Erewash Canal and the River Trent (Non-tidal section)

 

Drone Footage at Cromwell Lock

 
  We were moored opposite a sewage works, just above Derwent Mouth Lock on the Trent and Mersey Canal, and although the pong wasn’t a problem, the flies definitely were. Even though we had the fly nets up, they still managed to invade the boat. They all gathered on the door nets at the back and every time you went in or out, they clung to the nets, conspiring together to form an aerial assault! They were quite big and very moth-like – not the annoying buzzy type that fly past your ear and make you jump and that are very hard to sneak up on to swat or catch – these were daft and just sat there as you approached. By the time we had hoovered up or squashed over two hundred (and, yes, I was keeping a rough count) we decided enough was enough and that we should move! So, on Monday, 9th May, we set off and cruised the short distance back through Sawley Cut, out onto the River Trent, turning in at the junction onto the Erewash Canal. We moored opposite some interesting houseboats.

On Tuesday, 10th May, we cruised for 3 ½ miles, working three locks along the way. Although the Erewash is less than 12 miles long, it has 15 locks along its length, and they are wide locks and quite deep, so fairly hard work. It also runs pretty much through a succession of towns, until the last couple of miles and, unfortunately, the advice is to not stop in most of them! Consequently, we cruised through Long Eaton, but moored in Sandiacre, which was deemed to be “safe”. It was a very pleasant cruise, though. At one point, whilst passing a Scout/ Guides facility, a booming recording rang out – ” Warning! You should not be in this area, please leave now!”. We were, of course, just cruising past, so maybe their sensors need adjusting a little? We were the only boat in Sandiacre to start with, but were soon joined by two boats coming down the canal and another heading in our direction. It was quite a noisy mooring, though, as the road ran directly alongside the canal, however, we stayed there for a second night as the weather was rainy.

On Thursday, 12th, we got ready to set off just at the same time as the boat in front, Mandy and Chris on NB Lucy.  We shared four locks with them but they carried on when we decided to stop for lunch. We set off again after lunch, stopping again in Ilkeston to pop to Poundland to stock up on reading glasses – we had lost three pairs between us over the previous few days! We caught up with Mandy and Chris later, after another four locks, mooring near Shipley Lock. It had been a hard day! The mooring wasn’t ideal, as far as Sal was concerned, as we were graunching on the bottom but it was the only one available so we had to put up with it! Sal was on the bed all night…..🙄 

On Friday morning, we set off for the last mile or so, and three more locks, arriving in Langley Mill Basin. Some of the bridges had been very low along this canal but the last one, before the road bridge, was particularly low. We managed to just scrape through. We stopped on the water point (great water pressure so it didn’t take long to fill), then spun the boat and moored up on the visitor moorings. Mandy and Chris arrived soon after, mooring in the basin, too. Unfortunately, they hadn’t been so lucky with the bridge – their bike, on the roof, just caught which in turn dislodged their chimney which, despite their best efforts, was lost forever! 😥 

We stayed for the weekend in the Basin – it was a pleasant mooring and it was near to the shops and a pub, and although a road bridge ran across the entrance, it was quite quiet. We celebrated our third ‘boatversary’ on Sunday with a lunchtime roast in the nearby pub! There were some nice walks alongside the derelict Nottingham canal – now called The Erewash Trail – and some short sections are still watered. Although a little showery a couple of times, the weather was sunny for our stay, too!

On Monday, we had planned with Mandy and Chris to share the locks on the return journey – we had all agreed that they had been heavy work on the way up! We reversed the boat back into the boatyard at the end of the basin to fill with diesel and to get a pump out; Mandy and Chris topped up their water. Once we were all finished, we set off and cruised back to Shipley Lock, about 1 ½ miles and three locks. The forecast had said “showers” but we were hit by an absolute deluge whilst in one of the locks! We carried on to our destination, thankful to get moored up, inside and dried off! We managed, this time, to get a better mooring, so no graunching and a happier doggie!! Sal and I had a lovely walk in the afternoon, happily in sunny weather – along more of the towpath route of the derelict Nottingham Canal/Erewash Trail. No evidence of the canal on this bit, though, but a very pleasant walk, nonetheless! 

On Tuesday, we set off, Sandiacre being our destination. The locks were all full and waiting for us, so going down in them was so much easier! We worked five locks then stopped for lunch next to playing fields, electing to take our chairs and picnic tables out onto the grass. It was very pleasant sitting and chatting to Mandy and Chris but we had to continue, so we packed up and set off again. We worked another three locks and finally arrived back in Sandiacre, all thankful that the day’s journey had been much easier coming down than going up!!

On Wednesday, 18th May, we cruised the last stretch back to the start of the Erewash Canal, again sharing the locks with Mandy and Chris. We stopped about ½ mile away from the junction, having cruised for 3 miles and working 3 locks. We were quite near the train line but the trains went very slowly over the bridge behind us, and it was very quiet other than that, so a nice mooring!   After lunch, we said our “goodbyes and good lucks” to Mandy and Chris as they were continuing their onward journey – Tony and Sal walked down to the lock at the start of the canal to help them through. It has been absolutely lovely to meet more new friends – one of the joys of this lifestyle!!

We left Trent Lock and the Erewash Canal on Thursday, 19th May, with Beeston being our destination. On leaving Trent Lock, we were out on the River Trent again – but it is a very short section of only about 100 metres before it joins the Cranfleet Cut, which gives more protected waters. Cranfleet Cut is only about ⅔ of a mile long, though, so once we went through Cranfleet Lock at the end of it, we were out onto the river again. We travelled for about four miles on the river itself and it was a lovely day with little wind, so we enjoyed the trip, duly arriving at Beeston Lock. Once through the lock, we stopped to top up with water, then went to find a mooring. All the 48 hour moorings were full, so we went a little further and found a good mooring beyond the next bridge. We moved up a little further later on as the moored boats opposite, quiet when we arrived, started playing very loud reggae music – fine for a little while but it got a bit annoying, so we pulled our pins and went a bit further down – one of the benefits of living on a boat – don’t like your neighbours? Move!!

We had organised a Tesco delivery for Friday morning but as we weren’t moored where we’d hoped to be, we had to walk back and keep a look out for the driver. We spotted him as he turned up to the address given, so Tony ran up to tell him where we were. (He hadn’t read the notes on the order, so was trying to deliver to the house with the postcode we’d given!) The Beeston Cut is another canalised section away from the river, which ran parallel to the Cut, and there were some lovely walks alongside the river, one of which Sal and I enjoyed in the afternoon.

On Saturday, Tony drove down to Southampton to go to the 60th birthday party of his ex business partner, Mark. We had both hoped to go but the marina in which we had hoped to moor the boat was refurbishing their pontoons, so were not taking bookings for visiting boats. We decided, therefore, that, as we won’t leave the boat unattended on the towpath, Tony should go alone. We hired a car and it was delivered at 9.00 am, and after a coffee and packing a few things, Tony made his way south. He had a lovely time at the party, as did Mark and everyone else, and Sal and I had a quiet time on the boat. I caught up on a few girly films and had a totally relaxing time, other than Sal’s walks, of course. Tony arrived back at lunchtime on Sunday and we stayed for one more night on the Beeston Cut.

On Monday, 23rd, after returning the hire car, we set off for the short and easy cruise to Nottingham, about 2 ½ miles, still on the Beeston Cut. Actually, about half way along the Cut at Lenton Chain, the Beeston Cut morphs into the Nottingham Canal, the rest of the Nottingham Canal, running up to Langley Mill, now being derelict. We arrived and found a good mooring virtually alongside a retail park – Sainsbury’s and Lidl being most of interest to us!

On Tuesday,  24th, after going to the supermarket for yet another fridge and cupboard top up, we all walked up to Nottingham Castle. You can’t go to Nottingham and not say “Hello” to Robin Hood, now, can you? We passed the oldest Inn in England, purported to date from 1189 and took photos of the Robin statue, but we didn’t pay to go into the castle – Sal wasn’t allowed in the buildings so £26 just to walk around the fairly meagre grounds seemed a bit steep. It was still a very pleasant walk up to and around the castle area, though – it was a nice part of Nottingham, with some lovely old buildings, even though they are now occupied by modern businesses. It didn’t seem quite right to have a pizza takeaway in one of the ancient buildings, but there we are, better to be occupied and maintained than left to go derelict, I suppose.

On Wednesday, we wanted to move onto the River moorings, still in Nottingham city centre, as they looked lovely, so we set off early for a walk-and-go, cruising the two miles and working two locks to get down onto the river. We passed the Nottingham Forest Football Ground and moored on the stepped embankment outside City Hall. The canal was obviously quite sheltered and we didn’t realise just how windy it was until we got to the lock out onto the river, but we were only going for about 200 metres on the river and the wind was in our favour, so it wasn’t a problem at all. The river is wide and pretty here, and it was well worth stopping.

We had planned on moving again on Thursday, but we had a big river section coming up, no more Cuts or canalised sections, and the weather was very blustery, so we didn’t fancy the trip after all. It was also forecast to be very windy on the Friday, although bright, so we made the decision to stay there for Friday, too. It was great being moored on the river – there are several rowing clubs nearby so there was almost constant activity from those and the walks along the river are just lovely. Sal soon got used to the sound of the lapping water and enjoyed sitting out on the back deck watching all the activity! I spent the two days digitising some of our old paper photos and organising them into folders, as well as backing them up in the Cloud and on hard drives. A good job completed, although we have plenty more photos in storage – we’ll just bring a batch back each time we go home or when someone visits!

On Saturday, 28th May, with the wind having dropped to virtually nothing, we set off for our trip on the river. We planned to stop at Gunthorpe, so the journey was just under 10 miles, with two locks. The locks are all manned on the Trent, though, so that makes it a bit easier! At 5mph, it didn’t take long either. It was an absolutely lovely trip! Normally when we’re cruising, if I’m steering, Tony will sit up on our little perch seat on the side of the hatch, or if he’s steering, we both just stand within the back deck area (I don’t feel safe on the perch seat). However, for the river, Tony didn’t fancy perching, so we brought one of our bar stools up onto the back deck, within the area of the hatch, and I sat on that whilst Tony steered. It didn’t go high enough for me to see over the top box to the front, though, so I was looking out at the side and backwards – I found myself singing the Talking Heads song, Road to Nowhere, but I changed the lyrics to “I don’t know where I’m going, but I do know where I’ve beeeen”!  Sal liked me sitting there, too – I was just at ear tickling height!! After a couple of miles, it occurred to me that we had seen lots of different bird species – we obviously see a fair few on our daily travels anyway, but I started counting – over 20 different species! So, along with the normal ones that we would expect to see every day – swans, ducks, moorhens, coots and herons, sparrows, wagtails, crows, magpies and pigeons, we saw gulls and terns, common, but not always seen on the canals. Then the geese – Canada and Greylag, both common, but we also saw a pair of Egyptian Geese, not common at all. We spotted two kingfishers, sand martins, cormorants, and egrets, oystercatchers, and great crested grebes. We saw one bird which, in order to identify it, we had to get out our Bird Book. The only one we could see that it might be is a Ruddy Shelduck – described as “out of the ordinary” in our book. I’m pretty sure that it was but don’t think I’m lucky enough to see an “out of the ordinary” bird, so maybe not? I’m claiming it, though!! We moored at Gunthorpe, fortunately, there was space on the floating pontoons; the other available moorings there aren’t quite as conducive for getting Sal (and me!!) on and off the boat!

On Sunday, 29th May, we  set off from Gunthorpe, heading for Hazelford Lock. Most of the moorings along the river are situated at the locks – there are one or two floating pontoons along the way, in between the locks, but they are very limited, both in frequency and in the capacity for boats. Again, it was a lovely trip of five miles and two locks, but a little breezier than the day before – not enough to cause a problem, just a bit of breeze in your hair! We arrived at Hazelford Lock to be faced with moorings which are not very ideal if you have a dog – the side was higher than the roof of the boat by about a foot! We asked the lockkeeper if the moorings on the other side of the lock were free, he confirmed that there was one boat space that we would fit onto. Consequently, we went through the lock, turned the boat and pulled in (turning the boat to moor into the flow of the river). However, the sides were still pretty high, about a metre up from the back deck. Tony lifted Sal off for the first time, which she didn’t enjoy too much so made the decision to jump up and off, and down and back on, by herself! Tony, with his long legs, was able to step up, but I had to sit on the side, roll over onto my knees and get up from there – not terribly elegant!! It was an interesting place as the lock was on an island, with the River and a weir going both sides of it. There was a (somewhat rickety, in my opinion!) bridge connecting the lock island to the other side of the river, accessed with our British Waterways key, so once we were moored, we were very secure and had the island to ourselves, along with the other moored boats, of course. Tony crossed the bridge on Sal’s walk, but I elected to stay on the island and just follow the many interconnecting and criss-crossing footpaths. It was very rabbity so Sal loved it! There was quite a lot of boat movement on the moorings – boats would turn up and moor, stay for an hour then move off again. Being a river, it was very much river cruiser territory – and being a Sunday, too, there were lots out for a weekend jaunt. It ended up that we were overnighting with four large cruisers – our boat was dwarfed! We worked out that there was probably well over a million pounds moored on that space!

On Monday, 30th, before we left Hazelford Lock, we looked at the weather forecast for the week and decided that Thursday seemed the best day to do our first stretch of the tidal River Trent. We phoned Cromwell Lock and booked ourselves in.  We then set off, heading for Newark. We had heard that the moorings, again, were against high sided walls in the town, but that there was a floating pontoon which accommodates a few boats. However, it is generally known that you are very lucky to find a space on the pontoon! We arrived at Newark Town Lock after cruising for 8 ½ miles, having followed the navigation off of the main river and onto Newark Dyke, and decided to go and see if there was any space on the pontoon, intending to turn and go back to the high sided walls if none were available. We couldn’t believe our luck – there was space! A chap on a cruiser, who had also just pulled in and was mooring up, said that he was a regular in Newark and that he’d never managed to moor there before, and that over the weekend, boats were moored two abreast! We WERE lucky! No lifting Sal on and off – perfect! (The walls were even higher than our mooring at Hazelford Lock). Even more so as it started to rain just as we pulled in, so we moored quickly and put the back cover up before it really started to come down! The rain abated in the afternoon, so we all walked up to have a look around the Newark Castle ruins, which was a very pleasant walk.

On Tuesday, 31st, we decided to make the trip to Cromwell Lock, ready for our transit through on Thursday. It was a journey of 4 ½ miles, leaving Newark Dyke and meeting the river again, and the weather was changeable with very heavy showers. We got really quite wet, with nowhere to pull in to wait for it to pass. There was even a loud rumble of thunder, but fortunately, it didn’t develop beyond that. We were very relieved to arrive at Cromwell to find available moorings on the floating pontoon again. We walked up to the lock in the afternoon, had a chat with the lockkeeper and bought a copy of the Tidal Trent charts – needed to give information about the river and how to best navigate it. It is a very beautiful spot and apparently is very busy at weekends – a lot of the boats don’t go through the lock, just go there to moor and enjoy the surroundings. (Another reason we decided to get there on Tuesday as we thought some weekenders might be having an extra long weekend because of the Jubilee celebrations).

We also increased our bird sightings over the last few days. As well as the others we’d seen previously, we saw some more Egyptian Geese, this time with a brood of chicks but new sightings included buzzards, a Jay, Reed Warblers and a very diddy Wren! I can’t claim to have seen one, but we also heard a cuckoo.

We walked up to the lock on Wednesday morning to see the two boats going through that were venturing out onto the River that day. The water on the other side of the lock looked very benign, so that was comforting to see! We enjoyed a relaxing day, waiting for our tidal river adventure. I realised that I hadn’t put the drone up for a while and this was a perfect place to rectify that! I didn’t venture over to the other side of the river with it as there were Oystercatchers over there and since they dive-bombed the drone in Glasson Basin, I didn’t want to run the risk of losing the drone in the river, so kept it over land on this side!