Indigo Dreaming

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Archive for July 25th, 2011

The Odyssey 2011: Day 24

Posted by indigodream on 25 July, 2011

Fiskerton to Muskham (via Cromwell Lock!)

Tuesday 12th July

It was a lovely morning and Fiskerton is a very picturesque mooring so we took our time – I took the dogs for a long walk and Richard got chatting to the locals.

Barge Joni - Nice! That's the pub mooring pontoon just behind her - there is room for a 60 footer....

Ty liked it here – once we’d walked out of sight of the houses and he was surrounded by fields he relaxed enough to wee and everything else. Now, we have become experts on poo, having picked up so much of the stuff in 20-years of dog ownership. In all those years I’ve never found anything horrible, so I was revolted to find many segments of tapeworm in Ty’s morning deposit. Oh no, none of our dogs has ever had worms of any sort. Now this is the next stage of the flea saga – dogs can only get tapeworm from eating fleas or mice/rats – I was sure that Ty hadn’t eaten a rodent but I knew from Lou’s inspection yesterday that we’d had fleas around. Poor Ty – the chances of them catching anything nasty when I’d only been a couple of weeks late with their regular treatment were miniscule but that’s so typical – aaaarghhhh!!!!!

This meant that some of the morning was spent trying to find details of local vets or pet shops that would be able to sell us the appropriate treatment. We identified several in the nearby town of Newark, right on the river, so that became our priority.

However we still had time to have a nose around barge Joni, moored on the pontoon in front of us. She’s a truly magnificent vessel – somewhere between a dutch barge and a luxury cruiser. She’s brand new and the owner is just finishing the internal fit-out, having apparently bought the part-finished boat for a bargain price. The builder kindly showed us around and we tried not to drool on the fittings – she was tremendous. Richard likes to admire new boats, but he was quizzing the builder quite seriously. I think he saw Joni as the perfect craft for our post-retirement exploration of the European waterways – I keep saying that Indigo Dream is too small (or rather too low). Hmmm – I like the way he’s thinking – especially when the owner unwrapped a plasma TV screen roughly the length of Indigo Dream!!! There’s a story behind Joni’s build – she is a Pinder Hull, originally built by Baker Street Marine, which I think is no more. We took the builder’s name – David Brettle – just in case – if he doesn’t retire before us then we might ask him to build our next dream boat (and before you ask, we didn’t win the euromillions jackpot, well not yet, give us time!).

Staythorpe power station - the first of many on the lower reaches of the Trent....

With this cheering vision in our imaginations, we set off downriver in good spirits. The river is wide and impressive here as it meanders round the monumental Staythorpe power station and the lengthy catch of the Averham Weir. Past the weir, the river narrows as it wends its way between Newark’s historic waterfront buildings. We liked the look of Newark – it’s so obviously an old boating town which has retained many of its original structures such as the “Trent egg packers” warehouse and, of course, the ruined castle. The town looked well worth a visit and there were plenty of wall moorings in town (too high for the hounds) but the castle pontoons were full. However we needed access to some shops so we went on to Kings Marina on the outskirts of town.

We knew that there was a retail park with a Pets at Home and a vet opposite the marina and got some directions from the friendly lockie at Newark Town Lock. Kings Marina is another BWML site so it was easy for us to arrange a berth (free of charge) for a few hours while Richard cycled off to get flea and worm treatments and I walked the hounds. There was a brisk wind which made manoeuvering difficult, but luckily there’s a generous amount of turning space between the pontoons. The staff in the marina were exceptionally friendly and helpful – I really appreciated their obliging attitude as I was feeling anxious and guilty at the parlous state of our hounds’ health. Richard got the requisite medicines from the vet surgery opposite Pets at Home – he reckons that the retail park is around 5 minutes walk from the marina entrance (over the river footbridge). He also bought the hounds a hot chicken from Waitrose – they needed it – they’ve been quite gloomy company on our holiday so far.

We had lunch at the marina and finally set off – it was difficult to move on from a place where we’d been made so welcome, but we had to get to the vicinity of Cromwell Lock ready for our transit of the tideway on the following morning.

Averham weir is so long - a small section at the top has a protective boom and there wasn't a significant pull today but it muse be fearsome when the river's up....

Once again we stayed in communication with the lockies via the VHF and enjoyed a very efficient passage downriver. The lockie at Newark Nether Lock was very taken with our artwork – we’ve had an unusual number of compliments for it – they obviously appreciate a touch of the gothic up here!

Below Nether Lock the river feels more estuarial – it’s no wider than before but the banks suddenly become lower and the floodplains more evident as the trees are replaced by sandy beaches and open fields. We spotted a large river junction on the left – we thought it was a tributary but it was just a branch of the Trent rejoining the main navigation – it certainly added to the gravitas of this lower section.

We’d really enjoyed the unexpected beauty of the Trent, but it was late afternoon by the time we reached Cromwell Lock and the weather had become gloomy, cold and very windy. In these conditions, Cromwell Lock and its environs looked very uninviting – the mooring pontoon was full, as was the low wall – there was plenty of mooring room on the high wall but that would be totally impractical for the hounds. We’d been advised to pop in and talk to the lockie about arrangements for joining the tideway the following morning so we climbed up the ladder (leaving dogs on board) and went off to talk to Les, the duty lockie. Whereas we’d been prepared for warnings and tales of peril, Les was supremely unconcerned and gave the blithe impression that the tideway was a piece of cake – even for narrowboats! We chatted for a while and I took his details – he’s a narrowboater and is interested in being part of a convoy across the Wash – we have contact details for an organiser somewhere but since we left Nottingham we’ve been in an internet black hole so that’s a job for later.

With the Cromwell pontoon full, Les gave us some useful advice about where we could moor upstream so we headed back towards the village of Muskham and the off-puttingly rickety mooring pontoons outside the Muskham Ferry pub – despite appearances to the contrary, they are BW moorings rather than the pub’s.

Les had advised us to go for the last upstream pontoon, turn front into it and ground the bow in the silt – this would keep the boat steady while the flow pushed the back into the pontoon. This plan worked up to a point, but the subsequent relationship between front deck and pontoon would have made offloading the dogs very difficult. Cue an interesting 10 minutes while I turned the boat into the flow and found that the wind blowing upstream was stronger than the flow of the water downstream. It took a few revs to get her near to the pontoons and get the stern into a position where I could throw a rope to Richard to guide her in. In the end, two local men, who were launching a small boat from a trailer, helped Richard to pull her in – the wind was a right nuisance. The pontoons are short so we could only tie back and centre ropes – on another day, the flow from the river would have kept her in place; however under the circumstances, the brisk wind kept trying to push the front off the pontoon, making the centre rope groan and grind all night long – bah!

Having said that, because the bow was somewhat out in the river (we put a light on the bow overnight) we had the most stunning view upriver from the galley window – always a silver lining 🙂

But we were in a secure mooring within 15 minutes of Cromwell Lock – we needed to get there for 8.45am. The Muskham Ferry also looked like a decent pub. We settled in and took the hounds for a walk – Ty quite liked it here too and was relatively relaxed, though it was pitiful to see him looking longingly at the local houses – he feels so much more secure in a house! Lou perked up here as a local savage, a dog who viciously defended her garden gate, had a go at her through the bars. Lou got stuck in and a ferocious barking/snarling match ensued – both alpha females seemed to enjoy it immensely but it would have been a different story if that gate hadn’t been in place. I hoped that we wouldn’t meet them out and and about.

It was still early so Richard decided to do his pre-tideway engine checks before dinner – oops! As he was checking the filters a crucial bolt sheared off, incapacitating the engine. It was such a tiny part but there was no going anywhere without it. We rang RCR and none of their local engineers or contractors had the relevant part; we could have taken a bolt off the Webasto filters but that would have meant draining down the central heating, which is a pain and would have left us without hot water in the morning.

At this point the kindness of strangers came to the fore – the fellow that had helped us pull the boat in has a garage/workshop – he made a huge effort to search for the relevant bolt and, by the following morning had found the part – hurrah! We were able to buy him a drink at the pub as a “thank you” and may see if we can offer him a cruise on the way home – by chance his mother-in-law owns a rescue greyhound! We ate in the pub – they do very good pub grub with huge portions – just what we needed after a rather fraught evening.

We went to bed relieved, but had a bad night’s sleep with the constant creaking of our centre rope – nonetheless we can recommend this mooring spot (there’s enough room for around six narrowboats here) provided there no wind to bother your ropes!

Photoblog:

Fisherman being mugged by a swan!

Part of Newark's historic waterfront....

Newark Castle...

There are some fine old warehouses in Newark...

The wall moorings in Newark....

This is Trent Brodge in Newark - Nicholson's says the arches can't be widened because it's classed an ancient monument - it looks as though the headroom might cause a bit of consternation too (not for a lowly narrowboat of course)....

Facade....

Old faces and new bodies - those facades must be listed - at least the new buildings behind have been built of a sympathetic brick...

nb Engineer at Kings Marina - a proper boating pin-up - josher, tug deck, rivets - phwoar!

Waiting for Newark Nether Lock - under the A46....

This is an oystercatcher - there are many of these birds along the river but I had to look up what they were - I've never seen them before....

I wonder what this is - the cable crosses the river to a similar structure on the far bank - it looks like a ferry of some sort but I can't find any references to it...

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