Thursday, 4 May 2017

On the River (again) to West Stopwith

Friday 28th April 2017

After talking to the lock-keeper the previous day, we knew that we were due to lock-out about 11 am, so there would be plenty of time in the morning to do what we needed to do – or so we thought.

I was up reasonably early, although not early for me – I popped my head outside about 7am and who did I find there – the lockie.

So chance for a chat when he suggested that if we were up for it,we could lock down now and wait on the pontoons below the lock and in the short arm off the river before the lock – we could then head off when we wanted – the real reason behind this was that there were a few boats heading up to West Stopwith and with only being able to get two down at a time it might take a little while to get them all out – no problems with going down – well that would be except for telling Diane to get herself up and out of bed – even before she finished her first coffee.

But we made it through the lock and moored up below and could just relax – it was a fine sunny day with a bit of a breeze – almost perfect cruising weather.

We had wanted to fill with water, but didn’t get around to it.

By about 10am there were a few boats already down and ready to go – we had a bit of a chat with the guy on the boat behind us – he had done this trip a couple of times but had always encountered slack water at West Stopwith, so he was no help in advising on our approach. The lockie probably would have been helpful, but my understanding left a bit to be desired – as I have indicated very early in the entire blog – some accents are a bit difficult to understand.

By 11 am we were ready to go and we allowed a boat to head off before us and after that we were off. The tide was still on its way in and would be that way for another 30 minutes before it slackened off and than turned, so coming out into the flow was a bit different and we needed a bit more power to make the turn fully and head downstream against the flow.
Stay close but not too close

The remains of Torksey Castle - no chance to visit

...same remains - different angle

The church at Torksey - we didn't get a chance to visit here either

We quickly found the right speed and follow behind the lead boat. The flow eventually turned and we were moving downstream much more quickly – up to 11 kmh at one stage – so we eased off a bit, as we were catching up to the boat ahead.
They appeared to be easing back as well and we thought that slowing further was not an option so we overtook them.

Crocs in the water???

The Trent is starting to get a bit bigger
Someone is enjoying it

The Folly on the hill - is a landmark in the charts for the Trent - glad we
hadn't taken a wrong turn
Lambs again - certainly must be spring

The tide was on the way out and this shows how far it had
dropped in about an hour - it was a 9m tide at Hull - quite high

Eventually our speed meant that we caught and overtook the boat in front

I had spoken to the West Stopwith Lock-keeper earlier (before we had left) and he had advised of a timing to let him know where we were so that the lock would be ready – so then as we approached Walkerith Ferry, we radioed ahead.

The bridge at Gainsborough

There must still a bit more for the river level to drop - these steps still
head down into the water

Knowing that there is a lock to get into; knowing that the river flow is taking you downstream; knowing that the lock-keeper will provide some assistance by way of hand signals is wonderful (in theory) – it’s when you are out there on the back of the boat and underestimate the flow completely and then have to make the U-turn to turn around completely and have almost full revs on to start moving upstream, that you truly have your heart in your mouth hoping that you can make it.
The hand signals help to a point as the lockie indicates to keep heading towards him – standing on a solid rock wall and you have full revs on – I did turn a bit too soon and we nudged the other wall, but managed to pivot into the lock in one go – phew! Glad that was done – hindsight is always wonderful and there are things that I should have done differently and better.

The second boat came in OK and we were locked through – rising about 10 or so feet and exited into a lovely basin area.

Yes - we made it!

We headed through the basin and along the canal – our warnings had been that the Chesterfield Canal is shallow, but apparently the end of the canal is so very beautiful.

Through the bridge is the basin that we have just left

...and we are on the Chesterfield

As we slowly made our way down, it quickly became clear that our normal speed would qualify as tick-over and we would not need to slow down for moored boats – it is very much a case of the bottom being VERY close to the top.

We made it through the first two locks – suitably locked both bottom and top – just past the second lock we found some lovely armco which looked like a nice mooring place – but would we be able to get in close enough – luck was with us and we thought this would be just the place to stay – all open on the off side and one to mark in the book.
There would be no problems with the neighbours – a retirement village – they might very well be the only group of people who would be going to bed earlier than we usually do and not likely to be up too early in the morning to wake us.

So we stopped and settled down for a bit – Diane had a strong desire to get the TV going and see how the snooker was going – she is definitely a sports girl.

We shall see how tomorrow goes with the cruising and if the depth gets any better.

15 Miles, 4 Locks
YTD:  295 miles (475 km), 158 Locks, 13 Tunnels, 3 Lift Bridges, 3 Swing Bridges
Total: 4927 Miles (7929 km), 3309 Locks, 137 Tunnels, 69 Lift Bridges, 175 Swing Bridges


  1. A lovely canal but be careful at Retford Town Lock. Asda is above the lock and the local youths are prone to filling the canal with shopping trolleys.

    1. Tom

      thanks for that, but you will see in the next blog how we have handled that