Tuesday 30th August; Hallam Fields lock (Erewash canal) to Derwent Mouth lock (Trent and Mersey)
Another lovely morning. We were up by 7, expecting there to be noise from the various works on the other side of the canal but as we were opposite a grassy section between them it wasn’t that bad. It was a very pleasant mooring all round.
As we dropped down through the locks to Sandiacre we had a closer look at things we barely noticed on the way up. This small works, for example, had a little garden by the canal with flowers, a lawn, a picnic table and even some vegetables. Somewhere nice to have your lunch.
At Sandiacre is Springfield Mill, built in 1888 to house lace-making companies. There are four towers which each contained a spiral staircase for one of the four different companies.
It has been converted into apartments though whether the spiral staircases still exist I don’t know. There was a chimney too, by which was a ‘Sold’ sign, though that could well refer to one of the flats. If you google the history of the mill you get a huge number of sites selling or renting the flats. This site has some information about the construction of the mill, which had to be able to cope with the tremendous vibrations caused by the lace-making machinery.
As we approached Sandiacre lock I took a picture of one end of the Derby canal. This is where we saw NB Free Spirit moored on our way up.
A boat was just coming up the lock; NB Bacchus, owned by a man who is involved with the Derby Canal restoration project and gave us a leaflet about it too.
We stopped at Long Eaton and Dave went up to the Timpson’s to get replacement ignition and BW keys cut. The man said if they didn’t fit we could take them back to any other branch for replacement. Straight away we found out that the ignition key was no good, but rather than go back to the shop then, we thought we would wait until we had tested the Watermate key. So we went on down Long Eaton lock, meeting a family of swans which swam into the lock before I could close up. Who knows when the next boat would be coming along? So Dave had to stop, find some bread and then tempt them out so I could get the gate closed again.
On the stretch of water known as ‘the S-Bend’ is the local Sea Scouts headquarters. As we passed a clear voice rang out, as it did on our way up; ‘You should not be in this area! Please leave immediately!’ So we did. It must be triggered by a motion sensor whose range clearly extends across the canal.
As we approached Trentlock I managed to get a picture of the prettiest houseboat – the sun had been in the wrong place before.
We stopped to use the facilities block above Trent Lock, but unfortunately the Elsan was out of action. But we could still fill the water tank and had a quick lunch while we did so. Yes, we tested the new Watermate key, and no, it didn’t work either! (As I am writing this after we had returned home, I can tell you that our local Timpson’s used a large catalogue to find the correct key blanks, and then called head office for confirmation as they are rather unusual. The Long Eaton chap just looked for the closest match on his wall. As Timpson’s is still a family firm rather than a franchise operation we were able to deal with our local store rather than go back to the Long Eaton one, which we certainly wouldn’t use again. Of course, we can’t test the new ones till we are back on the boat in a few weeks’ time.)
Moored above the lock was a lovely pair of working boats, butty Hereford and its motor Jackal I think. Information on the web all seems to be several years old. Again, it was hard to get a decent view because of the position of the sun.
Out we went onto the Trent, turned right and headed up to join the Trent and Mersey. Before we could do that we had to use the service block at Sawley, which is located in what Nicholson’s calls ‘the backwater’ moorings – it’s not really a backwater, it’s the Trent! The navigation goes up the locks into Sawley Cut.
There was plenty of room to moor and it was easy to turn to rejoin the navigation, though first we had to wait for a Dutch barge coming out of the locks and a narrowboat coming towards them to go by.
The narrowboat in the picture was travelling with companions already in one of the two locks, but as I prepared the other lock for us, another boat arrived to join us. The locks are electric and operated by push-buttons, and are very straightforward. Our companions went into Sawley marina, so we carried on alone under the M1 motorway and the far more elegant structure carrying what I think is a water main.
At Derwent Mouth lock is a venerable and beautiful Horse Chestnut tree. Look at this fabulous trunk! Unfortunately it’s a bit early to collect conkers – they are not ripe yet.
Time was getting on and we thought we might not find space to moor at Shardlow, so we pulled in above Derwent Mouth lock. This is a very attractive spot ….. apart from the small matter of the sewage works over the other side of the cut. But there was a stiff breeze blowing towards the works, so we took a gamble that it would stay that way.
8 and a half miles, 10 locks including Sawley flood lock (open)