Chesterfield canal

Our arrival onto the Chesterfield canal was in glorious sun, but this didn’t last. The very next day, it rained and rained. The only dry place was our first tunnel of the trip! Having got the rain out of the way we then enjoyed a lovely cruise with lovely weather. We travelled through unbroken fields and woodlands. The canal meandered along, surrounded by the finest English countryside. A real blessing after the high banks of the Fossdyke. 

This is a wide canal for the first few miles, with big heavy locks until you get to a lovely market town called Retford. We had a lovely stop here, enjoying a wander around their market and the lovely welcome from the locals. We also enjoyed a passing visit from our good friends Michael and Lesley who were passing through on their way home. From this point on, the locks became narrow and much easier to manage, so we had a very pleasant cruise to the next town Worksop. Unfortunately this was when the prop became very snarled up with rubbish. We sorted this out then hurried off back into the countryside. 

Within a few short hours we were back in the very beautiful countryside at a place called Shireoaks. This was the start of a truly awesome stretch of canal, and an amazing feat of canal engineering. There are 23 locks made up of 13 single locks, 2 double locks and 2 treble locks that took us up through woodland and waterside cottages. We passed Aston sone quarries, the source of stone used in the construction of the House of Parliament, before reaching a sign stating, “last boaters winding hole.” Here we moored up and walked to the end of this stretch of the canal at the east end of the Norwood Tunnel that is now bricked up. We walked over the top of the tunnel to the fishing ponds, but decided against the walk to Chesterfield. 

 Having reached this point, the only choice for a boater is to turn around and return the way you’d come, which we did. We went back down the flight of 23 locks, again marvelling at the beautiful countryside. The scenery and wildlife was lovely. We saw our first cygnets of the year and loads of birds. 

We did give Worksop another chance and went for a quick walk through the town, but weren’t bowled over by what it had to offer, and quickly went on our journey back to West Stockwith, ready for our next trip up the Tidal Trent. This time we had an early start due to the tide and were our of the lock into the Trent by 20 past 8. This time it was misty, but fortunately dry. We had an uneventful trip up the Trent arriving safely at Keadby lock ready for our adventure on the South Yorkshire navigations.

We would heartily recommend the Chesterfield canal to anyone. It is one of the most beautiful canals we’ve been on, and though there were a few locks, they added to the beauty.

Stats :- 55 miles, 92 locks, 2 tunnels.


Back on the water

My last blog about skiing seems a long time ago, and much has happened since then. Of note Roger and I drove from Austria, stopping in Germany and France on the way, then spent some time at Caen on the Normandy beaches before boarding the ferry home. Once home we caught up with family and friends, did some sorting and attended the wedding of Naomi and Chris before heading off to Eunoia, our much loved narrowboat. 

Our travelling plans had to change due to damage on the Rochdale canal from the floods in January, which means a complete closure until June. As such we headed east from the marina along the Trent and Mersey, quickly covering new ground as we reached Nottingham and then the very beautiful Newark on Trent. We stayed at Newark for a couple of days  enjoying the lovely town and a well placed Waitrose next to the river, whilst preparing to enter the tidal Trent. Our first effort was thwarted by a boom being re-fitted across a weir, which prevented our passage, so we returned to Newark for another night. The following day we set off, through big locks and off we went. It was cold and wet as we crossed, but we successfully negotiated the river without incident and arrived, very damp and cold, entering the lock to pass into the Fossdyke. We moored as soon as we could and hunkered down, with the heating on, for the night. The Fossdyke is the oldest, still navigable, man made water way and was built by the Romans. In common with their roads, it was long and straight. It also had very high banks, which results in a good view front and back but a rubbish view to the sides. We made it quickly to Lincoln and after passing through Brayford pool passed under the Glory Hole before we moored on the Witham navigations.  Lincoln was a new city for us and we loved the cathedral and town. We even ran out of time and didn’t get to see the castle before we headed off again. We also spent a lovely morning worshipping at Live Lincoln, a very vibrant city centre church. 

One of the things we discovered as we travelled was that if we wanted to travel further up the Tidal Trdnt, control becomes the responsibility of ABP and not the CRT, and their rules require boaters to have VHF radio and to be qualified to use it. We duly booked in with the RYA and enrolled ourselves on the relevant course. We spent much of our time over the next week reading and learning for our exam. There were lots of practice Mayday and Panpan calls made in preparation!

We went down the navigation to Boston at the tidal lock with the Wash. As we travelled the weather became very hot and sunny, which greatly enhanced our travels. In Boston we enjoyed Boston Stump and the beautiful windmill Maud Foster. We then headed back up to Lincoln, with 2 tasks in mind, to visit the castle and to pass our radio exam. Both were achieved. 

Lincoln was a good base to go and collect our vehicle that we’d left at the marina when we got on the boat. We hired a car and then took a journey across the north, visiting our lovely friends David and Jane who are hosting our vehicle for a few weeks. 

Back on the boat we enjoyed another Sunday morning at Alive Lincoln, before heading off back up the Fossdyke. On Monday we passed through the lock into the tidal Trent again to head further north to the Chesterfield canal. This time we travelled in bright hot sun which was a great improvement on the first leg of the Trent and arrived safely in the Chesterfield. First impressions are that its very beautiful with far reaching views. A more traditional canal.