Thursday, 25 May 2017

London and Car Shuffle

Not a day cruising as Christine had a meeting in London. (That was why we booked into Brayford Pool - Lincoln station is only 10 minutes walk and the train is typically only about two hours into Kings Cross.

We both walked to the station - Christine's train was just before 8. There was plenty of extra security around but, as one admitted, it is more for re-assurance than doing anything significant!

Mike opted to do the car shuffle today and had already worked out quite a complex itinerary to achieve this. He caught his train just half an hour later, changing at Beeston (was going to be Nottingham but the ticket inspector was telling people that it is easier to wait until Beeston. Same train hut avoids having to change platforms. The second train was to Derby which was followed by a 12 minute walk to the bus station. A bus then dropped him right outside Mercia Marina where a quarter hour hike around the marina brought him to the long term car park.

Before leaving, he handed back the gate fob and also picked up some elsan blue from Midland Chandlers.

It was about one hour 20 minutes via the A38 and M1 to reach Clayworth where will have booked our next mooring, just few about 10 days whilst we return home for the Royal Cornwall Show. From there a bus took him into Gainsborough but was running just a few minutes late so there were a few anxious moments since the schedule only allowed 10 minutes to catch the next bus. However, it was several minutes late arriving in from Scunthorpe.

Apart from the fuel in the car and just under £10 for the train ticket, the rest was on bus pass!

As this blog is posted, Christine is on her way back from London and ordering her late meal!

Wednesday, 24 May 2017

Brayford Pool

Today's Navigation - River Witham

We spoke (wrote) too soon last night. As dusk gathered the intensity of jet fighters taking off increased and went on until well after the start of the Ten O'clock News

There was also a brilliant red sky, presaging the hot sunny day that followed.

Amongst the modern day aircraft, what looked like one of the Battle of Britain Flight also flew overhead.

We could also see the landing lights of the airfield in the distance.

And so to today. We planned an early start so that we could expect to reach Brayford Pool mid afternoon. We had already booked two night's mooring here whilst we are both on trips tomorrow. At £15 a night it is a tad expensive (especially compared with 'free' mooring elsewhere!) but we wanted to be sure that we could moor as close to the station as possible for an early start on Thursday.

We awoke to the anticipated glorious morning with the water so very calm under the old Tattershall Bridge. Mike walked up to bridge and discovered that it is not only no long the road route through but the far end has been completely walled off so it cannot act as a bridge for anything! \still it looks 'heritage'.

This mixed gaggle of birds on the bank outside the boat caught Christine's attention.

We were off not long after eight and made smooth progress back upstream.

It is five years since our first and only visit to this river and we both have felt that it seems so much more scenic and attractive than we recalled. Of course, the lack of pouring rain helps!

Most of the drains that join the river make a stark and brash appearance but one or two creep in rather shyly midst a rare bundle of trees and shrubs.

See what I mean?

The clear sky and presumed lack of high altitude wind meant that there were numerous aircraft trails criss crossing the sky in front of us. Not easy to capture but perhaps this gives a flavour.

A house-proud couple no doubt eagerly awaiting a 'happy'event - but will they be able to keep up with the mortgage if he stays at home and does not go out to work?

Here is the sugar factory again - from this direction the new factory still being built is much more obvious.

Back at Bardney Lock and we again made good use of the facilities. The work boat has moved from below to above the lock, No-one was working

We stopped for lunch at Washingborough Moorings  before cruising the last four kilometres into Lincoln.

Stamp End Lock gave us no special problems this time, even though it is rather slow to operate. This gave us time to notice - as we did not on the way down - that the old factory behind is only part of its former self - originally Clayton and Shuttleworth. (see) It had a long history of heavy engineering, steam engines, traction engines and other agricultural equipment. It finally closed in 2010.

Back through the Glory Hole and out into the expanse of Brayford Pool. We eventually, with the help of two of the volunteers at Brayford Trust, we found our correct mooring and hooked up to the electricity bollard.

20.2 Miles - 2 Locks

Tuesday, 23 May 2017

Tattershall Bridge

Today's Navigations - River Witham, Witham Navigable Drains

Today we had really wonderful weather with brilliant sunshine for most of the time. The wind had dropped and so the water was very calm compared with yesterday when, on open stretches, it looked quite choppy.

First off, Mike walked into town for a newspaper and some milk - also picked up some fruit juice. Food shopping in the centre of Boston is a bit meagre with only M&S offering a general selection. on the way in, Mike noticed a couple of European specialist shops.

That statue outside the church (can just be seen in the above photo) is of Herbert Ingram, first proprietor of the Illustrated London News.

Back at the boat the next task was to fill with water - we still had half a tank but it was another washing day. This entailed moving along to a different finger mooring for the water point. The flotilla left around seven this morning so there was now plenty of room.

Next it was down to the sani station which is alongside the Grand Sluice. By now the tide had fallen quite a bit. For most purposes, the lock is only used to pass boats on the level at high tide although it also acts as a defence against high water, Hence the bottom gates are rather high and some boats go out on a rising tide.

Time then to set off back up the River Witham. Our first objective was Anton's Gowt Lock - Mike checked with the Witham Navigation Board phone number and was told there were no problems. nb Judy, which we have met several times on this trip as we are both doing much the same route, was moored beside the lock and kindly helped us through. This is really useful as there is no lock landing the other side of the lock. Instead there is just a  rather long ladder. Apart from the somewhat counter intuitive factor of going down the drains, the lock is conventional.

Once through we turned sharply right along Frith Bank Drain. Shortly afterwards we had a good view of Boston stump in the distance. The drains do not have large elevated banks along the sides - the drains were dug down from the prevailing ground level.

A couple of miles later we arrived at Cowbridge Lock but rather than go back down towards Boston, which would have involved going down this lock, we turned left onto Medlam Drain. We were somewhat surprised that so far we had water that is wider than many canals and on only 1000 rpm we made well over 3 mph.

Useful to know the water level - however we were not sure what to do with the information!

As already mentioned, we could see a bit more of the buildings alongside the drains. Unfortunately this one did not help us tell the time - it was about ninety minutes late. . .

At Frithville we again turned left, this time onto West Fen Drain which was also easy to navigate. However, the first bridge we came to was a sharp reminder that navigation is not a given around here and care in planning routes has to be taken as some bridges are very low. In this case we fitted with about 150 mm to spare. There are no official places to moor along these drains so it was a matter of lunch on the go.

The arable crops can easily be seen in the adjacent fields.

Things changed somewhat at the next junction where two drains cross at an angle so we had to turn a sharp left onto Newnham Drain that would take us back to where we started.

This drain, almost three miles long, is much narrower and seasonal weed growth has already made its mark. Our speed dropped down to around 2 mph but, with the occasional 'chuck back' we were not prevented from progressing back down to  Frith Bank.

Some of the blanket weed patterns seemed almost an abstract painting.

Here we locked back through Anton's Gowt Lock - Christine opted to do the long climb up to fill the lock and open the gates.

As we set off back up the River Witham we experienced some vibration when up to speed. However, we planned a re-fuelling stop not to far ahead so progressed by keeping our speed down.

A family group?

We pulled in at Langrick Bridge Boatyard and filled up. Not quite as much as Mike had anticipated but there is nowhere else we are likely to pass for some days to come. (There is nothing that we have spotted this side of Burton Waters Marina, the other side of Lincoln)

Mike also opened the weed hatch and indeed there was rather a loot of blanket weed still around the prop shaft ahead of the propeller itself.

Christine decided that it was warm and sunny enough to treat ourselves to an ice cream from the shop. Altogether we can recommend this place with very friendly people.

We now had the long straight section up  to Chapel Hill but it only took just over an hour. However, going upstream we had to increase the engine revs in comparison with our journey down yesterday.

In the late afternoon the sunshine created some delightful scenes - we passed just two boats coming the other direction.

We took a look at Dogdyke moorings but another long narrowboat had just arrived and there was not enough room for us as well. Since it was only another mile to Tattershall Moorings, we happily pressed on.

We had been somewhat disappointed that so far the promised frequent loud noises of aircraft taking off from RAF Coningsby had not happened. We even wondered if the station had closed! However, this evening the situation was rectified and we saw a number of planes taking off - the end of the runway is only just over a mile from the river at this point. Most were fighters but occasionally something else.

22.3 Miles - 2 Locks

Monday, 22 May 2017


Today's Navigation - River Witham

A really warm day, despite quite a stiff breeze at times. Although there was some hazy cloud around, this was one of the pleasantest days yet, certainly on this trip.

Before we left our overnight mooring, Mike walked up to the small village church as we had expected that it would be opened. However, when he arrived he found it locked but a man who was starting his day's work on the new composting toilet that the church is adding said that he too need to gain access and that he also knew the man across the road who has the key! A few minutes later Mike saw both men returning and the key custodian kindly opened up long enough for Mike to take a look around inside.

Yesterday's photos showed the exterior so today we will show inside. A small number of years ago new stained glass was added above the entrance door to commemorate the lives of several local men who died in war. The church looks well used, although with a small village population, perhaps half what it was a century ago, the congregations are modest. However, it certainly did not feel like a museum or that it is going to give up anytime soon!

We set off and continued down the river. The high banks on either side mean that there are few distance views other than straight ahead. Sometimes the only photographic interest is in the kilometre posts!

With the occasional sculpture . .

 . . . drainage channel . . .

. . . and former station building now happily finding use as a house.

We have never seen anything called a fish shelter before - but as it was alongside a series of anglers' platforms, we are not sure just how much shelter the fish actually find!

At Dogdyke a larger boat was reversing out. Although it followed us a short time, it must have pulled in as it did not appear around one of the bends a little downstream!

That seems a bit steep to moor, especially as the water point and rubbish bins advertised in Nicholsons were not to be see,. Think we'll give that one a miss. Just how many fees do they ever collect, we wondered?

Chapel Hill is the junction with Kyme Eau, or the River Slea, or the Sleaford Navigation (take your pick!). It is possible to navigate some distance up here but the winding point may be a bit iffy.

We were now at the part of the river where it is a series of very long, straight sections.

 Just a few larger farm houses stick up above the height of the bank.

We pulled in at Langrick Bridge Moorings for lunch and a chance to enjoy the peace and warmth. (There is a main road crossing the river on the nearby bridge but we were not troubled by noise from it. It is narrow with traffic lights controlling one-way operation, so the vehicles cannot go at speed close to the river)

Mike then walked across to the filling station and local shop - he was pleasantly surprised to find that there was just one copy of pour newspaper left.

On again, with another couple of long, straight reaches. On the only significant bend at Anton's Gowt is the entrance to the navigable drains.

A little closer to Boston is the Pendulum Lookout. The towpath was popular with walkers and cyclists but we did not see anyone trying out the lookout.

We were almost at our destination before we had our first glimpse of Boston Stump, but once in sight it dominates the final straight into the town.

The former railway was once more following the river (it had diverted away for a time near Dogdyke). Hopefully, the train drivers did niot have to cope with so many signals all at one!

We found room on the Visitor Moorings, although there were more boats here than at any of the previous moorings. Several were gathering for an early start tomorrow as they set out into the Wash to enter the River Welland and so up to Spalding.

Christine opted to walk into the town, leaving Mike to the luxury of just sitting and reading!

19.9 Miles - 0 Locks