Swarkestone to Nottingham
1st August 2011
The Trent and Mersey is suddenly big and muscular with wide beam locks and big bridge holes. This comes as a surprise after months in the West Midlands with its thin ribbons of canal. And with the wider canal come wide beam craft, which loom ominously round corners seemingly filling the entire navigation channel. I guess its the shape of things to come where we are going.
Trent and Mersey Canal near Shardlow
With all the extra width (not depth!) the boat moves along faster and we were soon through Swarkestone Lock and onto Weston Lock with its slow filling tap. The blue skies gave way to grey which proceeded to spit at us as we approached Shardlow at which point it escalated into a full blown downpour, not the best conditions to photograph the attractive canal town. A curious thing about the wide locks on the eastern extremity of the Trent and Mersey - try as I might, if only one top gate is opened for me the other one always swings open as I enter. I have never really cracked that problem.
Jeff in active mode
After dropping onto a very docile Trent we stopped at Sawley Marina, who provide a convenient DIY pump out machine for £12.50. This isn't time restricted so you can give the tank a good flush through.
This union with the Trent will last for the next four days and move us nearly 100 miles north to the Humber Estuary. Its not the prettiest of rivers but it is an express route to a lot of places.
The navigation resembles a canal at Cranfleet Cut, with its lock gates, hump backed bridges and linear moorings. This flitting between canal and River goes on all the way to Nottingham. Not that the river sections are dull. The area is full of individualistic summer houses perched on stilts. They come in all shape and sizes from a glorified 1930's garden shed to a palatial edifice in steel and glass, each one someone's pride and joy.
As we made our way onto the Beeston Cut a familiar face appeared heading towards us - Matilda Rose making its way up to see Indigo Dream in Loughborough. We last saw Graham on the BCN Challenge back in May. Its a small world.
It stayed overcast all day but just got hotter and hotter, very stuffy and sticky so it came as no surprise to find the pub next to Castle Marina heaving with perspiring workers slaking their thirst on the way home. All the crowds were not attractive so we cobbled together an ad hoc mooring right outside the marine. Mooring in Nottingham is never tranquil but this spot isn't bad. The location is also convenient for Sainsburys plus the landscaped canal margin offered foraging potential for Belle, Blackberries and Elderberries in this case.
Trent and Mersey Towpath Jam