Sunday, 3 June 2012

Onto the Trent

Well we’ve left the security blanket of the canals behind and we’re out on the big, wide River Trent.

The first time – the only time – we had been on the Trent before was battling against a fast rising river in heavy rain and thunder to reach the canal before the river got too fast and fierce and the floodgates closed closed it off. Understandably, then, we were a bit twitchy about a return visit.
But it was a milder, quieter river yesterday with only a hint of rain but a chilly breeze all the same. And we were running downstream. Even so, the first couple of miles are quite a daunting introduction. The Trent & Mersey joins it at a wide, watery crossroads where the river comes in from the right, the un-navigable Derwent from the left and the river ahead is wide and fast.
From here a series of automatic flood barriers and manned locks take you past lines of moored craft to another ‘crossroads’ where the Soar joins from the right, the Erewash Canal from the left, the Trent departs down a huge weir and we go on through another, quieter cut.
Only then, finally, is it the river proper – and yesterday it was delightful; a remarkably rural waterway, presumably because its propensity to flood has driven housing back from its banks. Save, that is, for the timber shanties on their brick props that seem to accompany most rivers, and the occasional ultra-modern house on steel stilts.
Star loves deep rivers. The depth of water under it lets our modest motor push along at a tidy lick. And I enjoy them too. There’s a real variety of boats that you don’t get on a canal, from delightful Dutch sailing barges to handsome mahogany launches to old hulks of all sorts.
The Trent is a real twister of a river and that’s a cause for trickiness, with extensive shallows and shoals building up on the inside of most bends. Stick to the outside or at least the middle is the rule or you might end up stuck.
After only a couple of hours we were into the outskirts of Nottingham where another cut diverts traffic away from the main river and through the city. It’s created from the remains of the old Beeston and Nottingham canals and steers you a dreary course past estates, the large Boots factory, Players fag factory and more works of various sorts. A typical back door entry into a big town, in short.
Finally we moored up in a line of narrowboats and plastics near a waterside Sainsbury’s on the edge of the town centre and gave a happy sigh of relief after a successful first day on the river.

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