Tuesday, 27 June 2017


Today's Canal - South Yorkshire Navigation

Today's weather was about as forecast - cool, overcast with spells of light rain! Still, as water levels are well down at the moment (on this stretch not all the result of low rainfall but exaggerated by a couple of water turbines at weirs that draw off water) some rain is perhaps a good thing.

We were woken just after six by the sound of the oil tanker passing. As it was so early they did not have the benefit of a lock keeper and so one of the crew had to jump down several feet onto the lock side to operate the lock.

Despite this unfriendly picture of one of us trying to get a bit more kip, we were by now too awake and so had our early cup of tea. Later, with plenty of time, Mike walked to Morrisons for a paper - he was after other things but was not successful with them. Looks like back to the internet when we are at home!

After casting off from our overnight mooring we entered the adjacent Eastwood Lock but stayed there for a while as the water point is alongside the control cabin! We carried out a full service  as it will be a while before we can expect the next facility.

Eventually we were on our way, bidding farewell to Eastwood - we have become quite familiar with the walk from the visitor mooring above the lock to the shops! This photo shows the lower landing and how far it is from the controls.

Although the gates at Kilnhurst Flood Lock were shut, Christine discovered that the water was level so all she had to do was open and shut both sets of gates to let the boat through.

As we arrived at Aldwarke Lock we could see that the light was set to red, indicating that it is being controlled by a lock keeper. A CaRT man was also pulling out some rubbish from beside the gates - it turned out to be a sofa. Even when the gates opened the light still stayed red. Fortunately we obeyed it as a moment later a large work boat came through. It had been brought up from the base at Swinton to remove the sofa, far too heavy to manhandle out, especially when soggy wet.

We had also been warned yesterday that the lower landing pontoon had come adrift as a result of he low water level and that, although we could use the lock, it would mean a long climb down a ladder. Hence we were quite grateful that the lock was being operated for us!

It was a further surprise to discover that Swinton Lock was also under keeper control but after we had been let into the lock he pointed behind us to show that the work boat was fast approving and that we would be sharing with it! The locks are so large that there was plenty of room for both of us and plenty to spare.

Approaching Mexborough Top Lock we saw just how big the fish are in these waters!

This unused former Mexborough Flour Mill just above the lock is fast becoming derelict.

As we approached this railway bridge at Conisborough a long freight train was making its was across. Alas, by the time we had reached the other side it had disappeared so is missing from the photo.

However we did manage a quick long shot of Conisborough Castle. There are only a few places to glimpse this tower from the river and they pass very quickly.

Shortly afterwards we were intrigued by this old building just a short way away from what we took to be an old wharf. Later investigation revealed the building to have been a saw mill and that before the 1980's improvements there was a lock at this point. Look closely at what we thought to be a wharf and the recesses for lock gates can be seen easily, once you know what they are. Of course, at that time the size of locks was very much shorter, the same as those at Tinsley.

On the final river section for today we passed again under the huge Conisborough Viaduct and we wondered what a sight it must have been to be on a boat when a steam train passed overhead.

For the last part of today's journey we turned the throttle up a bit just to see how well we would run in the deeper water. It might not be F1 Grand Prix but steering a narrowboat at 5.5 miles per hour is still quite an experience! Lose just a few seconds concentration and the boat quickly heads the wrong way towards a bank or other obstacle!

As we approached the visitor moorings at Sprotborough we were relieved to see that there was plenty of room - in fact only nb Hekla, which had passed us when we were having lunch, was moored here.

Later, Christine took a short walk and took this picture.

10.1 Miles - 6 Locks

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