The forecast was dodgy so we decided to push on to Nottingham whilst it wasn’t raining, and I’m so glad we did. We we welcomed onto Victoria Embankment with flags, balloons and banners promoting the Tour of Britain. Thankfully not our own slow meander around the country but the high speed cycle tour, which was due to start from West Bridgford the next morning. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect, but there was a buzz of excitement as I pushed forward through the crowds. I’m not sure of the terminology but being a TV fan of the F1 Grand Prix, it felt like we were doing the grid walk.The car park had been turned into the paddock and the teams were preparing themselves for the race. Coaches and support vehicles all emblazoned with their team sponsors, cyclists, reporters and fans, all milling together, eagerly awaiting the start on the High street. I’d got a route map and knew that they were going over Trent Bridge twice, to do a circuit of central Nottingham and back again, so once the teams left the paddock I walked back towards the river and managed to get a prime position on the corner. Of course not being a true cycling fan I hadn’t anticipated just how quickly the peloton whizzed past.I’m fairly sure these are 2 of our British hero’s, Geraint Continue reading Touring Britain, but not by boat
After some mindless hooligans spoilt our last visit to Newark we were a little apprehensive. We delayed our entry into the town to avoid the weekend by using the Muskham Ferry patrons mooring. We anticipated they’d be quite tricky to get onto due to the river flow and the short angled pontoons. The easy solution would have been to go in bow first but you cant use the pub if you cant get off your boat easily, so that would defeat ths object. Eric’s helmsmanship was well and truly tested, they don’t do reversing around a corner whilst going upstream in boat school. Thank goodness we’d chosen to arrive in the morning before the gongoozelers were watching, it took 2 attempts but we made it. I made sure he was well rewarded and we fulfilled our “patrons duty” with several pints and a good sunday lunch.And before the anticipated weather change, I got to finish the shawl I was knitting and took advantage of the sunshine to wash and dry it flat on the roof.
Well replenished we set off to for the last few miles into Newark.
We steamed ahead towards the castle and in our excitement forgot to read the map, I mean what could be so hard to navigate, under the bridge and moor up on the right….Oops, when you have an 8 foot radio mast, it pays to to go through the middle arch with enough headroom. Luckily I don’t think the damage to the bridge was severe enough to stop the traffic. And it really was only the tip of the ariel that scuffed the already flakey brickwork. Much relieved we moored up at Farndon and I went for a walk. One of the last remaining working willow holts a is just off the mooring. Both a fascinating site for the number of varieties of willow trees, a haven for wildlife. This Comma Butterfly obliged me by posing for a photo.
Something was warning us to make the most of this early September sunshine, (which I was very glad about, as we’ve now experienced storm Ali and storm Bronagh) It’s worth being on the river just to enjoy this perfect mooring. We woke to mist rising off the water.And a perfect sunrise.So we set to, and did the chores, I did the washing and Eric the polishing.I got my spinning wheel out onto the pontoonand worked a bit of magic to create a gorgeous hank of yarn. We also found ourselves a tree full of damsonsand made several jars of damson blackberry and elderberry jelly. What’s not to love about this life we’re leading. We really don’t want summer to end.
When we travelled down the Trent, we were advised to book our return passage several days in advance so we could plan our journey to optimise the incoming tide, which we did. So as suggested We arrived at Torksey in the afternoon and locked through to the top side mooring pontoon.Someone’s got a sense of humour because the lock gates here are adorned with teapots. By evening a little flotilla had assembled, we all prepped our boats, checked the anchors and cleared the props, in readiness for the tide arriving at 9:45 the next morning. We were travelling with a small cruiser who would nip ahead quickly, a narrowboat with a “proper” engine, who didn’t believe we would have enough umph to make it, and a lovely single handed narrowboater, who had engine cooling issues, so was happy to have some company. In theory we should have been carried upstream by the tide which is stronger than the flow downstream, although we saw the water level drop turn and start to rise on the pontoon, we can’t say we actually felt like we were surfing. What we didn’t want to happen was for our journey to take longer than the tide because that would have meant we would be pushing against both the downstream flow and the retreating tide.It’s quite exhilarating going up the big wide river. We wouldn’t want to do it every day, but it makes a fun change.And I got to sit on the roof doing my knitting, safe in the knowledge that I wasn’t going to be decapitated by any low bridges. We were overtaken by 2 big cruisers who left Torksey after us, but as Cromwell lock can only open when the tide is right we all had to wait and go through at the same time. I think there were 7 boats in the lock this time. Firecrest had done us proud and we’re confident we will cope with stronger tidal flow in the future.And the cheery lockie waved us all through,
One of the things we have enjoyed over the past few months is the number of shore power electric points there have been along the river. Newark, Cromwell, Lincoln, Bardney and Boston. It’s meant that we’ve hardly had to run the generator at all, a real treat. Whilst the generator itself is reasonably quiet, the woodwork around it vibrates noisily and it’s hot, an advantage in the winter but not in the summer
Eric’s taken the opportunity to do some tinkering with the batteries, rebalancing them to enhance efficiency and longevity. We were very pleased when we cruised all the way from Lincoln to Cromwell which is about 30 miles and upstream on the tidal Trent. We took 3 days to complete this journey. It might not sound all that wonderful compared to some electric vehicles but we were pretty impressed that Firecrest coped so well on the power hungry river and we’re fairly sure we could have done the additional 5 miles onto Newark if we’d wanted to push on. But Cromwell is a lovely lock with more of those prized electric hook ups. The sun had come out and there were plenty of Blackberry bushes that needed my attention so we broke the journey to make jam.
Have you heard of “Angel Wing” ? Maybe not, but have you ever seen a duck goose or swan with a grossly deformed wing.I had always assumed birds like this had been attacked and injured, and in many ways they have. But not by another wild animal. Angel Wing is a malformation that causes one of the wing joints to grow twisted outwards instead of lying flat against the birds back. It is caused by poor diet, namely a diet too high in carbohydrates, ie Bread, the bread that we love to feed to the ducks. So I guess it’s a bird equivalent to rickets. Ducks and swans are susceptible though geese are the worst affected and as you’d expect, it’s most common in parks and accessible beauty spots where families tend to go to “feed the ducks.”It’s a tough one to combat because it’s hard to resist feeding the ‘ducks’ when they appeal so much. I’m not entirely sure but I think these geese might have a mild case but I’m not an expert. CRT suggest you use porridge oats or veg like peas and sweet corn or buy a floating wildfowl food which is what I keep on the boat.These swans certainly enjoy it. Although they still like to search the bottom for the real treats.
There isn’t a cure for Angel Wing. It prevents the birds from flying which makes them more vulnerable to preditors or bad weather. So please, take heed of the notices not to feed bread to the ducks, this is what it does to them.
Brayford pools has been home for a week. We’ve felt safe, secure and well entertained. In fact being in Lincolnshire has felt like a holiday. Our cruising has felt more about the place and people than the waterway and we’ve thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. There’s a lot of Lincoln still to be explored so I’m sure we’ll be back, but during that last week I found some quirky art work
and interesting things to look at.This was what caught my eye each time we left the marina and walked into town. And of course being a posh waterfront the Brayford had a modern tall hotel on its doorstep with a cocktail bar at the top. which I had to visit, if only to snap a photo from the lofty heights. The Brayford water chimes were a fun modern feature, and if the wind was in the right direction we could hear a pretty tinkling chime each hour from our mooring. I climbed up to the multistory car park to see it from this angle. On our last day in Lincoln, Eric’s brother Andrew and his wife Anne came to join us as we cruised back to Saxilby. We took a detour through the glory hole and back though I’m not sure I can answer the Bridges question.
AKA the Lincoln Steampunk Festival, (Asylum is the name of the event organisers) For those not familiar with Steampunk, a dictiinary definition says it is…. “a genre of science fiction that has a historical setting and typically features steam-powered machinery rather than advanced technology” that’s not what Eric says but I just say it’s amazing and I want to be part of it. It really does attract alsorts, way beyond the historical, it’s a culture that has many forms of expression. People travel from all over to be part of this 3 day event. And while the streets were filled with people adorned in their finery, strutting their stuff, there were lots of organised events for ticket holders only, so if this is what we saw taking over Lincoln, who knows what went on behind the drawbridge of the castle. It’s very inclusive, and quite diverse.
We thought this guy’s wheelchair was very clever with its cogs and levers. lots of impressive looking weaponry though I’m not sure it would see off the aliens, quite a few shoulder pets. Everyone was really keen to show off their costume, stopping to pose for photos. We had to laugh when we saw a large police presence, I asked if they were expecting trouble from the steampunk, Oh no, there’s a football match today. Not sure the footie fans would stand a chance against the steam punk.
Lincoln’s Cathedral is a beacon for miles and miles as it towers over the fenland. In fact my sister in law, Anne, tells me on a good day they can see it from the Peak District Moors, over 60 miles away. And as it offered a tower tour, well I just had to go climb those towers and learn it’s history and see the view.Back in the day when the Romans came to stay, they fortified Lincoln with a city wall. Although it was to later get in the way of one of the cathedrals many extension.Then the Vikings also took advantage of the river access and the deep water of Brayford Pool. As did these folk as shown in a painting hanging in one of the chapels.However it wasn’t until William the Conqueor wanted to stake his claim, and show his Norman dominance on the marauding hordes of northerners, that the catherdral and castle were built out of local stone. It was a hugely significant seat of power and in 1215 the Magna Carter was brought here to be signed by the Bishops. Lincoln still holds one of the only 4 remaining originals in its library.
The Cathedral’s life hasn’t always been an easy one, 50 years after it was built it burnt down. It was rebuilt but in 1185 it was destroyed by an earthquake. Rebuilding wasn’t always well planned, the person responsible didn’t align the east and the West correctly so the spine along the beautiful vaulted ceiling is wonky and doesn’t meet up as it should.The tower tour takes you right up into the rafters so you can look down onto the lime mortar on the upper side of the vaulted ceiling. You don’t always realise when you look up that there’s another 30 feet of cathedral above what you see.
In 1311 a spire was added to the central tower, reaching 160m, taller than the Pyramids of Gaza. It became the tallest building in the world for over 200 years but being a wooden structure encased in lead, it was a bit heavy and in 1548 it blew down in a storm. In 1807 the north and south tower spires were removed much to the consternation of the people of Lincoln but Health and Safety was being adhered to by then.Health and safety also decreed that although we were allowed in the bell tower, the ropes had to be out of reach. The bells rest in an upright position so that the the first chime is correctly timed. Obviously there’s a huge amount that I haven’t recounted, condensing 1000 years of history into 10 minutes leaves a lot of gaps for rebellions, civil war But I recommend paying the extra to do the tour. Stained glass is always a beautiful thing to see in a cathedral, this one is known as the Bishops Eyeand the rose window opposite is the Deans EyeThis one facing West shows Revious, the monk William the conqueor put in charge of building the cathedral originally. It still contains some medieval glass, when It was a real honour to be able to walk right in front of it on the tower tour. There is so much to see and most of it hundreds of years old, but there are some new pieces of art work on display. I particularly liked the giant swan. St Hugh of Avalon was one of the early bishops and he befriended this fearsome bird, which terrorised the people whenever St Hugh was away, but behaved like an angel whenever he was in residence.
In times gone by, in order to move the potato harvest more quickly from Boston to Lincoln, a railway was built. It followed the river and was built on the retaining levee, and being slightly elevated it must have been a lovely sight seeing a steam train chugging along. The tracks are all gone now and have been replaced by an enticing footpath and cycle route; ie it’s flat. It’s known as the Water Rail Way promoted by Sustrans.
Many of the stations and junctions have been turned into beautiful homes.
And there are several sculptures to enjoy. Some can be seen from the river, Some look like they’ve escaped from the River And some I saw when I got to walk after we’d moored up for the day. This one is engraved on both sides, “For men may come and men may go, But I go on forever.” Which was taken from Lord Tennyson’s poem, The Brook. Tennyson was born in Lincolnshire. I would have liked to have seen all the others, another time maybe.We have enjoyed being in Lincolnshire. The actual cruising has been a little tedious, long straight stretches with restricted views and limited mooring opportunity, but once we climbed up onto the path we could see for miles, all the way across to Lincoln cathedral.And for part of our journey we had dramatic storm clouds billowing overhead rather ominously.Thankfully the rain fell on someone else.
A few days cruising, just us, Firecrest and nature. We were looking forward to a less exciting few days before we got back into Lincoln. We’ve had such a super time recently, we need a few days just to slow down and enjoy nature again. Leaving Dogsdyke, we cruised upstream along the River Witham taking in the peace and tranquillity. Sadly the beauty of the River was scarred by rather more than usual dead fish floating along the banks. A few questions to locals revealed that there had been a chemical spillage in the spring and 100 000 fish died. The river has been restocked but we dread to think how long it will take the whole ecosystem to recover. We’re not sure if the amount of duck weed is as a consequence of the chemical, but it was an un-nerving experience travelling through it.We wondered how it would affect the fish but were reassured when we saw this sole floating by.And what with the willow trees and hidden entrances to the Drains, on it did brighten what could have been a tedious journey.