Day 64: wading through treacle

September 7th, 2010

One of the fascinating things about this trip is discovering how every waterway has its own character, expressed in the landscape, the engineering, the architecture and the attitude of the people using it. Coming up from Cromwell today has shown me a little of the Trent’s character. Firstly, progress is somewhat like wading through treacle – today the river is running with at least 1mph of stream, meaning that Innocenti (good for about 5mph tops) is making sluggish progress, like wading through treacle. Secondly, the Trent seems to have made a vague attempt to go metric – there are kilometre posts along the bank and some (but not all) of the speed limit signs are expressed in km/h. At least the ones I saw said “6km/h” rather than the Nene’s silly “11.2km/h” (or 7mph in old money!)
The Trent also has the most organised lock-keepers I’ve seen so far. Every lock is attended, and so far all three of them have taken my licence number (there are big signs saying “no licence, no passage”) and asked my destination for the day. The locky at Newark Nether Lock explained why they do this – they phone ahead to the next lock to give an indication of traffic, which is remarkably organised. For bonus points they also actually respond to calls on the VHF radio (unlike several of the Ship Canal locks and the one attended lock I used on the Aire & Calder) which is also handy.

At Newark I stopped at the King’s Marina for gas and diesel. The entrance is quite wide, but the signs had faded so badly that I wasn’t convinced I was in the right place. Once inside, I then had to try and guess where the diesel pump was, and eventually found it, right at the back. I found the attendant and he told me I’d have to spin the boat round for the pump to reach. I commented to him that a sign on a pole saying “Diesel and Pumpout Here” wouldn’t be amiss and he tacetly agreed. Anyway, I was pleased to discover that we actually only needed about 110 litres (roughly 3/4 tank), having not filled up since Anderton in Cheshire and that the final bill wasn’t unduly dear. Then I motored round the corner and tied up on the public mooring to do some shopping, the cupboard being rather bare.

I’ve never been to Newark before, but it rather charmed me. It has an air of comfortable prosperity, with lots of historic buildings in its narrow shopping streets. There are a prodigious number of tea rooms and at least two decent-looking butcher’s shops. It also has a rather pleasant waterfront, a handsome arched bridge and a large but ruined castle. I bought some provisions and motored on upstream.

North of Newark is yet another power station, but this time a new one – a gas-fired station built on the site of two previous coal-fired stations. Wikipedia claims it isn’t open yet, but it was producing a certain amount of steam, so it must be at least in commissioning if not in use. I carried on to Fiskerton and moored on a smart floating pontoon next to a long sheet-piled retaining wall holding the village high above the river. Unusually, the pontoon has no signs or markings on it at all – my experience of river moorings is that anything that can be moored to has a sign on it saying “no mooring” or “mooring for patrons only” or “mooring £5/night” but it was outside a pub, the Bromley Arms. I went to investigate, with the intention of taking a book and sitting at the bar and perhaps chatting to the regulars – the art of going to the pub alone is a useful skill when travelling solo and wanting company – but found the place busy with people dining. I had one-and-a-half pints of Ruddles County (the main beer on was Greene King IPA… please, no, not yet!) and then, since it was curry night, a dish of samozas and onion bahjis (the latter clearly home-made and very nice) as a beer-induced snack.

Day 64: Cromwell Lock to Fiskerton, 11 miles and 2 locks.
Total so far 683 miles and 413 locks.

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