Saturday, 2 August 2014

Back at the beginning

Heading back down the Thorpe locks - no time to sit in the chair today
We are now back in West Stockwith basin after a return trip that was much less fraught than the journey up the canal.
It had its moments though – like when we got firmly wedged in Shireoaks Top Lock and had to be helped out by two passing CRT workers. Despite this we had one of our 'go for it' sessions on that first day down from the canal summit and pushed on through 33 locks before we stopped beyond Worksop. (Sorry old Worksop is not a place you want to stop.)
Wedged in Shireoeaks lock by a hidden log
The cause of our 'wedgie' in Shireoaks was a semi-submerged log which got wedged between the lock side and the boat. The sides of the lock taper in so as we dropped down in the emptying lock, we jammed up completely. Flushing water through and much revving and rope tugging saw us out eventually.
On our way down the lock flight we had previously watched as a posh looking old granny carefully cleared up her dog poo then left the bag at the side of the towpath. I assumed she would pick it up on her return but, no, we saw her walk on away from the canal. Why do people do this? We are not the only ones to wonder as we discovered later when we saw a notice taped to a tree. So we added our own notice in an effort to grass her up!
We grass up the mystery dog poo bag dumper
The canal and Worksop are not best friends at the moment
An easier run the next day took us through the sticky tight bends at Ranby, the Forest Locks and down into Retford. The canal water is so clear here that you can spot fish without difficulty and on the stretch into Retford there were literally hundreds – roach, perch and and some substantial looking pike more than two feet long.
An overnight stop 'n shop at the Aldi moorings in Retford and we pressed on into what had been the weedy nightmare zone of our trip up. The next mile had taken us two hours but on the return run, more water depth and a lot of weed boat work saw us through it in half an hour. Only as we neared Drakeholes Tunnel did the weed start to return.
The marooned gatehouses in a field at Drakeholes
Just before the tunnel you pass the ornate Old Man Bridge, named after the now badly worn carving of an old man's head on the parapet. This bridge leads into the substantial grounds of Wiseton Hall and park. This is the home of Richard Budge, nicknamed 'King Coal' after he bought large parts of the privatised coal industry, but who was declared bankrupt last year after his various coal-related enterprises went bust.
We overnighted by the tunnel and discovered  up on the road a curious pair of gatehouses which apparently once were yet another entrance to the Park, presumably running parallel with the canal and then over Old Man Bridge. Now they are marooned in a field.
Finally, we plodded through an unpleasant though not impenetrable line of weed back to the Basin. Tomorrow it is down the Trent for us and into Keadby to head further 'oop north.


  1. Are you planning to come to Sheffield?

    1. Afraid not - we did the Sheffield trip a couple of years back in Star. We are heading for York and Ripon this time.

  2. Never mind. Excellent granny shaming by the way.