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Stenson to Burton on Trent 6 miles, 1 lock

A bit of snow was no surprise after the freezing temperatures

Hopefully last week is the last of this freezing cold weather?  It was loverly to wake up to, but not nice to steer the boats in with the biting windchill....

Moorings between Stenson and Findern had some shelter from the wind

Lister's bravery is gradually improving and he loves snow, just like Scoob.

Not many out for walks today

The numbing of Scooby's knees is obvious as he bounces around when we get some proper wintry weather!

I've got that many layers on, I could hardly move!  Equally glamorous items include filled dogpoo bag and shovel...

Crazily, we decided to move nearer to Willington as the weather was expected to close in a bit more.  Firstly we moored outside the Indian restaurant in Findern, walked to Midland Chandlers at Willington marina and back and then moved the boats again!  This was an element of forsight which we had fine tuned over the years, wedding radar on high alert!

Mercia Marina on the opposite bank

We knew we would not sleep well, so we sloped another 200yards to the marina entrance for the next couple of days.

View from Willington village towards our mooring just around the bend

The thing we always find when we moor at Willington, is that it is so popular for walking, staying upright on the towpath is always another challenge!  Richard discovered that his beloved fur lined rubber boots had sprung leaks in several places and we had missed the last train to Derby....

Boater's gold was plentiful during a stopover on the village limits

Cold wet feet or blisters from his newish Doc Martens?  Richard battled on and suffered quietly whilst running out of dry socks.  The quest for wellies would be top of the list when we got to Burton!

I fetched it and he chopped it until the chain saw died pathetically on us!

Scoob and me on the butty, we take it in turns to steer and cuddle up to the chimney

With Richard's feet top of our list, we set off for Burton on Trent.

One of Brindley's aquaducts spans the River Dove as we pass over the border between Staffs and Derbyshire, complete with pill box.

Passing through Stretton, on the outskirts of Burton, we encountered a fallen tree part way over the canal.  Debating what to do next, were no less than 4 Canal and River Trust staff in hi vis clothing... , a fuel can and no chain saw, but pulling up was another van with yet more staff in hi vis coats on..

I do think either the bridges are getting lower, or the ballast situation needs attention!

We were not commented on as we travelled past, nor did we pass comment.  I was busting to ask how efficiently they had decided to spend our licence fees this year, but behaved myself unfortunately, sorry .....

At a mere 3'6" rise, the lock at Dallow Lane is a welcome 'model village size' lock after all it's predecessors back to the Trent

We moored in Burton and walked to B&Q for wellies(!!), wood and such and returned to be greeted by Brenda on her narrowboat Solitude, an old friend from Kings marina years before.

The sense of community amongst live aboards mainly, on the cut is really endearing and warms us when people remember you when you perhaps only bumped into them once, a year ago!

Leaving Burton this morning, with slightly less windchill!

Easter weekend approacheth with biting weather and a shop to open.  It may not be a memorable first weekend of the season, but at least the weather is showing signs of improvement....

Shardlow to Stenson 9 miles, 3 locks

New footbridge over the Trent at Sawley

By 9am, I was firing on just the one cylinder as we prepared to move off towards Aston for the evening.  Richard was absolutely fine, which is unusual for him after more than 2 pints these days!

Pretty much everywhere we look, quagmires have emerged, making a simple walk with the dogs, more like a test of balance and skill at dodging the deep puddles!

Passing through Shardlow, we waved goodbye to Matti on his boat, with whom we had spent the previous evening, along with his girlfriend Kathy.  He would be moving off as well soon, so we would probably pass each other again ...

The old Derby and Sandiacre Canal - view back towards Swarkestone lock

Aston, as always, was a quiet stop for us, so we could do some proper painting and work on the boats.  The next day, we swapped over roles on the boats; me on the motor and Richard on the butty.  Thankfully nothing eventful happened, and I steered us to the lock approach at Swarkestone.  Rather than praise my nothing short of perfect handling of motor towing butty (albeit cross strapped) Richard commented on my ability to step over a large gap when it suited me rather than when he wanted me to 'just jump!'.  Normally I wouldn't like to take a risk, but it was that or drift out a bit further....

View of the D & S canal towards Chellaston, showing old stone walling, and me wrestling with my granny trolley

We completed the lock at 11feet deep nearly, just Stenson to do and we would be in narrowguage lock terrritory again.  The weather was at it's finest crappest, so we moored up and set to work once more in the butty.
A cycle ride into Allenton, the following day, was bitterly cold for Richard, as he had neglected to wear enough clothes.

Please don't make me jump down there!  Lister contemplates the shallow jump into the old canal - onto grass.  He is not brave at all, bless

Loaded down with paint and hardware, and having done a charity shop trawl (as seems to be a narrowboater type tradition, we are finding) we slowly cycled back to the boat, returning later along the same old canal just to Chellaston, this time, for some food and to walk Lister.

Is it Spring yet?  This daffodil, like everyone else, doesn't know what to do!

The old D & S canal - just before Chellaston shops

Armed with the right size screws and brackets, work on the butty, continues in earnest...look at the scumbling on the right -  Getting rather good at this Richard! ;)

This morning, we awoke to yet more of that white stuff, but unhindered, we moved the boat to the waterpoint to fill up whilst the washer sprang into life.

Defying the weather, we set off towards Findern and Stenson

The evening before, fellow boaters had moored in front of us with quite a commotion.  Richard had   been in and out of the butty, so went to ask what was afoot.  They were trying to get a longer boat into a shorter gap and failing!  Taking some paint off our boat, Richard had suggested, they moor behind us instead.

View back to Swarkestone and the waterpoint

However, this morning their friends involved in the 'small gap' drama, untied their boat and completely unaware of the power of the wind, allowed their boat to drift bow first into the offside of the canal and the boat opposite!  Once again, Richard found himself running to the rescue, as the boater's crew seemed unable to get out and help their Skipper!

I held onto the butty with icy cold fingers waiting for these clueless holiday makers to get a grip of the situation and let me have my husband back!  I told Richard not to look back as we set off on our journey.  The 2 boats were getting blown all over the canal on their approach to the lock!

Ragley Boat Stop - a little chillier than last time we stopped!

Stenson lock was the last double width lock to overcome before we moored further out of Stenson, in another quagmire however! It has snowed all day and the wind has bitten!

Peaceful (We ignore the A50 nearby and the occasional train!) mooring at Stenson

I sorted out a bit more in the butty, ready to get the shop area ready for next weekend and my first opening of the season!  Richard decided to go on a forage for wood for the fire.

Not long after and Richard returns, frozen solid with the boys but with some success....

Nottingham to Shardlow 13 miles, 7 locks

Nottingham had never been so quiet!  We pulled into the first of the 3 double locks on the 'cut' through the city and raised the boats by slowly filling the lock.  A small cruiser was already on it's way out onto the river, so I had some help opening the huge gates.

We wiggled along the urban waterway after I had taken the dogs for a leg stretch between bridges.

Whoops! A bit narrow for us both!  The guys on this floating pontoon, doing some work under the bridge, kindly shoved their scaffolding boat over to the other bank to let us pass.  Very friendly they were too!  We sailed on through to Beeston and popped back up again onto the river, which was now 2" below the 'Red'.  Normally, we would have said 'nerr, we shan't bother', but as it was only a brief (about an hour) to the finish line, we went for it!

Tranquil  moorings later in the week at Shardlow.

Cranfleet Cut approach off the Trent, proved to be the worst, quite eventfully fast flowing part of the river as the weir contained the river Soar as well as the Trent water.  Richard skillfully (sideways a bit) steered the boats into the relative calm water on the lock approach.

Swans along the canal

The engine turned off, safely moored along Sawley cut, Richard checked the engine over as we had given it a fair bashing getting up the river, which was now properly in the Red.  Imagine his horror as he discovered the radiator was nearly bone dry!  It turned out, we had developed a leaky seal in the water pump.  The next day, he walked into Long Eaton and bought some K Seal to try to bung the hole up, which, touch wood still holds, until we can get the pump repaired.

We had a great weekend visiting both Richard's brothers (Mark and Ian) and their families before mooring the following evening at Shardlow.  Watching with surprise several 'hire' boats be allowed onto the approach to the Trent and Mersey, we took the plunge and followed them, albeit at a distance...

We had the same experience getting into the entrance of the canal as before at Cranfleet as fast flowing water from the Trent met with a washing machine agression, the water from the river Derwent.  I shut my eyes as Richard again safely steered us into the canal mouth.

Two minutes after mooring, and we had bumped into Sue and her husband Vic and their narrowboat 'No Problem'.  We read their blog, but had never met in real life, and their collie pup Penny charged around with Lister, leaving him behind.  Must try to behave more like a whippet Lister!   I wish I had taken some photos, but completely forgot, you will notice the distinct lack in this blog!

Later, we went for a walk into the village to collect my stock order for the butty and noticed another familiar boat!  It was Matti on his narrowboat 'Old Friends' moored directly outside the Malt Shovel.  We arranged to meet up in the evening with him and girlfriend Kathy. A mini 'banter' (Canal World Discussion Forum members will be acquinted with these!) thereby ensued catching up and slowly getting sozelled!

Newark to Nottingham 23 miles, 4 locks

Nottingham from Newark in one day, against all this water?  Not a chance!  Slow progress was the order of the day as we made our way from Newark to the next lock at Hazelford Island.

Always a lovely sight seeing my Dad's old narrowboat moored at Fiskerton.  It used to get me all emotional, because I knew he would be chuffed to bits that it is still being loved.  Dad died nearly 10 years ago now, so his commission is doing well for an old girl!

The wide span of the old stone bridge at Gunthorpe.  Passing through the left arch are a couple of hardy canoists out for a vigorous battle against the flow and back.

Luckily 'lockey's were on duty at all the locks enroute to Nottingham, so our path was a little smoother!  Last year when we made this journey, none were in post until later in the month, so we had to struggle in the immense locks on our own.

The flooded river has scoured a wider area as it winds around corners and made the Trent a staggeringly wide river since last we came down in September.  The damage was all apparent as easily 2 metres tide line high of debris along the river bank could be seen along the whole length of the river.

After a long day pushing against the river, we approached Stoke lock.  This is my favourite lock along the Trent because of it's isolation and wooded lock island.  The lockey was still on duty, luckily, as it neared 5.30pm. We thanked him for waiting for us and safely getting us through the lock before he knocked off for the day.

Lister is starting to look a bit more like a whippet these days and loves tormenting Scooby!

Snowdrops everywhere!

Helpful information for walkers around this area....there is a lot of wildlife regeneration work going along this stretch of the river.

The following day, the wind had picked up, so we made a run for it, before the rain came down proper.

Too late!  We wondered whether the residents in the Radcliffe on Trent caravan park at the foot of the cliffs, had escaped the flooding? They are very near to the water level.

I've been on that train!  Wonder if they saw us below?

Prayer trees? No just endless plastic strewn amongst the trees along the river's edge.  Shame it won't degrade, probably be there 10 years from now!  What a sobering sight and shameful legacy we are inflicting on our environment.

Leaving the deep lock (12 feet) at Holme Pierrepont where the National Watersports Centre borders the river.

We saw this boat at Torksey a few days before.  It was waiting to be loaded as the building behind is demolished.

Nottingham Forest grounds to the left, under the bridge and we arrive at the final lock at Meadow Lane, Nottingham!  A welcome break from the hard going of the Trent for a while....

Saxilby to Newark on Trent (Kings Marina) 26 miles, 3 locks

One night at Saxilby and we were off for Torksey further up the Fosse Dyke (oldest canal in Britain, built by the Romans).  The weather was not forecast too brilliant for the next few days, so we needed to get the river done before we got caught out again with yet more flooding!

Chief Refreshment Supervisor and sometime Tiller girl

Tiller man proper (note the lifejackets)

So 2 days later once the 10feet of 'fresh' water coming down the river had reduced significantly, we set off in bright sunshine.  The journey from Torksey up river to Cromwell lock should take us around 4 hours.  So we hoped 4.5 to 5 at most would get it done.

We weren't the only loonies out there!

Imagine our relief when we saw Battlestone moored up empty at High Marnham!  The gravel barges sneek up on you when you are unaware and then like Jaws announce that they need to get past.  They are truly huge beasts and unusually quiet as they carry on their journey.  It can be a bit intimidating and we wondered if there would be another one coming down loaded, for us to meet on a tight bend.....

No, didn't even see any other boaters out cruising!  After around 4.5 hours, Cromwell lock loomed into view with the weir to the left of it.  We had done the Tidal Trent and it felt amazing!  Now all we had to do was find somewhere to let the dogs go for a wee!!

Luckily I had a stockpile of old Towpath Talks for just such an occasion.....

We pressed on to Nether lock just before Newark and the snow fell again!  This time it didn't stop until we were  moored safely in Kings Marina.

The entrance to Kings Marina.

We had rung on ahead to Greg to reserve a double berth and managed to catch the last one!  The river visitor moorings, we found out later during a walk into town, were full, so we had made the right decision.

This morning we awoke to a frozen marina, but only a crisp freeze,  nothing can stop 20 tonnes of steel when we needed to get out onto the river!

Again, the 'lockey' was on duty and emptied the lock at Newark castle to let us in.  Above the lock, the water was again frozen, so we had to push through it gently!

The ice sits stubbornly on the water as we looked back at the lock (castle in the background).  Today's plan is to get to Nottingham, as the heavens will again show us what rain looks like, according to the forecast....