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Fradley Junction to Nottingham, summer 1997


A 1-week trip from Burton-on-Trent to Nottingham and back, on the Trent and Mersey canal and the River Trent. Total 73 miles and 42 locks.

Cath was at university in Nottingham, and wanted to go there by water. We failed the last time we attempted it on a group outing, turning at Trent Junction and going into the city by train instead. This time we started closer.

A relaxing summer trip, devoid of serious incident.

Diary extracts...

Sat 1997-09-20
To Shobnall Marina, Jannel Cruisers. Onto Mohawk, about 10m long, with 3-cyl water-cooled Isuzu diesel, gas c/h, electric fridge. Compact but nicely done. Bed fixed at rear, front cabin with 2 very low chairs; bath in the middle. Underway by 15h20. Moor for night at Willington at 17h30. Today 4.75 miles, 1 lock and 2h10m. Lock was left for us by a boat emerging and worked by boat waiting. Eve to Green Dragon, changed since we were last here.
Sun 1997-09-21
Sunny all day and a lovely clear evening. Start 09h10 after water at mooring. Share Stenson lock with a working boat with several tonnes of antique bricks en route to a museum in Bristol. Driver in boiler suit telling everyone what to do, in an amiable way, including his rookie assistant. Went in convoy to next lock, but let him ahead with another boat while I took photos. Lunch stop 12h30..13h30 between brs 10 and 9, on boat. Moor for eve at Shardlow at 15h30 between brs 3 and 2. Lots of boats here during the day but few overnight. To Malt Shovel which seems the centre of life here. Took pix of the boat during the eve and night trying to capture the superb evening light and the reflection of the sun on the canal rippling on the back of the boat. Boat's front deck is too small and entry at the rear is awkward, but otherwise OK. The Isuzu engine does not seem to have a lot of power. Today 11mi, 5 locks, 5h20m.
Mon 1997-09-22
Sunny all day and very warm when not underway. Walk before start, mist rising from the water. Start 09h and keep going on the river section to get to Beeston at 12h, then on to Nottingham just below Castle lock, at 13h30. Very brief water stop at Sawley locks (above). Push-button operation at Sawley, manual elsewhere, though keeper-operated at Cranfleet. Into Nottingham to see centre and visit preserved sandstone caves under the Broadmead shopping centre (man-made, centuries old, but added to as cellars, then all joined together in WWII as air-raid shelters). Then back up through Castle lock and moor by new Sainsbury's and Castle Marina, turning just beyond mooring opposite Magistrates Court. Eve to Boathouse Beefeater nearby. Today 12.25mi, 6 locks, 5 hours. River sections very different, wide and rural. Coming into Beeston lock took it a bit wide and it took some wellie to get in across the weir flow.
Tue 1997-09-23
Mostly sunny and warm or hot all day. To Sainsbury's first thing. Start at 08h55. Onto river at 10h15 arriving at Cranfleet lock at 11h30, so about 75 mins against the current against 60 mins with the current. Carry on non-stop to moor at Shardlow again at 13h45. Had 4 boats in Derwent Mouth lock, 2 narrow boats one behind the other and 2 cruisers alongside. Eve to "Tandoori Nights" in Shardlow. Only one other boat on visitor moorings overnight, another hire boat. Today 11.5mi, 4l, 4h50m. Water at Sawley locks, but only a minute or two. Pix of the Trent above Shardlow, which is a cul-de-sac leading to a big marina - above which it rapidly looks like a non-navigable river.
Wed 1997-09-24
Medium fog for the first hour and a half, then hot sunshine, then a more overcast late afternoon. Start 09h10. Locks to ourselves. At Weston lock, observed that the boat's gauges were wild, temp=max, volts=min and tacho dancing. Met Ian from the boatyard who found an earth fault on the gauges only. This took 12h15 to 12h35 at br 13 (Cuttle Bridge). Then shared Swarkestone lock, with a man from the Soar and stop for lunch just above the lock 13h10..14h. Stop at Willington at 16h15. Today 11mi, 5 locks, 5h55m. Eve on boat.
Thu 1997-09-25
Dull, overcast but warm day. Start 08h15 after taking on water, pass the boatyard after about 2 hours, and on non-stop to moor just below keepers lock at 15h15. Then later potter through junction lock to moor right at Fradley junction on the 24-h mooring. Fast early, but later the locks were more busy and progress was a little slower. Eve eat in the Swan at the junction - an excellent steak with Pedigree to accompany. Today 14mi, 11 locks (all narrow and none very deep) and 7h15m.
Fri 1997-09-26
Dull, a few glimpses of sun, windy early. Start at 08h45, nose-to-tail through the closely spaced locks, but spreading out later. Stop for lunch at 'Barton Turns' pub (just below Barton lock) 11h45..13h15. Basic local but good food and Pedigree. Moor for eve on a good mooring with rings right by a big building site but otherwise lonely at 14h45, a little beyond the pipe bridge after the A38 bridge, and almost alongside MP 17 miles from Shardlow. Today 8mi, 10 locks, 4h30m. Eve on boat. A little bit of boat cleaning, but it's not really dirty at all, just a bit dusty on the roof. So far, no rain at all. The boat's bilge is bone dry.
Sat 1997-09-27
Last day. Dull but warm. Potter back to boatyard 08h15..08h30 and 0.75mi, no locks. Moor outside the entrance, as instructed and wait for them to turn up at 9h. They drive it in, backing through the entrance arch. Trip total 73.25mi, 42 locks, 35.25h. The short (10m) boat this year was very easy to handle, esp with its centre rope, but a bit tight inside even for two and had very unsatisfactory seating, two very low chairs. Heating was noisy but worked, though we used it only briefly on 3 evenings and this morning.

©nib 2003-03-02..2005-12-06

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