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The Odyssey 2019: Day 5

Posted by alexgrehyauthor on 28 July, 2019

Loughborough to Nottingham

Sunday 2nd June

This was a crazy busy weekend where we managed to travel a huge 500 mile ring by car, boat and train!

Scenic walk round the grounds of Toghill House Farm – super hound-friendly B & B

Late on Friday night we drove down to the outskirts of Bath, here we were due to attend a wedding on Saturday afternoon. I’ll give a shout out here to a lovely dog-friendly B & B – Toghill House Farm. We booked at the last minute, so we had to take their last room, which was a charming but tiny twin room with just enough room for us, Saffy and Alex. We knew we’d come to the right place when we met the resident dogs- a big hairy lurcher called Ralphy and a little whippet called Ferris – perfect. The beds were soft and springy so it was inevitable that Saffy would be the one who discovered tandem trampolining as she bounced from bed to bed – it was by far the quickest way to get around as there was very little floor space for walking!

The following morning we had a fine cooked breakfast, with quality control provided by Ralphy, who took the job very seriously. A lot of so-called “dog friendly” establishments do not allow you to leave your dogs unattended in the room, which is very restrictive. However, the owners of Toghill House Farm were very relaxed when we had to leave the hounds in the room while we went to the wedding. We took the hounds for a long (by their standards) walk around the farm’s abundant footpaths first thing – this wore them out! Although we always worry about leaving them for extended periods of time, it was obvious, when we got back from the wedding, that they had been fast asleep all afternoon. I had worried that they would be too hot in the tiny room, but the farm is on a high hill with commanding views over the Avon valley far below- this meant that a cool breeze kept the dogs more comfortable than we were in the sunshine of the luxurious wedding venue and its extensive gardens. We had thought to drive up to the boat in the evening, but we made the best of the room booking (we booked two nights so that we could leave the dogs there in the afternoon). The Farm is by a surprisingly busy B road, so traffic noise was an issue at times when the local contractors were moving combine harvesters and giant tractors around the countryside. It also meant that we were super-careful with the hounds on leads, they’d have no chance if they strayed onto the road. The resident dogs had been trained from a very young age so stay within the small garden area, thought the owner said that they’d lost their previous lurcher when he ran onto the road – a cautionary tale 😦

We saw some unusual craft today..

Anyway, bright and early on Sunday morning we headed off to Loughborough, arriving at the boat around 10.30am. The engineer had been very busy indeed and Indigo Dream was in very fine form having had:

  • an engine service
  • new fanbelts
  • additional bilge pump fitted
  • Vetus seal slipped out for inspection and replaced slightly moved to avoid a slight lip.

Richard took the car off to train station- the parking’s very reasonable and it would be extremely convenient for the trip home. He took his bike with him so that he could make a speedy return to the boat. In the meantime, I cast off and headed towards the River Soar. The first lock was a lot closer than I’d anticipated, but luckily there are lock landings on both sides. This meant that I could take the easy option of mooring where the lively wind wanted to put me. This was on an enclosed offside mooring so I didn’t have to worry about the hounds escaping while I went to set the lock. I had just opened the gate when a boat approached from Loughborough Basin. The lady of the boat was lovely and offered to do the winding while I brought Indigo Dream in and shut the gate behind me. Sometimes you just get lucky with the right locking partners at the right time! We were barely halfway down when Richard arrived on his bike.

I’m always amazed at how they fit a steam engine into such a small craft…

We shared the next few locks with them – they were on their was to the Erewash to have something nasty detangled from their bow thruster tube, but sadly for us, they intended to moor up early that day. Never mind, we soon picked up another locking partner who kept us company for a few locks. The canal/river was much busier than we’ expected, with a nice flow of upstream boats to keep the locks set our way.

I had forgotten how rural the River Soar is – there were several opportunities for Saffy and Alex to get off for a run around the locks. They are reasonably reliable on the towpath where there’s nowhere for Saffy to scarper and where Alex can run back to his safe place on the boat when he’s burnt off a little nervous energy. I have very fond memories of cruising this was with Lou and Lynx, who had excellent recall (sometimes!) and who had some splendid rummages along this stretch.

We had a debate in Kegworth Deep Lock as to whether a pair of boats would need to rope up, but the CRT signs are pretty emphatic and there have been cillings there. I recalled how turbulent this lock had been on the way up in 2011, so I roped up, but we locked down very smoothly and I needn’t have worried.

nb Stalwart, who have three greyhounds on board – not that any of our hounds were visible – it was raining!

We had a funny encounter at Redhill Lock. An upcoming boat crew asked us whether we’d been on the Chesterfield Canal. We were a bit bemused, we have been there but it was back in 2011! It turns out that they have three greyhounds on board and they remembered meeting us on the Chesterfield one the day that we had eight on board. Well, I guess that it was quite a memorable number πŸ˜€

The afternoon’s cruise had been marred by intermittent showers, a very brisk wind and a real chill in the air – such a contrast to the lovely weather we’d enjoyed on the Saturday. Nonetheless, we were keen to press on to Nottingham so that we would have an easier day on Monday. Our target for the weekend was Kings Marina in Newark, where we’d booked a week’s mooring.

We were just going through Trent lock when we heard a squawk on the VHF – we’ve been keeping it tuned to the ship-to-ship channel that the St Pancras Cruising Club had set for this particular convoy. An old friend, Simon on nb Scholar Gypsy, was just single-handing along the Erewash and was less than half an hour behind us. We waited for him at Cranfleet Lock (after he had a weed hatch work-out) and then had a convivial cruise into Nottingham aided by communication with other members of the convoy who were already moored at Nottingham’s town steps. Although we were in good company, I had a major sense of humour failure by the time we got to Meadow Lane Lock – I find the canal through Nottingham really dreary, and I was cold, damp and thoroughly fed up with fighting with the wind.

Nonetheless, Indigo Dream and Scholar Gypsy cruised triumphantly side by side under Trent Bridge to join nb Coracle and Mobius. Luckily, the wind was actually blowing in our favour, so I was able to moor up neatly – always essential when there’s an audience of fellow boaters!

Despite being near the famous cricket ground, there are very few amenities within “tired boater” walk of the moorings; thank heavens for Weatherspoons is all I can say. We trooped off for some simple pub grub and enjoyed catching up with the St Pancras boat crews. We’d been keeping in touch via Whatsapp, social media and, when in range, the VHF radio, but you can’t beat having a drink with old friends.


The beds at the B & B were very bouncy and Saffy soon got the hang of trampolining between them!

Ralphy, Toghill House Farm’s resident lurcher – he was very well-behaved and didn’t beg at the breakfast table, though he was happy to take a piece of sausage in the hallway (with his owner’s permission) πŸ™‚

Ferris the resident whippet was also available for sausage quality control

The farm walks include a wooded section, whch was nicely shady on a warm day.

The only available room was a twin – Alex was happy to sleep on the floor in the doughnut bed we brought from home but Saffy insisted on proving that a single bed was big enough for two provided I tucked up small in a corner…:-)

The mooring pontoons at Redhill on Soar are scarily askew…

Another unusual design.

Be sure to head left for the channel to Nottingham – luckily the flow over the weir was tame and the sprightly wind wanted to take me in that direction today!

Old friend nb Scholar Gypsy caught up with us in Nottingham – by Sunday we had ourselves a convoy of four boats πŸ™‚

The arch hides a mooring under the old Fellows, Morton & Clayton building – I thought there were boats in there but I’m not sure how you access them. On a day like today, the idea of a dry mooring within easy reach of the pub was very appealing πŸ™‚

Might be a bit tight on headroom!

The old BW building imposes its will on the waterway πŸ™‚



One Response to “The Odyssey 2019: Day 5”

  1. Thanks again for waiting for me at Cranfleet – that was much appreciated. Currently moored next to Serena Rose, of whom more anon on this blog in due course ….

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