Tackling the Tidal Trent with a fresh First Mate

The vagaries of the British weather continue to cause complications for many. Minor ones only for us. Easily overcome and worked around.

A few weeks ago I’d hired a car from Enterprise Sheffield in advance. One of the not-insurmountable challenges of living on a narrowboat and continuously cruising, is taking a car with you is most inconvenient. Apart from the fact they’re expensive beasts, trying to find parking places every time you moor, or place-hopping and taking public transport to return to the boat, are not pastimes we wish to involve ourselves in. The winter debacle for Calendar Club was bad enough.

However, even booking public transport or hiring a car in advance proves interesting. One has to estimate where the boat is likely to be moored in a few weeks time. Sometimes we get it right. On this occasion we failed miserably.

Not a problem thank goodness. With Enterprise you can book and pay in advance, which saves you money, AND you have the opportunity to cancel the booking by 72 hours before the pick up. Thank goodness!

Being frozen and static for a few days on the River Witham delayed our journey enough to make it impossible to arrive anywhere near Sheffield in time for the hire car booking. I simply cancelled that one, and re-booked at Lincoln. The ridiculous aspect was that in doing so, I saved myself around £30 as the Sheffield one was that much more expensive for the same category of car! I do find that rather incomprehensible,  but I was most pleased. Conversely having to return the car to Lincoln, when Barry was en route to Sheffield, necessitated further expense – as well as waiting and travelling time.  I think I was still quids in though – and I got space to do some reading for ‘The Artists’s Way‘, a 12-week ‘Course in Discovering and Recovering Your Creative Self’ which I’m adoring.

Barry meanwhile, was tasked with finding a new First Mate. I’m sure, like Ray Oakhill, he could’ve managed perfectly finely to navigate the tidal waters single-handedly. But he knew I’d worry. It’s also rather lonely on board once he’s relished the silence for a night or two (or so he tells me!). Fortunately his amenable and gorgeous friend Fred, from Sheffield, was available – and willing! Hurrah! Problem solved.

Enterprise were a little slack in collecting me, entailing a couple of frustrated phone calls to spring them into action. Barry had to cruise to the water-point, pump-out, fill up with diesel, then hurry to Saxilby to meet Fred off the train that evening. Thankfully he made it, after abandoning me to await the pick up (it’s a marvellous service to be collected and returned to the boat which we very much appreciate).

I spent four days with mum, who’s doing splendidly I have to say. She has carers coming morning and evening, hot meals delivered Monday to Friday, an AgeUK cleaner weekly on a Tuesday, and one of her four daughters staying 99% of the weekends. Her Alzheimers medication, Donepezil 10mg, appears to be having a positive effect in slowing down the progression of her dementia – I’m very grateful I was knowledgeable enough to navigate the care system and get a timely diagnosis.

Barry and Fred meanwhile, had a blast. He’s given me some images to post, none of which contain the two of them together (he doesn’t really go in for selfies like the rest of us!). It’s such a pleasure to have Barry’s view from the lens once more, that I’m going to publish them all in full, rather than collating any into a ‘gallery’.

Enjoy the journey. With Barry’s captions …

Two men tour from Saxilby to Thorne

This building (in Brayford Pool) is from the late 50’s. It was a car showroom and garage. Now a listed building! (Wikipedia) – “It’s a good example of an elegant hyperbolic paraboloid shell concrete building, its structure little altered. An exceptionally imaginative car showrooms, it has converted well to its present use.”

Definitely an ongoing work in progress! I’m sure I took a photo of this boat in 2009 in a similar state.

I felt like I was given a personal display by ‘The Red Arrows

Nine Red Arrows in perfect formation!

Burton Waters Marina on The Fossdyke. A very smart set-up with lots of posh boats. (Didn’t see any of them out and about however!)

It was a quick stop for diesel and a pump out. Their first customers using the facilities since a fire destroyed the service block last year. They’d only got it operational about two hours prior.

The day after, with Fred aboard, there only five Red Arrows! What happened to the other four?

One of the long straight stretches along the Fossdyke Navigation.

Fred drove most of the way from Saxilby to Keadby.

As we approach Torksey Lock to continue our excursion down the tidal Trent. Cottam Power Station towers above!

Now out on The Trent we quickly pass Torksey Castle, destroyed by The Parliamentarians.

Approaching West Burton Power Stations. There’s no shortage of them along The Trent.

Gainsborough sit’s quietly alongside the river. Didn’t get to see too many of the local population … they seem a little shy!

An overnight stop in the basin at West Stockwith with a great night at The White Hart Inn.

Not a busy lock here at West Stockwith. The lock keeper said they’d put through five boats since November. I’m not sure if we were included in that number or not!

Fred analysing the situation before departure.

There’s quite a drop down to the river.

A view of West Stockwith on the left and East Stockwith on the right. So close, yet a 10 mile trip by road.

There used to be a ferry between, but it’s long gone. Apparently there are family members on either side of the river.

Some of the moored boats in West Stockwith Basin.

… and us!

This was once a very busy port with produce in and out transferred between barges and narrowboats.

Through the bridge hole and you’re onto the Chesterfield Canal.

These are the floodgates of the River Idle that empties into The Trent. Automaticaaly closed on the approach of high tide.

East Stockwith but not a soul in sight. Must be on this side visiting their relations.

A local informed us they’d replaced the gates in 2012 at a cost of £350,000.00 and the company who built them, immediately after went bust!

The very friendly lock keeper, who was training someone else for when it got busy.

On the way down …

Newly promoted Captain Fred was well in control.

And we’re off!

Looking back at West Stockwith Lock

Approaching the Althorpe road and rail lift bridge. Apparently the tub on the right fills up with water and the weight raises the right hand section of the bridge. Though we didn’t need to today!

Safely into Keadby Lock without any dramas. Last time through we had a minor bump.

… and bringing us up to the level of the Stainforth and Keadby Canal

… then immediately into a swing bridge.

Easy enough as the lock keeper has control of it.

A little overpowering!

Keadby Lock in the distance

The Thorne to Scunthorpe rail line crosses right over the canal at a 45 degree angle …

… so they built a sliding bridge that moves out of the way when boats pass. (Unique in the world)

Complex construction!

It slides back perpendicular to the bank and a 45 degree angle to the track, taking a section with it.

Then straight into a manually operated swing bridge.

It was here that another boat which followed us down The Trent overtook us. It was the only fourth moving boat we’d encountered since leaving Nottingham four weeks prior.

There seems to have been an infestation of wind turbines since we were last here in 2009.

Early morning fog, well late morning fog really, as we don’t normally set off too early.

Mostly flat land and just agricultural fields interspersed with wind turbines.

Many isolated farm buildings along the way.

A little bit ‘War of the Worlds’ like with the towers appearing out of the mist.

Lots of swing bridges along the way.

The railway runs along the side of the canal most of the way from Keadby to Thorne.

No two are the same!

I think Fred enjoyed the feeling of power you get when you hold motorists up. Especially this bridge where it jammed up and he had to sent cars back from wheres’t they came!

Though we did have to wait while these riders galloped towards us shouting to hold the bridge.

Up and under and into Thorne just in time to get Fred to the Station to get back to Sheffield.

It was great to have Fred aboard for three nights and we’ll see you and Sara in Sheffield soon. In fact, this afternoon!

More delays …

It’s certainly been an interesting time recently – our schedule is right up the veritable creek but fortunately we’re not reliant on paddles!

Imagining we could’ve been in Sheffield two weeks ago is rather laughable now. We haven’t made it yet. However, we’re being collected by car shortly and staying with Fred and Sara tonight. Hopefully the Lock-keeper at Tinsley Locks will finally answer the phone in the next couple of days so we can book our passage 24 hours in advance as required!

If any individual or organisation is interested in obtaining any high resolution images by Barry, please contact him via our ‘contact us’ page.. He charges only £10 per photograph, and requests the picture is credited to ‘Barry Teutenberg’.

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