Thursday, 18 May 2017



Today's Navigations - River Trent, Fossdyke Canal

Today was mainly sunny, as forecast, although by the end of the afternoon it had clouded over (ready for the predicted return to rain tomorrow!) It was very much warmer than for some time.

Before leaving our overnight mooring, we went into the town for shopping. Newark is an interesting and pleasant town centre with plenty of old buildings and narrow streets.

However, it is a place that has not stopped  changing and many of the places in the centre have been re-purposed to re-developed entirely. It is not always easy to spot which. One of the banks has a large figurehead - it was once the Saracens Head Hotel and was an important coaching inn. The Great North Road passes through the centre where a large market square developed (and remains so today but not many of the stalls were occupied today). However, the main road was long ago diverted around the side streets and it must have become a significant bottleneck until the bypass was built, taking much of the traffic way.

Starbucks may look like an old building but the plaque on the front indicates that it was rebuyilt by Currys in the 1960's to reproduce the original facade of the former Moot Hall.

The chimney was for the boiler to heat the church but stands a short distance away from it.

Ossington Coffee Palace was an ever earlier (1882) reproduction and is currently Zizzi's restaurant. No doubt the Viscountess would not have approved of it selling alcohol!

After a trip to Morrisons to stock up, we returned to the boat. As we were unloading this boat made its way up to Town Lock - it must be about the maximum size to go through the next bridge which, when we came through yesterday seemed remarkably restrictive compared with all the others.

We set off, pausing briefly at Nether Lock to empty the elsan. The sun was shining and the cruise all day was very pleasant indeed.

Unlike some river navigations, this one does not generally have high banks and cattle and sheep from adjacent fields were drinking the water.

This splendid beast seems to know that it is a prize winner!

There are very few centres of habitation along the river - this is at North Muskham. As the pub name indicates, this was once the site of a ferry that connected communities on either side of the water, Now, Holme, the village opposite, is several miles away by road, into Newark and back out again!

Just over an hour later we arrived at Cromwell Lock, the last one before thew river becomes tidal. We went through and moored on the pontoon below for our lunch. We did not plan to stop but the lockie advised waiting half an hour, on the basis of the tides and the extra four feet of water after yesterday's rain.

Close to the lock is a memorial to the 10 volunteer soldiers who died in 1975 whilst on an exercise on the river.

When we last came this way five years ago, this gravel wharf was still in operation - we met one of the huge barges en route to the pick up its cargo. Alas this trade no longer operates and yet more lorries are added to the roads.

Windmills were once quite a part of the scene in this area but few remain, even is any form. At least this one looks safe for a good future.

Along the next stretch there seemed to be perhaps a rare breeds specialist as all of the cattle were each very different, At least one of these seems to know who is in charge!

And this one knows who is the most handsome.

We had to keep well away from three different sunken islands - with the extra water they were not visible but we would not have wanted to chance it!

There were once numerous power stations along the Trent, all benefiting from the water supply as needed for cooling the steam produced by the coal fired turbines. Many have now closed and demolished - when we came along here five years ago, at least the cooling towers were standing as one of our photos recorded. Now gone, High Marnham only has this water intake as evidence - or is it used for something else now?

The railway line that supplied the coal, almost continuously night and day, came lover this viaduct but it too is now abandoned. A close look suggests that it was reduced from two tracks to one at some stage.

Cottam power station now seemed quite close although it took some time before we reached it, just before Torksey. It is clearly operation at the moment but no doubt has an unlikely future.

A real island for a change although warning signs indicated that the western side also contains a sunken island.

With the sun still shining we eventually turned off the river at Torksey Junction, and immediately moored onto the visitor pontoon below the lock. Mike walked up to find the keeper and explained that we planned a meeting first thing tomorrow. He kindly offered to bring us up through the lock so that we could moor just above, normally reserved for boats just using the facilities. However, there is not a lot of traffic at the moment. (After we moored, we had a text to cancel the meeting because it is likely to be too wet)

Torksey Lock is unusual in a number of ways - not just for the teapots that are lined up on the beams of the lower lock gates and walls around the tearooms. It also has two sets of gates at either end so that it can function even when the river is higher than the Fossdyke Canal, and also protect the canal from that flood.

A main A road through Torksey passes right over the middle of the lock. However, the bottom gates were probably added after the road bridge was first built as there is another set of gates but which provide passage only for quite short boats. We would only just make it. However this set is rarely used now.

26.5 Miles - 3 Locks


  1. They do sometimes use the inner gates if the water levels are a little low on the Fossdyke and there are only small boats wanting to go down onto the river.

    Not seen them used for a while now though.

  2. Where are we likely to spot you?