Monday, 12 June 2017

Beyond Retford

Today's Canal - Chesterfield

We drove up from home yesterday. As we both had church duties in the morning it was a little before 1 o'clock hen we eventually set off. However, the roads were very clear and only for a couple of short stretches were all three lanes busy. With only one comfort break we arrived at Clayworth just after half past six, a but better than we had anticipated.

We had come with the evening meal already prepared and remarkably little unpacking to do. We also knew that a tv signal was possible - since we had found that on our last night on the mooring before setting off home last week - so that we could at least watch the first episode of the latest Poldark series. Not that we did especially well at scene spotting!

The downside of the otherwise excellent mooring at the Retford and Worksop Boat Club was that we found one cabin side and the roof liberally splattered with bird droppings from the overhanging trees! Since this can eat into the paint of left to harden too long, Mike was 'commanded' to clean it all off before we set off! It does take some elbow grease and several cycles of washing using mop, scrubbing brush and sponge (not to mention fingernails!) to dislodge it all. We needed to fill the water tank so reversed back to the service moorings outside the club house - only to be told that there were water points all along the moorings, just not visible in their little brick huts! A final hose down of the roof and side left us really quite respectable again. All we had to do was to sort out payment for the electricity we had used. We had opted for an experiment to see how well the fridge and freezer would do when left alone for a week. We were quite relieved when we arrived not to encounter a defrosted freezer! Mind you, we had not gone overboard, as it were, in the amount that we had left in either fridge or freezer.

Shortly after eleven we were ready to set off. Much of the Chesterfield is shallow and progress not speedy - at least that gives more chance to survey the canalside scenery. However. Mike failed to spot two brightly dressed scarecrows in a field and by the time Christine suggested a photo opportunity they were almost out of sight. Still, we can try and remember to have a better attempt on the way back.

We were looking out for milestones - most seem to be in place but the vegetation sometimes makes them hard to spot.

Alongside an overflow weir, was this young family about to have a beginners forced swimming lesson?

This stone circle seemed to be nowhere special so we are not sure who built it or why.

The day was generally overcast and at times rather windy, at least there was no rain, despite a slight dampness at one point but the showers passed either side of us. However, there were some sunny spells, such as when we arrived at Whitsunday Pie Lock, on the outskirts of Retford. This is the last of the wide beam locks - from Retford upwards they are narrow. We moored below the lock to have our lunch.

At the edge of town we found that the towpath bank is well piled and so, suddenly, without changing the engine settings our speed almost doubled and it felt as if we were speeding through the water! Alas it did not last and after we passed through the town, normal service was resumed.

We moored for lunch just below the first of the narrow locks so that Christine could pop to Asda which is right beside the canal at this point.

Just above the lock we saw that the former warehouse is being restored and converted to new uses. This is a positive step  - when we came five years ago our photo shows that it was almost derelict and not in use.

The top gate of the lock carries a popular footpath into town so quite a crowd gathers whenever a boat passes through. Fortunately on this occasion an onlooker offered to close the gate for us so people were a little less delayed than if we had had to stop. However, this threw us out of our routine and as we were just passing a moored boat Christine spotted that we had forgotten to close the paddle on the towpath side. Again, good luck - or kindliness - was on our side as a chap on that moored boat offered to go back and close it for us.

Our plan was to go beyond Retford into the open country, but not to start the run of locks that is for tomorrow. Sadly, this long, excellent looking bollarded mooring was a little too soon and, in any case, was overlooked by tall trees.

A field with poppies - the slightly unfocused image almost makes it look like an impressionist painting (well that's our excuse!)

Mike was aiming for a mooring marked in the Richlow Guides, just below the next lock. He kept an eye open for a possible mooring before then but it was not possible to get even within jumping distance of the bank.

When we arrived it turns out that the marked mooring is really part of the lock landing. However, as we have not seen a single mooring boat all day, and it was by now gone five o'clock, we tied up anyway. let's hope that the mooring police are not monitoring this blog.

6.6 Miles - 3 Locks

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