Sunday, 28 August 2011

Huddersfield Ring 2011 - Newark to Torksey

Huddersfield Ring
Newark to Torksey
3rd August 2011

The prevailing tides dictated the pace of the day, with passage through Cromwell restricted till 13.00 and then an enforced layover at Torksey. Not only were the tides running at an inconvenient time, it was also a period of spring tides when the rise and fall is at its greatest, denying us the opportunity to make the trip to Keadby in a single hop.

Newark Market

During the morning we visited the expansive Farmers Market which takes place in the town centre on the 1st Wednesday in the Month, and the less impressive informal "crap" market beside the visitor moorings where all sorts on worthless junk are auctioned off. Actually this smaller market has its high spots - it has an excellent bike stall and a really good old tool supplier. Its well worth a look even if you don't buy anything.

I like Newark. When the market is on the whole place has a buzz about it, and its got an excellent array of mainstream shops too all in a splendid Georgian setting.

Flotilla assembles at Cromwell Lock for the last penning out of the tide

By 11.15 we were off to the visitor pontoon which offered the only prospect of some water. Unfortunately, all the moorings were taken so we breasted up against and empty narrowboat and trailed our hose over their roof. They returned mid fill and were completely unfazed by our presence, happily passing the time of day and recounting their scary moments on the tideway a couple of days before. The tank was very empty and it was 12.15 before we set off for Cromwell lock, the last in a long line of boats heading for the safety of Torksey Cut.

Out on the Tideway

The trip through Nether Lock (VHF set to the right channel this time!) and over the five miles to Cromwell takes quite a while and we tacked onto the back of  large gaggle of boats being penned out onto the tideway.

We emerged at 1.30pm and were soon overtaken by the swarm of white plastic river cruisers, settling into a formation with a pair of Sea Otters, barely moving 100 metres apart during the whole 16 mile journey. The last 5 miles were spent beneath gathering storm clouds , spattering us a few times but reserving the real downpour for after we had stopped.

Fledborough Railway Viaduct

We happened to select a day when the South Yorkshire Cruising Club were out on a club trip so when we got to Torksey the airwaves were full of chatter and the pontoons full of boats. There was a solitary narrow boat hanging on the end of the pontoon expecting a night in isolation, but it wasn't to be. We three narrow boats had to moor somewhere so and were soon breasted up lying four deep across the cut.

Safe refuge in Torksey Cut

With the storm over Belle and I decided to take a wander into fleshpots of downtown Torksey and see what pleasures were on offer to the intrepid traveller. In short, not a lot! Apart from the lock area there is a pub, and the castle - but more of the castle in my next post.

Fossdyke after the storm

The heavens opened again in the evening, cooling things down a bit and relieving the sultry heat of the last few days. The instructions are to be off by 12.15 tomorrow so no real hurry. Plenty of opportunity for games of 6 handed rummy - stupid game (guess who lost?). 

But that wasn't the end of the day. At about 11.00om, just as I was slipping off to sleep, I noticed a strange release of gas - no it wasn't Belle! Gas was bubbling up from the bed of the river and hitting the bottom of the boat - very strange. A few minutes later the boat tipped alarmingly to one side and the mooring ropes creaked and groaned and the boat settled onto the muddy river bed. Heads emerged from the other boats beside us just as a huge wall of water rushed up the river channel and swirled into the cut, re-floating us and causing our raft sway and heave in the other direction. Outside on the river the sound of churning water was very apparent - welcome to the Trent Aegir (the Trent's version of the Severn Bore). 

The books say that up at Torskey it "barely rattles your anchor chain" but tonight the river didn't seem to appreciate that rule. It was the highest of high spring tides and the Agier was in full force. I wouldn't like to be caught out in it.

The next high tide is due shortly after 11.00am, so it will be interesting to see if its repeated then.

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