Tuesday, 30 August 2011

'Roots and Wings'

Tuesday last was a beautiful day when I travelled by train from Retford to Newark. The journey only took a quarter of an hour and another ten minutes on foot brought me to the marina where Janis’s 57 foot narrowboat ‘Roots and Wings’ was moored. The idea was that I would crew for her and we would travel down that evening to moor for the night at Cromwell Lock, at the head of the tidal Trent, ready for a start the following morning at 0930. This had previously been arranged by Janis and the lock keeper so that we would arrive at West Stockwith Lock at low water about five hours later.
The beautiful day turned into an equally impressive evening when we left the Kings Marina and motored quietly down to our destination. All was quiet and not another boat interrupted our tranquil passage.
However the moorings at the lock were nearly full and we had to be content with tying up to the high vertical landing at the entrance to the lock. But it was worth the climb up the tall iron ladder to see the magnificent sunset to the west.
The lock keeper was still on duty and he advised us that the neap tides were currently producing such a small range that we would not be affected by the swift tidal currents, which the Trent is usually noted for. If we left at 0930 the following morning we would be able to get to West Stockwith and be able to enter the lock at low water.
However on Wednesday when we set off very soon we noticed that the height of the river was much lower anyway and even though it was just on high water at Cromwell, this was about the same height as low water at spring tides. In parts the river was narrow making navigation that much trickier trying to avoid the numerous shoals that ‘Futurest’ and I never even witnessed on our passage.
I was also amazed at how easy accessing the West Stockwith Lock was. It was low water when we arrived but there was enough over the sill to enable us to get in. We gently hove to just off the west knuckle while I threw the bowline up to the Lock keeper on top. He then pulled us round and ‘Roots and Wings’ gently slid into the lock itself; easy as it could possibly be. Janis was disappointed in fact. After listening to my hairy tales of derring do and adventure previously, whilst struggling into the lock and needing to scrape along the eastern wall as well to do so, she had psyched herself up into having to brave all this and was consequently unhappy that the whole episode was so tame.
And then we were on the quiet Chesterfield.
It was all very similar to when I had entered two months before except that the exciting youth of springtime that had been in evidence everywhere had been exchanged for the happy contentment of late summer. The Sun still shone just as brightly but where there had been the vivid green upright storks of the rapidly growing crops, were now vast fields of golden stubble and the trees and hedgerows that previously had thrilled me in the dappled sunlight with their vibrant varying colours of green, now appeared a little bit tired with brown leaves appearing here and there, though promising of course a beautiful autumn.
We tied up at a quiet little mooring about half a mile before Drakeholes Tunnel as the Sun was setting and spent a very tranquil night there.
At five o’clock on Thursday evening we arrived at the ‘Hop Pole’ moorings to find ‘Futurest’ where I had left her a couple of days before. She looked a little sad and forlorn I thought as we tied up the young and vigorous ‘Roots and Wings’ next to her. Their noses were touching and one could have been forgiven if one had imagined them as actually kissing. 
Everything was precisely as I had left it when I went off last Tuesday and we would be together now for another couple of days.
Janis stayed overnight at the pub mooring and left early in the morning for Osberton Lock where she was picking up another crew member who would accompany her to Shireoaks. There, having deserted ‘Futurest’ for a second time, on Saturday I would rejoin ‘Roots and Wings’ for the trip to the top of the Canal and back to Shireoaks.

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