Indigo Dreaming

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Archive for July 22nd, 2011

The Odyssey 2011: Day 23

Posted by indigodream on 22 July, 2011

Nottingham (County Hall) to Fiskerton

Monday 11th July

Indigo Dream on Nottingham's County Hall moorings...

We were on our own today so we had a relaxed start, enjoying the bustle of a city going about it’s work while we loafed around on board – isn’t that what holidays are all about?

Richard went out for a cycle ride while I had a little lie-in. He really enjoyed the exercise and took many photos of the impressive parklands that surround the river – many were developed by the Victorians and provide a wonderfully green space in what seems to be an awkwardly evolving city in places. There were a few boats on the move – from a tiny bathtub with an outboard motor to the large trip boats. I was surprised to see a large trip boat sporting St John’s Ambulance livery – I mused that we’d be a lot keener to renew our first aid training if it was being done on a boat – however it is one of the charity’s community projects.

The hounds were a bit miserable yesterday and they weren’t much better this morning – Lou seemed a bit stiff and Lynx was very quiet – maybe it was the heat. Ty relaxed a bit once we turned the boat’s engine off last night, but our customary 2am walk was interrupted by a joyriding motorbike racing along the towpath with its light off – I saw it from a distance and was desperate to bundle the dogs back on board before it got to us. I took them for a long walk in the morning, hoping it would cheer them up, but they just plodded along and seemed pleased to get back to the boat and their respective beds.

I was very interested by the waterfront – past the concrete ugliness of County Hall there are fine waterfront houses – ornate Victorian redbrick contructions. There were side streets leading off the waterfront – each with a set of metal floodgates – I wonder how often they’re used? It’s hard to imagine that the river would ever come up that far as the towpath must be at least 10 feet above the current water level and the river is wide here.

Rare photo of all three hounds having a bobble - Ty isn't sure abut the photographer - looks dodgy to him!

We set off in glorious sunshine, following a large trip boat down past the footbridge. Nicholson’s shows the limit of navigation at the footbridge but the trip boat seemed to be going a lot further so we followed it for a while but bottled out just as we got to the first bend! We turned and set off downriver.We’d got the excellent Boating Association’s charts for the non-tidal and tidal Trent so we knew that the lock-keepers kept in touch on Channel 74 on the VHF. We listened in and found it very useful to be aware of the traffic on the river – though it was very quiet below Nottingham compared to the upper reaches. The lock-keepers keep in constant communication, so we felt confident to keep in touch with them. As we approached Holme Lock we knew that a trip boat had gone in before us – we radioed ahead and found out that the lock was big enough for us as well. We slid in beside the trip boat, a 2-storey riverboat which towered above us. We learnt a useful lesson here – check the fall of the lock before you set your ropes! We roped up to the lockside bollards but as we descended I suddenly realised that our ropes weren’t long enough – I hastily tied on the nearest bit of rope, which happened to be attached to one of our fat fenders. All to the good, though I still ended up holding on to the fender above my head! Of course, when it came to casting off, the lockie sent us out first and I suddenly realised that the fender would probably get caught on the bollard if I tried to pull the rope past the bollard now 10 feet or more above my head so I had to get Richard forward to untie the supplementary rope (even the knot was out of my reach – d’oh!).

Lesson learnt – we had supplies of extra rope ready before the next lock but, typically, the remaining locks weren’t so deep or had guide wires down the side which made it much easier. In all fairness, Holme Lock has some guide wires too – I just didn’t spot them until it was too late as the ones near us were broken. The locks along this stretch are substantial, but all manned during the day at this time of year – by radioing ahead most were set for us by the time we got there. The deep locks have an impressive echo – I was very tempted to sing in them but I didn’t want to frighten the lockies!

The photos don't do justice to the beautiful surroundings - you'll just have to come and see it for yourself...

We were utterly entranced by the Trent – it is a large river and must be fearsome in flood. But today it was benign – much quieter than the Thames and more interesting than the Severn. We loved it here – there was abundant wildlife, including the blue flash of kingfishers, the graceful wheeling of black-headed gulls and common terns and some wading birds that I didn’t recognise. Settlements were few and far between, though there were cheerful fishermen and the occasional herd of cows to remind us that the river was within reach of civilisation. For once I was sorry to be in a powered boat – we once had a canoeing holiday down the Dordogne – I swore “never again” because of our apparent talent for capsizing, but I would love to go down the Trent in a rowing boat and observe the wildlife along the banks – we might even catch a glimpse of the Trent’s otters from a non-powered boat……

The fierce morning sunshine was replaced by cloud as the day wore on – better for us and the hounds, who benefitted from a river breeze (and the fan indoors). The landscape was bathed in a diffuse white light and the water took on an unctuous quality – you could believe you were in a different country or maybe even a different world…

Greygal had texted earlier to ask how we’d found the river – she’d observed (from the road) that it seemed a bit “samey” – and so it is, but it is the sameness of bank and river flowing together from beauty to beauty…..

We didn’t have any firm plans for mooring but had read about a likely spot in Fiskerton. At first sight it seemed impossible – a high piled wall with private mooring pontoons and steep ramps to the top. However just as we were passing, we spotted the pub’s mooring pontoon – linked to the shore by a sturdy concrete landing platform and steps – perfect. We moored up early in order to take advantage of the excellent dog-walking upstream – we knew it was there because we’d commented on it as we cruised past – miles of towpath surrounded by acres of golden fields. Unfortunately there were horned cattle with their calves in the second field along, but the first field provided more than enough entertainment for our hounds. There are signs asking that hounds be kept on lead for the first part of the path – mainly because it’s private land, but it’s very practical advice anyway as there’s a sheer drop of around 20′ into the river flanking the path. However, once we were past the gates into the fields Lou and Lynx could go off for a rummage. It’s a long

Approaching the moorings at Firskerton - there is space behind the 'dutch' barge - you can't see it until you're on top of it...

story but we lost the path at one point and ended up wending our way through a wheat field, trying to follow the tractor tyre tracks so as not to damage the crop. Lou went wild here and bounded through the wheat as if her legs were springs; Lynx soon joined her. Unfortunately Ty had to be on lead – there was an open gate in the distance and he’d cover that in no time if he panicked. Although the banks were steep, there were places where Lou could go down and have a joyful paddle in the river; surprisingly Ty joined her but Lynx doesn’t do paddling – he’ll tell you why in his diary!

We got back to the boat eventually, having chatted to various people in the pub garden who seemed equally fascinated by the boat and the hounds. We relaxed for a while and it was here I found a very unwelcome guest – Lou had a flea – and there’s never just one flea! Aargh – I’d forgotten to do their flea/worm spot-on treatment before leaving home – I wasn’t too concerned, thinking that we could buy a flea treatment on our way somewhere – this is the start of a saga which I’ll finish tomorrow…..

We found that dogs were not allowed inside the Bromley Arms, but it was fine enough to sit outside. We got chatting to a lady called Judy who has a lurcher and a whippet (I think) and, judging by her recent comment on his blog, has become one of Lynx’s many fans! We had some good pub grub here and went back to the boat well contented. Ty was more settled here – we couldn’t have wished for a quieter spot and he’s a hound who appreciates a bit of peace ‘n quiet…..

Photoblog:

Sorry, we’ve still got dark photos – it’s such a shame as they don’t do justice to the scenery – maybe we’ll get some more shots on the way back or Richard will get Adam’s suggested software up and running….

Nottingham's Parkland.....

View along part of the Queen's Walk and Victoria Embankment - just upriver from County Hall...

Imposing portal to Nottingham's memorial gardens...

St John's Ambulance community boat...... Now that would be a great venue for a first aid refresher!

Looking back towards Meadow Lane Lock - thats a 48-hour mooring pontoon adjacent to the lock on the left (as you look at the photo)...

I wonder what industry was housed here?

Whatever the industry it must have needed big ships - that basin is substantial, as are the mooring bollards on the top of the wall....

Elegant riverside villa on the outskirts of Nottingham...

The waterway structures tend to become more massive as we cruised downstream...

Weir on one side, white water course on the other - I guess we'd better use the lock....

We thought the river charts were very useful - even on the non-tidal stretch...

Sharing Holme Lock - the trip boat stayed in gear but there wasn't much turbulence - this lock is 12' deep - use long ropes or use the guide wires which are not so obvious when the lock is full....

We think this is the old ammunition wharf - presumably the bund behind is to protect the river from the explosives and vice versa!

The navigable arch of Radcliffe Viaduct Railway Bridge...

And the rest of the Radcliffe viaduct - three very different styles of construction (if you include the navigable arch)..

The charts are easy to follow because of these kilometre markers planted along the bank - they continue right down the tidal section - you'll see later how many kilometres we travelled...

These holes are homes to Sand Martins - there were flocks flitting around after insects in the afternoon air - we weren't quick enough to photograph them on the wing...

Inside Stoke Lock - the lock-keeper's huts are often elevated - a sign of where the river's been in the past maybe?

Some local residents...

Sweeping views...

Unctuous waters....

A local resident of the feathered kind...

Some more local residents.....

Oooooo, another human - and a whopping local resident in his net!

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