Sunday, 17 June 2012

Glad tideings – just

"Go past the lock, turn round, then come back up and in." It was a simple, logical instruction from the lockie but it had our hearts in our mouths for the final few minutes of what had actually been a remarkably straightforward 25 miles down the tidal Trent.
People speak ill of this river; of its fast tides, its hidden sandbanks and its big commercial barges. And especially of the tricky exit from the river through Keadby Lock. Miss that and next stop is the Humber Estuary and the North Sea!
Waiting for the off at Torksey
Eric the super-helpful Torksey lock-keeper and his compatriot down at Keadby were reassuring, though, and came up with some timings to suit little 'ole Star. Leave at about 10.00 am and aim to take between four and five hours for the trip, bringing us to Keadby more or less at the turn of the tide. Simple.
And so it was. The weather – aside from a chill wind – was the best in days and, being a Sunday, there were none of those big commercial barges forcing their way through.
When you've seen one power station...
The combination of fast river flow and ebbing tide had us fairly racing along. Well, racing in Star terms: according to the km posts we were doing 5-6mph compared with our typical canal best of around 3! The river continues to curve and sometimes turn sharply through open, wide countryside, the rural landscape broken by a succession of power stations, sucking their cooling water from its plentiful supply.
You can feel the change of pace in the waterway; sometimes slow through the sinuous stretches, then speeding dramtically on the straights.
Brian has his wind ears flapping again
Ebbing tide reveals those shoals
Nowhere was faster than Gainsborough which we fairly flew through, passing a mixture of converted and redundant wharves and even - at high speed though - a Lidl. The Chesterfield Canal entry at West Stockwith lock marked half distance and from here northwards the river seemed to straighten and widen with more evidence of habitation in a string of straggly bankside villages.
Flying through Gainsborough
Finally the landmark M180 motorway bridge was in sight; just two miles to go and time to phone the lockie. "You'll see the lock" he added to his entry instructions.
Er, no you won't! We passed Keadby rail viaduct and an  enormous coaster thankfully moored up then searched for the lock entry among the cluttered bankside. We could see the control tower but where was the damned lock? In the end we were almost on it.
M180 bridge - just two miles to go
I went past, turned, revved hard and found myself going backwards as the little Petter engine fought the stream. I revved harder; we inched forwards. I revved harder than the poor b*gger had ever been revved before; we turned and, as the flow against us eased, we were in. Four and a half hours after we had left Keadby.
Keadby railway bridge
And a relieved skipper finally in the lock
Tonight we're moored up on a peaceful, rural spot along the Sheffield & South Yorkshire waterways. It's time for a beer.


Nancy and Max said...

Especially well earned as it was fathers day. Happy fathers and grandpa's day xxxxxxxx

Sarah said...

Our experience exactly! The lock entrance is invisible as you approach downstream. It would be much more helpful if they told you that!

Anonymous said...

Brian looks rather cold. Exciting trip so far.

I would suggest that you make a dash to get through Thorne as quick as you can and then the weather might improve. Every time I have done a boat review near there I have driven through sunshine only to be met by grey, misty and very dull days when I arrived, head for home and it brightens immediately.