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The journeys of the Narrowboat Indigo Dream

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Archive for August 2nd, 2011

The Odyssey 2011: Day 26 (2)

Posted by indigodream on 2 August, 2011

West Stockwith to Clarborough

Thursday 14th July

Indigo Dream in Misterton - admire the new blacking for almost the last time - the narrow locks further up took their toll.....

I decided to split this day into two posts because the tidal Trent and the Chesterfield Canal are two such different waterways it actually felt as if we’d done two days in one!

After we’d serviced the boat, we set off past the basin’s pub, which smelled very appetising, and onto the Chesterfield Canal proper. We passed a line of long-term moorings and the boaters there warned us about the weed in the canal.Most boaters that we’ve met seem to consider that the words “weed” and “Chesterfield Canal” are synonymous but while it’s true that the crystal clear waters do support a fine growth of weed, it didn’t actually catch round our prop – we went down the weed hatch maybe three times during our total of six days on the canal (that includes our trip back) – that’s not too bad at all!

We slowly passed through the neat basin at West Stockwith and the modern waterscape of Misterton – the canal seemed pleasant enough. But then the Chesterfield Canal showed us its magic – acres of rolling scenery which became more inspiring as we gradually climbed towards the far summit. The locks are broad and widely spaced here – how strange it was to be locking up – other than coming off the Tideway we’ve been steadily dropping towards sea level since we left Birmingham – it feels like an age ago. The canal is tranquil, so we were surprised to find that BW keys are needed to unlock anti-vandal mechanisms at every lock. We found out later that the problem here isn’t your average yob emptying the canal for the fun of it – they have a serious problem with fish thieves, who drain the pounds in order to pick up the stranded carp (in particular).

The more we cruised the more we marvelled at the lush beauty of this waterway – sometimes narrow and intimate, at other times a thin green ribbon lost in a golden lanscape.It is like cruising through an art gallery – at times the landscape is as delicately translucent as a watercolour, in others the colours are as bold as a Van Gogh – a vista painted by a deity with access to an infinite colour pallette. The water was crystal clear so that presented an underwater view as well.

The canal was very quiet apart from the sound of our engine and the twittering of sparrows. We only saw two other boats – one cruiser on the move and one narrowboat just mooring up as we passed by.

Bothered??? Lou ignoring the locals....

The towpath is generally shallow and overgrown – this means that a certain amount of planning is needed when mooring. Most of the moorings are signed as 24-hour but there are some stretches of Armco which I assume are the usual 14-day towpath moorings; the canalside pubs generally have moorings and some of the boat clubs also have places for visitors. I did make a note of the fine mooring bollards and a stretch of Armco just past the Drakeholes Tunnel and there is another stretch of Armco between Clayworth and Hayton – the latter has spectacular views over the surrounding countryside.

Ty seemed to relax a little on the Chesterfield Canal – there was nothing to trouble him beyond the sound of the engine (which really does bother him). Richard took them for a few walks and Ty was confident enough to have a run at Gringley Lock. It is a great canal for hounds!

We’d planned to moor at Hayton, but unfortunately the pub mooring was occupied so we moved on to Clarborough. There is room for maybe five narrowboats on the moorings outside the Gate pub and there was plenty of room. We aimed for the mooring rings at the far end, in front of the cottages – this gave us direct access to the towpath away from the road and pub car park. This was a “Ty-friendly” spot – he could get off the boat and we could steer him onto the well-‘hedged’ towpath where he could have an off-lead bobble. Ty did get spooked at one point, but he ran straight back to the boat, where I was waiting to catch him just in case he decided to run further!

With the hounds walked, we headed off to the Gate pub – dogs are allowed in the garden but not inside (apparently they were allowed in the bar but some punter complained and they’re now banned – sighhh).

A passing walker had told us that the pub menu was ‘unusual’ so we weren’t sure what to expect. Sure enough, when we got inside the gate had the classy ambience of a fine dining establishment and the menu featured delicacies like pigs trotters (these cheap cuts are now very trendy!). We anticipated great things but the food was very disappointing – almost there but not quite. I found myself taking notes and drafting a restaurant review but I stopped myself – it seemed a bit obscene to be complaining about an overdone steak when there is famine in Africa; though afterwards I thought that a famine in a far country is not an excuse for bad cooking!. The service was pleasant but dim – when it was time to pay the bill Richard used his credit card and left a cash tip – our waitress thought that the tip was my share and that we were splitting the bill! Ah well, the prices were high-end pub grub so maybe our expectations had been over-elevated by the swanky setting.

We didn’t have much time to muse on our meal – when we got back to the boat we had unpleasant stuff to deal with. We’d wormed the hounds yesterday so that was one problem solved; however Ty seems to have reacted to the wormer with a particularly noxious diarrhoea – it’s the first time that any of our hounds have had an accident in the boat. Poor Ty – at least he was more settled here – the peace and quiet of the Chesterfield Canal is suiting him nicely.

Photoblog:

The countryside is never far away....

There are new views around each bend...

Colourful landscape...

The rusty ripeness of oilseed rape - what an impact this crop has had on the scenery...

Golden cornfields - or is it wheat - or barley?

This old building is the remnant of a brickworks...

More views - open country and open skies...

Charming....

The clean lines of Gringley lock cottage...

This canal just gets better and better....

Reflections....

The approach to Drakeholes Tunnel - there are swallows swooping around in the tunnel - quite surreal...

useful moorings by the 'south' portal of Drakeholes Tunnel - the bollards are 24-hour but there is armco beyond...

Even the dead trees add something to the landscape...

Poppies...

The stretch leading to Clayworth is particularly scenic...

Approaching Clayworth...

The outskirts of Clayworth....

I can't resist these views...

Rays of light.....

The last of the days photos....

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