Friday, 9 September 2016

Tough locks on the T&M and the other end of the Derby canal

Wednesday 31st August;  Derwent Mouth lock to Stenson

Luckily for us the wind stayed in a favourable direction and there were no untoward aromas from the sewage works. Apart from that risk these are super moorings, with a lovely wide mown grassy area for sitting out, and shade from the trees if required.  It’s also walking distance from the pubs, though we didn’t bother to do that.

1 moored above derwent mouth lock

We left well after 9.  I feel much more relaxed now I know the river work is behind us – I am always just a little apprehensive on rivers even when the water levels are low.  Northern Light, our lock buddies on the Soar, were moored in Shardlow but there was nobody at home.  They have a lovely ‘dog-house’ on the sliding hatch for their spaniel – it’s got a comfy bed inside where he can sit and watch the world go by, and a little door in the front for getting him in and out.

2 northern light and dog house

There are two Aston and Weston locks on the Trent and Mersey – the narrow ones are between Great Haywood and Stone, and the broad ones are near Shardlow.  And very heavy they are too.

3 aston lock

At Aston there are metal bars to put against the heel grips to stop the gates swinging open.  I have never known the proper name for the bricks you brace your feet against when opening or closing them but anyway that is what the notice called them, though it does look as though it has been changed from something else.

4 bracing bars aston

It took ages to get up Aston lock as both ground paddles at the top were out of action.  The lock is very deep and the bottom gates have a gap between them which takes a long time to seal even though the gates are closed.  Non-boaters may not know that you open the ground paddles first when you are filling a lock, as the flow is relatively gentle compared with that of the gate paddles, which are not opened until the lock is half full because of the strong flows they produce – and there are signs on the top gates to that effect.  The flow from the gate paddles on these locks is extremely fierce so with the ground paddles out of action I had to open them slowly and carefully so that Chuffed wasn’t thrown about by the force of the water.

Fine George’s bridge is not looking very fine.  There is a large crack on one side as well as the dodgy parapet.

5 fine georges bridge has nasty crack

We stopped for lunch near Sarson’s Bridge, hoping to have a walk along the Trent which runs close to the canal here.  But there is a steep drop to the river and apart from a few short tracks leading straight down to it through the trees and undergrowth there is no path.  A Sustrans cycle route crosses the bridge here.  I have to say that, although the towpath is generally good for cyclists and we have seen quite a lot this trip, most riders have been considerate and rung their bells and/or called out a polite warning as they approached. (Even two lads on a mini motorbike thanked us politely in one place).

In the afternoon we made our way to Stenson, passing the other end of the Derby canal at Swarkestone – again, currently used for moorings.

6 swarkestone end of derby canal

We had hoped to moor below Stenson lock but it was very gloomy under the trees and most of the edge consisted of fabric membrane stretched between posts, which is not really suitable for mooring.  We were able to share Stenson lock with a Canaltime boat, but even so it took ages to go up as it is over 12’ deep.  We moored a few hundred yards past the lock, where it is reasonably quiet – there is a railway junction further along and the busy road across the fields is partially hidden by a rise in the ground.  The drawback is that there is no piling and the ground is fairly soft, so as well as crossed pins fore and aft – one set re-positioned after the first boat passed us too fast - we deployed our mega-stake, a heavy duty one which takes the centre rope and is very effective at keeping us moored while not allowing the boat to rock from side-to-side when others go by.

We went to the Bubble Inn for a very pleasant meal.  Boats were still passing well after 8 as it was getting dark.

9 and a half miles, 5 deep heavy locks

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