Monday, 26 November 2012

Willington (part one).

Hi,

As I said in our last blog we are now moored at Willington where we are going to stay for a week or two.During our first week here we have done a bit of walking along the towpath to nowhere in particular,just a walk in whatever direction took our fancy.There isn’t much to be said about Willington itself,it prospered a bit after the canal was built but now it’s just a nice little village with three pubs,a few shops and the canal services.It’s popular throughout the summer months with holiday boaters and in the winter months with people like us for those very reasons,everything being just a short walk from the canal towpath.

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The photo’ on the left is the view up the T&M towards Willington,the pubs are amongst the buildings in the background.We are moored a bit back from the village as the moorings ahead are only for 48 hours.There we are on the right,hiding in the bushes.I took this as we walked to the local marina to get some bits from the Chandlery.

Willington does have a railway station though,and that is another reason why we intend to stay here for so long,it’s not for the Marston’s Pedigree bitter in the pubs I must add.We have bought ourselves a couple of Railcards,which give us a discount off the rail fares,so we intend to make use of them.On Tuesday it rained pretty much all day so we spent a leisurely time on Chyandour,just doing the odd jobs that crop up now and then,with only a brief stroll before it got dark when the rain stopped.Wednesday had us on the train to nearby Burton on Trent,thanks to the Railcards the tickets cost us £1.90 each for a day return,where we then spent the afternoon strolling round town,getting some of the bits for Christmas.Spending Christmas on a narrowboat,moored on a canal somewhere,is another of my must does and it is only a few weeks away.

Burton on Trent is,of course,famous for it’s breweries and over the years I guess I’ve done my bit in keeping them open.I lived in a village a few miles north of Burton for many years and one of the distinctive things about this village was the number of pubs it had.If I remember right,there were five,plus a couple of clubs,a hotel,and also,it wasn’t too far to walk to a couple more pubs in the next village,should you fancy a change of scenery.The water in the Burton area has a high concentration of Gypsum which,I believe,makes it ideal for brewing and I’ve always thought we should always make use of the local produce,whatever it may be.It came on to rain late on Wednesday so we had to take shelter in the local Wetherspoons,only to get out of the rain while we waited for our train,of course.

The proximity of the railway to where we are moored here in Willington isn’t all good news though.There are a large number of trains going past each day,both freight and passenger,and we have got used to them to the point where on Saturday night we noticed that it was rather quiet.Having gone to bed we then discovered why it was quiet,track maintenance is performed at weekends.It started with a distant metallic tapping,which we thought was another boater securing his mooring pins because the weather was horrible,but it slowly got louder.Looking out of the window we saw a gang of workers along the rail track,it was absolutely persisting down with rain,but they continued with their hammering.Then came the wagons with the ballast,sleep was impossible,the brakes,each time it stopped after moving forward,sounded like tearing metal.They workers and wagons didn’t loiter though,the noise slowly faded as they continued on up the track and into the night,leaving us to get back to sleep.On Sunday we had a visit from some of our family and we ended up in one of the local hostelries,The Dragon,for lunch,which was very good,washed down,of course,with the odd pint or two of Peddy

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The train on the left is liveried in the colours of a transport company I worked for in Perth in Scotland.No prizes for correct answers.This service takes the line just to the north of our mooring on its way to Stoke on Trent so we don’t hear it.Could be riding on it this week though.On the right is the Christmas Tree that Lisa has made from a plantpot,some knitting needles,tinsel and various sized baubles,looks good.

Over the past week we’ve all had a lot of rain,there are flood warnings all over the country again and some of the flooding is close to here in Willington which is very close to the River Trent.We went for a walk today to the other side of the village and one of the roads is impassable to all but 4x4s and trucks because of the floodwater.Unfortunately there are a couple of properties also affected,with flooding on the ground floor.It’s always a tragedy for anyone who’s home is affected by flooding,or anything else for that matter,but it seems so much worse when it happens at this time of year.

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The top two show part of the flooding outside Willington,the guy on the right has the best idea.Bottom left has a 4x4 crossing the flood before the police closed the road and then shortly after reopened it ‘cos there was a truck either side with nowhere else to go.The saddest bit was the houses on the bottom right,one just sold,with the present owners due to move out,and the new ones move in,sometime over the next few days.

That’s all again for this weeks blog,we’re going to try and get about a bit more over the next few days if we can,so I may have a few bits of interest for next week.Since our last blog we have done just two miles,we went to get some coal on Saturday.Take care everyone.

Monday, 19 November 2012

Swarkestone

Hi,

We left Weston on Trent last Thursday and made our way,all of three miles,to Swarkestone Lock where we intended to stay for a few days and do a bit of exploring.The lock itself was closed,as part of the winter closure programme by C&RT,so we couldn’t go any farther,till Friday at the earliest anyway.

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Above we have a couple of photo’s of the work being done on Swarkestone Lock by the C&RT guys.As you can see the lock chamber is quite deep with the top gates only about one third of the overall depth.Passage through the lock raises boats over 3 metres.Here they were starting to clear their things away ready for the lock to open on time on Friday afternoon.

At Swarkestone is the junction of the old Derby Canal that was opened in 1796 and connected the Trent & Mersey Canal with the Erewash Canal at Sandiacre.

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A couple of views of the mouth of the Derby Canal,now just a basin for moored boats.The white house is the old Toll House,it was tolls that made our canals profitable in the early years but with the arrival of the railways the tolls were reduced to compete and,as a result,profits and the canals declined.The bridge in the distance on the right picture is the end of the current navigation,the left hand picture is from that bridge.

The Derby Canal ran from Swarkestone to Derby and then turned eastwards to Sandiacre.It was fourteen miles long and had nine locks,it fell into disuse in the 1940’s and was abandoned in 1964 and much of the canal in Derby itself was filled in.There was also a short canal from the River Trent at Swarkestone to the T&M Canal as part of the Derby Canal but this short bit was closed in 1817 through lack of use.I haven’t found any trace of this short canal but there is a lot of the Derby Canal still visible and a very active Derby and Sandiacre Canal Society is intent on the restoration of the canal.There is a proposal to build some sort of boat lift in Derby on the lines of the Falkirk Wheel which is a wonderful piece of engineering that was one of the last projects to be built by Butterley Engineering,a famous Derbyshire company.I do wish the Derby & Sandiacre Canal Society all the very best in their efforts.

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On the left is the Derby Canal,minus the water,you can clearly see the profile of the canal bed.On the right is one of the old Stop Plank Cranes which were used to lower stop planks into a groove on either side of the canal to form a dam in the event of having to dewater a part of the canal,this one is at Swarkestone.

Swarkestone itself,also has some history,there was actually a battle here during the English Civil War in 1643,when the Cavaliers lost to the Parliamentarians,better known as Roundheads,a happy bunch I understand.There’s been a bridge here,over the River Trent,for over seven hundred years and Bonny Prince Charlie’s advance party reached here in 1745,when he was on his way to London.This is said to be as far south as he got before he returned to Scotland.About seventy of his men held the bridge for a couple of days before being defeated by Government troops.The bridge is just under a mile long with seventeen arches,it’s the longest stone bridge and the longest inland bridge in England.According to legend the bridge was commissioned in the 13th century by two beautiful sisters.The sisters were betrothed to a pair of knights who, during the engagement party were called away to a meeting,during the meeting heavy rain swelled the river,making it dangerous for them to cross the ford back to Swarkestone. Both knights missed the ford when they entered the river on their horses and they drowned.Devastated by the loss of their fianc├ęs the sisters decided to have the bridge built,the cost of the which is said to have ruined them financially and,unable to forget their loves,they never married.

We also had the pleasure of visiting a couple of the local hostelries .Chellaston,a suburb of Derby,is only a few minutes walk away along the old Derby Canal towpath so it was handy for a bit of shopping,having both a Tesco and a Co-op.I had to rest my weary legs before heading back to our boat on Thursday so we nipped into the Rose & Crown for a swift one and very nice it was too.We also went over to the Crewe & Harpur at Swarkestone,just at the end of the bridge,that is a great pub with good beer and very reasonably priced food,two meals for the price of one all day,everyday and free WiFi.It’s only a short walk from the moorings across the fields and the railway.

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Cutting up some logs on the towpath next to where we moored and filling with water on a misty morning before we left on Thursday.

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Me cleaning the panels ready for some sun,and Lisa doing her share of the woodcutting.

I would like to thank Rob Conroy for the answer to my query about the photo’ of the boiler in last weeks blog.The boiler was part of the steam pump used by the army to raise water from the River Trent for the steam trains that ran along the old Military Railway.

Today we left Swarkestone and headed along the T&M to our next stopping place,Willington,where we intend to stay for a couple of weeks.There are facilities here for waste and water and there’s a railway station so we can get out and about a bit.Since our last blog we have done two locks and just over eight miles.That’s all for this week I’m afraid,take care everyone.

Monday, 12 November 2012

Walton on Trent

Hi,

This week we are moored just outside the little Derbyshire village of Walton on Trent,which isn’t really on the River Trent,but as I understand it,the “on” means “close too” around this part of the world and who am I to argue.It’s a pleasant little village but there isn’t a great deal here,no shops of any kind and it’s a bit of a walk to the village church,which sits quite prettily on a hill,overlooking the surrounding area.

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On the left is the Trout lake in the grounds of the Coopers Arms here in Weston on Trent,the pub is a rather impressive four story 17th Century former mansion which overlooks the lake.On the right is the village church as seen from the canal just down from our mooring.

After filling our tank with water last Thursday we left Shardlow and headed west on the Trent & Mersey canal in the company of a narrowboat called Stone.This boat is owned by Andy who built it and who is also the guy who spray foamed Chyandour for us.It was a very nice surprise to bump into him.I hadn’t recognised him at first,without his protective suit,he was having a few days off from spray foaming,so we shared the three locks between Shardlow and here.I have to add that the first half a dozen locks on this end of the T&M are broad locks and so sharing them with another boat and crew makes life a lot easier.Andy,Maria and Stone continued up the canal to the next Winding Hole,turned and headed back towards Shardlow,it’s not possible to go much farther west on the T&M at the moment because one of the winter stoppages is taking place about three miles on from here.

The winter stoppages are a programme of maintenance undertaken by the Canals and Rivers Trust between the beginning of November and the end of March each year.This is the quiet time when most boats are laid up for the winter so it’s probably the best time to get non emergency repairs done.It does mean though that we hardy souls who cruise all year have to be aware of the stoppages and be prepared for a wait now and then.The stoppage up ahead should be completed by this coming Friday and then we will make our way to our next “port of call”.There is one little hiccup in all this though,a motorist somehow managed to hit the parapet on a nearby bridge and knocked it into the canal.This has resulted in the canal now being closed in two places.We are hoping to get an email in the next few days,to say that a temporary repair has been made to the bridge,enabling the canal to be reopened,so we can proceed on Friday as planned.

While we have been moored here at Walton we have done our usual and gone walking in the area.On Saturday we set off for Melbourne,not the Aussie one,but the one here in Derbyshire.It’s a good couple of miles from our mooring to Melbourne,first along the towpath and then up onto what was a railway track,now a cycle and walking route.The railway was a Military Railway during the Second World War and was used to train troops to build,demolish and run railways.There is little left to show what it used to be,other than the bridges and viaducts,but there is a bit of history to it,in 1940 nine Royal engineers who worked on the railway where killed by a German bomb dropped on Melbourne.

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On the left is a picture of the Melbourne Railway viaduct over the River Trent,now used as a walking and cycling route.On the right is a view along the canal as we made our way back on Saturday afternoon.Can anyone wonder why I love these inland waterways?

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Has anyone any idea what the picture on the left might be?It’s a vertical boiler like structure on the north bank of the River Trent below the viaduct in the picture above.It’s been knocked about a bit but it looks as though it was permanent and had a purpose.I’ve searched but no luck so far.The picture on the right is a view we passed on our walk to Melbourne.

Melbourne itself is a tidy little village with a few shops,including a chip shop,which did some nice fish and chips at a reasonable price.We bought some fresh meat,bread and veg,then made our way back home to our boat after a very enjoyable day.It was when we got back here that things went a little downhill.

Before we left to go to Melbourne on Saturday,we had moved Chyandour to a new mooring that was not under any trees so that we could benefit from a bit of sun on the solar panels.This was a good idea as far as it went,but,when we got back we couldn’t get a signal for my phone,for the TV and for t’internet,whereas we’d had reasonable reception on Thursday and Friday.We spent two hours at the new mooring trying,without success,to get a signal and we are only fifty metres from our old mooring.Sorry Lisa,I tried,but you had to go without your “fix” of Strictly.We managed to get things together on Sunday afternoon though,but it shows just how variable things can be on t’cut,and we did get some power from the solar panels so it wasn’t all bad.

This Monday had us sitting in the boat for most of the day,it rained and there didn’t seem any point in getting wet.Why do today what can be done just as easily tomorrow?We did move Chyandour again though,Strictly is that important.The digital TV has improved but the satellite still isn’t working and my phone is still struggling.Anyway,thats all for this week.We are on the move again on Thursday and since our last blog we have done the grand total of three miles and three locks.Take care everyone.

Monday, 5 November 2012

Shardlow.

Hi,

This week we are moored on the Trent & Mersey canal at Shardlow,having left John,Mick and Kingfisher Narrowboats on Saturday,and made our way here from the Erewash Canal at Trent Lock.After Chyandour had had her 50 Hour service John and Mick fitted the extra bits that we had asked for and then we loaded up with coal,filled with water,emptied the loo and away we went,free at last.The first thing we had to do on Saturday was to get back on to the River Trent but this time to head west towards Sawley.It was raining but who cares? we were away on our travels with the whole canal world in front of us.We had a short stretch of the river to do,then through an electrically operated lock and we were onto Sawley Cut,a short bit of canal where we were going to stop to fill our tank with diesel at Sawley Marina.After that it was back onto the river for a mile,till we reached the mouth of the River Derwent and the entrance to the Trent & Mersey canal,and then it was a little over a mile to Shardlow where we are stopping for a few days.

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On the left we have Lisa busy with a paintbrush on the stand for the back cabin that we will use when we are steering Chyandour.It will bring us up to the same level as the rear deck.On the right is a picture that I have shrunk a bit so I don’t know how it will look till after I post the blog so forgive me if it’s a bit strange.It’s a photo’ of the two roof racks that John made,and I painted,they’re for us to use to keep our coal and logs etc.on the roof but off the paintwork.

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The left hand photo’ is the roof racks fitted and loaded with coal,they just have to be sheeted and they’re ready to go.Notice the whirly in the background,Lisa managed a couple of loads of washing while the sun was out.The swan on the right was just being a bit inquisitive.

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On the left is Sawley Lock at the entrance to Sawley Cut,if you look closely,you can see Lisa at the Control Box.It’s an electrically operated lock and Lisa just loves to be in control.On the right we are heading up the River Trent,under a pipe bridge,towards Derwent Mouth and the T&M canal.We only travelled along the Trent & Mersey canal for a bit and then we moored at Shardlow.While we are here we are going to have a look around some of the surrounding area.

The Trent & Mersey canal opened in 1777,it was built by James Brindley,and formed the North Western leg of what was the Grand Cross of waterways,being called the Grand Trunk Canal as well as the T&M.It connected the River Trent at Derwent Mouth with the Bridgewater Canal at Preston Brook as well as with a number of other canals,from here you can get to London,Liverpool,Manchester,Bristol and Leeds.As a result,Shardlow became a major canal port and goods were transferred between narrowboats, river craft and road transport.The nearby River Trent having been an important trading route for centuries and,what became the A6 Trunk Road,from London to Manchester,ran through here.Many of the buildings in Shardlow are former canal warehouses,now mostly converted to residential,and there are a couple of nice pubs here that are well worth a visit.One of the pubs is the The Old Crown,a former 17th Century Coaching Inn that sits on the approach to Cavandish Bridge on what was then the London to Manchester Turnpike,the bridge was opened in 1761 as a toll bridge but was washed away in 1947,a new bridge was built nearby.The Old Crown is a cosy,old fashioned pub with lots of interesting bits and pieces decorating the walls and ceilings.

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Above are a couple of pic’s of the inside of the Old Crown.Below is the site of the old Cavendish Bridge,not a lot left to show exactly where it was,with the Old Crown in the background.A short distance away, just after the new bridge,is the plaque from the old bridge,with the old toll charges which had applied from 1758 when there was a ferry here.

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Another pub is below left,the Clock Warehouse on the old London Road which was formerly the Trent Mill,built in the 18th Century it has a large central arch which allowed narrowboats to enter to load and unload.The picture on the right is part of the Old Iron Warehouse,now used to manufacture marine diesel stoves,we are moored directly opposite.

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That’s all for this week,we are going to move on a bit farther in a few days,probably to Weston on Trent.since our last blog we have done 3.5 miles and 4 locks.Take care everyone,have a good Bonfire Night.Birthday wishes to Janice for yesterday,you’ve kept that a secret,we didn’t know.Have to be a bigger card at Christmas.