Long Haul & Lockkeepers Rest


Friday, time to leave Stoke Lock and on to Nottingham and then after a lunch stop at Sainsbury’s, on to Sawley. A seven hour day – not our M.O. anymore but we’d like to get to Sawley before the weekend rush and besides, Dave’s micro pub is open!

The birdsong at Stoke was wonderful – not sure what they were but here’s a few minutes . . . answers on a postcard . .

Our place on the Sawley cut – same as a week ago

Just behind us are a load of permanent moorings – with threats of £150 a day charges! Scare tactics from CRT. Why do they do this? They did promise they’d do away with online moorings as it wastes space for visitors but then they realised it’s money. They can charge upwards of £1,000 a year for these moorings and that’s on top of the licence. End result . . . visitor moorings jampacked – permies – empty! Does make I livid!!

Empty spaces! Below the cafe open early for Sunday breakfasts – nextdoor to the micro pub.

Looking back to the double locks, pub & cafe.

View from . . . the pedestrian bridge – shows the car park behind with the facilities – good toilets & showers, all well kept. Rubbish, elsan & water here too.

A short walk along the Trent brings you to the Erewash canal (see blog passim) and two old timer boats

And an arty shot in B&W, doesn’t quite come off with the van in the background.

Busy day, Sunday. Lots of boat movements – here’s a widebeam, Jane Away11

Meanwhile, we bought some duck food and have been feeding the insistent little beggars for days

A short hop – quiet rural spot


We admired the visitor moorings just before Stoke Bardolph lock on the way down and said “hmm, be nice to stop there, looks so quiet” and so we did. Only an hour or so from Gunthorpe and Mrs. Skipper drove all the way, yes, indeedy. Allowing me to film all the Canada/Greylag geese scooting out of Viv’s way. At times I thought she was actually aiming for them. Wildlife? What did we see today . .  loadsa geese, swans a plenty, oyster catchers, egret (on the way down we had No Egrets!), arctic tern, heron, little grebes, swallows . . . .

Does she look happy?  Helming through gritted teeth? No, she’s a pro at this now and look, no lifejacket! The boat behind is Border Reiver (Raider), in convoy. Teddy looks good as does Steve’s dangle (?).

Catching oysters??

Just to show that  a 20 metre (65 foot ) boat is quite a long beastie, keep going Viv!

Short video of all those geese convoys. So many geese and yes, apparently, you can catch and eat them but our neighbour said, if you put them and a brick in the oven, the brick would be done first!!

Ah, we saw two egrets. Normally we have No Egrets (cue song)

Hmm, hardly a day’s cruise but then you’ll see why we stopped here later. Big sign saying “this way”. Stoke lock. I think someone’s glad to see land again.

It’s a HUGE lock but the (volunteer) lock keeper checks us all in and presses all the button to close the gates (12 tons each) and open the paddles . .  yes, we are now are going uphill and the water comes in to lift us up. Gunthorpe was the lowest level reached. All the locks from now on will be uphill ones. Choosing to go anticlockwise around this ring means the majority of “up” locks will be narrow ones – a tad easier than the large locks, especially if you are on your own where the boat can swing around a bit, a lot . . .! In these huge locks there are plastic runners up the sides, so you can slip a rope around the to steady the boat. The paddles are also programmed – once the button is pressed, a program causes the paddle to rise slowly and only part way, until the lock is half full. Neat and quite gentle.

Final stop – around the corner to the floating pontoons – the Trent can rise another 10 feet or so! Toby seems happy.

It really is a quiet spot – no roads, trains or planes  . . .

Even CRT appreciate this stop

Here’s a photo lining up for photo-of-the-trip – a quiet spot.

Wood cutting in the woods

And yes, we do get bigger vessels coming down the Trent. Luckily, this was as far as he came. If you don’t turn into the lock – this is what you can face

A weir

Chance to give Toby the swim. Photographically,  what’s the subject here? Steve, Toby or that Swan??

The lock setting is quite sublime

Oddly that wasn’t the end of the day. Our wonderful chums on Raven suddenly turned up . . . . but I thought they were long gone, heading down the Trent and on to Goole?  Seems a problem with oil pressure so they’re retracing their steps to Foxton. Got to get that fixed – can’t head down the tidal Trent with a niggling engine . Shame but nice to see them again and maybe share a pint or six in the Lock Keepers Rest at Sawley. They took the time to stop and chat – thanks! And then on to Nottingham. Catch you guys tomorrow.


Going Down the Trent


Our 4 days in Castle Marina were up and so time to move on. Out along the canal – two locks and then out onto the mighty river Trent. Down thru two massive locks – all automatically operated by lock keepers and thence to a secure and very pretty mooring at Gunthorpe.  Been here before and like the rural outlook, the two pubs, restaurants and a beach for Toby to swim.

Meanwhile, Viv steers us out of Nottingham

“Don’t get me started” but here’s one of the new CRT signs and part of their entirely spurious & superfluous rebranding excercise, oh, and “we’re not going to change all the signs straight away as that’s too expensive”. Well, here’s a very out of the way one and the second I’ve seen today. No facilities at all along this 2 mile stretch through a CITY, just the feeble and often vandalised ones at each end. No refuse points, no water, not even a dog poo bin! Come on CRT – get together with Nottingham City Council and actually WELCOME boaters to this great city.

Out on to the Trent and down to Holme Lock . . .

And who should we bump into (not lit.) but Emma on her “water bike”, pedalling for the great litter campaign, litter picking as she goes. She’s just doing a stretch of the river but a team of water bikers will do 1,000s of miles. See the Waterbike Collective.

Well done!  We’ll see you later.

Plenty of wildlife . . . lots of swallows, herons and even one kingfisher . .

Into Stoke Bardolph lock and then the hour or so down to Gunthorpe


Final spot for a few days . . . Emma did catch us up . . . here she is in Gunthrope lock, her litter pile has increased quite a bit! Brave lass all on her own.

And out onto the Trent – looks quite a lone figure. All the best!


Meanwhile, this is what we’ve been promising scaredy dog all day – a swim!

Toby and his beloved Flubber Wubber  . . .


A Grand Day Out – Ilkeston Brass Band


Another hot day – Sunday and what to do? Viv looked up a “What’s On” web page and found that the Ilkeston Brass Band were playing their first concert in Ilkeston – Victoria Park. Only a 12 minute train ride. Hmm, it turned out to be a 30 minute walk to the station and then a 40 minute walk, uphill to the park but it was a Grand Day out! Smoked salmon & cucumber sandwiches packed & off we went.

Someone now has a Senior railcard and so the return fare was only £3.65

Found the station but where were’s t’park?

Ah, found the Erewash canal (see blogs passim)

Following Viv’s Google map directions we arrived – and a very nice park it was too. We were just an hour early – time to eat sarnies and admire the empty bandstand

Come 1330 and it started to fill with various musicians and their instruments

Bit of a mixed bag of music with a lot of new stuff, like Harry Potter themes. They did give quite a few soloists a go, including some youngsters, which was nice. A young lad played a muted trumpet playing a great ragtime jazz piece. Here is a guy playing the cornet (Spanish Eyes) and they had a good go at Khachaturian’s Masquerade suite (waltz) . . .

The only pain was dear old Toby!  He doesn’t like loud noises and a brass band did do a few of those. At first he sat and shivered. The he hid behind the seat. Then he sneaked off into the trees behind, so we had to move! Big, bold, fearful dog, eh? It was a grand day – very warm and a lovely, British thing to do on a Sunday afternoon.

So it was time for us to be Westering Home . . . .

Via one or two “refreshment” stops. This one stocked Shipstones – a rejuvenated brewery. Steve had a pint of Farady (?). Then it was a quick stop at the Vat & Fiddle in Nottingham.

Home to a Sicilian salad . .  orange slices, onions, olives, tomatoes, feta cheese and Sicilian olive oil .


Crafty Crow


Saturday in Nottingham. The marina’s chandlery is moving to a new block and so had a sale on – up to 70% off, so we bought a few bits and pieces. Then we trundled on to do our shopping in Sainsbury’s. On the way we met some friends who said they had an interesting night – on returning to their boat around 8 they found a group of lads leaning against the boat and when asked what they were doing it became apparent they were snorted a line of Charlie of the handrail of the boat! Hmm, another otherwise unknown use of a narrowboat! Glad we opted for the marina.

After the revittelling was done we took the Boggle with us, up Maid Marion Way, past the Robin Hood statue and into the Craft Crow for a pie & a pint.

Be a shame not to, having come this far.

The Crafty Crow – notice the monk giving the tourists a spiel, guess he’s Friar Tuck, the well know spoonerism. Oh and there’s Viv and Toby – both have their tongues hanging out – onwards!

Quite a nice and airy place of two levels – with lots of beer:

And craft beers too. We tried 4, 5 & 7

We had fish n chips plus a Club Sandwich and then Steve tried the Tiny Rebel, Great Cornholio (just a half mind) – stunning, as so it should be at £3.60 a half.

Viv found the comfy seats

Very dog friendly – they came out with a bowl and treats for Toby.

Lots of weddings today – not sure about that dress??


Sawley Missed & Robin Hoodies


Well, we waited until Thursday came around and Dave’s micro pub opened!  Had a few delicious beers & then gave Toby a swim. By this time our chums on Raven (Steph, Midge & Mike) had walked up from Trent Lock to sample the beers. It is a special place.

Nice selection of beers!

Viv tries an oatmeal stout – very tasty. Meanwhile, back on the boat Steve prepares his signature dish , Paella!

Helped by some Tesco finest Rioja . . . the secret with a good paella, apart all the proper ingredients (here, a medley of fish – salmon, smoked haddock & cod plus a seafood mixture (prawns, squid, mussels) plus extra prawns, chicken,  peas, paellero powder, pepper, fish stock . . .) is to stop the cooking when almost done. Put the lid on and chat for another 10 mins by which time there’ll be no water left around the rice – simples.


Friday, we were up and off by 8, over for a pump out at Sawley Marina. Take on water then down the lock to meet up with Raven. Down to Cranfleet cut:

And here’s the mischievous Midge! What a poser!

We wait at the exit . . . and out onto the Trent .

All nice & serene now, hardly any flow at all

Lots of geese – in a sort of creche convoy

It wasn’t long before Steph & Mike caught us up – showing us how powerful these little tugs are . . .


And then around to Beeston and back to canals.  We’d emailed Castle Marina about a mooring but had no reply. Coincidentally and as it turns out, serendipitously, they sent a reply as we were en route – £12.50/night  didn’t seem bad for a few nights – inc. elastic trickery. We were half expecting Jenny to travel up to see us and this would have been pufick!

Fairly safe haven & lots of amenities plus close enough to the city for our needs