We made the decision to turn around and head for the Loughborough Canal and River Festival for May Bank Holiday weekend, Loughborough Canal & River Festival 2013 giving us 3 weeks to do the 35 miles and 21 locks!
Myself and Scooby aboard Echoes, steering the butty, and braving the cold
The River Soar has been very unpredictably up and down following all the rain, so we had decided not to travel back and open the shop. A booking had been made late last year, so really, we should support the festival.
Locking down Stenson lock, deepest lock on the Trent and Mersey Canal at 12 feet approx.
We met Richard's parents for Sunday lunch at the Stenson Bubble. My dad had his narrowboat built at Stenson, so it has a special place in my memory and I know he would have approved of our choice of lifestyle and love of the canal system.
Myself locking down through Weston lock
The next morning, we made our way down through the double locks towards Shardlow and the start of the Trent and Mersey Canal.
The Scandinavian Blackthorn blossom is everywhere now. The blossom flowers slightly earlier than the indiginous variety.
Coming down through Aston lock, the big boat grounded unexpectedly as Richard tried to reverse back away in order that I open the bottom gates. Luckily, fellow boaters came from all directions to help 'flush' him off the obstruction. We were very grateful for their help.
The boys sit patiently on their respective boats as we operate the locks
During this very tortoiselike journey, we have been preparing the butty and creating more stock for the festival. It has been most enjoyable sorting out a more efficient and inspiring stall to open.
Thrumpton weir with train beyond
We arrived at Shardlow. We had moored outside the 2 pubs in the middle of Shardlow, but we prepared to move again as coming through under the pipe bridge were 2 hire boats. So we waited for them to pass before we attempted 'carnage corner' as I call it. If we had remained outside the pubs, getting bumped would probably be predictable, after boaters had negotiated the prior mentioned bend!
Entrance to the River Soar
We said goodbye to one of our friends, who had been moored next to us when we moored at Bardney, many months ago and set off for Sawley. The river was well down in the 'green' and I took the tiller passing through Derwent Mouth, where the River Derwent meets the River Trent. It was fine! A lot better than coming up a few weeks ago.
We spun the boats around at Sawley so the big boat was against the towpath and dealt with the toilet cassettes and rubbish before dropping down through the automated locks to take us back onto the River Trent.
We sailed into the River Soar with relative ease and the vintage Lister engine chugged against the flow.
We only passed one other narrowboat coming downstream (on a bend!!) amazingly, as we had expected a lot, now the weather has improved a little!
The imposing spectical of Ratcliffe Power Station
The last time we had passed through Redhill, it was to attend the IWA show a few years before. It all looked very different without the stalls and all the moored visitors.
Kegworth Deep lock in the distance
Apart from the occasional gust of wind, the weather was quite warm today and we found it not too difficult to moor both boats as the wind coxed us into the towpath helpfully.
Entering Kegworth Deep lock
The gates and mechanisms were heavy but in good order as we navigated up through the 3 locks to Zouch. This part of the Soar reminded me of the River Thames, being very picturesque and leafy.
Looking back towards Kegworth lock and the grand mansion in the distance (Pearson's guide tells us nothing about it!)
The sun tried to come out again as we approached the 3rd and final lock at Zouch, but soon clouded over again...
Our boats in the washing machine lock!
Due to the absence of ground paddles, it is easy to generate a few bubbles as the gate paddles are opened (albeit gently!).
Splitting the boats in the lock, Richard pulled the butty out of the gates on the cross-straps, so that we could moor on the towpath side. It is difficult to get us and the dogs off the boats when the butty is on the inside of the mooring. This is a relatively short cut off the river, providing a relatively calm place to moor before embarking on our final 3 miles to Loughborough tomorrow.....