Friday, 7 July 2017

Off the river and already missing it

 We are finally off the River Soar and back onto the canals – the Trent & Mersey to be precise. And we are already missing the deep water, the fine views and the twisting, turning nature of a river that is right up there among our favourites.
The last couple of days have been a continuing delight, though the weather was perhaps a little too scorchio at times. We'd given Loughborough short shrift last time we came this way but a longer wander revealed a not unpleasant little town with a big, old fashioned market in its pedestrianised centre and a decent collection of shops. It's a bit of a stroll from the canal but, as I always say, if in doubt follow the grannies. And a gaggle of grannies off a bus led us straight to the shops.
The waterway arcs around the town and exits via two locks. At the first a couple of drunks were cooling their feet in the water at the lock landing and quite unperturbed when a 20 ton narrowboat came within a couple of feet of those feet. A giant anonymous industrial works overshadows the second at Bishops Meadow; I suspect it's some sort of power station or recycling plant.
Aircraft are a blight on Kegworth
We were back on the river proper now, save for a short canal cut at Zouch and wound our way through open country, past the posh riverside homes and pretty but vulnerable waterside wooden cabins at Normanton on – or occasionally under – Soar (top pic), to Kegworth where we moored for the night. Last time we were here we got caught in a massive thunderstorm and mused on the likelihood of lightning striking the tall chimney of Narrowboat Star. Thunderstorms were forecast again but they held off. I'd made the shocking discovery earlier we were low on beer stocks so we walked into the town Co-op to to remedy that.
I've been through Kegworth a few times on the A6 and it's a forgettable little place, hammered by heavy traffic and by aircraft coming over it to land at East Midlands Airport. The walk from the river reveals some nicer backstreets but you can't be away from that aircraft noise.
We got back to the boat and as we stepped inside a torrential downpour began.
Barges everywhere at Redhill Marina
Today the last three miles of Soar took us down towards its junction with the Trent and how things have changed on this stretch. When we last passed, Redhill Marina was a scruffy place full of small plastic boats. Now it's wall to wall widebeams and Dutch barges – I haven't seen so many barges together since the Thames.
And a leopard skin narrowboat too
Finally we reached Trent Lock, where the Soar meets the Trent at a mighty watery Tee junction. Well, it's a cross roads actually as straight across from us is the Erewash Canal. We swung left, upstream through the Sawley locks and finally left the Trent to enter the Trent & Mersey Canal.
Into the quiet of the canal at Shardlow
In bad weather, when the rivers are flowing fiercely, it's a sheltered sanctuary. Today, ticking over past a mile or more of boats it seemed, frankly, a bit of an anti-climax. I don't think many people enjoy the first few miles of the T&M; the scenery is bland and the locks are wide, deep and heavy. We moored up after three of them and took an evening wander down the disused Derby&Ashby railway, now a cycleway, to take a last, lingering look at the Trent. It'll be a while until we are back on a river.
After a hard day's lockwheeling Seadog Brian has a nap

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