Wednesday, 29 August 2012

Back on the Canals

Sunday started with the car shuffle. It had been left overnight in a pub car park, which is OK for one night, but I didn't want to push my luck so we loaded up the folding bikes and drove to Beeston. Then we cycled back to Castle Marina, put the bikes back on board, and made our third trip of the morning between the two points.
We stopped at Beeston to use the sanitary station, which is just below the lock and when we were ready Hil went ahead to set it. Just as she'd got it ready a boat came from behind and went straight in. I went to follow then realised there was another boat coming up. It turned out that they were travelling together and were both single-handed, so I let them both have the lock. Unfortunately I couldn't explain this to Hil who was left wondering why she ended up working two strange boats through!

After Beeston lock we were back on the river. The flow seemed quite strong (I noticed later at Sawley that the board was in the amber: "proceed with caution") and not wanting to overheat the engine again, as I did coming up from Torksey) we made slow progress.  Trent Lock was very busy with river traffic, dinghies,and  canoes from the Scout base. In fact the only quiet bit was the lock itself, with the entrance to the Erewash Canal heavily weeded-up and looking as if there hadn't been any boats through for some time.

Waiting for Sawley Locks
At four-o'-clock on a Sunday afternoon Sawley locks were busy and we had to wait, although the volunteer lockie was just about to knock-off for the day!

Then, after another short stretch of the Trent we reached Derwent Mouth and the start (or end) of the Trent & Mersey Canal.

After spending the last couple of months on the Trent and Witham rivers the canals will seem pretty tame - but I'll be glad to be back I think and I'm sure Starcross will be happier to be back on the waters for which she was built.

We'd planned to stop at Shardlow. In his seminal book "Narrow Boat", Rolt describes it as "Singing Shardlow" on the basis of a convivial evening spent in the now-defunct Canal Tavern. Shardlow was certainly singing on Sunday afternoon, but it was the over-amplified wailing of a not-very-good rock band that sounded to be coming from the marina but which pervaded the whole village that persuaded us to change our plans and carry on to Aston Lock: the number of vacant mooring spaces in the normally packed village seemed to show we weren't alone in our view.

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