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


Sawley Tempted


Well, the quiet Bank Holiday weekend wasn’t. Not for us anyway. Four lots of weekender boaters. Two one night (BBQs, smoke, drinking, noise etc) and then another two the next night. Nice enough but with the strong breeze, it sent firelighter & smoke fumes into our boat and then the ghettoblaster came out. We escaped to our cratch, opened some wine and played James Blunt loudly.

So, Tuesday, we chugged on. A three hour trip to Sawley Cut. Down through Zouch lock with Mel on Last Furlong and then round to Kegworth deep lock and teamed up with a couple we met in Loughborough on Merthain and thence to Ratcliffe lock before out into the confluence (nice word that, confluence) of the Soar & Trent. The going slowed quite a bit as there was a bit of a flow on.  This was the remnant of the big floods seen in the West Midlands (“a month’s rain in one hour”) and this got a lot worse as the day wore on, in fact the flood lock at Sawley was put into operation with 1.5m of water t’other side. Hmm, we’re staying put then.

You know you’re nearing Nottingham when these shapes heave into view:

Ratcliffe power station

Moored on the Sawley cut, opposite the Derby Motor Boat Club – one of our favourite spots.  A big CRT work boat pulled in beside us.

Here’s Sawley locks and beside them, one big reason for stopping here:

Dave’s ickle pub, the Lockkeepers Rest – not open until Thursday!

Meanwhile, there are other pubs around – found this one in the town, the White Lion. And the Old Sawley Brewery. Little Jack, Figaro, Jobber, Tollbridge Porter to name a few of their own beers – see White Lion website

This was a guest beer (and on keg but very tasty)

I think we got to try 3 or 4 beers . . . with the brewery in the background.

The next day, as predicted, turned out to be very wet, a 1cm of rain by 11 o’clock.

It does it all get very quiet in wet weather. There are good facilities here (toilets & showers, water and rubbish disposal) as the locks are manned by volunteers and the pub/cafe is here too.

A whole week in Loughborough


Luffed up then hove to for a whole week. That’s the plan this year. Slowly, slowly does it. Most unusual for us to stay put for so long but then the forecast was good – very good, in fact, often Scorchio! We walked down to Queen’s Park (museum, squirlies for Toby to chase, aviary and just a nice park), around to various pubs, including the still new-ish Needle & Pin; a teensy weeny pub not far from the Swan and serving wonderful beer!

The lovely, tranquil Queen’s Park

Here’s the famous cast used to make the huge bell for St Paul’s

Inside the Needle & Pin! PhD Students playing Munchkin!

A pic of the basin

Helping Mark on Tamsin, reverse round the corner.

Everyday we’d get this lot squeaking outside for food

Plus these two!

Can thoroughly recommend Tarboush, a middle eastern restaurant (run by a Turkish family, I think). Excellent food (Mezzeh etc) and Turkish beer/wine plus a Shisha pipe at the end. I think Steve thought he’d charm a snake!

Former lock keepers cottage – up for sale (£375,000+)

Moving on . . . down the Soar, past Normanton.

Final mooring spot in Zouch.

Lots of fields to walk the dog (boat just visible – middle of photo!)

The Soar looks very majestic here and of course, a good spot for a swim

He went in but couldn’t get back out – so master had to drag him out


Lock 55 – looks very leaky

Looking back over the footbridge to our mooring – just behind Red Admiral

And zoomed in. And from behind!  Nice and open for good solar, 4G data and TV etc!!


Off to Loughers

Nearly a week in Mountsorrel, time to move on. Meanwhile, Steve has bid on an antique ship’s clock on Ebay and won. So he’s planning a train trip from Loughborough to Kirkby-in-Ashfield on Monday! So down the Soar, thru Barrow deep lock and on to the canal bit to Loughborough.

Meanwhile, we saw this odd optical phenomenom – looks like two suns? Refraction?

Next day – down through Mountsorrel lock

Lots of wildlife about

Some awfully nice properties in Barrow-upon-Soar, including the one with the canon! Going for £760,000 (indoor pool, sauna, annex, 5 bedrooms??) and a nice mooring of course.

Keen gardeners

Barrow deep lock

I originally thought , aha! lots of CRT volunteers but no, they were from the charity boat (Peter Le Marchant), waiting t’other side of the lock. They all came to help us through.

Steve, showing off his new tiller tassel, bought from a boat selling all kinds of fender like stuff.

It is a deep lock

And there’s the boat – all decked out – for it is a Royal Wedding today!

A very serene river Soar today as we approach Pilings

Another 30 mins and we’re in Loughborough, just round from the junction, on bollards but not outside the Albion PH, for it is no more!

There are however, plenty of pubs to choose from. This is the beer list inside the Swan in the Rushes. We also visited the English Gentleman and the Paget.

Here for about a week – weather looks set fair, if not Scorchio. So we stay put and let the solar energy power the boat.  Meanwhile, here’s Steve with his clock. A Thomas Mercer (c.1920?) ship’s clock, fetched from three bike journeys and two train trips!


We’ve only ever passed through here – not thought of stopping, so that was the plan today, if there is room as there’s only a short piece of mooring by the big pub The Waterside Inn (Everards). It was a delightful cruise with a chilly start but the sun was out and the river was wide & deep, allowing us to almost catch up with Raven! Warp factor 8, I think but no complaint from the engine or the stern gland, which was nice.

Short video – shot of the view from the stern – lovely cruising weather.

A few chaps enjoying the river Soar too

Very serene

And Viv drives too

Paired up in Sileby lock

And finally, Mountsorrel – some tamarisk, ceanothus and weigelia!

And the lunchtime pint!

The pub was geared up with a bouncy castle

Not quite sure of this, taken from another angle??

Watermead Park then Mountsorrel

We chugged along merrily with the tug Raven – 5 locks to Watermead Park – chance for the dog to have a much promised swim & a meal in the pub.

A much cooler and very windy day – Steph zoomed off on her boat Raven

Nice artwork at North Lock, where we had a bit of a queue

Just past that Lime Kiln lock – the prop got fouled – it was a complete sari!!

Arrived at Watermead and Toby gets a swim and to pose in amongst the buttercups

A victory roll after a long swim

Steph has a dog too – Midge!

Is this giant hogweed???

Geese and their new goslings

Moving on from Leicester

We enjoyed four days in Leicester and our new companions (Steph & Mike on Raven) were planning to head off and so, it being a good idea to share these awesome locks, we decided to join them.  Meanwhile, we’d had another visit to the Criterion (with Raven) and I cycled down to the Abbey Pumping Station (museum) – all very interesting.

Meanwhile, jolly big “crocodile” spotted in the canal

The beautiful Abbey Park

Complete with some amateur Bollywood productions

Lots to see in Leicester – this one’s for Jenny – marvellous looking church:

And arched doorway, reminds me of St Peter de marefair?

The Abbey Pumping Station museum – still gets steam up!

Marvellous beam engines . . . and a whole museum of all things “Leicester”

The little Bickerton, folding bike was a very good buy – zooms around the (flat) paths.

I filmed a very mucky section of canal, just below Lime Kiln lock

And just above, in contrast, some fancy new moorings in a small arm leading to Leicester College.  New VM?

Trying to frighten off the hoards of pigeon – bit diminutive this rubber snake.

To infinity and beyond

Well, according to Viv, it certainly felt like it. We normally do 2 or 3 hours but today we did nearly six hours. But then, we had company. This really make’s a difference. The Canal & Rivers Trust (or Cyclist & Ramblers trust as some call it), would say you must share to save water but to be honest, it halves the work.

Yes, you have two organise getting two huge metal boats, 65 feet long into a lock but the gate moving and paddle lifting is shared. I saw that Danny & Anne on Waterside Lodge, were making moves to go – they were the boat moored behind us at Kilby. So I asked f they’d like to share locks.  How far were they going? Oh, all the way to Leicester. Hmm, twice as far as we’d planned but OK, weather forecast is good, in fact very good, so off we chugged.

It was such a pain doing all 5 big locks on our own that we jumped at the chance to do more – shared, albeit 12 more locks!

Danny was waiting at the next lock (lock 30)

Makes such a difference sharing – is that the naughty Viv crossing the lock gates again?

Our companion – Danny. Ex army chap – good company.

Yep, big locks.

Always tricky parking two huge boats in front of a lock

You could tell we were getting close to “urban” when you start to count the garden gnomes

And sheds

Oh, and it IS a wide canal, allowing for widebeam boats, met this charmer as he rounded the corner at Mach 2, glad I fitted my new QE2 horn!

The delightful St Mary’s Mill lock – only one more to go

Mooring #1 – Castle Gardens – OK but we’re two abreast here and it’s noisy and no water . . . so, after a recce on foot, I decide to move 100 yds around the corner to Friars Mill

A much nicer mooring. Full sun, empty – so odd, being a visitor to a city and having a mooring all to ourselves.  Secure too – two padlocks to get in and out. Plus water and supposedly electricity, although still not connected over a year later.

Ah, and there’s Viv at the window! Meanwhile Steve goes off to take more pix and call in at the Criterion – on the way, ish.  They appear to have lots of beer

But he did pop into the Spar and brought home some much needed vittels – Krit and the ingredients for Margaritas!

And a happy Viv!!

Rural Idyll

Well, a rural idyll for Steve as he drove the boat whilst Viv did all the locks AND walked the miles inbetween. Result – we got to Kilby bridge but both Viv the Boggle, totally shattered. Just not used to this. It was a very pleasant chug. No wind and a warming drop of sunshine. A few miles plus seven locks – a few where the gates just wouldn’t stay shut! Good old Viv.  There was Newton Top lock, Spinney, Top half mile, Bottom half mile, Turnover, Tythorne and finally our favourite – Bumblebee Lock!  Years ago when we lived near Nottingham and yes, Steve was still obsessed with canals, we drove an hour to find this oddly named lock and walk miles of towpath to get to it.  A few hundred yards further on we moored up – just short of Kilby bridge as it’s bound to be a busy place – Saturday night & the Navigation Inn opposite. Here will do us. Twelve more locks and ten more miles to Leicester!  Another day.

Viv working hard on these giant locks

Seems to be plenty of water about – good – one time we came thru here and went aground.

Toby, bless him, gets off at every lock and walks miles

Viv working the lock and crossing the gates . . . did she hold on?

At last, 2.5 hrs later, the last lock for the day – Bumblebee lock

And here’s Viv & dog ready to help

This is what we call & cry out “Crocodiles!” – as a warning to the helmsman that’s there rubbish in the canal

Final stop – just before Kilby bridge. Weather station – up, TV aerial – up & finally, feet up!