Wednesday 31 May 2017

West Stockwith

Today's Navigations - Fossdyke, River Trent, Chesterfield Canal

We awoke to a wonderful, warm and sunny day with blue skies right the way through. Before we set off, Mike walked into the village for a paper and a few other food items.

We cast off about 9 o'clock as we wanted to be at Torksey in good time, just in case there was any change in plans.

Apart from being disappointed once again about the lack of effectiveness of the deer ramps, there was not much to report until just before the lock.

Coming around the last bend we had sight of Cottam Power Station, with a complex pattern of airplane trails in the sky above. The trails seemed to be keeping their identity for a long while, suggesting that there was no wind at a high level. Cotton began operation in 1969 and has a capacity of 2000MW. Although its cooling system recycles as much of the water from the turbines as it is possible, the station still requires over 100 million litres from the Trent each day, half of which is to replace evaporation. Flow in the river is around 2000 million litres a day.

We moored at the service point as our first task was to dispose of rubbish, empty the elsan and fill the water tank, all conveniently at the same place. The lock keeper came and chatted with us. We called the keeper at West Stockwith and he confirmed the times which he gave us last week. We also had a visit from a swan family.

The Torksey keeper was keen to let us down soon after midday so we had a short stay on the visitor mooring pontoons below the lock whilst we had lunch. A single hander came down the locks with us but he was off backup the river towards the River Soar.

There were quite a few boats on the mooring as this is also a convenient stopover for boats on the river who need to take a break without wanting to come onto the Fossdyke itself,

Juts before two we set off - hoping to lay the ghosts of out last experience of the tidal Trent, albeit in flood, from five years ago! We began making our way against the incoming tide and managed only just over 4 mph. By the time we had reached Knaith, this had risen to 5.5 mph and at Gainsborough the GPS was reporting in excess of 7! The was the difference between an incoming and an ebbing flow. At these higher speeds, steering is somewhat heavy and around tight bends can raise the pulse rate just a bit!

Just after the turn, the ruins of Torksey Castle, a 16C manor house, come into view - it has been derelict like this for several centuries!

We continued down the ever-widening river - a former windmill marks the sharp bend at Marton.

There are few settlements closer to the river from here downstream - most little more than tiny hamlets, such as here at Littleborough.

Sadly, the trees prevent us from getting a really good view of Burton Chateau. This is a folly, built in the 18C in the grounds a similarly decorative hall, as a weekend retreat for a Gainsborough lawyer and is now in the care of the Landmark Trust, so that it is once more a summer holiday place!

Knaith Hall was originally built in the 15C but has had several adaptations and re-modelling, the latest in the Victorian period.

Gradually the two power stations at West Burton, just outside Gainsborough, came to dominate the skyline. One station is the twin of Cottam whilst the other is a more recent gas fired station.

Shortly afterwards we passed the large buildings of the flour mills, originally Smith Bros Albion Works, the site is now part of Rank Hovis. Since the family firm sold out, the business seems to have had a number of corporate owners and we have not confidently tracked where it is now!

At one time, Gainsborough had a number of large industrial businesses, many lining the river wharf, but all seem to have disappeared, apart from this flour mill.

This housing development at Morton Corner, another sharp bend in the river, looks fairly recent - we cannot recall noticing it five years ago.

As we passed Gainsborough, we checked in with the West Stockwith keeper who suggested we slowed down a little (not easy as we were being carried along on the ebb flow at some speed). Before long the lock came into sight and we went a short way past before turning to stem the flow and eventually turn into the lock. The flow at the mouth of the entrance was fast and we needed all of our engine power to make the turn. It is far from easy and we admit to a little bump as the flow pushed us around once the front end was in calmer waters. Sadly, a camera failure (of still unknown cause - makes us look as good as BA!) prevents us from being able to show any pictures of the action.

We also had to take care as an Environment Agency survey boat (plastic!) was already in the lock and waiting to go up with us. In chatting to the skipper, we discovered that they cover all the country and were in Padstow a week or so ago!

The lock keeper pointed out to us that the one-boat visitor mooring at the edge of the basin was free and we gladly took the opportunity. This was a relief as when we came here before, we had to go long into the evening to find a mooring and even then very much in the reeds!

22.1 Miles - 2 Locks

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