Monday, 31 May 2010


A slight gap in the blog due to my extended stay in London.  I left from Sprotsbrough by bus...well I nearly didn't as it was 0856 when I boarded the bus only to be reminded by the bus driver that my OAP bus pass cannot be used until was either get off or pay!   Needless to say I got off..........
British Rail from Doncaster was much friendlier as I had booked a first class ticket for £20 so sat comfortably for 3 hours being fed and watered at their expense, you can't beat it!

I had the afternoon with Susannah and the grandchildren and then we all went to the reception in the evening that the owner was holding for Giles' largest project to date.   This is a block of 5 flats in Twickenham. 

Communal gardens

Front of flats
Rear of flats
Lounge in one of lower flats

One of the bathrooms viewed from the bedroom...shower in foreground...birds eye view from the bed!
The plan had been for Emma to drive us back on Friday as she was planning a visit for the weekend, however she went down with a very bad attack of gastroenteritis so departure was delayed until Saturday......We set off after lunch with Emma still not 100% and had a horrendous journey.   It was mainly on the M1 when we had two prolonged delays due to accidents, one of over an hour.  In between these delays we had a puncture!   The only saving grace was that as Emma pulled onto the hard shoulder there was an AA van just finishing with another motorist so we managed to catch him before he drove away....the remainder of the journey had to go at 50 miles an hour on the spare tyre.

Sunday was a much later departure than planned whilst Geoff & Emma went for a new tyre.  However we managed to get away by lunchtime.  For almost the whole of the trip the wind blew strongly and it made for some very interesting approaches to locks and difficult pickups after the locks.  there were six locks   to Eastwood Lock where we planned to moor, all of them huge and mechanised so not too much hard work for the crew.            
Conisbrough Castle
Conisbrough Viaduct
En route we passed this strange house. It looked like a new build but no sign of life and with a strange structure in the garden with a Celtic Cross on top.

When we reached the moorings at Eastwood Lock which had been recommended they were full.  There is only room for 3 boats.   We were forced to moor at the far end of the lock waiting pontoon.  Since there is very little traffic we felt we would not be in anyones way.  
Late afternoon we had a call from Chris & Denise from Wee Bluett.  There were now home after their cruise and live nearby.  They came down for a drink with Chris promising to return to help with the lock flight to Sheffield the next day.   As requested we had notified the lock keeper who said he would meet us at the bottom of the flight.  
Off at 7 on Monday as it was about a 2 hour run to the bottom of the flight.
In my ignorance I had assumed that the locks were all mechanised all the way to Sheffield, but this is not so.  Back to quite short wide locks with big heavy gates.   Geoff did the first four before the flight, whilst Emma lingered in bed!!
Rotherham Town Lock was the first

Chris met us as promised at the bottom of the Tinsley flight, where it is extremely difficult to moor and get ashore.  It is a very short pontoon and the rear is very overgrown.  Emma was holding us on the centre line whilst the lock keeper readied the lock, I nipped below to do a bit of tidying and was very surprised when I surfaced to discover both Geoff & Emma clinging onto the line for dear life whilst Petroc & I slid across the canal....the lock keeper thought we were moored fore and aft so neglected to tell us that the lock emptied very fiercely..........however due to the complete unflappability of the helmsman(ME) unlike the crew on the shore (Geoff & Emma), the situation was redeemed.!!!!

Emma managed to stay with us for the first few locks but then decided there were plenty of crew so disappeared to her bed again!   To be fair she did reappear with coffee for the workers a couple of times.

Near the top of the flight is Tynsley Marina and we were surprised to see a yacht moored there

Once at the top Chris and the lock keeper departed and Barney and I walked the last 2 1/2 miles into Sheffield.  We have seen very little boat activity in the last few days and none at all today so we were very surprised to find all the mooring in the basin at Sheffield full!

We thought we would have to moor on the waiting pontoon for the swing bridge but Geoff had a look at the map of the basin which told us that the quay on the west side which has a notice saying private mooring, is in fact visitor mooring, so here we plan to stay....until turfed off!

Wednesday, 26 May 2010

Lingering in Sprotbrough

Domesticish day for me (well just over an hour really!) whilst Geoff went for one of his long walks with Barnaby.  Prior to those exertions however we watched Jenny & Andrew on MV Reiger leaving to tow a small narrowboat with engine problems back to Doncaster.  I asked them where the name for their boat originated from and was told it was what a heron was called in Dutch. Their previous boat was a narrowboat called NB Harnser and that apparently is what a heron is called in Norfolk.  A not infrequent commentator on this blog is also on a narrowboat called Harnser so he may take me to task over that!!!

Even earlier we had watched someone slightly larger than us go past.   This was our first taste of bigger vessels and was very benign as he slowed right down as the lock was ahead of him.  We await being slightly further north when we expect to meet them on the move and in more of a hurry.............

The mooring here is quite secluded and ideal for Barnaby, (we have to get our priorities right when considering the suitability of a mooring place!!)

Looking back at Sprotbrough Lock

The area was previously a big mining area and the waterway we are on is called the Sheffield and South Yorkshire Navigation and is partly just canal and partly the River Don.   It runs through some industrialised towns but also through lovely countryside some of which Geoff discovered on his walk this morning.

                      Sprotbrough Flash

Summer must be definitely over.....the rain came back this afternoon!

Tuesday, 25 May 2010


Unbelievedly after such hot weather at the weekend it is now back to almost winter. 

Tuesday morning was shopping and Church.  Excellent market and the Minster had a 12.30 service which we attended before departure.   It was the old Book of Common Prayer Communion service which neither of us had heard for ages.

Doncaster Town Lock was the first port of call and it does not have a very attractive approach.  Prior to departure it was dig out the woolly hat scarf and gloves which I had put to the back of the wardrobe..........

However it is mechanised so no hard work for Geoffrey which is probably a good thing when you see the size of the gates!

The size of the lock makes us seem very small
Just one more lock at Sprotbrough and we moored ourselves up for a couple of days.   I am off to London on Thursday to visit grandchildren and to a reception to mark the completed building of one of Giles' designs.

Monday, 24 May 2010


Short run today to Doncaster.   In the morning I was required to sign some documents for son Giles but the PO here did not have a fax machine.  However they directed me to a small print shop which did.  Whilst waiting for the fax I was fascinated by their clock on the wall

Faxes done we watered etc and followed a largish boat through the lifting bridge which Geoff opened.  They waited for us at the lock which was huge.

Just after leaving we passed an old church at Sandall Grove
Gentle run then into Doncaster.  We are on the outside of a pontoon mooring which is not the best for Barnaby.  There is some grass for him if we go outside the security gate but we are definitely in an urban mooring today. 
However he is still managing his guard duties!

Sunday, 23 May 2010

Sunday in Barnby Dun

Night view from our mooring
Morning view from our mooring

It may give the impression of being in an industrial area but in fact it is a very pleasant mooring.  This particular power station is not in operation so no white smoke billowing out.

Pretty church in the village which we visited for 10.15 Communion.  As we walked in the door we were amazed to hear quite a hubub and a good sized congregation.

Strangely, although we were made to feel welcome by one or two people who came up after the service as we were looking around the church, a lady who came and sat right next to us did not say a word apart from when we shared the peace.   I find that so strange.    I had the feeling that apart from the one or two they were a very active and closely knit congregation who did not need outsiders....maybe that was just me being sensitive.   The two who did chat were certainly very pleasant.

For the majority of the time the mooring was quiet, interspersed with a great rush of was Sunday.

We also had an interesting object sail past........

We had been expecting a visit from sister-in-law Edith, but sadly she was unwell so couldn't make the trip.   As it was so hot we left our eating until the evening and visited The Olive Tree(previously the Gateway according to Nicholsons, I shall send them an amendment)  and we had an excellent meal.
Good TV reception here from the Terrestial aerial.  However we cannot understand why on our main TV we are only picking up analogue, but on my computer I had all digital channels with a good picture.    The only explanation is that it is closer to the aerial and the main TV has a longer cable run, but why that should make any difference we do not know.

Saturday, 22 May 2010

Barnby Dun

So what of last nights recommended meal?  Well the food was good honest pub grub at a very reasonable price...........BUT and its a big but, by the time it came we thought we would be having it for breakfast.........admittedly the place was heaving but having booked for 7.45pm we eventually received our food about 9.15pm.    I should have taken a picture of Geoff's Mixed Grill before he got started  but this was the size of the plate!

Awoke to a beautifully clear sky this morning and Barney and I walked the mile and a half to the first swing bridge.  Luckily it is a completely electric one so I managed it with no problem.   Watered etc just beyond and then continued on our very slow way towards our destination of Barnby Dun.  It read well in the guidebook, promising a church for Sunday and several pubs for Sunday lunch.  I'd had a look on google earth and there seemed to be moorings just short of the swing bridge there.  Nicholsons is the only guide we have for ths area and it is not very forthcoming about good mooring places.

We passed the junction  with the New Junction Canal where we will eventually head north for York, but for now we have decided to head South to Sheffield.

Rural view beind us showing New Junction Canal to left

View ahead...not so rural!!

Mooring found with no problem, nice wide path for Barnaby as he does like sitting out and observing.  However it is very warm so this is the only place of shade he could find.

Under the washing!

We may be moored very adjacent to the gigantic cooling towers but it is still a delightful spot....just to hot to go out exploring yet.......

Friday, 21 May 2010


This was our evening view last night.  There were no problems staying at the very end of the lock moorings.  It was pleasantly quiet with just dog walkers passing by and we were then entertained by the sea cadets out training in a couple of boats.
A gentle start today, we turned and went back to the facilities and whilst Geoff watered etc I went into the town for a few provisions. 

We then went through the only lock of the day which has a swing bridge immediately after it so this has to be opened before you can exit the lock.

Stopped at Stanisland Marina and purchased a plastic folding boarding ladder.......shutting the stable door etc springs to mind.........however it is ready for the next one of us that falls in.

The destination was the New Inn at Stainforth which had been recommended by two people so decided to give it a try.   We tried to moor just short of the pub on a lovely grassy bank but it was too shallow and we took a while to extricate ourselves.......Geoff wielding the long pole........we had to give in and use the pub moorings, not something we generally like doing as it is a bit too public.   However that is the advantage of having venetian blinds!

The shadow is Petroc!

Hope the food is worth it!

Thursday, 20 May 2010

Stainforth & Keadby Canal

A gentle start today.  There are numerous swing or lifting bridges on this stretch so decided to wait for the other 3 boats to make life easier.  Left about 0915 and Geoff walked ahead with Barnaby to lift the first swing bridge after we had been let through the Railway bridge by the keeper.

This seem to be a very busy railway line so all four of us had to be ready to go through before he would open it for us.
Once through we hedge (or bridge) hopped the others with 3 of the four boats taking a turn to operate the bridge.  The fourth boat miraculously always had to stop to let his 5 dogs off at each bridge so he was never first in line at the next bridge so that he could get off and do the honours!

Weather good again, in fact I was in shorts.  We have to make the most of this week the weathermen tell us as the rain will be back next week.......but for now the temperature is very agreeable.

We planned to stop in Thorne but the linear moorings were full and it did not look all that prepossessing.   Tried to come in on the other bank but it was too shallow so though we would have to carry on through the lock.  However we stopped at the lock at the very back end of the lock moorings whilst I nipped into town for the paper and a few essential provisions.   On my return we decided to stay put for the night.  There are so few boats around and we have still left plenty of room for at least two boats to moor up.  
One of the lifting bridges

Wednesday, 19 May 2010


We set off from Torksey about 12.30 for the long flog to Keadby.  It felt like a long slog too........very uninteresting river, against the tide for the first past until it turned in our favour.  This is definitely the land of the power stations

Tidal Gauge part way along our trip.

I must confess that dull though it was there was also an element of uncertainty about the trip.   All the way I was thinking of what we would do if the engine played up.   We have never used our anchor in anger and have no idea how effective it might be.  

Keadby Bridge

 Eventually after about 5 hours we are close to Keadby Lock which will take us back onto the canals.  At this stage we were the lead boat of 4 but we slowed down to let 2 go ahead as one of them had done this trip many times so we thought we would copy him for what was an interesting approach to the lock.   First of all we had to do a 180 to turn back into the tide and then approach at right angles to the entrance and turn at the last minute.........  Picture below show the boat ahead of us. The entrance is just to his right under the crane.

The lock is big enough for 3 so we squeezed in the middle

Once through the swing bridge we moored for the night....had enough for the day....far too long a day, and due to our later start Geoff missed his siesta.......

The moorings here are not too salubrious so we shall not be lingering

Tuesday, 18 May 2010

Far too exciting for me

Today had far too much excitement for my liking....however I will start with Sunday.
Newark Parish Church is huge, apparently larger than Sheffield Cathedral.  A reasonable sized congregation for the 9.30 Parish Eucharist and a large choir but room for 10+ times as many.  A warm welcome but we didn't stay for coffee as we usually do.  The plot was to come back to town for a Sunday Roast in a pub at the back of the church where Roast Lamb was the roast of the day and serving until 4pm.  We duly presented ourselves at 1.30 to fine that the lamb was off!!!!  A longish walk round the town eventually found us a carvery which was adequate and cheap but not quite like home cooking......

The evening brought Les the Cromwell Lock-keeper knocking on our door and a few glasses of red wine were downed.
I had thought that I would have to visit the dentist yet again and I planned to be on the doorstep on Monday morning of the one I had found who was on Denplan which I needed if I did not want to pay the whole of what was bound to be an astronomical bill. 

I must confess they look lovely but need to be given a wide berth especially when they have cygnets

Monday morning was shopping morning but my tooth had settled down so I decided to fore go the delights of the dentist's chair.  Checking the BW office I found our special delivery from Roadpro had arrived so we had our spare part for the satellite dish.......Geoff is very pleased.    So after coffee we made the short trip down to the moorings at Cromwell lock to be ready for our venture onto the tidal part of the Trent.  We were met there by Les the Lock Keeper(1 of 3) who keeps his boat there.   The weather is getting warmer so we ended up all sitting on the pontoon into the early evening together with Chris & wife from Wee Bluett who had arrived during the afternoon
We went our separate ways at supper time and all invited to Les's boat later.   Well Geoff & I made it but Chris fell asleep after his supper and didn't wake up until 11pm.   It was probably a good thing as he had a bottle of some very lethal looking stuff he was promising us for later on.   As it was I left Les and Geoff to it at about 10 and I think he came aboard about midnight.....well past our normal bedtime on the boat of 9pm!!

Our departure was planned for 0815 on Tuesday but we awoke to a very thick mist which threatened to delay our departure.   The next tidal slot was to leave at 12 noon but in the event at about 0810 the mist suddenly started to clear and we were away. 

 We have a good guide book which tells us which bit of the river to be on at each bend which Geoff was faithfully following.  We were also following Wee Bluett who had done the trip before.  It was a glorious morning one of the warmest we have had.  About 3 miles from our destination of Torksey it all went wrong.   Wee Bluett came to a grinding halt ahead of us so Geoff throttled back and managed to stop us going aground also.   We then made several attempt to tow them off which was not without difficulty and all in vain as he was well and truly stuck.  To crown it all after the first attempt Geoff fell in whilst trying to secure their rope...............he disappeared under the water but reappeared very quickly saying he could stand up!  Luckily Wee Bluett has a plastic boarding ladder which Geoff waded over to fetch and climbed aboard (We shall be buying a similar article at the next chandlers we find!).  Eventually we had to leave them or there would have been two narrow boats aground.   Their plan was to wait for the tide to come in again which would either be in four hours or not until midnight depending on which lock-keeper we believed.
Meanwhile I had a load of wet clothes to contend with....... I was also glad that we were all wearing our lifejackets.....not that Geoff would have drowned in the shallow water but one never knows.   We are now one all as I fell in last year!
Shortly after leaving them we met our first big ship.  He looked as though he was creating a huge wash but surprisingly caused little discomfort.

We tied up to the pontoon moorings at Torksey and I went up to tell the lock keeper what had happened as we knew they were expected as they planned to go through the lock. 
By the time I reached the lock and was explaining,  Wee Bluett appeared.........about 15 minutes after we left them just as Chris was getting ready to wade ashore with their 3 small dogs the boat suddenly floated.......... it was very fortunate for them as the Torksey lock-keeper though they would have to wait until midnight.......
Relief all round.
I trust tomorrow will not be quite so exciting.   It is a longer trip tomorrow so Barney will have to cross his legs!
When planning this trip we thought we might have to contend with too much water in the Trent if there had been a lot of rain, we had not anticipated there being too little!
Just received these two pictures the first as we left Cromwell moorings for the lock with the last of the mist and of our departure from Cromwell Lock.  My thanks to Chris & Denise