Friday, 23 June 2017


Today's Canal - South Yorkshire Navigations

We had to set the alarm for this morning so that we could ensure that we were way on schedule to meet the lock keeper at Holmes Lock by 9:30. IT was a grey day with the occasional spots of rain. Only once - see later - did anything like sunshine even think about coming out!

On the way to the first lock at Rotherham this factory - more a warehouse it seems - is a reminder that Sheffield in its day was all about steel.

A little further and we saw the Exol oil works where the tanker barge brings its deliveries.

Most people must rarely encounter Rotherham lock as it is almost entirely shielded from the rest of the world - except that the footbridge over the top is a route to the adjacent courts. Certainly, even at this early hour, most of the people using the bridge looked less than joyful. With some debris in the lock it look a little longer to pass through than we had anticipated.

The navigation now alternates between sections of the River Don and canalised shortcuts - the river is especially bendy in places.

Alongside the river is the New York Stadium home to Rotherham United Football Club, presently a League One team. (For the old fogies, this means that they are Division Three!) With football sponsorship being as volatile as it is, even Wikipedia seems to not to have caught up with the fact that this is now the Mears Stand!

The last lock on our own was Ickles Lock - here looking rather pleasant. However, as we pulled away we realised that we had caught something less than desirable around the prop and we made slow progress up to the next lock landing. Here Mike tackled the problem and eventually discovered that the main issue was a fisherman's net, complete with the carbon fibre stiffener around the outer edge! No wonder we were getting strange and alarming noises from down below.

At Holmes Lock we made our rendezvous with the first of the Tinsley lock keepers who saw us through the next two. For various reasons, all of the locks from here to the summit all boaters have to be accompanied by a CaRT person.

At Jordan's Flood Lock the sun made its only - very brief - appearance of the day. How different might our photos have been if it had stayed that way?

Above the flood lock is a long weir - although it looks fearsome, with normal river flows such as today, it is very much worse to see than anything else as at any specific point, very little water is actually going over.

At Tinsley Bottom Lock we were welcomed by Dave, the well-known lock keeper of many years standing who not only looks after boaters through this flight but also has many other roles including being a national union rep for CaRT workers, something he obviously very much enjoys doing - and talking about!

Since we were her the first time five years ago, Dave has acquired an electric bike which he uses to zoom up hand down at even greater speeds than before! If he had his way, all CaRT executives would have an electric bike rather than a company car . . .

In order to make way for a modern development, the original locks 7 and 8 were combined into a single very deep lock.

Once the boat is at the top, the steerer can look relaxed and even to appear as if it was just an ordinary lock!

Finally we arrived at the top and bade farewell to Dave, making sure that we are in his little book for a return trip downhill on Monday.

From the top lock it is just about 45 minutes level cruise to the terminus at Victoria Quays. Alongside the canal are occasional signs of the former industrial activity but mostly only small engineering firms survive. There are many bridges crossing this section, including those for the modern supertram network. However, Bridge 3 is one of the oldest bridges - we crossed this on foot later.

As soon as we arrived at Victoria Quays, Christine checked in with the marina office - we had booked a couple of days ago and also Dave had called ahead for us. Our first task was to negotiate the swing bridge - a little stiff but Christine found a number of passers-by to lend a hand with an extra shove. We moored temporarily at thew water point just through the bridge - we needed a fill-up as not only had the washing machine been on but 'someone' (guess who!) left a tap running last night. (Mike did try to fill at our overnight mooring but discovered that the water point was not functioning)

Then the chap from the office came and explained things to us, as well as directing us to our allocated mooring, only a couple of spaces away from where we stayed last time.

After a pause to recover ourselves we decided to walk along to the Johnathon Wilson boatyard just a short distance before the basin. However, it was not obvious how to get there  (new roads and other developments have sprung up in the way) and so, when we went to the office to pay for pour electricity we asked directions. He was about to close up so the chap there decided that it was time to take his dog for a walk and so took us all the way around. We would not have found it ourselves!

Alas, Jonathon Wilson himself had left for the day but his son was just leaving and we had a useful and interesting chat - including how best to use the weed hatch. This next generation have recently setup a new business to fit out boats, something which the older generation were doing much less of in recent years.

We continued then on a somewhat circuitous route that took in a large Tesco Extra - we really only wanted a newspaper but came away with a rucksack full!

On a footpath beside the River Don we saw an artwork in the river - which is very shallow at this point. Reminded us of the cairns that people build on the top of mountains.

After we returned to the boat, Christine took a wander around the arches and took some other views of the boat - this one has the Kids Inheritance in the foreground - arguably in the background as well!

1.7 Miles - 15 Locks

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