Muskham to Torksey Wednesday 6th July
It was no effort to get up early – the creaking from our centre ropes had kept us half-awake and we were pleased to leave the moorings!
We got to Cromwell lock just before 8.45am and joined four other narrowboats making the transit. It didn’t take very long and we were second out of the lock behind nb Persistence.
As I’ve mentioned before, Indigo Dream’s prop/engine combination make her a handy mover on big rivers so we were soon reining her in behind nb Persistence with the other boats trailing behind us. Cromwell gave us a buzz on the VHF to tell us that there was a gravel barge on the river somewhere in front of us (the inflection suggested it was going downriver). We weren’t sure whether nb Persistence had a radio so we pulled level with her to warn her that she might catch up with a barge. Unfortunately the helmsman didn’t seem to hear us and just waved us past rather irritably; we tried to shout the message across again but he just waved, again, so on we went.
We never did catch up with the gravel barge – shame – I would have liked to see one, but not coming in the opposite direction! We soon left the convoy behind but on this trip we were free agents without shepherding responsibilities that we had on the Thames last year – game on!
Friends have told us that the tidal Trent is boring, but we rather enjoyed it and there’s plenty to see if you like birds and botany – there were whole flocks of a different wading bird which I must identify and the banks were lush with plant-life. Of course, we also needed to concentrate on our course – it is possible to run aground on the Trent – apparently one of the boat in the ‘convoy’ behind us did and was fortunate to be snatched off by one of the other narrowboats. But we reckon that if you read the charts with a large dose of common sense and follow the lockie’s advice then you’ll be ok.
The lockies will point out that gravel barges with a 6′ draft will cruise the tideway at all states of the tide so a shallow-drafted narrowboat should have no problem. I was doubly sad that we hadn’t caught up with the gravel barge – we could just have followed their course along the deep channels! We didn’t have any hassle, despite being very cold in the wind and needed to add emergency layers – so much for Summer.
The turn into Torksey lock is simple as the channel is wide and there is a generous lock cut. It was still early in the day when we arrived so we decided to pass through the lock and explore the Fossdyke navigation beyond. We’d been recommended a trip to Saxilby, an apparently pleasant village with fine moorings and a good train service into Lincoln (it’s a week later and we’re there now – it hasn’t quite matched our expectations but more on that in about 10 posts’ time!). In the end we didn’t make it as far as Saxilby and we decided to moor overnight in Torksey. We filled with fuel at the retirement home in Torksey – £1.15 on a 60/40 split, though you can have any of the more common splits but not something with lots of decimal points. We then cruised up to the mooring bollards just round the bend from the mooring pontoon (obvious when you’re there). There was enough room for us to wind at the bend so we were pointing in the right direction for the morning.
Torksey is an unusual sort of place – there are a lot of permanent moorings here with good services and the waterway is surrounded by retirement chalet parks. The Fossdyke navigation stretches straight across the flat landscape – betraying its Roman origins. The high bank alongside the moorings offered a sheltered nook for Ty and the broad path at the top offered good rummaging. Ty was happier here than anywhere else on our holiday – we could finally let him have a little off-lead rummage and practice his recall, which is excellent when he’s not panicking. Ty and Lou had a little bobble then were happy to go back to their beds. Lynx came with us to explore a car boot sale that Richard had seen in the distance – and it was a distance – the only route was past the moored boats and onto the road (which did have a generous grass verge) – when we got there we found that dogs were not allowed! Lynx and I walked back to Torksey Lock while Richard had a look at the boot sale. This gave me time to I enjoy a superior pot of tea and a slice of peach and almond cake at the tea house. We read the information boards and had a mooch around, but by now Lynx was complaining that he’d had to walk while the other two were allowed to sleep, so we went back to the boat for a siesta. Later on we ate on board and mooched back down to the lock (minus hounds this time) to talk to the lockies and check our schedule for the morning.
We needed to be at the lock at 8.45am again and we got some instructions for how to approach West Stockwith Lock (see below and the next post). We also discussed our return journey in a fortnight’s time and discussed the tide times and conditions – we’ll be coming back on the lowest tide of the month so we’ll need our engine power to get back to Cromwell. I liked Torksey – the mooring was peaceful and silent – perfect for the hounds, especially Ty. We had a good night’s sleep and I hope that we stop over here on the way back – tide and time permitting…..
Approaching West Stockwith Lock (going downstream)
- If you are going downstream with the tide when you need to turn the boat right around so that you’re facing into the tide to give more control on the helm during the manoeuvre into the lock.
- Start to turn your boat round a short distance before the lock as the tide is likely to sweep you downstream of the lock entry as you complete the turn. Don’t turn too early.
- When you turn around, point your bow to the bank opposite the lock i.e. swing your stern into the faster flow on the outside of the bend – this means that the flow is helping rather than hindering, your turn
- When approaching the lock aim for the lock-keeper, who will be standing on the far edge of the lock entrance directing you in – follow his/her directions and you’ll be fine! We started a little too far off in mid channel so corrected that first then did a ferry glide towards the lock.
- Don’t turn into the lock too soon – keep aiming for the lock-keeper and turn into the lock when he tells you to – remember to keep your revs up (even up them a bit for the turn) until you’re right inside the lock and out of the influence of the tidal flow
This will all make sense when you see it! It is not a difficult lock entry, do not be put off.