Between two castle towns…

Nottingham to Newark: 21 miles, 7 locks by river, 21 miles by road.

From the babbling waters at the Shugborough Estate Essex Bridge (photo from 16th April)    to Holme Lock,     just east of Nottingham, is 43¾ miles and 28 locks.  A notice beside Holme Lock provides some vital statistics: the lock chamber is approximately 40 feet deep when full and the contents would fill about 10,000 bath tubs. Big lock – serious river!

About 2 miles further on the night’s (Thursday’s) destination had been reached – and for the first, but by no means the last time, Cleddau was moored by mid and bow ropes, the stern projecting well beyond the end of the pontoon.    This was a glorious spot just above Stoke Bardolph Lock. (For some, according to the disembodied voices heard over the boat’s VHF radio, this would be “topside the lock”.)  It proved to be a mooring of strong visual delights:

A clapper gate    gave entrance to the Netherfield Lagoons Nature Reserve


and to the delightful woodland walks in Stoke Woods.         

That evening two Chesterfield Canal heritage boats, breasted up together, chugged by.  Wouldn’t they make a good picture for a calendar… 

The natural life is very much in evidence: cows wading at the water’s edge,    a very young lamb bravely paddling and sipping,    a flotilla of swans gathered near an outfall into the river,   and small white birds that swooped and danced overhead, that dived for insects and swirled in aerobatic routines (pictures unfortunately not obtained!)

Some stretches of the river are well sheltered between cliffs and tree lined banks    while others are more exposed. Brisk winds at one point gave the impression of riding the waves.    Buffeting can come too from the wash created by vessels such as these,    when sometimes the steerers are perched so high above the waterline they do not notice the narrow boats creeping towards them… Had force of wind – or water – or both seen to the demise of this cruiser?    Further on huge tree trunks were lodged on the lengthy unprotected Averham Weir. 

Fiskerton Wharf was another overnight mooring; a narrow boater obligingly moved off to give space for the hovering two narrow boats.    The waterways are less congested in these parts and that was one of several kind gestures extended by boaters to others looking for mooring space. 6 road miles from Newark, Fiskerton seemed a quiet but affluent village: there are large old houses with well-tended gardens and gated entrances, two buildings that may have had religious origins,


attractively designed gates from gardens onto the river bank  , neat passage ways from street to riverside,  carpets of blossom,  and lilac trees in full bloom. 

In more than one place it seems that older properties, even quite ordinary ones, have had successful makeovers which make the most of their riverside outlook. 

As the river approaches Newark the vast Staythorpe Power Station hoves into view.     Although the modern (2010) installation is gas powered, previous power stations here were coal fired. It is not hard to visualise Trent barges delivering coal to these wharves. 

Just a few metres further on the Trent pours over the Averham Weir    while the navigation proceeds along the man-made Newark Dyke.      Reeds crowd the edges    and then it is not long before the noise of the A46 traffic,     the tall spire of St Mary’s Church     and the imposing curtain wall of Newark Castle hove into view.

Newark’s castle, dominant as it looks, has been a stage set for centuries. Slighted by the Parliamentarians there is little of the original castle defences left to explore… but what there is in Newark (and what a chance find this was) is the  National Civil War Centre, an outstanding museum. More on that next time…

Distance and locks since leaving Aqueduct Marina: 161 miles, 79 locks

Distance and locks remaining to Bedford: 164 miles, 20 locks

Update: Cleddau and Tentatrice arrived at Cromwell Lock on Sunday afternoon to await an 0900 “penning” (local term) down onto the tidal section of the Trent on Monday morning.


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