Wednesday, 28 July 2010

Back to Retford

We stayed in our quiet mooring spot until after lunch and then gently wend the 2.35 miles and 2 locks back into Retford.  Amazingly it was a pleasant and weed free run.  We think it must have something to do with the fact that Geoff saw the weed cutting boat out yesterday on this stretch when he walked into Retford.  We just hope they are continuing along this was as it makes such a difference.

Back to the spot we moored in above town lock on the way up.  We just about managed to get ourselves moored up and the rear pram hood up before the heavens opened.   A very ominous sky had been following us for a while and in our rush to get things done and into the dry Geoff trod in something nasty.............why some people cannot pick up after their dogs is beyond me.   When we were moored here last time I saw a couple with a dog walking a little behind them who made a mess on the towpath  (In my full view) which they completely ignored.   Much to Geoff's dismay(he doesn't like confrontation!) I called after them and appraised them of the situation.....they strongly denied that their dog had done anything..............some people.......

Geoff says he will stay here tomorrow as it is market day but thinks he may move out into the country on Friday.    Not sure he has single handed through locks before but I suppose there is a first time for everything.......and there are only 2 to reach where he wants to be. 

Tuesday, 27 July 2010

A gentle day in quiet countryside

A weed free day.   Probably because we have not moved!!  This mooring is delightful and in other circumstances we would not contemplate staying on a lock mooring overnight but there is no one else around.   A couple of dog walkers and a couple of cyclists have passed us by and about 5.30 one narrow boat came up the lock.   Geoff went and helped them through, otherwise we have been all alone.
We are moored just above Forest Bottom Lock and surrounded by fields of golden corn, some cut, some still waiting.  The black blob you can see in the photo is Barnaby lying in the evening sun.....
Onward to Retford tomorrow as I am departing on Thursday for the big city.  Geoff plans to either stay in Retford or move on a short way into open countryside.  I shall return on Monday evening ready for the last lap back to West Stockwith and thence down the tidal Trent again.

Monday, 26 July 2010

Back to the Weed

The second lock of the day was Morse Lock with it's distinctive bridge
We stopped briefly on the outskirts of Worksop just before Town Lock as we had some letters to post.   I asked the first passer-by if she could direct me to the nearest post box.  She said it was some way off but kindly offered to post them as she was going past......what a kind gesture.
Once through Worksop we were in the land of the weed again.  Progress was very slow as the canal is quite shallow in most places. 
We met our first boat of the day coming out of Kilton Low Lock and so we could go straight in.
The second boat of the day was on the pub mooring at Ranby.
As I rounded the bend I managed to go aground.  Whilst trying to reverse myself off the mud he chose to pull away from the bank!!!  Unbelieveable...some people have no patience.....
We stopped at Forest Middle Top Lock to water etc.  Geoff had decided that he would wash off the roof here and as he set to work the rain started!!   However he persevered and had a good scrub of the roof. 
There are good sani facilities here but the cottage by the lock looks very sad

Th are visitor moorings here below the lock but only space for 2 boats as the rest are permanent boats.  One of the visitors spaces had the same boat on that was there when we came up!

We then continued down to the Forest Bottom lock where Geoff thought he remembered there was space to moor and it was more in the open.  Geoff walked on with Barnaby and I followed at snails pace.....we must have picked up another load of weed as we left the lock.   Another weed hatch job and Geoff took out a very large quantity of weed...........can't wait to get off this canal now.

Sunday, 25 July 2010

Retracing our steps....down we go

One of our early starts on Sunday 7 am!!!
We passed this soon after leaving the mooring, no idea what it might have been
The fishermen are well catered for with special places cut out of the dense vegetation.

The first 1 1/2 miles to reach the first lock is slow progress.  Its quite shallow and narrow.
Then we reach the top of the 23 locks and the pleasant trip begins.  It was just as enjoyable as the trip up but as it was Sunday there were more gongoozlers about!  It really concentrates the mind when entering the narrow locks as one does not wish to do it less than perfectly when there is an audience!!!

From top to bottom of the 23  Turnerwood and Thorpe locks took us about 3 1/2 hours which included a 1/2 stop for breakfast........7am is too early for breakfast!!!
We reached Shireoaks about 1145 having travelled under the rather low bridge there
We carried on for a further 6 locks as we planned to moor by the Lockkeeper pub on the visitor moorings just below Stret Lock.   Objective achieved and we had a reasonable carvery lunch....chain pub but OK
So 29 locks and a long day, consequently after our late lunch we both went out like lights for a siesta!!

Saturday, 24 July 2010

A Busy Busy Day

Our mooring place has brought us approximately 2/3 of the way along the original Chesterfield canal and is as far as one can go at the moment.......there are great plans afoot, and some action, to restore the remaining 1/3.
For now Geoff wanted to say he had reached the end of the road so he decided to walk the 15 miles into Chesterfield.  Barnaby was left behind much to his dismay because Geoff wanted to look over the town and he planned to return on the train.

He set off just before 8 and the first trick was to find the real way over the top of Norwood tunnel which we had failed to achieve last night.  This time he managed it albeit with the help of a passer is not clearly signposted.
As far as he could make out the Western Portal of Norwood Tunnel is in there somewhere
Soon after there is just a trickle of water

Soon after there is an area in water

And one of the old locks, 
There were originally 13 Norwood locks.  Now some rather nice house have been built there and what must have been the pounds between the locks have become water features in their gardens!!

Further on in Killemarsh the old canal bed has had houses built all over it.

A new section and bridge but not connected anywhere yet

More restoration work.  Geoff couldn't decide if it was `in progress` or not

The first bridge of the approx 5 miles of canal in water starting in the Stavely area.

One of the locks in the watered section

One of only 2 boats on the watered section

Chesterfield Visitor centre

Closer to Chesterfield
What appears to be the stop lock at the Chesterfield end of the watered section
The tourist leaflet about the canal talks of a multi million canal development in the centre of Chesterfield but Geoff saw no sign. 
All he saw was this!

He wasn't sure if this was canal or the river Rother.

This is the twisted tower of the church in Chesterfield.

An hours train ride, changing in Sheffield brought him home about 4 o'clock

Meanwhile back at the ranch,  I had a very busy domestic day!!!!   I painted one side of the gunnels, defrosted the fridge and had a good clean out of Petroc.........whose day would you choose.   However I was finished by lunchtime and spent the afternoon relaxing in the sun.

With Geoff's return I was in action again.
I turned Petroc so I could paint the other side......I had contemplated turning her in Geoff's absence but decided to be sensible......I'm not sure what I would have done if I had picked up weed around the prop.  There were the odd walkers passing by but not very often. 
We were both exhausted at the end of the day!

Friday, 23 July 2010

Evening Stroll

The mooring at the end has a delightful (and familiar on this canal) BW notice saying 24 hours only!!!!!  However we had been told by Trevor the BW linesman to ignore that.  No one is likely to struggle up this far and want to trun round and go straight back, besides which there is not a lot of competition for the space!
There is room for two boats to moor alongside.   In 2009 the Chesterfield Canal Trust had its rally up here are there were 48 boats!!  This year they had it by Town lock in Worsop and only 20 boats came.
After a suitable rest period after our 23 locks we decided to try and walk over the top of the disused tunnel which we had been told one could do.  A short walk along the towpath brought us to the Eastern Portal of the Norwood tunnel.
Good job we knew it was there
Hooray we've made another Head of navigation

We then continued our walk along Cuckoo Way which was supposed to take us over the top of the tunnel.  It was signposted at first but then the signs became ambiguous and we went wrong somewhere and ended up going in a circle.............Quite a long circle..........
One the way back we decided to walk up to the village of Wales and then along the road to Kiveton Park bridge as we had seen a pub there which we thought might be the means of quenching our thirst after the walk.  The Station pub has to be the worst pub we have been in for a long time!!!!  We sat ouside as we had Barnaby, the place was dirty and there was loud blaring music.  We drank up very quickly and departed. 

A delightful run to the top

Wow!!  We had a great day on the Chesterfield......
First of 23 locks
And another in beautiful rural surroundings

Some signs of habitation by a couple of the locks
It was the best day we have had on this canal, the locks are just delightful and doing 23 didn't seem like hard work at all.  Half way up we stopped to have coffee and a rest and whilst there along came Trevor who is the linesman for this length of canal. 
Coffee break turned out to be much longer than anticipated as Trevor had lots of interesting tales of the canal.  He worked on it for 30 years before retiring and now he looks after this stretch and a couple of feeder reservoirs nearby.
Whilst chatting to Trevor we had a couple of visitors fly overhead.
The locks are some of the best kept we have seen on the canals and with only a couple of exceptions all the paddles are easy to operate
And so to the top and the final staircase of 3.
After reaching the top there is about 1 1/2 miles to the limit of navigation.  It is quite narrow and twisty BUT none of that awful blanket weed we have been wrestling with since we came on this canal.
Part way along we passed the old loading quay where they used to load the stone stone that was quarried a few miles away.  This was where the stone came from for the Houses of Parliament (so we are told)
The sign opposite the old dock
Near the end now
The last bridge
We both agreed it had been a wonderful day and ALMOST worth the struggle to reach here.   We are glad we have done it but are not really looking forward to the return trip, mainly because of the weed.
Still another `Head of navigation` to chalk up

Thursday, 22 July 2010

We meet another boat!!

Yes we actually met another boat on the move today!
We set off just after 8 with the intention of reaching the summit(what did I say yesterday about having goals!!!).. 6 locks, 1 1/2 hours and 1.3 miles later.......the rain came.  We decided that we had not struggled all this way to get to the best bit and then to do it in the rain.  There are 23 locks to the top and the forecast for tomorrow is much better so here's hoping.

Not so much weed today, tranquil countryside and well kept locks.   Here we are passing under the busy A57 but most of the locks are just in the countryside.

Notice the well kept gates and restored bridges.

The boat we met today was on his way down from the summit, a single hander in a strangely shaped Sea Otter...forgot to take a picture........

He didn't mention anyone else was up there so we shall see tomorrow.

Wednesday, 21 July 2010

Onwards we plod.........

The goal today was to have a longish day and reach must not have goals, especially on the weed ridden Chesterfield!!!
We left at 0830 and went through the last of the Forest locks.  Barney and I then had a couple of miles walk as far as Ranby and thereafter it was a slow plod, interspersed by several stops to clear weed from the prop, and in one case to remove part of a knitted jumper.
It is undoubtedly very peaceful countryside and the locks are well maintained BUT the enjoyment for us is ruined by the weed and this constant feeling it is hard work .
Church at Scofton
Pumping station south of Worksop
We had been warned that Worksop was `a bit rough`so had not planned to overnight there but we stopped just after town lock to get the paper.   It is very close to a shopping centre which had a lovely M&S simply food.   We attracted lots of gongoozlers as we came up the lock!
As we approached Morse lock we could see an obstruction in the water just outside the lock so we knew we would have to pause.   A BW boat then came down the lock and proceeded to do a clearing job.   They said there had been a lot of stuff thrown in over the weekend...there was a festival of the Chesterfield Canal Trust at Worksop last weekend....
We turned off the engine and had a late lunch whilst there did their clearing job.

Entrance to Morse Lock
Off again after lunch and the clearance job only to encounter further trouble at Stret lock the next one.
We couldn't get into the lock...I jammed about 2/3 of the way in!!   BW were still around and asked us how wide we were..........apparently this is the narrowest of the locks on this canal........however it was then discovered that there was a small piece of wood catching on the side and that just made the difference between getting in or not...

I backed out to allow it to be removed and the game was on again........however by the time we emerged Geoff decided he had had enough aggro for one day and since there was a suitable place to moor we decided to call it quits for the day.

We are close to a pub and a Sainsburys so we are all set for an early start tomorrow to try and reach the end........over 20 locks!!!!!what did I say about having goals???

Further back at one of the locks we chatted to a group of walkers going in the opposite direction to ourselves.  They said they had seen several boats heading in our direction....they would have been the first of the day as we have not seen a soul.   In most parts we are very glad as passing in some of the narrow and shallow stretches would have been interesting.   We still didn't meeet any...

Also chatting to one of the BW men (a lot of chatting goes on on the canals!!)  he said that this was a bad time for the multiplied several weeks ago and will die down again come we have obviously mistimed our visit!