River, city, canal, suburbia, river, marina, completion of another phase, river, canal… The story of the last three days is one of changes both in setting and in situation.
Wednesday: on a sunny morning, thick-headed from the night-time squawks of insomniac geese, the Cleddau and Tentatrice crews left the National Water Sports moorings and headed the couple of miles towards Nottingham. Waterfront properties take on a different look hereabouts, an ostentatious residence, upmarket apartments, the home of Nottingham Forest football team and County Hall providing contrast and astonishment in equal measure. In the water there was a practice rescue under Lady Bay Bridge
while once on the Nottingham Canal a tent was in need of retrieval. After days of wide water it shouldn’t have been a surprise to feel confined in the cut, close up to fishing folk, overshadowed by tall buildings, glimpsing trams, buses, the top of a castle and an enormous British Waterways warehouse.
Onwards, in sunshine and showers, past loo-planted flowers – and an array of Portaloos. The Nottingham and Beeston Canal rejoins the Trent at Beeston Lock. Here is a popular waterfront, there are good walks and Long John Silver is perched in a beacon basket.
On Thursday the cruise continued up the beautiful river, passing a nature reserve and two strange structures. Then came Cranfleet Lock (and a striking litterbin) a half mile stretch of canal, and sudden arrival at the vast watery junction at Trent Lock. Know what waterway you’re looking for here – or you might find yourself on the wrong canal or a different river!
Onwards, on the Trent – to Sawley. .And here was a surprise. In twenty years of waterways travels never had the Cleddau crew been through Sawley Locks. There is a pair of them, they are totally electrified and the control panel was unfamiliar too. And what an irony, for it was just a half mile further on that Cleddau (the unloved, unlovely nb Sir William Pennyman) was discovered in March 1994 by the would-be Captain and brother-in-law Salty. Her departure in April of that year had been westwards and the 2011 trip along the Trent and Mersey Canal had not included the Sawley locks.
So at Sawley Marina (with 600 berths the largest inland boat park) Phase 4 of the Summer Cruise has drawn to a close… The Tentatrice crew will resume their trip (home to Droitwich Spa, via the Caldon Canal) next week, while Cleddau continues north and west to the Macc (but via the Shropshire Union and possibly the Weaver…)
Stats fans, this is for you:
Phase 1: Poynton (Macc Canal) to Braunston 116 miles 53 locks
Phase 2: (joined by Tentatrice) Braunston to Bedford 194 miles 88 locks
Phase 3: Bedford to Boston (via the Wash) 136 miles 19 locks
Phase 4: Boston to Sawley 100 miles 16 locks
TOTALS: 546 miles 176 locks
After about ten weeks of cruising companionship the end of Phase 4 deserved some marking – there was shared time in the Sawley laundrette and a shared last dinner aboard Cleddau.
Friday. Bid farewell by the Boat Dog, Cleddau cast off, solo. Solo for the first time since 30th May. Under the M1, across the Trent (again) and into the cut for the Trent and Mersey Canal. The water seemed flat, almost lifeless, with none of the river’s sparkle and vitality. There were close up views of apple trees and cheerful gardens, of a scarecrow and a pair of combine harvesters. The six tough double locks over about 11 miles were shared by nb Northern Lights. Tomorrow comes the final transition, back to narrow locks. Phase 5 is now under way…
For fans of unusual boat names here are a few from the past few days: