Monday 27th September to Sunday 3rd October 2010

A late start on Monday with a quick visit to the supermarket sees us drop through the recently refurbished Meadow Lane lock by lunchtime.

Turning right onto the Trent we cruised as far as the War Memorial before turning again and sailing with the flow, catching the rowers unawares.

Couldn’t help noticing there’s been an increase in scruffy, unnamed, unlicensed boats on the Beeston Cut since we were there last year. Does this signal the approach of winter I wonder.

Possessions spilling onto the towpaths, tarpaulins flapping in the breeze, discarded food and drink containers on the grass and dogs barking their heads off at passing boats is making Nottingham an unattractive place to stop and explore.

At the other end of the day, moored above Holme Lock, we fired up the stove before the wet set in. Outside temperatures are still in the teens so I guess this indicates that we’re getting soft in our old age.

Between the manned locks of Holme and Gunthorpe we made good use of the VHF which usually sets the gates in our favour as the lock comes into view.

Lockies exchange boat passage info with their colleagues on the Trent so we get to earwig who else is on the move and who we’re likely to bump into at the next bend.

We were joined by nb.Sutton (Sherbourne Wharf hire boat) on their mammoth anticlockwise cruise around the country. They’re a lovely couple, about our age, who looked like they knew a thing or two about the canals and seemed perfectly at home on the river.

We stopped for a day at Gunthorpe and popped our noses round the door at the Bistro for elevenses. For a place so small the waterside has plenty of places to eat and drink.
It’s good to see that BW have sorted out the sanitation problems and installed a portable Elsan point. Someone has clouted it with a vehicle so it looks cockeyed on its foundation but the nasties still went down the pipe so there’s nothing to complain about.

The evening brought a lovely surprise – Ter and Claire came a visiting from Leicester which meant I got to eat and drink well.

Rising to find ourselves enveloped in mist we anticipated a fine warm day.
morning mist

After a quick fill at the water point and an even quicker dump behind the Bistro (at the Elsan point, of course) we were met by the lockie on his way to the ‘office’. First boat through the lock we were soon up to 7mph and like happy bunnies we bounced along the Trent towards the North Sea.

Hazleford Lock threw us into a completely different environment. Icebergs littered the river and while I did my best to avoid them we inevitably chopped some in half scattering the penguins as we roared through their islands of white.

When we’re not cruising through a corridor of green we bump into little pockets of boats, mostly non-descript but there are some that stimulate the imagination, big boats with history, boats that used to go to sea.

The Newark Crusader kept us informed of her presence on VHF as she turned by the castle and headed towards us from Newark Town Lock. Once she was out of the way I spun the boat like a snake to avoid the gin palaces and settled next to Newark Marina’s diesel pump.

I winced at 89p/Ltr but it was either go without or pay 95p at Farndon Marina. Self declare is not in their vocabulary so we had to accept a 60-40 propulsion-power split. 100Ltrs should get us back to the real world and I know the Treasury will appreciate the extra money.
newark castle

Spoilt for choice at Newark we chose the town moorings behind the Castle Barge and did a run up the road before dinner.
castle barge

One of the market stalls made me the proud owner of a hardback copy of Doctor at Sea with its perfect description of captain, mates and engineers on merchant ships, if I recollect correctly from my time at sea. It was difficult not to laugh aloud as I read the first four chapters.

The day was warm and sunny enough to sit on the poop with a glass and a book. A rainbow hung directly above us, like half a saucer, suspended in the fine wisps of cloud between the vapour trails.

Few boats were moored in Newark and even fewer passed through. Why is it so quiet, is it safe? We’ll probably find out tomorrow night.

It’s self indulgence day. Graham (G8LUV) called at the wharf to collect me and together we did the HAMFEST at Newark Show Ground followed by the Air Museum next door. A brilliant day-out returning with a bag of goodies from the rally and some touching reminders of the war last century that I thankfully missed.

Rain was promised and rain we got. By the evening the place was almost deserted, we heard the occasional shout from walkers numbed by preserving liquid as they stumbled home from the pub, but ‘we got no bovver’.

We have respite from the damp but there’s plenty of evidence that yesterday’s rain has found its way into the river by the branches, weed and drinks cartons that fetched up between boat and bank.
It’s time to head up-river and a short call on channel 74 gave us a green light and open gates at Town Lock.
The weekend on the Trent is much like weekends on the canal for anglers but with the depth and width of water we can punch through the flow without slowing down. Some rod wavers insist on wading out to meet us which prompts V to warn me to slow down before I fill their wellies. You can imagine my response to that.

We’re joined by GR Plastic at one lock and their difficulties in roping up remind me how easy things are for those of us on narrowboats. I’m glad our scrapes on the concrete don’t bring us out in raised voices or cold sweats.

We were overtaken on the last leg of our journey and shared our final lock (Gunthorpe) with what I understand is an ex-RN launch (6420) now known as Free Bird. With her keel laid in 1964 she’s had a tough life but the future looks promising now that she’s somebody’s project.

The Trent this morning resembles the log flume at Alton Towers. It’s alright if it passes by but small trees rattling down the side or jammed between the boat and the pontoon don’t promise a quiet night. We’ll stay put today, our princely 7mph downstream at 1400rpm was reduced to 3mph at 2000rpm yesterday and we don’t fancy crawling along in this rain. With good visibility tomorrow we shall have fun dodging the debris as we clear the river into the safety of Beeston Cut.