The Tidal Trent Part 1, the Fossdyke Navigation – and Covid!!!

  The green light came on at Cromwell Lock at about 11.20 a.m. on 2nd June, so we and the other boat doing the trip, NB Dragonfly, untied our lines and cruised up to the now-open lock. Whilst in the lock, we all decided that they would go first as they had done the trip before, with us bringing up the rear. They weren’t going all the way to Torksey, though, they were stopping in the floating pontoons at Dunham Bridge, consequently they had less time constraints than us, as we had to time the tide to get into Torksey Lock. It was an easy cruise – certainly no worse than the other river stretches we had done, perhaps we were going a little faster because of the flow, but it was hardly discernible. We followed the chart diligently, making sure we didn’t go in the shallow areas – we didn’t want to ground the boat!! We couldn’t have asked for a more perfect day to cruise a tidal section of water, either. Or any section of water, come to that. It was sunny, with a very gentle breeze. In fact, it was probably a little too hot for Sal, with her life jacket on! We kept dousing her down with water and giving her cool drinks so it was all fine, though. As we neared the halfway point, we spotted the first boat coming towards us, but then there was another, then another, then more! We had seen on the Trentlink Facebook group that one boat was booked in from the other direction, but we passed four and a cruiser! We were even more amazed when, a few minutes later, more boats started coming……..and they kept coming! Sixteen boats passed us in total! Virtually unheard of, apparently. Some of the huge cruisers were leaving a fair wake and Sal didn’t enjoy it much when we started rockin’ and rollin’ as they passed, she didn’t much enjoy the noise of the cavitation of the propeller, either! At around the halfway point, we decided that we were going a little too slowly to get to the lock in comfortable time, so indicated to NB Dragonfly that we would overtake, as we had previously agreed with them. We increased our speed, gradually pulling away from them. They were just out of sight as we passed the pontoons on which they were going to moor, so we were unable to wave goodbye to them.  We passed Butler’s Island, at which point we had been advised to phone the Torksey lockkeeper, to advise of our approach – no answer. 🙄 We continued on, phoning every couple of minutes, but arrived at the lock, still not having made contact. Fortunately, there are moorings below the lock, so we pulled in and moored up. A boat moored on the opposite side told us that the lockkeeper had gone home!! Now, although it’s not so important at this lock because of the moorings, the whole point of booking in at the tidal locks is so that they can make sure that everyone has arrived safely at their destination! No one would have known if we’d got into difficulty – the lockkeeper at Cromwell would just assume that we’d arrived, as would NB Dragonfly, although it’s not their job to worry whether we did or not! Consequently, we were a little perturbed that we’d been forgotten about or abandoned! 🙄 We phoned the lockkeeper at Cromwell Lock to let him know that we’d arrived and that no one was here, and, bless him, he was very apologetic and even offered to drive up to let us through! We declined – we were quite safe and happy on the moorings below the lock and didn’t want to put him to any trouble, besides, it was touch and go by that time whether the water was too low to let us through in any case! We sent NB Dragonfly a message to make sure they were ok and to let them know that we had arrived. They kindly sent us a couple of photos that they’d taken during the trip – I returned the favour. 

Here is the link to our short video on YouTube of our trip on the Tidal River Trent –

On Friday, 3rd June, we started the day by going through Torksey Lock, having ascertained with the lockkeeper the best time to go up, as it can only open when the tide dictates. We were just waiting for the time he’d given us, but half an hour before then, we saw the lights go green and the lock gates open – he’d decided to get us up and through before locking the boats through which were waiting to come down. So a quick scramble to get ready was required but we were soon in the lock and ascending! We stopped on the water point above the lock and Tony popped to the nearby caravan park to get a replacement gas bottle. We then set off and moored again on the visitor moorings just a couple of hundred metres further on in order to have lunch. After lunch, we set off and cruised for 5 miles, heading for Saxilby. This was our first experience of the long, straight stretches on this navigation. The banks are higher than the boat and you can’t see over them, so all that can be seen is grassy banks and the tops of the trees beyond the banks, and maybe a roof or two of buildings alongside. Coupled with how straight the navigation is, it does, unfortunately, make for slightly boring cruising! We saw a sign warning of deer ramps extending into the canal, put there to aid deer which have fallen in. We wondered how the deer knew where the ramps were, and, indeed, what they were for – had they read the signs before they’d fallen in??Another boater had told us to grab the mooring just before the railway bridge in Saxilby, before going through the bridge, as the official visitor moorings on the other side of the bridge were often full. Very good advice, as, after we’d moored up, Tony took a quick stroll with Sal and came back to confirm that they were, indeed, without space. It didn’t matter as this was a rather nice mooring in any case. There was a wide grassy bank, enclosed mostly by a fence, so we were comfortable with leaving Sal outside on her long lead – she loves sitting out on the bank and watching the world go by! After their walk in the afternoon, Tony reported that the area wasn’t particularly good for dog walks – mostly just roads, with no parks or green areas – and the road ran closely alongside the canal so even the towpath wasn’t the best to walk along.

That coupled with the fact that the weather was due to be awful on Sunday, so we would be staying for three nights if we didn’t move, we decided  to head to Lincoln on Saturday. We had thought that, being Jubilee Weekend, it might be very busy with boats, so we decided to phone the marina, Brayford Pool Trust, to see if they could fit us in. It was confirmed that they had space, so we booked in for two nights. We needed a top up of diesel, too, and there was a marina on the way, between Saxilby and Lincoln, so we pulled in. It was quite a breezy day and it was a bit of a challenge to get into the marina and onto the service pontoon, particularly as we had to spin the boat in order to do so as well! Fortunately, the wind helped getting on to the pontoon, but getting off again wasn’t quite as easy. However, we managed to escape and arrived in Lincoln after a 5 ½ mile journey. We blew our “ship’s whistle” at 12 noon, having seen that there was a request for all vessels countrywide to do so, but we were cruising so no one heard – we may have made a runner jump, but that was about it! We knew that we had done it, though, in salute to Her Majesty! The marina in Lincoln city centre is in a wide basin, surrounded by restaurants on one side and University buildings on the other.  We cruised slowly past the pontoon to identify it, and our pontoon number, spun the boat and reversed into the space between the two rows of boats and on to the mooring. I was quite pleased with myself – I often let Tony do the tricky steering but managed the marina (diesel) visit and the marina (mooring) without any problems. (Bloody brilliantly, actually, even if I say so myself! ) We settled in, put the back canopy up and Tony went to pay. The mooring was perfect for a city centre – secure, with gated access and, having seen the normal, free, visitor moorings, (full) we were very pleased we’d had the foresight to book! There was a motor bike rally going on on the opposite side of the basin; there were hundreds of bikes and when they all started their engines at 4.00 pm to roar off and away, the noise was incredible, but in a good way!

In contrast, we were very surprised, that evening and night, at how quiet it was in the basin, even with all the restaurants open, as they now are.

The weather on Sunday was indeed absolutely horrible, so we put any sightseeing on hold and just stayed on the boat, other than for Sal’s walks. We had only paid for two nights, so Tony went up to see if we could stay for a third – no problem. It wasn’t cheap at £15 a night, but that did include electricity, but such a good mooring! We made good use of the power, doing two loads of washing AND drying!!

On Monday, then, after a drizzly start, the weather brightened up, so we all set off to explore the city. We walked up through the old parts of the city, up to the Castle and Cathedral area, high on the hill overlooking the landscape. It was such a lovely walk! But steep!!! Unfortunately, Sal wasn’t allowed in the castle, not even in the grounds, but was allowed in the Cathedral, even inside! We decided against going inside, though, as we weren’t sure whether she would like it so we contented ourselves with walking around the outside, which was good enough for us. We returned to the boat having enjoyed our short exploration of Lincoln.

On Tuesday, 7th June, we left Lincoln. At  Stamp End Lock, just the other side of Lincoln, The Fossdyke Navigation becomes the River Witham Navigation, canalised and mostly very straight. This is one of only two locks on the whole stretch, other than the big tidal locks at both ends, or the locks leading onto the other navigations – Kyme Eau and the Witham Navigable Drains, both of which join this one. We locked through down onto the River and hadn’t gone far before we hit the dreaded weed! With nowhere to pull into the side, Tony had to do two visits to the weedhatch, engine off, whilst we just floated gently along. It was the horrible type of weed, made up of long, fine filaments that make it look like fabric – I call it Dementor Weed as it reminds me of the Harry Potter characters and the way they float along looking for victims!! We came to the conclusion that if we increased our speed, it would actually chop the weed up, rather than giving it the opportunity to wrap round the prop. Happily, this was very successful and we have had no more problems, other than in places where you have to go slowly – when coming in to moor in weedy patches, for example. We passed one mooring pontoon, which was full, and had a feeling of doom, thinking we would have trouble finding any moorings. With this being a river navigation, you can’t just stop anywhere as you would on a canal, there are designated floating mooring pontoons. However, after going for a bit further, we found an absolutely peachy spot, at Fiskerton Fen Nature Reserve, not even marked in our guide book, and pulled in. It had been a beautiful, hot, still day and this mooring was the cherry on the cake.

The only downside was that it had very little scope for walking Sal as it was non-footpath side (you couldn’t walk round the Nature Reserve), so only short walking distances either side of the mooring. Because of this, we had to move on again on Wednesday, otherwise we definitely would have stayed there for our allotted two days! We set off and passed two mooring pontoons within a couple of miles, but having only just got going, decided to carry on. We cruised for 5 miles, working the second lock on the way. We shared the lock with a cruiser, which was very good timing as we had, at that point, only seen about four boats moving since we’d left Lincoln! We moored at Southrey, which had pontoons on both sides of the river. We swapped from one side to the other, though, as Sal wanted to stay outside on the pontoon but it was in full sun, so we went to the other side where she could sit in the shade of the boat. The things we do to keep her happy!! This was also a lovely mooring!

With the weather still favourable, we moved again on Thursday, 9th June. We stopped at a mooring to have a coffee, but decided that we hadn’t really gone very far, so carried on, cruising for 8 ½ miles in total. We passed another pontoon and chose not to stop as we could tell from the map that walks would be limited again. We moored at Dogdyke, where the River Bain flows into the River Witham. This afforded a good walk and was very rabbity so Sal was happy! We had a small, but rather annoying incident – people from the two large cruisers moored behind us, there when we arrived, came out of the adjoining pub, obviously having been in there for some considerable time. They had trouble untying the boats and getting away from the side but then shot off so quickly, racing each other along the river and leaving enormous white water wakes behind them – and the associated turbulence. Sal was on the floating pontoon and shot up quickly in alarm at both the movement and the sound of the water hitting the boat and pontoon and the boat was rocking around like nobody’s business!! Still, they probably used about £100 worth of petrol to do it, so who are the idiots?? We were also, as we found out quite quickly, moored near RAF Coningsby, which is home to two combat-ready squadrons and is the training station for Typhoon pilots. They were having a training day! It was very loud, but quite exciting, to have them roaring literally overhead, doing sharp turns and manoeuvres. Sal didn’t seem bothered, so no reason for us to be bothered either. We just hoped they weren’t doing any night training exercises! (They didn’t, we had a peaceful night )

On Friday, 10th June, we cruised for 6 miles, passing the entrance to Kyme Eau – the Sleaford Navigation – as we went. We hoped to visit that waterway on the way back – pending that we could get under the low entrance with our top box on! The main navigation from that point was beautiful, undeniably, but SO boring! Nearly 6 miles of completely straight channel, with the high sides, so you couldn’t see over to the land beyond. We could see nothing ahead of us, no houses and certainly no boats, and nothing behind us – it was kind of eerie! We passed a spot where, obviously, rapeseed was growing – we could smell it but couldn’t see it!! We were quite relieved to arrive at Langrick Bridge where we moored up for the night. We were surrounded by Dementor Weed, though, which clogged the prop as we pulled in. Tony and Sal went for her afternoon walk – they walked two miles further along the river, had a restorative beer in the pub, looked at the lock to get onto the Witham Navigable Drains, then walked back. We were unsure as to whether we would be able to cruise the Navigable Drains, it is not a CRT controlled waterway and we could find very little information about it on the web. 

On Saturday, 11th June, we had to decide whether to stay at Langrick Bridge or to move on again. It was our wedding anniversary – 39 years – so we wanted to find a pub or restaurant in which to have a meal  to celebrate it that evening. There was a pub at Langrick Bridge called Witham and Blues – I liked the name – but when we looked at it, it was an American themed pub (and a bit tacky in my opinion!), so we thought maybe not. Or, the other choice,  to go to the next mooring pontoon where there was a pub (to which Tony walked the day before), but if we couldn’t get on the pontoon, the next stop was Boston. What made our minds up was that, on Sal’s walk that morning, she suddenly, after ½ mile, did a sit down protest and would not go any further. I thought she was just tired from her extra long walk  with Tony the day before, but as I turned to go back the other way again she skipped off happily – she just didn’t want to go that way!! It turned out that when she was out with Tony, she had been startled by the gas powered gun cannons – bird scarers – and must have remembered the exact location! Amazing! This meant, though, that we were confined to a half-mile stretch of footpath for her walks – time to move on, then. We set off, battling the Dementor Weed and the wind to get away from the pontoon and cruised the 2 miles to get to the next pontoon and pub at the rather strangely named Anton’s Gowt. There was a short space available, but we needed to turn the boat so as to get the stern on the available space, leaving the bow overhanging – not ideal but needs must. At least we could get on and off! As we approached the mooring pontoon, though, there was a SUP (paddleboard) instructor giving lessons, actually on the pontoon. We shouted over that we wanted to moor and he made a face. I said “Well, it IS a mooring pontoon” (the space on these pontoons is few and far between, so we weren’t being awkward in wanting to moor there!) He said “I pay my licence, too”. (Mmmm… Ours is £1000 and yours is what? £45?? And should you be giving lessons on a MOORING pontoon anyway?) We replied that we weren’t asking him to move off or leave the pontoon, just make a space so that we could step off the boat to moor up. We pulled in and jumped off but he didn’t make much effort to give us space so we just stood there and held the boat until he’d finished his lesson, with only the back half on the pontoon and with Tony holding the centre line and me holding the stern line, with the front waving about in the breeze as it overhung the pontoon. It was all quite amicable in the end and we had a nice chat with some of the learner boarders whilst he got the others in the water. Once they were all in the water, we pulled the boat back and tied off properly. This was, then, the order of the day thereafter –  there was a constant stream of paddleboarders which clattered down the ramp, inflated their boards, put the boards in the water on the other side of the pontoon, went for a paddle for ½ hour, then returned to the pontoon, deflated their boards, then left. Seemed like a lot of effort for ½ hour of activity? It kept Sal amused, though – lots to look at – although she didn’t much like the sound of the boards deflating! 😂 Then, later in the day, the clattering intensified when a group of boys, about 10 years old, decided it would be good fun to jump off the pontoon for a swim. They ran up and down the ramp and pontoon, joyfully shouting and making plans. We went out to put the back cover up as it looked like it might rain, and they asked us if it would be safe to jump in between our boat and the boat behind, about 3-4 feet away. We said that there was nothing protruding out under the water beyond our back button fender , so yes, they would be ok to jump in there. (Asking what their parents would’ve answered had they been there😂🙄) The fact that there are “No Swimming” signs everywhere didn’t seem to come into it, but we’re not the river police and if kids are going to jump in, they may as well do it safely so between our boats was preferable than off the ramp or bridge! Once in, it was a short swim for them to get out at the end of the pontoon via the safety ladder. This went on for a while – they were having a lovely time –  divebombing into the water in between the boats and climbing out via the ladder – and they were friendly, polite and chatty kids. Aside from the fact that they shouldn’t have been swimming, it was good to see them having fun! It all went quiet during the evening, (well, we think, we were in the pub having our anniversary dinner for a couple of hours) but we were rudely awoken at 1.47a.m, by people jumping in from off the top of the ramp, right in front of our bedroom window – screaming and shouting as they jumped. Tony got up and sat in the lounge in case any intervention was needed, but they posed no threat to us, per se, they were just there to have a bit of fun. They didn’t jump in too many times, but they did hang around and were quite noisy until 5 a.m! 😳 Again, it all went quiet until the early-morning wild water swimmers arrived at 6 a.m and another lot at 7.30 a.m.  Neither group seemed to appreciate that it was still the middle of the night as far as some of us were concerned and made no attempt to lower their voices! 😂 What a lot of shenanigans!! (We had a very nice meal for our anniversary, by the way – and so reasonable! Two starters, two mains, one dessert, and two rounds of drinks – alcoholic – £45!! 👍🏻👍🏻 The only bad thing was that the cutlery was horrible, cheap stuff that reminded me of camping cutlery or school dinners – odd!)

On Sunday morning, just before lunch, the large passenger trip boat, the Boston Belle, short but very wide and two-storey (presumably so the passengers can see over the high banks of the river) pulled into the pontoon in front of us. (The boat behind us left that morning, so we’d pulled back) About 50 people got off to head to the pub for a Sunday Roast! I was intrigued as to what they do if the pontoons are full; I asked the Captain and he said they just pull into the grass bank beside the sailing club next to the pontoon and disembark their passengers onto the grass. We had thought that we might go to the pub for Sunday lunch, but thought that it might now be a bit too busy, but Tony looked at the Boston Belle’s website and it is a weekly Sunday trip, so we figured they must be set up to accommodate the boat trip passengers as well as the normal Sunday customers. So, we left it a little later and then made our way up to the pub, taking Sal, with the intention of sitting outside. It was a very reasonable roast – the only criticism was no parsnips!! A roast isn’t a roast without ‘snips!!

With the wind having dropped on Monday, 13th June, we set off for the 2 mile cruise into Boston. We reversed into the finger pontoons, and moored up,  discovering that the service bollards held only electric hook up sockets and not water as well. We found the water point but it was a long way away but a kind boater who had a permanent mooring at the end of the pontoon offered us their long hose – how kind! 

On Tuesday, we had a peaceful day, just stocking up with food – Tony and Sal walked with me and they went to have a look at the Maud Foster Windmill whilst I was in the shop.  Once back on board, and after Tony and Sal’s afternoon walk, our neighbours, Alison and Iain, with their doggos Lily, Bella and Willow, invited us round for a drink on their beautiful 65′ long, 13′ wide Dutch Barge “Patriot”, which we enjoyed whilst sitting on their fore-deck. We’d just poured a cup of tea, though, so we took that round, but then had a welcome alcofrolic offering once that was finished. It was delightful sitting out with them, with views down the river towards the Boston Stump – St Botolph’s Church.

On Wednesday 15th June, we were treated to a tour of Patriot followed by coffee and another chat with Alison and Iain. Their beautiful boat has planted ideas for adventures after NB Sanguine?? Who knows? In the  afternoon we had a short sightseeing trip around Boston town. Tony wanted to climb the 209 stairs to go up The Stump – Sal and I didn’t!! He reported that the £5 fee was definitely worth it and also, that I definitely wouldn’t have liked it! Spiral staircase with rope handrail. 🤣 We explored the town a little more then returned to the boat. It has been a warm day so we were pleased to get back into the relative coolness of the boat. 🌞

Unfortunately, it turned out that we are unable to navigate the Witham Navigable Drains from the lock at Anton’s Gowt – we visited the water board’s office in Boston to ask advice and, although the water is at “summer levels”,  it was also very low due to recent lack of rain (they drain the channels in the winter to allow more volume for any flooding that occurs but they had now returned to the summer water level). It was also very weedy, so their advice, sadly, was to not attempt to navigate at present. We also made enquiries about navigating the South Forty Foot Drain and found that there were problems with getting access through the Black Sluice Lock due to lack of staff to man it. Given that it is a 12 mile straight section, with high banks again, (boring?) and that we didn’t want to hang around for too long, potentially, whilst arrangements could be made to grant us access, we decided not to pursue that option, either. That just left us to attempt to navigate Kyme Eau on our return journey, but we had a feeling we might have similar problems – weedy, shallow water – which would prevent us from cruising that, too. 

We left Boston on Thursday, 16th June, deciding to leave early for a walk-and-go. The walks along the sides of the river are not always conducive to a walk-and-go but we knew that we could walk easily between Boston and Anton’s Gowt and at just over 2 miles, it made the perfect first walk. Alison and Iain had left Boston the day before and had moored at Anton’s Gowt and had confirmed that there was a bit of pontoon space that we could pull into for a pickup. So, I set off with Sal, Tony steered and we met at Anton’s Gowt, Tony reversing onto the small space at the front of the pontoon to pick me up. Iain was out with his drone and got a couple of shots of us.

We cruised for another two miles to Langrick Bridge, moored up and set up a sun shade – it was hot! Sal, wandering up and down the pontoon, mistook the reeds and weed beside the pontoon  for grass and just walked off the side –  an impromptu dip! She quickly realised her mistake and, fortunately, had her cool coat on so I was able to grab her and get her out quite easily. She was very disgruntled but it cooled her off a bit! 🤣

We left early again the next day, Friday, as it was forecast to be really hot! We wanted to get to the Dogdyke area so as to be near the entrance to Kyme Eau, Dogdyke being the nearest mooring. However, even though it was hot, there was a lovely breeze, making for very pleasant cruising. We decided to go straight into Kyme Eau so phoned the Sleaford Navigation Trust, largely responsible for the restoration of the waterway to date, and a chap informed us that it should be ok to navigate. However, on the approach in, a moored boater stuck his head out and told us that a narrowboat had had to abandon their cruise earlier on in the week and that we might find it too weedy. We thought we’d give it a go, but after only about 200m in, we came to a dead stop. Thick weed filling the water and hanging on tightly to our prop! Tony was already standing on the bow as a lookout so he grabbed the bargepole and we slowly started to reverse out. We extricated ourselves without too much of a problem, reversing right back and into the main channel, chatting with the moored boater again as we passed. So, all three of the navigations that we’d hoped to cruise had all defeated us! All three were Silver Propeller Challenge locations, too, so we would’ve been pretty miffed if we’d needed those to help towards our target!!! As it was, it was just a bit disappointing. 🙄 We carried on and passed Patriot on the Dogdyke moorings (they’d passed us at Langrick Bridge the day before) and stopped at Tattershall Bridge for coffee and to decide what to do next.  These were nice moorings but absolutely no scope for dog walks as a fairly busy road ran right alongside the river there and no footpaths anywhere locally. Time to move on again. We decided to head for Kirkstead Bridge and arrived after a cruise of 11 ½ miles in total. The pontoon was fairly devoid of boats – only one narrowboat ready there, but full of young people sunbathing and swimming.  All were very pleasant when we pulled in and disturbed their sun worshipping, though! Alison messaged to ask if there was space, and with us having confirmed that there was, they decided to cruise round to Kirkstead Bridge, too. They duly arrived, moored in front of us, disturbing the sun worshippers once again. 😂 As the day got hotter, the swimmers got bolder and started to go up onto the bridge to jump in. Someone must have called the police as an officer came to try to persuade them of the error of their ways. It did work, to a certain extent, although a different group thought that it was an equally good idea. Oh to be young and daft again! (Although I’ve never felt the need to plunge into weedy water from a height of about 40 feet! I imagine it hurts quite a bit! 🙄) It turned out to be the hottest day of the year so far, and with the boat in full sun, we were enjoying (😳) temperatures of about 32°C inside the boat. 

On Saturday, 18th June, the weather took an about turn, being chilly and showery. Some might say it was a relief? In consultation with Alison and Iain, we decided to avail ourselves of the Steak Night deal on offer in the local pub – 2 steak dinners and a bottle of house wine for £26.50. Bargain! 👍🏻 Alison duly booked and we had a thoroughly lovely evening – the meal was really quite good – and we had a nightcap or two on our boat to finish off a very pleasant evening. 

On Sunday, we left Alison and Iain, although we weren’t sure where our destination was for the day – wait and see what moorings were available? We pulled into Southrey, but on the opposite side of the river this time. We had intended to carry on, but Tony was feeling tired – we know now that he was coming down with Covid!! As the day continued, he was feeling increasingly poorly and slept for most of the evening and night.

On Monday, 20th June, during Sal’s walk, we had a rolling-in-fox-pooh incident, which resulted in getting out the paddling pool for an impromptu bath on the pontoon. Her harness was also smeared, so that was washed, too, and hung on the tiller arm to dry. Whilst sitting out with a cuppa, I heard a splosh – her harness had fallen in! After a frustrating half hour, deploying both the inspection camera and sea magnet, we gave up. We had spotted it using the inspection camera but then, in trying to retrieve it from amongst the weed, it had slipped even further into the murky depths – gone. Not a great morning, so far! Tony felt up to moving, so we set off and cruised for 3 miles, mooring at the Bardney Village floating pontoon, not one of the most picturesque moorings on the river as the Silver Spoon sugar factory dominated the skyline but ok if you looked the other way. 👍🏻 The river was much weedier here and there were floating rafts of reeds passing the boat – an odd sight as you sit in the boat and see an island floating past! Tony did a Covid test but the result was negative – phew!

On Tuesday, 21st June, though, I woke up with a sore throat – it appeared I’d also got whatever it was. I took Sal for her morning walk, which was something of a struggle, then stripped the bed in order to do a wash as we went along. We set off, passing through Bardney Lock. There were only two available mooring pontoons between there and Lincoln and another boater that we met at Bardney Lock told us that the moorings at Washingborough had been pretty full when he’d passed, so we decided to grab the available spot at Fiskerton Fen. By this time, I was starting to feel quite ropey, so set about making the bed before I got much worse. Now, anyone who lives on a boat knows of the phenomenon of Sheet-Changing-Aerobics. There are various levels of exertion, depending on the design of your bed. The design of ours – built into the bow with no access from either side, with a split mattress – puts ours into the “Intense Workout” category. 😂 Having completed my workout, when a workout was the last thing I needed at that point – Covid hit me like a sledgehammer and I took to the newly made up bed. I felt awful! I took a test and it came back with a positive result. 🙄 We contacted Alison and Iain – they were both feeling awful, too! Alison had tested positive for COVID and had started to feel unwell on Sunday afternoon, the same as Tony, so we were hypothesising over whether we had picked it up in the pub on Saturday evening. We didn’t think that symptoms would develop that quickly, but we hadn’t really done anything together or gone to the same places during our previous time together at Boston. Alison suggested that, maybe, we’d picked it up from the access gate to the moorings in Boston?  We’ll never know for sure but that would appear to be a prime suspect and we certainly did all use the gate. Anyhow, we all had Covid as a result! Tony didn’t bother to take another test – it seemed a waste when we were pretty sure that he had it! The day continued to get hotter, too, and the temperature in our bedroom exceeded 31°C – not very conducive when you have a fever!

We stayed at Fiskerton Fen for Wednesday, too – it was forecast to be another hot day so neither of us felt up to a potentially long cruise to get through Lincoln. An (out-of-date!) dose of Day Nurse perked me up a bit. It’s bloody wonderful stuff but tastes absolutely disgusting. I reckon it’s a test –  if you complain about the taste, you’re not dead!!! Ho-hum!

We moved the boat on Thursday 23rd June as we needed water, so we set off from our mooring at Fiskerton Fen, with Day Nurse helping us on our way. The weed in the water was noticeably thicker than it had been on the way in, so we were relieved to make it to Lincoln without any problems – neither of us felt up to dealing with those shenanigans! We filled with water in Lincoln and finally moored at the Pyewipe Inn, just this side of Lincoln. Little did we know, at that point, that that was going to be our mooring for the next week. It is a 48hr mooring, as are most on the Fossdyke and River, but we called the CRT and were given permission to stay for as long as we needed.

Suffice to say that we were both really poorly. We managed to take Sal for short walks and, bless her, she put up with it with very good grace. The main motivation for us moving  was to give Sal a break from the very boring week she’d had! The Pyewipe mooring was not the sort we would normally choose at all – outside a busy canalside pub, next to a railway line and near a busy road bridge, but we were so ill that we really didn’t care too much! 

We moved on Thursday 30th June to Saxilby, after staying for 7 nights at the Pyewipe Inn. We needed to restock our cupboards (not that we felt like eating very much at all, but we are on our last dregs of bottled water, fizzy drinks, squash, etc.) so we organised a Tesco delivery to do a good restock. 

We ended up staying in Saxilby for 6 nights in total, as we were both still struggling with post Covid fatigue. Tony was struggling more than me – I’m knackered most of the time anyway, so it doesn’t make much difference to me!! 🤣😂 We were getting a bit bored with the same walks every day, though, so decided to make the move to Torksey. We reversed the boat up to the water point on Tuesday, 5th July, with the intention of heading to Torksey after filling, but that small amount of exertion left Tony feeling exhausted,  so we decided to stay one last night. We pushed over on to the visitor moorings – up to that point, we had been on a towpath mooring, the one we’d stopped at on the way down. It is one of the very few towpath moorings on the whole waterway, so a 14 day spot. We could sit there guilt free!! 

We finally reached Torksey on Wednesday, 6th July. This meant that we have ticked another waterway off the list, even though we weren’t able to cruise the Navigable Drains or Kyme Eau. I can’t say that I would rush to come back here, it’s not been at the top of my list of favourite waterways. We’re glad to have done it and we have enjoyed a lot of things about it. Lincoln was definitely the jewel in the crown of the Fossdyke/ River Witham Navigations and Boston was lovely, too, but the straightness of the waterway coupled with the high banks did make it, in our opinion, somewhat boring to cruise. Having said that, some of the moorings were just glorious, though! Of course, catching Covid was a definite downside, but we can’t blame the waterway for that! We walked up to Torksey Lock that afternoon and, on the advice of the lockkeeper, arranged to go through the lock on Thursday, 7th July and mooring below the lock overnight, then setting off for West Stockwith on Friday morning, 8th July. The water levels are very low on the tidal River at the moment, (well, it’s low everywhere, really) so some jiggery-pokery with timings is necessary – you can only leave Torksey Lock when there is enough water to get over the cill, but that isn’t conducive to leaving within the right time frame to get into West Stockwith at high water, so overnighting below Torksey is advised at present.

Hopefully, then, we have seen the back of Covid and all its nastiness. I, for one, will be making much better use of hand sanitizer than I did before – I don’t want to have this again in a hurry!