Monday, 17 April 2017

Out onto the Tidal Trent (and off again!)

Saturday 8th April to Saturday 15th April 2017

We had already booked our time with the lockies at Cromwell Lock; we had double checked with the previous afternoon – it would be 8am.
There had been talk about a neap tide and that it would be fairly easy going and nice and flat with no problems likely – so long as we stayed to the line of passage in the charts.

With words of reassurance like that still with me, it was with a little consternation that as I looked out the windows that morning about 6am and could not see the other side of the river.
A thick fog had descended overnight and it literally was too thick to see anywhere – I certainly could not see the other side and even had a misted look of our own side.
I couldn't even be sure which way we were actually facing

Nothing existed past the end of the pontoon

Even with the sun coming up, it was difficult to see anywhere

If it doesn’t lift we will just have to stay another day and leave the next day at 8:30am (I have already looked ahead and asked about a Sunday passage).

By 6:30 there was some visual recognition of the far bank – the outline/shape/shadow of a few trees could be made; by 7.00am it was definitely improving; 7:15am and the lockie thought that it would be fine by travel time; by 7:35 it was quite clear and the sun was shining down and we were moving forward towards the lock.

The bottom lock gates opened right on 7:50 and we tentatively made our way into the outer chamber; the river was running but not hard – certainly no worse than we had already experienced in the previous days.
The outer lock - that's the tidal Trent in the distance

Still a little bit of fog, but we could see where we were going 

So power on, bow pointed a little more upstream than we expected to be (allow for the flow) and we were off.

We have now experienced a number of rivers and this was no where near as fast as some – the River Douglas comes to mind for anything approaching concern – so we kept the engine revs up a bit; consulted the chart; sun was at our backs – we were off.

It would be about a 16 mile trip; the lockies had advised that they would inform Torksey lock that we were on our way (when they could get hold of him) – it seems that the signal – both phone and VHF radio is not the best at Torskey – but we were reliably told that there were moorings below the lock well off the river flow.

Sit back and relax; keep an eye on the line; tea made; breakfast on the go; enjoy the journey; and enjoy the warmth of the sun – though the air was still a little on the chilly side.
As far as the river was concerned it was like a mill pond

Smooth as..

It was such a great journey we had little time to be concerned about much at all – just as we were approaching Normanton Island (sunken i.e. a sand bar) there were a couple of cruisers coming the other way, but there is plenty of room to pass by – Diane did a great job getting around there.

We decided that I should try to contact Torksey at the 4 km mark (to go) – no answer; at the 2 km mark there was still no answer; Torksey arrived and we steered off the flowing river and into the lock approach; Diane said try one more time – success, and in just a few minutes the lock gates opened and we entered another quite large lock with middle gates that had not been used in quite some time.

Some might say "Glad to see this" but the journey was quite lovely - we were
pleased to get here, only because we were ready to see the Fossdyke

Still a bit of the remnants of the morning fog around, but the lock is in the distance

After calling the Lock-keeper on the VHF, the lights turned green and the gates
opened and we were heading in.

A strange collection of teapots on the lock gates -
These gates didn't move

The lock-keeper was very friendly and helpful, providing us with plenty of information about the Fossdyke and Witham Navigations.
Diane chatting up the lockie and getting plenty of good information -
including where to and not to moor and some of the sights to see

The only boring part is that it is so straight, but the banks at the side are not
so high that you cannot see anything. Remember that this was constructed
2000 years ago by the Romans

We had decided to carry on past Torksey and would moor up at Saxilby – it was Saturday and Diane was desperate for her weekly copy of the Daily Mail – so another 5 miles or so and we were there and moored up.

We spent a couple of hours wandering around the village – Diane had found a walking map of the village – I presume that all villages, towns and cities are proud of their own part of the world, but the good people of Saxilby had provided these maps in a holder where we had moored - maybe a thought for others to do the same – boaters like to know about where they are stopping.
Saxilby church - probably the highlight...

...and the stained glass window

So we toured around and came back to the back and rested – over 20 miles cruising and early morning nervous energy and 2 hours of walking deserved a sit down.

We only stayed the one night – after all we had seen it all and we were eager to get down a bit further and see Lincoln.
It wasn’t a long cruise – 5 miles in total – but we found a mooring spot – past all of the Long Term Moorings – still in the bright sunshine and nice and quiet – if you discount the University building work which didn’t last long for a Sunday.

We set off to do a bit of exploration of Lincoln and head up the hill (dare I say mountain) – it was quite steep and the road up, which happened to called of all things Steep Hill (wonder where they thought up that name), is among the steepest in Britain.
Another city - another city of crowds

You are not kidding about that

Looking up...

...and looking down; it's steep both ways

At the top were the dual delights of Lincoln Castle and Lincoln Cathedral – being a Sunday and sunny, it was packed with people – we much prefer less in the way of crowds so instead we simply purchased the tickets to see all of it in the coming week.

Monday was another lovely day and we once again trudged up the hill to see Lincoln Cathedral in detail – a guided tour was due to start at 10am, so we latched onto that and found out so very much about the cathedral that you just do not get to know by yourself.
The outside is worth the climb up the hill...

...but the inside is simply spectacluar

The little chap highlighted in the centre is the Lincoln Imp

Diane as usual lit candles for her mum and dad and also for dear Lauren.

After all of this touristy stuff we had built up a bit of an appetite and where else would be go on a Monday but to the Slug and Lettuce (they still have the 50% off all food Monday deal) – Diane was super pleased with that.
The west gate to Lincoln Castle - we will be visiting that when we return to Lincoln

After all of that we made our way back to the boat – I still needed to do some work – but we needed to rest – we must be getting a bit old.

There was a pressing appointment down at Watford that we needed to get down for – so as we would normally do, we called upon the services of Enterprise and hired a small van for 3 days – this is actually cheaper than to hire a small car and they are usually diesel and a bit more fuel efficient.

What was so pressing? Well, after living for 36 years in the one house, Diane’s uncle and aunt had sold their house and were on the move – only a mile away but into a lovely bungalow – for anyone in Australia, that is not what we would automatically assume to be – i.e. a small house of probably 2 bedrooms that we might use as a holiday house – in the UK it refers to a house all on one level (no upstairs).
So we had agreed to help them move out and move in – fortunately they had removalists to do the heavy stuff and there were 4 young guys more than capable of doing all of that – and very efficient they were too.
We followed along and moved the last boxes that would go – the last of the kitchen stuff but the most important – cups, tea, coffee and milk, so that we could have a cuppa straight away.
Maggie was happy to be moving, Paddy is not so sure

All moved in and they are just glad that everything has been moved

Everything went very well, but it was a long day – we headed off at 5:30am and made it back to the boat around 10pm.

It is quite an anomaly here for the Easter weekend – in Australia, everything is basically closed on Good Friday and limited places open on Easter Saturday and Easter Monday; here Easter is referred to a bank holiday like every other public holiday and everything appears open on Good Friday and Easter Saturday – the Sunday is the big day.
Anyway, that all meant that we could return the van on either the Friday or the Saturday – well we decided that we would take a trip down to Boston and save the trip of 102 km round trip from Lincoln to Boston and back again.

It was still a tad over an hour in the van but we had a lovely time down in Boston and a good walk around the town as well as learning about this very important port from over a hundred years ago.
We were recommended to “the Stump” and “the Windmill” which we managed to see but also plenty of other sites (not to confuse with sights) – thanks to a walking tour map – yes, yet another in the continuing series conducted by Diane.
The ceiling inside St Botolph's Church (The Stump) in Boston

And views from the tower - Diane made the trip up the 200 steps - I stayed on the ground

This part of the river is called the Haven and is below
The Sluice and heads out into The Wash

Further up the Haven and just on the right hand side beyond the railway bridge
is the Sluice...

...where the lock-keepers will let you down at the right time and tide

Maud Foster Mill - where flour was ground almost 200 years ago
up until 1948

After that it was back to the boat and some rest.

Saturday we were up not too early; the van needed to be returned which it duly was (no problems) and we had decided that we might cruise down a little bit onto the River Witham – have you noticed that seemingly all of the rivers are named in that way – the word “river” appears first e.g River Thames, River Trent, River Ouse etc etc – the rest of the world uses it last e.g. Nile River; Amazon River, Mississippi River, Murray River, Yellow River.

So we gently cruised through Brayford Pool and headed through the Glory Hole and came to Stamp End Lock which is a guillotine lock and handled by CaRT key in the box (for the guillotine top gate) – the bottom one is handled by windlass and bum pushing the gate.
Brayford Pool - right in the heart of Lincoln - around this "bay" would have been
many many warehouses, but now it houses a marina and is undergoing much
building and is a mecca for tourists

Coming through the Pool we head through the Glory Hole

greeted by this impressive statue which straddles the navigation

As Sam would be saying "Where is the Lion?"

Stamp End Guillotine Lock

It was a lovely cruise down to Bardney, where there was one further lock before we moored up on the pontoon; lovely and quiet; lovely sun on the panels; and a little bit of a walk into the village shops – not a lot to see but lovely all the same.
Down on the River Witham, the banks are a bit lower than on the Fossdyke
and the surrounding countryside is very very pretty

The river is wide and the flow allowed us move along quite quickly

Looking back to Lincoln, the cathedral is an imposing structure even this far away

This sculpture to represent wheat growing in the fields was impressive,

Leaving Bardney Lock

and Bardney Church

So here we moored to have a bit of a rest.

41 Miles, 4 Locks
YTD:  256 miles (412 km), 152 Locks, 13 Tunnels, 3 Lift Bridges, 3 Swing Bridges
Total: 4888 Miles (7866 km), 3303 Locks, 137 Tunnels, 69 Lift Bridges, 175 Swing Bridges


  1. Ray there is a cafe at Torksey that, reputably, sells fantastic sausage rolls (we arrived too late and they had sold out ) and the inside and outside are decorated with tea pots. When you ask for tea they ask if it is for a man or woman - everyone gets their own teapot, but the men get a mug and the ladies a cup and saucer. Jennie nb Tentatrice

  2. Jennie

    we have noted the information about the cafe and when we are at then of the canal it is our intention to moor up there for the night so we will pay it a visit - we are not keen on the sausage rolls in England as they are made with pork - I much prefer Diane's which she makes with a non-meat base from ASDA.
    I do like a man-size mug of tea but so does Diane - so I think I will be stuck with the cup and saucer