Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Saxilby to Torksey

The last kilometre on the way to Torksey is all moorings with the visitor moorings reaching almost to the 1km signpost.

After a very enjoyable long weekend in Aberdare its back on the canal. Aberdare at one time was connected to the canal which ran past Forest Row or as we called it Canal Row in Taffs Well. This was the village I grew up in till the age of nine. The canal played a large part in our lives. Making dams, making rafts and playing with boats. The lock was just a few hundred yards away and here we would catch minnows and bull heads and occasionally we would catch an eel which would be sold for a penny to a man in Forge Masters who would cook it on a shovel. Those were the days. All gone now. The row of cottages is now under the main road from Abercynon to Cardiff.

A bright day which started late as I was still on welsh time. A quick trip to Lincoln to drop off the car at my sons house then back to the boat to fuel up and move to Torksey ready for a get away out onto the Trent for the low water at 1130 tomorrow.

I moved up the canal slowly as I wasn’t in a rush and just enjoyed the scenery. There are always plenty of boats at Torksey many of which are GRP and tend to bob about alarmingly if ones speed is not of the slowest. Other GRP boats on the canal take note. These boats do make rather a lot of wash and many of them don’t seem to slow down at all making even my 60 foot roll.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Beware of the Bull

Owing to the cat going AWOL I spent extra night at Bardney Lock. Did it blow!! Just as well I took the wind genny down.

Coming off the jetty was easy enough but then the speed had to be increased sharpish as the wind started to blow the bows swiftly towards the other bank. I spent most of the day crabbing my way along the canal and keeping the boat off the leeward bank

Nearing Lincoln one can see Cherry Willingham away to the north. There is a footpath along the bank and if you see a sign that says Beware of the Bull I suggest you do as recommended. As you can see this beast with huge horns popped up and had a good look at me. I wouldn’t argue with it.

I had a stop in Lincoln as I do like to take advantage of not worrying about parking charges. And a quick visit to W H Smith and Wilkinsons and back onboard. The Glory Hole is ahead and there seems to be a satisfaction in going through it.

Just the other side of the hole is Brayford Pool. In the far right corner is the entry into the pool by the River Withern while in the far left corner is the access to the Glory HoleThe photo is from near the Uni moorings .

This time however if I had wanted to stop there my luck was out. One small boat moored right in the middle making it impossible for anyone over 30 feet to get in. There was something like 30 foot either side of it. A bit of thought for others wouldn’t go amiss.

Approaching Saxilby I spotted the Black Swan. I would think that there can’t be many on the Fossdyke and if this is so then this one must be getting on a bit for I am sure that I saw it years ago.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Bit Blowy

I have stayed at Bardney Lock for today. I was going to move on but the problems presented by by the wind when I turned the boat to head back to the lock gave me pause for thought. Do I want the 30+mph in my face and when it started raining I gave in and stayed put.

The canal at this point is a long straight of about 3 km and with the wind blowing directly along it. By the time the waves get to this end of the straight they are between 12 - 18 inches in height. Consequently there is some movement in the boat.

With luck I won't be seasick this evening.

My delightful assistant of yesterday is now at home and back to school. The place is very empty without her to brighten up the day.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

T'was Hectic

I picked up my favourite assistant on Saturday afternoon. From there I went to Grasby to pick up even more gear which we took to the boat. The boat is at the far end of the moorings so rather than carry it all the way we moved the boat first thing on Sunday. It is just a few yards from where you can see the boat to the parking area before the lock. Being an inveterate poser  we had to take some photos for the album.

Abz was well tired by Sunday morning having had a rather late night on the DS. But she was still up for a long walk and a picnic but as we had several jobs to do before I took her back home she had to make do with mopping the boat.

Off to Lincoln to feed the cats then back to Grasby for another load and finally home.

An enjoyable time was had by all – well I enjoyed myself anyway.

Monday is still in the planning stage. I haven’t thought about where to go next but I might just go back to Torksey for a chat with the lockkeeper and see if there are problems towards Nottingham.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Restoration Project

While I was cat sitting I thought I would pick up some more gear from Grasby. To get it back on board I needed to be able to get the car as close as possible.

From Southrey I headed for Bardney mooring. A wild life morning. I spotted a small deer on the starboard side – that’s the right hand one – but it swiftly disappeared. One bird I have seen a lot of is the Redshank. One very rarely gets close to it but it soon lets you know how disgruntled it is with being disturbed. The view you usually get of it is just the dashing flight as it vanishes away from the boat.

The mooring at Bardney is quiet but a bit remote from the road and the footpath which runs next to the canal has a gate on the end of it that is chained. Along side the footpath there is still evidence of the railway line. Sleepers and rails are still to be found and there is a solitary chimney stack standing which is all that is left of a bothy. A mile further on is the lock and I know there were cars here so that was the next port of call.

Access to the lock is a sharp left hander under the old railway bridge. Immediately in front of you at this point is the old course of the River Withern. Along that route there is a marina and caravan park.

Through the lock and whilst in the lock used the facilities all of which are next to the Lockkeepers cottage.

Moved along the line of moored boats and noticed a restoration project. While I am all in favour of a restoration I feel that this time someone might have bitten off more that anyone can chew. Most of the wood seems to be rotten and the boat is full of water. The best of luck.

I have my favourite assistant onboard this evening to help with the polishing.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Slow boat to Southrey

After a trip to Sellwood Gardens in Horncastle I bumbled along the canal enjoying the sunshine. With the impending cat sitting I have made my way to Southrey for the night.

Spotted a Golden Eye duck on the way and shortly afterwards caught sight of that ghost of birds – the Barn Owl – as it patrolled along the towpath. During the day its colour is quite a brilliant white. I wish it had been going in the other direction which would have given me a longer look at it. I might even have got a photo of it.

No seal today. I wonder how it got into the system. Someone said that they come in through the lock at Boston. They must be a bit fearless to do that as I would assume that there would be a boat in the lock at the same time or at least one going out.

I had meant to go to Boston today as they are starting to use the new lock to allow boats into the drains towards Spalding. I hope it is going to be cheaper than the cost of a week in the Ancholme.

If you leave a comment and would like an answer could you put an email address in it please. The message I get is from noreply so if I don’t answer you I apologise but it is because you are not amongst my contacts.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

I've seen the Withern Monster

Moving back towards Lincoln today to do a bit of occasional cat sitting while my son is away. Chilly to start with at the turn around at Tattershall but with an extra layer on not a problem.

Chugging away and checking out the wild life I spotted a grey/blue billed duck with what looked like one of those Cossack hats on its head. What was that? I looked in the book but nowhere is there a duck with a large lump like the seen version.

Reached Woodhall for the night and spotted a very large rat swimming across the canal in front of me. It dipped under the water and disappeared. Shortly afterward I saw the Loch Ness monster. There it was humps and all. Then it too disappeared but I did manage to get a picture of it.

Alongside and housework is never completed so did a bit of brushwork and then stood at the sink washing up. Out of the window the monster appeared again and this time was looking straight at me only six foot away. Monster? No. it was a seal catching fish under near the bridge at Woodhall Spa.

It was quite successful in the hunt for fish for it caught at least one while I was watching it.

It wasn’t in the least scared of the boat. Perhaps it has learnt to beg for food in the same manner that the swans will peck on the windows to attract your attention.

Thank goodness for the locks at Bardney and Stamp End otherwise we would be having elephant seals basking on the Brayford instead of swans. Nice thought though.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Ten Day Camel Hike

A bright sunny day so just the job for going into Kirkstead to look for the church. It is only a few hundred yards from the canal according to Nicholsons. Thank goodness they didn’t say a few miles. It turned out to be a ten day camel hike – OK I exaggerate slightly but it is more than mentioned. To get onto the street you have to walk passed the old railway station of Woodhall Junction. The crossing gates are closed and all ready for the train that never comes.

There are no signs for the church. Finally you come to Abbey Lane and I noticed a gypsy caravan in a garden with a couple of gentlemen sat outside enjoying the sun. I asked about the church and was told it was passed the abbey – can’t miss it. Stayed a moment to chat and according to them they are Woodhall Spas answer to the Last of the Summer Wine. A tale they told me was of a friend of theirs who used to have a narrowboat and ended up marrying a 17 year old. He died shortly afterwards but he did a lot of smiling before he went.

Walking down the lane and there are a couple of building with stone that could easily have come from the abbey. There is not a lot of the abbey left these days. There is just the one stump standing 30 foot high in the middle of a field that is totally covered with humps and bumps. Where is Time Team when you need them? But at least you can now see the church.

The church is rather nice from the outside with some slate grave markers and many covered in lichen. Sadly that is all you can see for it is locked as are most churches these days. On the walk to the church one sees all the signs that sping is here. The celandines are out and I well remember clutching a posy of them at the age of 5 as a present for my grandmother in Wales.

It took me 30 minutes to walk back to the canal so I would imagine that it is at least one and half miles away. A nice walk for all that.

Leaving Woodhall for Tattershall and the banks are as high as ever. However the river starts to behave like one with lots of bends to keep one occupied. I looked out for the abbey but didn’t get a sighting of it or anything else. RAF Coningsby isn’t far away as you can hear the aircraft winding up ready to go. I am sure that at one point I could smell the burning fuel.

Around a bend and Tattershall Bridges comes into view. The old bridge is on the other side along with the moorings.

From the mooring the view of the old bridge is vastly superior to the view in the other direction. Chatted to a lady who has friends in Louth and every time she and her husband visits them they stop at the bridge for a cup of tea and enjoy the view. I was encouraged to read my bible more. In that department I am a lost cause.

Shortly after mooring up a couple of barges paired up came along. The Waterways tug Kingfisher was be taken along by a firm from Doncaster. Probably been working in Boston as there has been a tremendous amount going on there to link into the drain system towards Spalding.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Shut that Door

Going through the lock on ones own is not a problem as long as you take it slow and don’t rush things. Even then it only took 20 minutes and I was on my way. First under the railway bridge and off into the River Withern. Within a short while there are moorings at Bardney. There is a saying in Lincolnshire. If you leave a door open you will be asked if your from Bardney. The reason for this it is said is when a King – probably Henry VIII – wanted entry to the Abbey they shut the door in his face and so he removed the doors - as you would.

With the high flood banks the view is very restricted and the most noticeable thing is the sight of all the rubbish left behind, half way up the trees, about two metres up, after the last time the river was in flood.

Southery Moorings

Rather colder today so when I reached Southery Village and the new visitors mooring there I moored up for five minutes, brewed up and stoked the fire then moved on. The mooring is right next to the old railway station. You will have noticed as you traveled down the river the number of obvious railway styles buildings still in use. Across the river from here is another mooring for the White Horse Inn. Good beer and good food. Last time I was here they had a beer festival on and very enjoyable it was too. I’ll have a look at Southery village on the way back.

The White Horse Inn

The footpath has crossed over the river back at Bardney and the occasional sculpture pops into view. The only one that I have noticed. Perhaps there are more but lower in height. I wonder what it represents? The River Withern maybe.

At 25 km is the next moorings I will use for the night. Nicholsons guide suggests that the church here is worth a look so will check it out tomorrow.

Monday, March 16, 2009

The mooring at Washingborough is to be recommended for an overnight stay. Very quiet and peaceful. Mind you the tap tap on the window makes you aware of the life outside.

Moving on towards Bardney at a leisurely pace one gets the chance to enjoy the scenery. Shortly a pair of cows come into view. Not real ones but one in a series of sculptures created for the Water Rail Way – the path to Boston. A rather good representation of the animals I must say.

A little further on there is what seems to be a series of humps. Whether or not this represents the Withern Monster along the lines of the one in Loch Ness I know not but I bet the children enjoy playing on it.

From that point on one spends the time wondering what will be seen next. A pleasant occupation. Looking like an arch, from the angle I was at, some 15 foot high wheat made of steel broke the flatness of the surrounding. The presence of the sculptures does make an interesting addition to the trip.

The first view of Bardney is on the right but it is the silos of the old Sugar Beet Factory that stand out for miles around.

At 11 km, Fiskerton, there is a foot bridge. I am not sure if it is possible to moor here but there are two likely spots, one on each bank, under the bridge. A couple more kilometres and Fiskerton Fen visitor moorings. These as like many others along here are 72 hours only.

A long straight and at 13 km more visitor moorings just before Bardney Lock. I moored up here for the night. Well the batteries are charged and there is no hurry.

A chat with a lady that lives on a winter mooring here threw up some interesting items. It was told to me that there are a number of mink running amok around the pontoons. One was seen wandering down the pontoon and climbed aboard one of the GRP boats by slipping under the canvas. She had already had some problems with mink when one found its way into the bow having chewed its way through the canvas then chewed through every plastic sack on board ruining potatoes etc. there are a number of holes to be seen on the bank which is where they live I was told.

I must apologise to Naughty Cal who passed me in Lincoln while I was tying up to retrieve the fender for not saying hello. I am not really bad mannered and thanks for the email.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Moving on

After a couple of cups of tea I left the mooring near the Pyewipe Inn and set off for the BW facilities in Lincoln. If you are looking for a quiet mooring with a pub nearby then I recommend this one.

A nice steady plod passing canoes and the occasional fisherman and I deposited my bag of rubbish in the bins provided. Not far from here, just a couple of hundred yards further on, there is another mooring. This is at the end of the university accommodation and is just an overnight stop. Can be a bit noisy but I have never had a problem with the locals out enjoying themselves of an evening.

Rubbished dumped I moved on the centre of Lincoln and through the Glory Hole. As you go through take a good look at the underside of the arch. Some of this dates back to 1160 and was once called Murder Hole. The shops to be found over it are 16th century. It can be a bit awkward through here if you meet someone coming the other way so keep a good lookout. The mooring here is right outside a pub and just after the pedestrian footbridge and the Waterside shopping centre. Very handy for Wilkinsons where I was going to get some means of securing the bike.

Purchases made I sat on the stern people watching and enjoying the sun for half an hour. A trio of cruisers came past and only just made it under the bridge. They were off towards Boston so that they could go through the guillotine lock not having gone that far before.
There is a slight bend as you leave Lincoln centre and here I met one of the cruisers coming back. It is rather narrow here so I had trouble turning on the bend and lost one of the fenders as the fender on stern caught on the side. Luckily they float so walked back and rescued it.
By the time I arrived at the lock two of the cruisers were still on the Lincoln side of it. There was an enormous amount of rubbish in and before the lock. I hooked out several sheets of polythene and bubble wrap and several logs. They had already started and had got out a road sign and two chairs. Much of what was left was the plastic bottles and reeds. We swapped keys as theirs was already in the lock controls and I closed up after they left. No trouble locking down and tried to move some of the junk left behind the gates.
The first 2 km out of Lincoln one gets ones fill of seeing plastic bottles caught up in the reeds and on the bank. There must be thousands of them. Although the view isn’t the finest you do get a nice one of the cathedral and a bit later the villages on the edge of the scarp.
4km out and the floating mooring at Washingborough comes into view and it is here I shall spend the night. Just four hours from the previous mooring without rush and a lazy hour in Lincoln. The mooring is right next to the cycle/foot path that goes all the way to Boston or if it isn’t finished soon will do. It runs along the old railway line and is easy travelling if you’re into biking.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Busy day on the Fossdyke

I have left Saxilby due to embarrassment. I had spoken to someone from the Waterways and explained the situation and was told it was ok to stay until the electrics were all fixed and running. The fact that I was moored next to the signboard that said 72 hour moorings somewhat rubbed it in. That and the fact that the two boats ahead of me had paid for their winter moorings make me think of a trip away for a while.

Just before I left a rather large boat moored up and I couldn’t help thinking that he would miss the best part of this canal – going through the Glory Hole. He would certainly have to slim down a bit first.

Travelled for a couple of hours then moored up near the Pyewipe Inn. A quiet afternoon so a bit of anti-rust work would give me something to do. Next thing I knew was the arrival of the steam train ‘Sir Nigel Gresley’ on the railway line next to the canal. A brilliant viewpoint but not the best of pictures I am sad to say.

Built for the LNER in 1937, and the 100th Gresley Pacific built. Her Doncaster Works number was 1863. It was originally numbered 4498. It is a 4-6-2 locomotive to the same design by Sir Nigel Gresley as the more famous Mallard.

Sir Nigel Gresley is the holder for the post-war steam record speed of 112mph gained on the 23 May 1959 and carries a plaque to that effect. As with Mallard's record. this was descending southward from Stoke Summit, but unlike Mallard's run which was a special attempt, this was with a full train of passengers returning from an excursion to Doncaster works. The excursion exceeded 100 mph on two other occasions on the same day. Unfortunately, because of a paper strike at the time, the logs of these are not as accessible as for some other workings. Wikipedia

Never a dull moment. I suppose the cat will go for a swim tonight to give interest to the evening.

Saturday, March 7, 2009


A very nice surprise today to break up the ordinariness of the weekend.

‘Any body there’ was the first that I knew that I had visitors. My first non-family visitors turned out to be Sid and Heidi from Sellwood in Horncastle. Luckily I had had a ‘bit’, and it was only a bit, of a tidy up and they managed to settle into chairs amidst the normal chaos of the boat. And a present of cakes that I would imagine that Heidi had made.

Hiedi’s claim to fame is going from not knowing one end of the computer from the other to the person that managed to write the story of their two sons in a second language, English, on a computer and finally to put the printed illustrated version into book form which she then went on to learn to bind up. A very tidy job she made of it too and the story itself is quite rivetting. Proving the falsity of the adage ‘You can’t teach an old dog new tricks’ for one is never too old to learn.

With a cup of tea and a chat putting the world to rights then a tour of the ‘estate’ and the visit was over. A very enjoyable interlude in the hectic schedule of Saxilby living.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Sorry Abz but I bought a bike that was almost the first I looked at

I am now settled back at Saxilby. It is good to be back here. This must be one of the nicest moorings available on the Fossdyke. All the shops are handy with a charity shop to frequent in the hope of finding that one item that you can’t get anywhere else.

In the last few days I have been trying to find a bike to place on the bows. All the major bike shops here have second hand bikes that are well out of my price range. They all tend to be around £1500 -1700 but I struck it lucky with an advert placed in a small shop in the middle of Lincoln. Who says advertising doesn’t pay.

I arranged to look at it and Michael brought it out to me which I much appreciated. Within minutes a deal was struck and I am now the proud owner of a Honda 185. A well used machine but I hope to get as much pleasure out of it as Michael obviously had.

Bought the timber this morning to build the platform and ended up with planks that were rather thicker than I wanted but it worked.

As the photo shows the wheels over hang by a couple of inches. The view is deceptive and not as bad as it looks.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Its not all plain sailing on canals

Celebrating the return. Ships cat - Dash - off on a banyan

During my overnight stay at Keadby I met a very nice chap on the boat next to me. He was not a happy bunny. During the recent cold spell the canal at Keadby was frozen over. He was moored up and generally minding his own business waiting for the thaw. Then a British Waterways dredger came along breaking the ice as it went. The ice was about 2 to 3 inches thick and was forced under his boat and lifted it up as it went resulting to damage to the propeller and bending the rudder. The tiller is now at right angles to the rudder and unusable.

The dredger was very unsympathetic and the response was ‘Its not my problem’. The BW reacted like any big company and are slow to react to the mishap and no help it seems.

The usual routine. Being passed from one department to another or the manager is away and the person you want is out of the office at the moment.

Meanwhile he is stuck at Keadby and unable to get his boat moving back to his base in the midlands. Spitting feathers as a description of his feelings is putting it mildly.

He is down to a search for wood to keep the fire going now.

When I left Keadby at 0700 exactly I left a number of my logs with him to tide him over for a few days. The lockkeeper (not Mark) was very punctual in his arrival and passed me out very efficiently on to the low tide. This soon had me shooting along at 9 mph and as time went by it invariably dropped to 7.
The Trent was a mill pond compared to yesterday.

Arrived at Torksey after a trouble free trip and handed over the pack about the Ancholme that was given to me at Ferriby. As the Ancholme is run by the Environmental Agency there is little contact between the lockkeepers and subsequently British Waterways people don’t have the gossip to pass on.

I had tried to find out some information on the internet about moorings etc but all I could come up with was bits on the caravan park and a piece written a couple of years ago by someone who had been up to Brandy Wharf with a 60 foot boat and had to reverse back to the lock to wind.

Moored at Saxilby at 1230. I now need to get rid of the car and put the motor bike onto the bows. Life should be easier then without the need to continually get back to the car to move it.

If you get an unintelligable email from me it is not my fault - honest