Rambling round Retford

We planned to go as far as Worksop on this trip, but as we have learnt, waterways plans are very fluid. Beautiful though this area is, it’s a slow canal. The centre channel is narrow and the banks shallow which means our average speed 1.5mph and makes grounding was an occupational hazard if we had to pass an oncoming boat. Several times we came across boats mooring directly opposite winding holes which just created an extra difficulty. Consequently because of our family commitments we decided to call it a day and wind at Retford. Still, it gave my brother a taste of our life with a few days gentle cruising before we took advantage of the mooring at the Retford and Worksop Boat club.

Retford itself provided us with a decent bank with rings, supermarket. It’s an old market town that is mentioned in the doomsday book. There’s a strong continental influence in the architecture as the flat landscape required drainage ditches to manage the flooding, and who better to advise than the Dutch.

The Retford Town Hall

And the town centrepiece is the Sebastopol cannon brought over from the Crimean war. I’m not quite sure why.

The sebastipol cannon

We did wonder if it was significant that the bank was right next door to the police station

The Retford Police Station.
Bridge 72 at Wiseton

The Chesterfield Canal trust has been restoring The 46 miles of this old canal since 1989, however housing estates and railways have somewhat hindered progress and there is still 9 miles to rebuild in order to join up with the prestigious waterside developement in Chesterfield town, itself. The goal is to complete the work by 2027 to commemorate the 250th anniversary of its original completion. I hope we’ll still be boating in 8 years to enjoy this exceptionally beautiful canal all the way.

Change of pace on the Chesterfield canal.

Our goal was to be on the Chesterfield canal by mid April as we have friends and family in this area and we just happened to have rather a lot of birthdays to celebrate this month. The next few weeks were going to be busy busy for us so it was an absolute joy to find the Chesterfield Canal so peaceful.

Bridge 72

We were surprised by just how rural it is with the occasional disused brick works alongside.

Disused Brickworks near Gringley Shaw Loc

But the price to pay for this isolated idyll is a bit of a vicious circle. The canal has very little traffic, it’s narrow, has shallow banks and few mooring opportunities. It has a reputation for becoming very weedy.

Rural idyll

We did however find a lovely spot to moor at Drakeholes

Drakeholes visitor mooring

The low concrete edging meant that Eric could relax over the bank holiday weekend in true manly fashion by repainting the gunwales

Whilst I took advantage of the sunshine and picnic bench to get my spinning wheel out and turned some fibre into yarn.

Arty and Ruby were able to join us and we shared a sumptuous picnic, I’d foolishly not believed the forecast that said it was going to be a hot weekend and made soup.

Fabulous feast

Hot days make for misty mornings full of promise.

And the main goal of our time on the Chesterfield was to meet up with my brother, Silver, who has lived overseas for the past few years and only seen photos of Firecrest.

Boater’s breakfast

What better way to celebrate than a proper Boater’s breakfast.