Cromwell Lock to Gunthorpe Visitor Moorings
A slower start for us today after yesterdays major cruise. A top up of water from the tap on the pontoon proved that a stainless steel tank once nearly full makes a booming noise. We now have a water tank gauge but an audible sound prompts you to go and stand by the tap waiting for the over flow to happen.
Despite the weather report being for rain the majority of the day with wind we decided to set off and see where we’d get to before we got fed up. The river all the way up to Trent Lock is very familiar to us so we don’t feel the urge to stop and explore. A shopping list of things that Boyes in Newark would almost certainly provide us with will have to wait for Nottingham as shops would be closed today because of Easter.
We pushed off shortly before 11am and worked our way up the river. There were no fishermen lining the banks as we approached Newark. We found this odd for a bank holiday, but it turns out that it is the closed season from 15th March until 15th June.
Over the radio we could hear that there were boats on the way from Nether Lock, so Mick radioed ahead as we got to the A1 bridge so that the lock could be made ready for us. Each lock along the Trent is manned for most of the year, so a vhf radio makes it a very easy cruise. The light was on green as we approached so we could go straight in.
Going up these locks it is always best to sit as far back as you can and have both a bow and stern line around the risers as they can normally be quite fierce towards the top gates. We have done these with just a centre line and with me pushing buttons when they haven’t been manned in the winter. We never rush getting ourselves sorted and with a new boat we are taking it slower still, hoping to keep the gunnels looking nice.
The Lockie kept popping out of his little house to look at the top gates, it seemed to take forever for the level to start to rise. But rise it did very slowly. As at all the locks we were asked our name, number and where we were heading to today, they radio ahead to the next lock for you. I’m very glad they didn’t ask me as Oleanna’s number is not embedded in my head yet, but Mick being a boy the number has already been put into his mental filing cabinet where it can be accessed with ease.
We spent three months in Newark winter before last and it feels like coming home. On the banks just above Nether Lock were these little huts, they are new since last year. You can hire them for a weekend to fish from for £50. They come with a 12 volt kettle and a few basic home comforts. Of course they were empty today, a good idea but I can think of better places to sit for the weekend that don’t have two rail lines and the A1 nearby.
At Kings Marina it looked quite full and in our old space was the old Marina Supervisor’s boat Camelot. To our great surprise Kiln Pontoon moorings had plenty of space even at the end with electric and the low wall was empty too. Newark had always tended to be really busy, where was everyone?
Town Lock was ready and we were joined by a tug from Newark Marina called Friar Tuck. He had just been moving an historic Humber Keel down to moor next to the Castle Barge. We were envious of his wonderfully thick ropes that he just hooked over the bollards at either end. Oleanna came with quite narrow ropes, with my impaired grip I find them hard to cling onto. When we get near Braunston we’ll visit the rope shop and replace them with thicker ropes.
Pootling out of the town there was something missing. Where had Blackbird gone? An old workboat, it hadn’t looked like it would be going very far without some serious work, but it has now vanished. The Cormorants sat as always on top of the poles warning of the big weir and showers came and went. Passing Fiskerton there was space on the pontoon, Naughty Cal was moored right at the end leaving enough space for a narrowboat. Despite the pub being appealing we wanted to get further today so carried on.
At Hazelford Lock we waited for Dutch Barge Anja to catch us up. They had big hooks attached to ropes which they hooked onto the risers and then tied off, leaving them free to do as they wanted as the boat rose in the lock. Last year long pontoons had appeared above the lock, it looked like there was so much mooring that it would never get full. But today it was reaching capacity.
DB Anja sped off ahead leaving us to pootle along admiring the trees on the hillside next to the river. Yesterday and today we have started to see a rather attractive bird flying around a bit like a Tern. A hunt on the internet and it turns out that they are Oystercatchers with their orange bills, red eyes and a striking white band across their black wings.
Next was THAT LOCK! Even though DB Anja had arrived well ahead of us they were waiting to go up and had taken the lefthand wall. We pulled in along the right wall slowly, I passed the end of my rope around the riser and signalled to Mick that I was ready so that he could do the same. I then looked up at the Lock Keepers hut, it was very familiar. I then looked at the riser, this had to be THE RISER! I took a deep breath and concentrated as we rose. When the gates ahead opened and I’d coiled my rope back up I turned to Mick and held up all 9.75 fingers, they were all still there, THE RISER hadn’t taken any more from me.
By now we were quite cold from the wind so hoped that there would be space on the pontoon moorings above the lock. It was pretty full a couple of narrowboats were breasted up, but there was space for us on the inside. We drifted back into the mooring and tied up for the day. Well ahead of ourselves we’ll be able to get to Nottingham tomorrow and do a big shop at Sainsburys and maybe even go hunting for a few other bits.
4 locks, 18.45 miles, 4.6mph at the same revs as yesterday, 1 lie in, 2 Easter eggs, 1 packet of mini eggs, 3 oystercatchers, 10 showers, 2 centre lines attached, 2 gas bottles attached, 3 hours rising too long, 2 compliments on Oleanna, 1 scraped gunnel, 2 damp pink faced grins.
This is a dual post with NB Oleanna’s Blog.
Our blogs will be changing, as we now have built our boat and NB Lillyanne will be up for sale in a few weeks. We’ll let you know what is happening once we know.