridge, closed to boat traffic. Our plans had to change, we arranged to moor up in Newark and head back to Scarborough by van. Chin rubs nearly made the longer journey better, but I really don’t like the outside moving SO fast!

Four days later we were back on board, the bridge ahead was now open. Tides were checked, locks booked, cupboards stocked for a few days cruising. Winter cruising can be so so pretty, yet so so chilly. A display by the Red Arrows as we left Torksey kept us amused and a defrost was very welcome when we arrived at Keadby. After four days cruising we were moored up in Goole and walking to catch the train back to Scarborough.

#unit21 in Huddersfield kept Pip occupied for much of February. Then it was time to give the house some TLC in between lodgers. A back bedroom got a makeover just in time. Mick had trips to see Oleanna, a jobs list left with Alastair and the covers headed off for some much needed mending. Tilly was kept busy checking out the neighbours, they stay inside so I get free reign of their outside!

April arrived along with two lodgers, it was not possible to do more work on the house, Pip chose to knit socks instead. Dementia UK her chosen charity this year. Donations of yarn came from dyers and Pip’s needles started to click away, keeping up with requests. 15 pairs knitted and her target met.

May, visits were made to Oleanna preparing her for cruising, these were interspersed with visits from family, delivering socks, getting the house ready and starting work on the design for panto. On the 9th of May we loaded a van and returned to life afloat. Tilly the happiest cat once she was back onboard! A day later we set off heading west. Leeds for a few days for Pip to head to Matlock for work and then a wonderful visit to see 93 year old Betty in Harrogate.

Working our way up the Leeds Liverpool Canal, locks and the new stupid swing bridge much lighter work with two boats. Our favourite canal with wonders of the waterways, friends on route, Mick’s birthday and a trip to Bowness to see the latest Ayckbourn play. We managed a night on our favourite mooring on the network sadly it was too windy to enjoy the view with a barbecue.

Up over the top, we teamed up with NB That’s It, thankfully descending the Wigan flight in a window between vandalism and blown cills that have hampered the flight this year. Then along the Bridgewater Canal, panto designing whilst on the flat. Through Preston Brook Tunnel and onto the Trent and Mersey turning right onto the Middlewich Branch.

Back on lockdown ‘Home’ waters we cruised the Nantwich pound, 5 hours 13 minutes including a lunch and shopping stop, back in 2020 we’d spent 80 days here. We cruised southwards on the Shropie joined for a day by Carol and George from WB Still Rockin’. Laura and Alison from NB Large Marge joined us for the ascent up the Wolverhampton 21.

Through Bumingham and on to Lapworth and then Hatton where we had an extra pair of hands from Jane, who hopefully now has her own narrowboat. A well deserved burger at the Cape of Good Hope with Emma and David, then a lovely evening with Lizzie (NB Panda) at The Folly, it was turning out to be quite a sociable June.

Oleanna wiggled her way across the summit of the South Oxford, very familiar water to us. Despite the sunny weather and us cruising most days our batteries were not happy, turning themselves off overnight! Diagnosis was required, we pulled into Cropredy Marina to plug in and run tests. One of our three batteries was dead, bad enough but thankfully nothing more. Once a panto meeting had been attended we could move on, except there was an emergency closure at Banbury Lock. C&RT worked hard to get the canal open as quickly as they could, thankfully our hold up wasn’t too long.

We met up with the crews of NB Azzura (Liz and Mark) and NB Perseus (Julie and Simon) both Finesse boats, had a visit to London for Andrew’s birthday. Then had a rendez vous with Paul and Christine and enjoyed a good catch up onboard NB Waterway Routes.

Down to the River Thames where we turned upstream onto waters we’ve only cruised once before. Such a lovely stretch of river, sadly with fewer moorings now. We sped up to Lechlade where we took up residence for a week so that we could attend a get together at Pip’s cousins which coincided with the Royal International Air Tatoo in Fairford. It was great to be with family on a jolly occasion.

Work took over for Pip as we made our way back down stream to Oxford, Cinderella had to go to the ball and the model needed to be finished. Then we sauntered our way back northwards. One day had us meet up with Frankie NB Discovery, NB Dusty the local coal boat and Graeme on NB Misty Blue, it was good to catch up with Graeme and hear of his adventures since we’d seen him last year.

A trip for us both back to Scarborough to do a turn around of lodgers, see a show and pick up post. Mick would have to return the following weekend to swap bedlinen over again, this time by train from Rugby. Stand still budgets and inflation required Pip to do more work on panto so her days were kept busy reducing Cinderella’s carriage from £2000 to £400.

Stoppages around the network meant we had only one real route we could take to head back north. We winded and climbed our way up to the Leicester Section. Here we met up with Ken and Sue NB Cleddau at Houdini’s Field sitting out till way after dark. Then a small detour to Welford to meet up with NB Panda and Lizzie for an evening before we continued our way north.

Another detour to Market Harborough before Leicester where North Lock had a badly leaking cill which required a crew of C&RT chaps to force the bottom gates open, booked passage was required, this meant we got a few days to enjoy the city whilst we awaited our turn.

Sadly by now the lack of water on the Chesterfield Canal meant the top end of the canal was closed, no point in rushing up the River Trent for a return visit. In Nottingham Pip’s little toe had a kerfuffle with a cupboard necessitating a visit to the drop in centre for her little pinkie to be realigned. This meant Pip had to hand the windlass and key of power over to Mick for the last locks of the year.

Downstream on the River Trent, stopping at all our favourite moorings. Pip’s knitting needles came out again to knit more socks for Dementia UK. We had a trip into Lincoln along the Fossdyke Canal, we actually managed to finally visit the Cathedral this time!

Tides were not helpful for the rest of our trip north so a couple of days at West Stockwith was needed, but that did mean we’d be sharing the tidal waters back to Yorkshire with NB That’s It whom we’d met earlier in the year.

There was time for a catch up with David as we passed through Bramwith, a jaunt up to Doncaster and then finally along the New Junction and onto Goole where a space had been found for us in the marina. A train ride to Scarborough to pick up a van and see the latest show before packing up the boat again for the second time this year.

Planned works at the house then went very smoothly. Scaffolding arriving the day after we arrived, new windows later in the day with four carpenters and two days later the decorator who was to give the house a much needed new coat of paint outside.

Mid October Pip moved to Chipping Norton for a month to work on panto, Mick and Tilly left to welcome a new lodger for the Christmas show in Scarborough. Panto was as much work as normal with the addition of Pip getting covid after the first week of rehearsals. The show opened to toe tapping audiences and many many bananas, getting great reviews. Mick had a days trip to London to support boaters who had gathered outside the Houses of Parliament for a Fund Britain’s Waterways rally.

Back in Scarborough Christmas came early with a visit from the London Leckenbys at the beginning of December, they hadn’t been to Scarborough for ten years. A few more house jobs have been done but a list has been compiled for the new year along with those on Oleanna. We’ve had a lovely Christmas, catching up with Scarborough friends, Tilly has slept lots, we’re lucky to see her before 2pm most days! I’m just resting for when the outsides start changing again.

Don’t worry Tilly the count down has started.

This year our plans changed all because of an invite from Pip’s cousins. We travelled our favourite canal, cruised many familiar waters , visited ‘Home’, climbed trees and pounced, caught up with many boating friends and made many new ones along the way. One very sociable year.

So our vital statistics for 2023 according to Canalplan are

Total distance of 805miles, 2.25furlongs and 436 locks.

There were 121 moveable bridges, of which 33 are usually left open; 151 small aqueducts or underbridges and 16 tunnels – a total of 6 miles, 5 furlongs under ground and 7 major aqueducts.

This is made up of 244 miles, 1.25 furlongs of narrow canals; 251 miles, 5.5 furlongs of broad canals; 69 miles, 1.5 furlongs of commercial waterways; 95 miles, 4.75 furlongs of small rivers; 57 miles, 3.75 furlongs of large rivers; 87 miles, 1.5 furlongs of tidal rivers; 185 narrow locks; 223 broad locks; 28 large locks.

Although according to Nebo we did

815.09 miles and 431 locks! Hmm maybe my maths isn’t so good. But then we only started using Nebolink in August, tracking our every move rather than just on our phones.

470 engine hours, 789.8 litres diesel! Ouch, having to run the engine to top the batteries up on an evening didn’t help with this, 150amp hours down to 100, 3 gas bottles, 120kg coal, 19.5 litres oil, 2 oil filters, 2 fuel filters, 1 shower mixer, 1 domestic alternator, 1 set new engine mounts, 1 overnight guest, 3 packs Dreamies, 1.5 packs Bonkers, 39 friends, 6 brought in, 34 Mrs Tilly stamps of approval, 34 pairs of socks, £1132 for Dementia UK, 2 shows, 9 lodgers, 10 supermarket deliveries, 33 boxes wine, 1 toe, 6 months cruising, 3 boat mover sightings, 209 posts, 184 likes, 9,503 visitors, 31,309 views!

Thank you for following our journey during 2023. We have a plan for 2024, but there are several invites and a rendez vous with some New Zealanders. Will we stick to our plan? Have to alter course to fit everything in? Wait and see, we’re already counting down the weeks to being afloat again.

You Have Reached Your Destination.


Nine weeks ago on the 9th May we moved back onboard Oleanna, leaving Goole on the 10th. Today we’d reached our planned destination, Lechlade.

The above map taken from data provided by our Victron Inverter

Our vital statistics for our trip down are as follows

Nebo 366.54 miles 270 locks

Canalplan 364 miles 1.25 furlongs 270 locks

Our Victron Inverter 403.5 miles (?)

Nebo’s map of our journey

Interesting how both maps have gaps in them, both in different places.

So,now where?

We need to make our way back northwards, currently there is only one route open to us, the River Trent.

Apologies to those who get their updates by email. You won’t be able to see the map from victron as it was embedded in the post. The IT department may see if he can replace this today, but you have already received the post, so you won’t be reading this bit anyway!

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.

Growling In The Dark. 5th June

Little Leigh Aqueduct to Croxton Flash

Good carvings

There was a wait to enter Saltersford Tunnel, entry between 30 and 50 minutes past the hour if heading south easterly. We tucked in behind another boat admired the tree carving by the mooring and had quite a chat until Tilly was spotted in a window by their greyhound! What a noise!! Their poor dog had to be put inside where Tilly was out of sight and out of mind.

Two behind

A third boat joined the queue and at bang on 11:30 we all set off, as we’d be heading further we were waved ahead to lead position. Tunnel mode engaged we wound our way through the tunnel where no light can be seen at the far end for quite a while, an S bend brings it into view and then out again. Behind us the thump thump of the following boats started to echo along the arched roof.

Nobody was waiting at the other end and we sailed across the open section to reach Barnton Tunnel. This tunnel doesn’t have a timed entry as you can see through it, however to be able to see through it you have to have your bow almost in the portal with someone stood on the bow. I made my way through Oleanna to do just that, Tilly excitedly following me as it might just be shore leave time!

A ray of light caught a cowparsley head just by the portal mimicking a tunnel light of an oncoming boat. Then I got a glimmer of light from the far end of the tunnel, it was clear. Thumbs up to Mick at the stern, I retreated back into the bedroom. The sound of Tilly’s bell could be heard at close quarters, the last thing I wanted to happen was for her to jump ship. We find growling at her a good deterrent and tends to stop her in her tracks, maybe we are the bigger cat in such situations. No! You just sound so stupid!

Coming through!

As we were approaching the far end a bow came into view, a day boat with plenty on board and their tunnel light shining in front of them. A beep on the horn saw them engage reverse gear pulling back from the entrance. ‘There’s at least another two boats coming through behind us’.

The canal now does a 90 degree turn under a road bridge, a boat came towards us. I popped to the bow to check for anyone else, the way ahead was clear. Buoys still mark the landslip at Soot Hill that occurred in December 2021, single file boats only.

Landslip to the left

The occasional glimpse across the Weaver Valley to new housing, then the more familiar factories. We remembered our first time here on a hire boat, Bergen Fjord, was that for Mick’s 50th birthday? There were so many boats moored that it felt like we had to walk for miles to get to see the Anderton Boat Lift. Our original plan for this year would have had Oleanna descend the lift and cruise the River Weaver, a stretch of water she’s not been on before (we’ve only done a small section on our shareboat) and ticking off the last Wonder of the Waterways.

An earlier than thought rendez vous was made just by the lift waiting moorings. NB Halsall was there waiting her turn for the lift, ahead of schedule she’d be heading down onto the Weaver a day early. We pulled alongside and got to meet Rachel, it’s been three years since we had a diesel fill from Halsall. 68 litres at £1.09 today. We know we’d be able to fill up cheaper somewhere else but it’s good to support the coal boats all year round as they are a god send in the winter months.


Next stop, the services block. Two boats were already pulled in. One turned out to be a hire boat the holiday makers just emptying themselves back into their camper van! What a good use of a water point in a busy place. We tucked in behind them, just clear of the entrance into the marinas. Soon there were four boats and more passing by. Eventually the hire boat was moved away.

Maybe the rust now holds this together

Lunch was enjoyed on the move as we passed Lions Salt Works, well worth a visit. Then it was time for me to go to work. The Town Square scene flats were cut out with basic details. What looks like it may work on paper doesn’t always work in 3D, especially when using false perspective. New lines were drawn, bits cut off, flats changed sides, more new lines drawn. When I was just about happy with shapes and sizes I found enough card to remake the flats, drawing full designs on them. Just the town clock to adjust now.

Meanwhile up on deck Mick brought Oleanna through the boat yard before the chemical works, three abreast chocka with boats. Then under the bridges carrying chemicals above boaters heads.

The quantity of traffic and moored boats suggested we’d be extreamly lucky to find a mooring for us at Bramble Cuttings. Three boats already sat there enjoying the picnic tables, Tilly would have to wait a while longer.

Not enough room for us at Bramble Cuttings

When were we last here? 2020, we must have wanted to go to Middlewich tip and then carried on finding space here, Mick got drenched. A day later we winded and headed back through Middlewich and up the Cheshire Locks to the Macclesfield Canal. It takes us a while now to remember such things.

Maybe by Croxton Flash we’d get a space? A boat was occupying the mooring we’d thought of. The chap on NB Stahl called out having been a reader of the blog, glad you found it useful.

Just round the bend was a space and someone had flattened the long grass beside the towpath, there’d be enough room for a barbecue. Tilly enjoyed herself, returning to use the onboard facilities and for her evening dingding, which did mean she was inside when we were outside.

Tonight’s kitchen

Salmon with ginger, lemon and soy sauce was accompanied by veg kebabs and some Jersey Royals.

0 locks, 11.2 miles, 2 tunnels, 2 mysterons, 1 full tank of diesel, 1 full tank of water, 1 annoying pick up and drop off hire boat, 3 flats re-re-done, 1 barbecue that may need retiring at the end of this summer, 1 Mrs Tilly stamp of approval.

Bang On Time. 4th June

George Greaves Bridge to Little Leigh Aqueduct 205, Trent and Mersey Canal

Waking early with plenty of sunshine streaming in through the windows along with the weekly Geraghty zoom this morning meant there was ample time for Mick to cook breakfast, back to the usual standards today.

Is that better Ade?

Zoom topics included relocating snails, foxes relocating shoes, a green soft top Ford Consul and which was quicker the Bakerloo or Northern line?

The covers were ready for a speedy departure, pushing off at 11am. Ahead lay Preston Brook Tunnel which is open to southbound boats from 30 to 40 minutes past the hour. Did we have enough time to reach it before the next window had expired?

Straight on for the tunnel

Not too many moored boats to slow our progress. Midland Chandlers is closed on Sundays so a new float switch couldn’t be purchased, that will have to wait a while longer. A boat coming from the tunnel towards us carried on at a narrow section, we had to hold back a touch, didn’t the chap know we had only a few minutes to spare and he was rapidly using them up!

Bang on time!

Thankfully we made it to the northern portal just as the clock reached 11:30, bang on time!

With life jackets on, big torch at the stern, head light on and cabin lights too we went straight in leaving the Bridgewater Canal behind. *It’s been a while since we’ve been through Preston Brook Tunnel, in fact we can’t quite remember when it last was, have to check the blog. Thankfully it wasn’t too wet.

That’s a bit of a queue

As we popped out the southern portal a line of boats were sat waiting for their turn, five in total. There was nobody behind us, but the lead boat was going to wait a few more minutes before setting off.

Preston Brook stop lock was left open for us. A height difference of about 2inches, the water flowing over the top of the top gates. Blimey these small gates were a touch hard to move, considering their small size they were rivalling some of the gates at Wigan.

Time to get back to work for me. Model making equipment had been dug out from under the dinette before we pushed off this morning. Now to pull out some white mount board and get started. I thought I’d checked my stocks and seen a full sheet of white and a good amount of black, but someone had already used at least a third of each! Oh! Would I have enough to make the basics?

Careful cutting was required and I had just enough white card for every bit of model including a front cloth. But should I change my mind and need to remake anything (which is quite likely) I may well be short. It may be a week before I can restock my card supplies as Middlewich doesn’t have an art shop! Eek!!

A shoe box of bits

Being slightly ahead of our schedule meant we’d not be needing to do the full four hours cruise today. We carried on past where we were meant to stop for the day and found a sun puddle to sit in quarter of an hour away from Saltersford Tunnel. Here our solar could keep topping up the batteries for a bit and Tilly could have a very good afternoon, Good Afternoon! See you later.

I managed to get the majority of my initial white card model made, just the Town Square left for tomorrow then I can put it all in the model box and see what needs altering and if I need more card sooner rather than later.

1 lock (if you can call it that!), 6 miles, 1 straight on, 2 canals, 1272 yards of tunnel, 2 mysterons, 5 waiting, 1 basic white card nearly done, 0.75 sheet of card, 5 hours shore leave, 64 instead of 68 stitches.

*We last went through Preston Brook Tunnel in May 2019.

Sharing. 30th March

Ten years ago today we stepped off our shareboat, NB Winding Down for the last time. Well Mick visited her again when showing prospective purchasers around. But the 30th March 2013 was the end of a three week cruise when we’d moved her from the then Carefree Cruising base at Elton Moss near Sandbach to a new base at Welton Haven on the Leicester Section.

We’d really enjoyed our near four years as shareboaters. Four weeks a year onboard the same boat (despite every owner bringing and leaving their own cling film!) had been made the most of.

A week iced in at Aqueduct Marina where we only got to move to top up with diesel and have a pump out.

A March trip when we had to buy ourselves sun hats and suncream and ventured down the Anderton Boat Lift onto the River Weaver. We hope to return this year to spend more time on the river.

The odd extra week came our way that other owners couldn’t use. Hmmm!

It was an affordable way to spend our holiday weeks from work afloat.

Ten years ago we didn’t know where to go for breakfast after packing the car to set off back home, we ended up on the bridge over the M1 at Leicester Forest East Services. Following three weeks of the tranquillity of the waterways the chair scraping noise from mid morning diners was SO loud it had us in stitches.

In the last ten years we sold our share, bought NB Lillyanne to keep us going until we had Oleanna built. The start of our original build wasn’t so good and we had to start all over again, but it was certainly worth it, as Oleanna is a far better boat than she would have been.

NB Winding Down we think is now based at Aston Marina outside Stone. Originally she was blue, then green and very recently she has returned to being blue again, just as we’d got used to spotting her in bright green. Maybe we’ll pass her this year and be able to say hello again.

Up in Scarborough it’s been a busy time. The back bedroom has been decorated. New curtains made for the living room and dining room on one side of the house. The sample of the front cloth for panto last year is now stretched on a frame and hung on a wall. The room may now have to be called the wave room as it also contains a set of photos of wave dodgers in the North Bay here in Scarborough.

Last week we had a day out to Bempton, hoping to see Puffins. Despite both of us having lived in Scarborough since the 1990’s neither of us had been. Sadly it was far too windy for the Puffins so we had to make do with thousands of Gannets instead.

The duvet that sprung holes last year now has a new cambric cover. My painting dungarees have had an upgrade, new elastic, a patch and new pockets for extra kneeling pads, which I’m hoping to make out of some giant mug yoga mat offcuts. They are now considerably more colourful and maybe a little bit in theme for this years Chippy Panto. Yes, I am returning for my fifth panto at Chippy. I can’t say any more about it at the moment as they haven’t announced anything yet. But it promises to be very colourful and toe tapping, it may have the audience dancing in the aisles!

The house is a very full house at the moment with two lodgers and tonight it will be opening night of Comedy of Errors at the SJT. We’re heading along to see the show and await to see what a lobster has to do with the Shakespearian comedy!

#unit21 played it’s last two shows at The Storyhouse in Chester last week. What a show! It was a shame to not be there for the final performance, but Chester is a long way from Scarborough. I’ll be meeting up with some of the Dark Horse actors in a few weeks time on a different project.

We keep in touch with the waterways. Our friend Chris on NB Elektra has a live bowcam so we can get a pootleing fix. He’s currently on the Shropie and it looks like it’s been raining this morning. We tend not to watch so many vlogs, but do pop by The Pirate Boat to catch up with Heidi every now and again. It’s nice to see a few bloggers are back out and about on the water too. NB Bonjour, NB Briar Rose, NB What A Lark, NB Hadar, NB Ali’s Dream to name a few. I’m getting quite home sick.

Our planned cruise now has slight alterations due to a family get together and work commitments for me. So we now have a firm date for when we’ll need to be back on board and heading towards the Pennines.

Saturday will see me taking up route on the sofa or my Mum’s nursing chair to knit. My Sockathon will start after breakfast on the 1st April. I need to average a pair of socks every three days, hopefully I’ll manage more, but we’ll see. Donations of yarn are starting to arrive. I’ve collected my sock yarn stash together along with needles and the patterns from last year. I just need to work out what gauge each yarn will knit up at, I’m hoping I can do this by comparing yarn using wraps per inch rather than knitting a swatch for each yarn. Fingers crossed, or should that be needles crossed! Any suggestions of things I can listen to or watch whilst knitting would be appreciated. We don’t have Netflix or anything you have to pay for.

I’ve promised myself a walk each day so that I keep moving, I can’t cease up, there are lots of locks to do soon. I will also be helping Tilly to make her Hot Paw Buns as Easter is getting close.

Fundraising so far? I’ve just about reached two thirds of my target! Thank you so much to those who’ve donated already. Still a way to go once I start knitting. If everyone who’s visited the blog this last week chipped in £1 I’d be sailing towards my target of being able to train up an Admiral Nurse with the skills and knowledge to support families affected by Dementia.

0 time to write lists, 2 skeins to make into cakes!

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.

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!!!

Zig Zagging Forever. 19th January


Ice covered the canal this morning. Jack Frost had been to visit. Would the ice stay around? Or would it melt?

Ice, not thick, but ice

Mick sat out the stern waiting or the sight of a Sainsburys van. From our mooring you can see traffic on the main road and he spied an orange van heading out from Derby, would it be for us? It was. He walked down to greet the driver waving our orange bags in the air. We’re now stocked up with food for the next week.

Food and wine

Next the coal situation needed to be improved. Mick took the bike and headed off to Shardlow Marina to see if he could get a bag on the bike. The chap from the boat behind us had offered to give Mick a lift in his car, but Mick managed a bag at a time, only two bags required to keep us going.

Coal man

Meanwhile I wanted to make use of still being hooked up. A new 3XL overall was pulled out from the bag of costumes. An existing costume was pulled out to compare measurements with. One of our actors is more like a 4XL so extra side panels are needed, a sturdier zip and the new overalls would be a spare pair just in case! I worked out what to add, what to shorten, the offcuts from the legs coming in useful.

18cm down from yesterday

At lunchtime an email arrived in our inboxes. The Upper Trent!

‘Update on 19/01/2023:’

‘Water levels have started to come down, and we have been able to open Cranfleet Flood Gates. Boaters can now travel along the navigation.’

Hooray!!!! Should we make a move straight away or wait for tomorrow? The ice around us was gradually melting, enough so that Tilly had been allowed shore leave again. How would it be for reversing in? Having power for the rest of the day would be handy for sewing. We decided to stay put and plan our moves for the next week.

Then things started to go wrong. First Tilly ran out of green Dreamies, she noticed the colour change! Then I tacked a panel in the overalls on the wrong side. Tilly decided to give the mince I was defrosting a good sniff on the kitchen counter that is a NO GO area for felines to make up for the lack of green Dreamies!

I lifted my sewing machine up off the floor onto the dinette seating so no one would walk into it. Tilly decided to have a mad ten minutes charging around everywhere. This unsettled my sewing machine which fell to the floor!

Oh Bu**er! The light still worked. Where was the reel holder thing? That was found. I put a chilli together so that the mince would be well away from Tilly’s sniffing nose. Then sat down to look further at my sewing machine.

The stitch selector seemed wonky. I tried turning it. It wouldn’t shift. I tried straightening it up. It came off in my hand! What stitch was the machine set to? If straight I could carry on. The dial had been between stitches when it broke off. I tried the needle. It was moving from side to side! But I don’t want to zigzag for the rest of my life!!!

That dial should be where the black hole is!

Mick tried having a look at it. A connecting thing had sheared off on the selector, no chance of putting it back on. Could we turn what was behind the dial without it. No. I found a new part, but we need the bit that has sheared off to be removed to replace it. No sewing for me for a while!

Thankfully I was working on a spare overall, the adjustments to the ladies overalls were finished, so the spare can wait a week or so. I just need to add three little things to the existing pair so that braces can be attached inside.


Tomorrow we hope the ice will have receded. Fingers and paws crossed.

0 locks, 0 miles, 1 delivery, 4 boxes wine, 2 bags coal, 2 bike loads, 1 icy canal, 2 gates open! 1 river open! 3XL taken to bits, 3XL tacked back together, 1 hand, 1 knob, (now then!), 1 broken machine, 1 cat in the dog house, 1 plan coming together, 2 boaters 1cat getting ready to make a move!

Bloomin Maud! 18th January


First there was ice. Then too much water. Now it’s a bridge!

Our plans may have to change. We’d been hoping to reach Yorkshire by now, but obviously the River Trent being in flood hasn’t helped that. All part of boating through the winter especially where rivers are concerned. Now as the river levels are dropping, gradually, we’ve been looking further ahead.

1.5m today down 28cm from yesterday

Vazon Sliding Bridge had problems in the heat last summer, since then the bridge is opened twice a day to boat traffic at 9am and 1pm, apart from when Network Rail are on strike. If the river hadn’t been in flood we’d have had a days wait before we could pass through.

When Mick had phoned to book passage in at Keadby the Lock Keeper mentioned that Maud’s Swing Bridge was also closed. A date for it to open unknown! Hmm. Here’s a link to the stoppage notice LINK. It has been closed since the 23rd November, the notice hasn’t had an update.

Maud’s Bridge 2nd April 2022

Mick rang C&RT and worked his way though to the right part of the country and got to talk to a lady regarding the bridge. Apparently the bridge was struck by a vehicle back in November causing a lot of damage. It has been taking time for the drivers insurance company to sort things out and as yet the engineers haven’t come up with a method of mending the bridge. So at the moment there is no known date for it to open, it could be months! The lady was trying to get someone to do an update.

Poo bar bum!

A re-think is needed. Options.

  • We continue downstream and exit the River Trent at Keadby, then sit and wait for the bridge to open. Not a popular option.
  • We head downstream on the Trent and wait for a suitable day to head round Trent Falls. Not a popular route in the winter months.
  • We continue downstream and find somewhere to moor that isn’t in Yorkshire, but as close as we can get with good transport links. Maybe.
  • We stay put in Shadlow, easy access to transport. Maybe.
  • We turn around and once Stenson Lock reopens, with its new gates, we head up the west side of the country to cross the Pennines over into Yorkshire. A lengthy journey especially in winter, juggling it around work, stoppages and weather. Hmmm.

We’ve got some thinking to do. One option is looking the most likely at the moment.

Today I managed to work through the alterations on another pair of overalls. These were size XS, but still needed the arms and legs shortening. One pair left to do. Mick returned from Scarborough with a few bits I’ll be needing for #unit21 in the next few weeks.

0 locks, 0 miles, 2 trains, 1 bus, 1 broken bridge, 1 river coming down, 5 options, 2 pairs overalls finished, 7.5 inches, 5.5 inches, 1 still to do.