Saturday, 4 December 2010

Updates - December 2010

Norwood Tunnel - Four Centuries of Challenge
The restoration of the tunnel from its eastern portal has been complicated by the Heritage Lottery Fund removing financial aid - the result of tighter restrictions on funding caused by the national economic situation.  The Chesterfield Canal Trust will, of course, be working to change this decision by the HLF.  The "Four Centuries of Challenge" continue.

Tuesday, 2 November 2010

Updates - November 2010

Lincolnshire Waterways
Page 28, Map 10.  Boston.   New Visitor Moorings have been installed at Boston, and are a vast improvement on previous facilities.  They are floating pontoons and cater for various types of craft, especially narrowboats.  The previous moorings were short and didn't suit the growing number of longer narrowboats visiting the town, which had to moor at right-angles to the bank and therefore partially obstructed the channel.  The new moorings are also easily extendable to cater for future growth in boating. The £160,000 scheme has been developed by the Lincolnshire Waterways Partnership to encourage boats to visit the town before going on to the Black Sluice Navigation which is the first part of the future Fens Link Project.
Chesterfield Canal Guide
Map 12. The towpath between Dixons Lock and Hollingwood Lock is closed until 31 March 2011. For the latest information contact Tapton Lock Visitor Centre 01246 551035 - only weekends and Bank Holidays after the end of October, until Easter.  Or Derbyshire County Council 08456 058 058.
An alternative route via Station Road is signed on-site.  This closure also applies to the Trans Pennine Trail.
The closure is necessary as work is undertaken to construct Hollingwood Hub, a building which will extend from the old Hollingwood Lock-house to half of the length of the lock. This will provide many facilities for the local community as well as canal users.

Hollingwood Lock, with the steelwork in place for the Hollingwood Hub building.

Thursday, 5 August 2010

Updates - August 2010

Lincolnshire Waterways
Page 28. Boston moorings.  During August BW is working on improving the moorings. This is due to be completed by the 25th. Contact Boston lock-keeper for progress (see p53).
Page 30b.  Cafe at Black Sluice.  It is reported, but we have not yet seen, that a cafe is soon to begin trading alongside the moorings on the Black Sluice side of the lock.

Page 38.  Sleaford.  A new slipway and moorings for trailable boats has been installed on the river Slea in the centre of Sleaford.  The new facilities give access to one-third of a mile of navigable river, down to the un-restored Cogglesford Lock.  Contact Sleaford Navigation Trust for details (see p53).  It has been reported that rowing boats may soon be for hire at the same location, but check with the local Tourist Information (see p53) as this is not yet confirmed.
Page 53.  Boating Contacts.  The online aegre timetable is available from, then search the site for "aegir" (the spelling they prefer).
Narrowboat on the Trent
Page 37.  Trent Boating Association Charts (Sissons charts).  These charts are now published by The Boating Association, and available online from, then click on the Merchandise box halfway down the right-hand side of the Home Page.  The charts are £5.00 each, but care - the postage is a hefty £3.00 for one chart, £5.00 for two charts).
Page 38. The online aegre timetable is available from, then search the site for "aegir" (the spelling they prefer).
Chesterfield Canal Guide
Page 8.  The future restoration reports Next Navigation - East, and - West, are available online at 
Page 16.  The Hop Pole pub, by bridge 59 at Retford, has re-opened after extensive interior renovations, and improvements to its moorings.
The Gate pub, near bridge 62 at Clarborough, is said to be re-opening in the near future but nothing has been confirmed.
Page 41. The online aegre timetable is available from, then search the site for "aegir" (the spelling they prefer).

Monday, 5 July 2010

Sleaford - New Waterways Area

A Lovely Day for Trailable Boats, and Canoes
On a sunny 3rd of July the official opening took place of facilites to give trailable boats and canoes access to the Slea Navigation.  Sleaford is still isolated from the main network by the four miles and six locks still awaiting restoration, but now the campaign will be promoted by residents seeing craft using the river in the town centre.
A ribbon across the new slipway was cut, and Richlow's trailable flagship Schandelle was the first boat to descend to the river Slea.  The new liftbridge was raised and Schandelle had the honour to pass beneath.  By the slipway new moorings have been installed, there two Wilderness trailboats added to the colour of the event, as did a number of canoes.

Richlow's Schandelle launched at the official opening of Sleaford's new slipway.

Sleaford now has a lovely riverside area, with easy pedestrian access and adjacent parking off Eastgate.

Schandelle passing under the liftbridge, just downstream of the new slipway and moorings.  The new bridge, in a busy pedestrian area, also allows usage by pushchairs and wheelchairs which the old bridge did not.

One of the Wilderness trailable boats which added to the event, on passage back from Cogglesford Lock.

Tuesday, 15 June 2010

Updates - June 2010

South Pennine Ring - Part 1

Map 8.  Navigation Notes.  Access to lock 86 has always been difficult. Now a new fence along Canal Road, constructed to prevent drunken revellers from falling in the canal, prevents lock crews getting to the lock!
This is a picture of the original lock access point. Although there is a gate in the fence, we cannot recommend using it to access lock 86. Instead travel there by boat.

Map 9.  Navigation Notes.  Swing bridges 14 and 15.   When we surveyed this earlier in the year, the swing bridge locks were broken and a Watermate padlock and chain were fastening each bridge. Permanent locks have now been fixed which are opened using a handcuff key.

Generally the Ashton Canal was in good condition for an urban waterway and we had little difficulty navigating it. A number of lock paddles were inoperative (for some unknown reason these were always on the bottom gate on the towpath side!) We only had to go down the weed hatch once.

Wednesday, 5 May 2010

Updates - May 2010

Lincolnshire Waterways

Page 10.  Torksey Lock Tea Room.  Open 11.00, until at least 17.00, maybe later. Closed Mondays (except Bank Holidays). Home-made cakes, pastries, jams, pickles. No hot food.
Narrowboat on the Trent
Page 29.  Torksey Lock Tea Room added to facilites (see above).  New picture of Torksey lock cut.
South Pennine Ring  -  Part 1
Map 9.  Droylsden Marina.  Boater facilities - add WC, and Elsan Disposal.
Chesterfield Canal
Map 11.  Footpath closure notice.   We've been informed of an emergency footpath closure around Staveley from Bell House Lane to Norbriggs Cutting.

The closure will last for three weeks from Mon 17th May 2010. Please contact Derbyshire's Rights of Way team for more information. (Sorry, I don't have a link for this yet.)
The closure is to enable investigative work to be carried out related to the design of the new Doe Lea aqueduct, a crucial part of the canal's restoration. The closure notice hasn't been published yet on Derbyshire Council's web site, but as soon as it is, we'll include a link to the document which indicates an alternative route.

Monday, 3 May 2010

Images of - Witham Navigable Drains

These pictures were taken during one of Richlow's cruises of the Witham Navigable Drains, to update our knowledge of the enigmatic waterways.
As we state in our Lincolnshire Waterways guide, "these are adventure waterways and we recommend trying the easier routes first."  Available from
There are approximately 40 navigable miles of a 90 mile network. The Witham Navigable Drains are a world of their own, one of the few places where a cruise on a hot August bank holiday can be completed without seeing another craft. Nevertheless, they are an acquired taste - some find them remote and boring, others find them remote and peaceful.

Pontoon moorings on the River Witham, at the entrance to Antons Gowt lock. The entrance to the Witham Navigable Drains.

In Antons Gowt lock. A rare chance to lock down from a river.

Exiting Antons Gowt lock. Entering Frith Bank drain, the waterway on the network with the most bends.

On West Fen drain, one of the widest waterways of the network. Heading towards Frithville.

Richlow's Madeley Wood continuing along the West Fen drain, at the Frithville junction.

Our friends' boat Woolwinder, jammed by its ornate tiller-pin (of all things!). Extra crew from Madeley Wood, for added ballast, and the skipper grazing his fingers eventually got the boat through.

Having moved his crew to Woolwinder to help as above, John was left alone on Madeley Wood. With the benefit of experience, he had already replaced his boat's usual tiller-pin with one of a low basic design.

Richlow attention to detail. Measuring the air draught at the troublesome bridge on the West Fen Drain. The water levels on the drains differ at various times of the year. Our Lincolnshire Waterways guide gives details of how to check. See

Madeley Wood turning on to the Newham drain at Westville, taking care about the over-hanging tree branches.

Newham Drain, on the way back to the River Witham, via Antons Gowt lock.

The Witham Navigable Drains are covered in our Lincolnshire Waterways guide.
Available, post free, from

Richlow Guides   -   "Written by People Who Go There".

Thursday, 15 April 2010

Phyllis of Barton


Phyllis is a Humber sloop, but rigged for sea-going trade on the Humber estuary and up and down the east coast.  She is typical of hundreds of sailing sloops that carried cargoes on those waters.  She is privately owned by two members of the Humber Keel & Sloop Preservation Society, and can often be seen in company with the HKSPS's keel Comrade and sloop Amy Howson.
Photograph by Kate Smith

Built 1907 by Warrens of New Holland for James Barraclough of Barton, Phylllis is 68ft long by 16ft beam and iron construction. She was engined in1943 and stayed with the same owner all her working life until sold off with the rest of the fleet in 1974. After an excursion to Scotland with a new owner she was bought by her present one, towed back to the Humber and is now being restored to her former self as a cutter-rigged Humber sloop of her time.  Full details from
Phyllis (left) and Amy Howson (right).  The two sloops at their winter moorings at Barton Haven, in March 2010. (The wheelhouse near the stern of Phyllis belongs to another vessel beyond her).  This picture was taken during an exceptionally low tide and shows extensive mudbanks on the Humber.

Syntan of Beverley Beck


Syntan is owned by the volunteers of the Beverley Barge Preservation Society.

Beverley Beck is an off-shoot of the River Hull, and Syntan may be chartered for trips down to the Humber Estuary, with a crew of 4 and a maximum of 12 passengers.  The trips are tide dependent and last for a maximum of 6 hours.  She operates April to October.

Syntan was built 1949 in Beverley, and was one of a fleet of 16 barges based in that town, owned by Richard Hodgson Tanners.  The fleet carried coal and hides into the tannery, and collected from Hull docks raw materials used for tanning from India, South Africa and Paraguay.  As well as trading between Hull and Beverley, they also carried general cargoes such as grain, flour, paper, and nuts, to South and West Yorkshire.  Therefore, Syntan is a "Sheffield size" barge, 61ft 6ins long, and 15ft 6ins wide.

Syntan was bought by the Beverley Barge Preservation Society in 2001 and after years of hard work she has been restored to her original condition, and is once again moored in, and operates from, the town where she was built.

Syntan on her moorings near Beverley minster


Monday, 5 April 2010

Entrance to the Black Sluice Navigation at Boston

Why boats cannot stay on the pontoon moorings

This picture shows the pontoon moorings in the tidal River Witham at Boston, called The Haven, where boats moor before entering the lock at the entrance to the Black Sluice Navigation (left foreground).  But it shows what the conditions are at low-water, when the mud-banks are plain to see.  Of course, boats will not be (cannot be) sent down from the Grand Sluice Lock at this time of the tide but it adds to crew information to see the image.

In the background, upstream, Boston's fishing fleet is on its moorings.  On the right, the frontage of Boston docks where sea-going coasters are often moored for cargo handling.

Updates - April 2010

South Pennine Ring  -  Part 1

Maps 5 and 7.  A new bridge will be constructed at Newbold between Tuesday 8th and Monday 14th June 2010. Between 11.00 am and 4.00 pm on each of those days the canal will be closed to boats. Outside of those hours, passage will be available but there may be delays of up to 30 minutes. Boaters should moor up if necessary and await the direction of the banksman.
 In Failsworth the railway bridge just above Lock 65 (Wrigley Head) will need to have a new bridge deck fitted. Between 10.00 am and 3.00 pm on each of those days the canal will be closed to boats. Outside of those hours, passage will be available but there may be delays of up to 30 minutes. Boaters should moor up if necessary and await the direction of the banksman.
 This bridge is immediately upstream of the section that is kept locked except for booked passages. Boaters heading westwards into Manchester will have passed the railway bridge before the stoppage starts each day. Boats heading east from Manchester will not usually arrive at this point until 2.00 or 3.00 pm so are unlikley to be delayed for too long.

Narrowboat on the Trent

Page 13.  Ensure you have an on-board facility to re-charge the batteries of communication systems, either VHF or mobile phones. On the Trent these systems must be permanently available for use.

Pages 26 and 38.  Diesel and Flo Gas are now available above Torksey Lock, seven days a week, but check ahead for availability. 01427 718243 and 07970 936959.  Cash or cards only, no cheques.

Above Torksey Lock, on the Fossdyke

The lock is to the left, the diesel is available at the white sign on the right of this picture.

Lincolnshire Waterways

Pages 8 and 53.  Diesel and Flo Gas now available at Torksey, see above.

Page 53.  The Bardney Heritage Centre, on Map 5, now does B&B as well as Cycle Hire and Cafe (their Friday fish-and-chips is very popular).

Friday, 5 March 2010

Updates - March 2010

South Pennine Ring - Part 1.

British Waterways has re-organised the responsibilities of its national offices.

Page 7.  The four references to "BW Wigan" should now refer to the Manchester & Pennine Waterways office in Stoke-on-Trent, details on page 41.

Page 7.  Manchester 19 Locks (Failsworth - Ducie Street).  BW supervised passage is now available on every day except Wednesday.

Page 41.  Navigation Authorities - British Waterways.  Is now "Waterway Manager, British Waterways, Manchester & Pennine Waterway Office, Congleton Road South, Church Lawton, Stoke-on-Trent ST7 3AP.  Telephone 01782 785703.

Also the following other changes.

Page 41.  Boating Contacts.  Portland Basin Marina is also the contact for Droylsden Marina.

Page 41.  Canal/Waterways Groups. 
Hollinwood Canal Society.  Delete the postal address, add telephone 01457 836273.

Thursday, 25 February 2010

Chesterfield Canal Maps - Improved and Re-styled

The maps in our Chesterfield Canal - A Richlow Guide have been improved to the standard of our other guides.

The Chesterfield Canal was the first Richlow book and it reflected our design capabilities at the time. But now John Lower, our Map Master, has used the skills he acquired in the production of subsequent guides to replace all the maps in our initial publication.

Monday, 22 February 2010

Updates pre-February 2010

Narrowboat on the Trent - A Richlow Boaters' Companion
Page 15     Channel Markers.  Picture caption - "green" cones now mark the starboard side.

Lincolnshire Waterways - A Richlow Guide
Page 8      Navigational Information.  Be aware of the Boston Rowing Marathon Race - Third Sunday of September, annually over the 31 miles from Lincoln to Boston, with often 200+ boats taking part. The start is below Stamp End lock, Lincoln, usually from 09.00 onwards.

Page 17 (Map 4)     We are told, but have not seen, that the Barn Nursery Tea Room, 1 mile from Five Mile House bridge (no.9) has re-opened - and is popular with users of the Water Rail Way path.  01522 793727

Pages 22-27     The Water Rail Way (footpath/cycleway linking Lincoln and Boston) has been completed.  On maps 7, 8, 9 the route uses a quiet lane on the west side of the river from Kirkstead Bridge to Langrick Bridge.  Walkers can also use the footpath along the flood bank.

Page 28    There is now a mooring pontoon at Anton's Gowt on the River Witham.

Pages 28, 49     Access to the South Forty Foot Drain via the Black Sluice Lock at Boston is now possible.  The South Forty Foot Drain is now known as the Black Sluice Navigation.  Richlow has already boated these new waters and, as a result, newly supplied copies of this guide include four extra pages of information.

Page 29 (Map 10)   The Black Sluice Navigation coloured as "navigable".

Chesterfield Canal - A Richlow Guide
These updates refer to the guides published 2008-10

Page 10 and Map 1     Navigational information - Visitor Moorings at Wharf Bridge (81).  No overnight mooring.

Page 14 and Map 3     The Post Office at Clayworth has now closed.

Page 16 and Map 4     The convenience store and Post Office at Clarborough has re-opened.  The Gate Inn, near bridge 62, has closed for conversion to housing.  The Hop Pole pub, near bridge 59, is due to re-open Easter 2010 after renovation.

Map 9     The pub at the head of navigation, near Dog Kennel Bridge (31), has re-opened after renovation.

Page 30 and Map 11    Early 2010.  The towpath has re-opened at Staveley, after major road construction, but a temporary surface and/or diversion may be experienced until work on the new Town Basin has been completed.

Page 40     In the current financial turmoil the status of the pubs on the canal is changing continuously.  Some are closing for the winter, others are closing "for refurbishment" with unclear opening dates.  We recommend that visitors contact a pub in advance. 

Page 41     Tapton Lock Visitor Centre.  Closes for lunch 1300 - 1345 all days.

Yorkshire Stone to London - to Create the Houses of Parliament

Pages 15, and 31    Two information panels installed.  One in South Anston village, the second on the towpath of the Chesterfield Canal at Kiveton Park, where the stone was loaded into the boats.