Tuesday, 17 September 2013

Updates - September 2013

Chesterfield Canal - A Richlow Guide
Page 12 and Map 2.  Drakeholes  -  White Swan pub
With pubs closing and re-opening so often we don't usually include them in the Updates blog.  But the White Swan at Drakeholes has a high profile on the Chesterfield Canal and its recent closure is more significant.  With pleasant moorings across the road, and a popular cruising range from West Stockwith basin, many boaters made it their first/last stop on the canal.


Hopefully the White Swan will re-open in the future.
Lincolnshire Waterways
Page 14.  Brayford Pool Visitor Moorings
The Brayford Trust has now provided visitor moorings in Brayford Pool.  They are on the south side, immediately after the road bridge across the entrance to the Pool, where Lincoln Marina used to be.  It's necessary to contact the Harbourmaster in advance.  The fee for overnight mooring includes electricity.  01522 521452
These facilities are in addition to the CRT visitor moorings, the site of which is unchanged.
Page 40.  Slea Navigation - April 2014 Update  -  Open for Navigation
The silt barriers, which formed below Taylors (formerly Bottom) Lock preventing boat access, have been cleared by dredging.  So the Slea is open for navigation.  But, April 2014, there is still a silt problem below Cobblers Lock, the current head of navigation, where full length narrowboats have previously been able to turn.
Until this problem is resolved all boaters wishing to navigate the Slea should contact the Sleaford Navigation Trust  -  page 57 under the heading "Inland Waterways Groups"  -  to ascertain the latest situation.
Page 57. Contacts
The telephone number for the Brayford Pool Harbourmaster remains the same.
Lincoln Marina should be deleted.

South Pennine Ring - Part 2
Page 9.  Pub List
The Tunnel End pub is currently closed for business.  Advisable to telephone to check.
Page 24. Moorings
Delete the reference to moorings near a pub.  See above.
Page 26.  Moonraker
Unfortunately the popular Moonraker tearoom-boat has left Slaithwaite, near lock 23E.  We hear it has moved to Lincoln  -  we will check this out in the spring.

Saturday, 27 July 2013

History Query

Chesterfield Canal
Summit Level  -  near Albert's Dock
A recent question on Twitter was about the purpose of the inlet on the non-towpath side, near Albert's Dock on the summit level, on the stretch between bridges 31 and 32.  Which is cordoned off by CRT.

There is no evidence that this piece of water was ever a legal part of the canal.  When the canal was built in the 1770s there would have been a stream running down the hill at that point, from Peck Mill, and thereafter flowing into the canal.
Over time the stream's outfall seems to have been widened, (by the landowner?) and it may have been used as an unofficial wharf on its western side.
The earliest trust-worthy maps we have are the 1890 Ordnance Survey, and the 1892 survey of the entire canal by Fowler  -  an extract of which is shown above.
From the Fowler map we can measure that the inlet was then 82ft long, an almost perfect length to allow the turning of a horse-drawn 70ft narrowboat.  If that's what it was, why was an unofficial winding-hole developed there?  My theory dates back to the 1840s when, for a number of years, there was a regular boat-traffic being loaded with the stone to build the current Houses of Parliament  -  at a wharf near the "malt kiln" shown on the map above.  It seems very likely that the inlet was used to turn the boats, prior to loading, for their trip back to West Stockwith, and/or an off-line boat-storage mooring with a stable for the boat-horses?
Yorkshire Stone to London  -  To Create the Houses of Parliament
Presumably it's cordoned-off by CRT because they have no legal responsibilty to maintain or use it.

Monday, 1 July 2013

Updates - July 2013

Lincolnshire Waterways
Map 4.  Old River Witham
At the time of writing navigation is not possible along the course of the Old River Witham, access to which is immediately below Bardney Lock.
A boom has been placed across the river by CRT  -  put in place to catch weed coming down the Old Witham which has previously created navigational problems on the modern navigation.
Therefore, passage up to the Tyrwhitt Arms is not possible at the moment.  We are currently discussing the situation with the regional CRT and the local IWA.
Map 13.  Slea Navigation
We have heard there is a sand-bar below Taylors Lock (formerly Bottom Lock), and this is effectively stopping navigation of the Slea.  Of course these situations change, so we are currently advising boaters to contact the Sleaford Navigation Trust before entering the waterway.  01522 689460.

Saturday, 8 June 2013

A Boat Like No Other (Part 3)

Sounds and Smells
Yesterday, standing by the Chesterfield Canal on the towpath bridge at Shireoaks, it could have been 1913.  Overhead an old bi-plane had just taken off from a grass runway, it's engine small and light.  Across the canal cows grazed in a field, and behind us the sounds and smells of boatyards through the centuries  -  a wooden boat being built with hammering, and a strong aroma of sun-warmed tar and caulking carried on the wind.
Turning round it was obvious the New Dawn Project is making very good progress.  Volunteers were busy fitting the wooden fenders to the stern, and tarring in the vicinity of the bows cabin.
In the foreground the wooden fenders are already fitted, and the top of the bows cabin can clearly be seen.  In the background the main cabin at the stern is taking shape.
Once again one of it's unique working boats is taking shape by the Chesterfield Canal.

Tuesday, 14 May 2013

Updates - May 2013 (2)

Narrowboat on the Trent
Pages 13, 38.  VHF Radio
Experience last week has shown that mobile-phone network access on the tidal Trent is still patchy, and the situation differs with various network providers.  Therefore, we still recommend that communicating by VHF radio remains the safest option for boat crews, and it is worthwhile gaining the required training and qualifications to do so (page 38).  Most people enjoy the challenge and feel more in control on the tidal Trent when they can hear, and communicate with, lock-keepers and other vessels in the vicinity.
Page 20. Cranfleet to Beeston
Delete the words "...are limited visitor moorings on the floating pontoon and..."  CRT has now placed "no mooring" signs on the pontoon.
Page 21.  Gunthorpe
To gain access to the "deluxe sanitary station with palatial showers" a door-opening code has to be obtained from the lock-keeper.

Wednesday, 8 May 2013

Updates - May 2013

Chesterfield Canal  -  A Richlow Guide
Pages 16 and 18.  Seth Ellis Trip-boat (Retford).
The trip-boat Seth Ellis (of the Chesterfield Canal Trust) now operates from the Hop Pole pub, near bridge 59.
Page 24.  Navigation Notes.  Shireoaks Marina.
Longer vessels travelling up the canal may find it easier to reverse into the basin.  The water-points are in some of the lighting columns on the visitor moorings.
Page 24.  Shireoaks.
Laura's Coffee Shop is now open near bridge 38.  (Closed on Mondays and Tuesdays, other than Bank Holidays).  Some may remember it as Nona's cafe, closed when Dawn Siddons moved to run the coffee shop at Hollingwood Hub (map 12).
New owner Laura Elliott was Dawn's assistant at Hollingwood Hub and has now moved to Shireoaks to run her own business.  See page 40 edit below.

Page 36.  Supplies, Retford.
Calor Gas is also available from the canalside Jewsons builders merchants, near bridge 56 in Retford.
Page 40.  Pub and Cafe List.
Changed Telephone Numbers.  The Boat Inn (bridge 66) is now 01777 703273, and they now offer accommodation.  The Hop Pole pub (bridge 59) is now 01777 704438.
The new Laura's Coffee Shop (bridge 38) at Shireoaks is 07946 042362. 

Thursday, 25 April 2013

Images - Lincolnshire Waterways

Lincolnshire Waterways guide - available from

Guide books "Written by People Who Go There"
These images were taken on a 2011 cruise, led by Richlow's flagship Madeley Wood.


The waterways of Lincolnshire are some of the quietest in the country - but we must be honest in saying they are an acquired taste. For those who favour exploing new waters, and those who enjoy walking or cycling, they are without parallel. And anyone with an interest in railways and/or the RAF will also find much of interest.

The Fossdyke and the River Witham form a route giving access to the Black Sluice Navigation, the Slea, and the enigmatic Witham Navigable Drains, a network where another moving boat may not be seen. And the Black Sluice Navigation now gives an opportunity for inland craft to cruise down The Haven at Boston - a highlight of any holiday on the Witham. The county is generally flat so there are only a few locks, all of which are of wide dimensions.

These waterways have wide open skies, and to be enjoyed they need wide open minds - hear the bird song, notice the fruits of the bushes, query the crops in the fields, appreciate the quietness, and feel the thrill of a Lancaster bomber overhead with escorting Spitfires as the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight climbs from its nearby RAF base.

A new path, the Water Rail Way, links Lincoln and Boston. It has 20 miles off-road and 13 miles on country lanes, using the banks of the Witham, and is clearly marked on the maps in our guide Lincolnshire Waterways.

Approaching Torksey Lock, the entrance to the Fossdyke, from the River Trent.

In Torksey Lock.

A section of the Visitor Moorings at Saxilby.

Brayford Pool in Lincoln, with the cathedral beyond.

The High Bridge (or Glory Hole) at Lincoln.
The oldest bridge in this country, with buildings still upon it.

Stamp End Lock at Lincoln.

Bardney Lock.

The River Witham is wide - no need to look for a winding hole here. We once saw a narrowboat circling - just because they could!

Not all of these waters are of the same width. Some of the by-waters, such as Billinghay Skirth and Timberland Delph have "pointing doors" at the entrance - as shown in the following picture.

"Pointing doors".

Pontoon moorings such as these are the normal standard for Visitor Moorings on the River Witham.

Anton's Gowt on the River Witham - the entrance to the Witham Navigable Drains. Pictures of Richlow boating on those waterways are on this blog, via the Images - Navigable Drains.

The new Visitor Moorings at Boston. In the distance is the tower of St.Botolph's, a feature which can be seen for many miles around the town.

At Boston the Grand Sluice (in the background) keeps the tidal waters of the River Witham at bay.

This boat is on the tidal sectionof the river, approaching the Grand Sluice on its return from the Black Sluice Navigation.

The tidal Witham passes through Boston.

Boats in The Haven at Boston, waiting for the entrance lock to the Black Sluice Navigation.

On the right are Boston's busy docks.

Entering Black Sluice Lock, with Boston docks in the background.

On the Black Sluice Navigation. This newly navigable waterway will eventually be a link through to the River Glen.

The Slea Navigation. Richlow's flagship Madeley Wood at the refurbished Bottom Lock, with pontoon moorings.

 On the Slea conditions vary....

....but mostly it's another peaceful waterway where contemplation of boatie things comes easily.


There were many RAF airfields in Lincolnshire, during both World Wars.  Many villages proudly maintain a memorial.

This is why the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight is still based in Lincolnshire - near the River Witham at RAF Coningsby.

Saturday, 30 March 2013

A Boat Like No Other (Part 2)

The Covers Removed
On 22 November 2012 an item was posted on this blog about the creation of a working boat of the type unique to the Chesterfield Canal  -  the New Dawn project.
This is a tremendous undertaking totally manned, and funded, by members of the Chesterfield Canal Trust.
In November the boat was still draped in tarpaulins, but since then the covers have been removed and the scale of what has been achieved is plain to see.

They worked throughout the wet summer of 2012, and now the late bitter coldness of winter/spring 2013, but by early February the volunteers could take delight in seeing what they had achieved.

By late March the major task was caulking.  This means forcing the caulking (created from woven strands of old and new ropes and soaked in Stockholm tar) into the joints and seams, and the gaps between the planks, to make the timbers watertight.

At the bows  -  both sides of the stem post are being sealed.
Harry, on the left, is cutting out a slot using a brace, and on the right, Richlow's John is caulking the joint with a wooden caulking mallet. 

Friday, 22 March 2013

Updates - March 2013

All Richlow Titles
Contacts Pages.  CRT Telephone Numbers

With immediate effect the telephone number for all CRT regional offices will be 03030 404040, only.  A central hub will redirect calls to the required region.  Calls to the previous numbers will result in having to redial.  Signs along the waterways will gradually be changed.
Direct telephone numbers for lock-keepers, to ascertain tide times etc, will remain in use.
South Yorkshire Waterways
Map 12.  Long-term Towpath Closure, Rotherham
From 15 April 2013 to 23 December 2013  -  the towpath will be closed for land-based visitors between Centenary Way Bridge (Rotherham) and Halfpenny Bridge (at the foot of the Tinsley lock flight, Sheffield)
The lock-landings at Ickles Lock, Holmes Lock, Jordans Lock, and Tinsley no.11 Lock will still be open for boaters to use.
The closure is to carry out major towpath improvements by Rotherham Metropolitan Borough Council, to create a cycle route between the town and Sheffield.  A 2.5 metre-wide path, with a waterproof hard surface, will be installed.  Signposts will be installed along the route, and in adjacent areas, to spread awareness of the waterway.


This the first phase of a project which will eventually lead to more towpath improvements at both ends of this first section. 

South Pennine Ring  -  Part 1
Page 6.  Summit Pound of the Rochdale Canal
First paragraph.  Delete the requirement to book passage of the summit pound of the Rochdale Canal (although CRT do ask that boaters check with them about water supplies after a dry period of weather (oh, if only!!)
Page 7.  Summit Passage of the Rochdale Canal.
Page 20.  Summit Navigation Notes
From 2013 there is no need to pre-book passage over the summit, between Locks 36 and 37.  Please note, there is strictly NO MOORING between Locks 38 and 44.

South Pennine Ring  -  Part 2
Page 7.  Standedge Tunnel
Final paragraph.  Addition  -  CRT do not allow petrol-powered, or fibreglass, boats to pass through the tunnel.
Page 7.  Bookings for the South Pennine Ring
Second paragraph.  Delete  -  the summit pound of the Rochdale Canal.
Amend  -  to Manchester 17 Locks.
Page 10. Cycling
CRT has recently allowed cycling along all of their towpaths unless there are specific "no cycling" signs.  As a result cycling is now allowed on the towpath of the Huddersfield Narrow Canal, however some sections are narrow and there are a lot of low bridges and blind spots.
If cycling the South Pennine Ring, we do not recommend using the river bank between Cooper Bridge and Kirklees Locks on the Calder & Hebble Navigation.  It is too uneven, narrow and dangerous.
Please be aware, pedestrians have priority on towpaths.
Page 20.  Standedge Tunnel
Add  -  as above for final paragraph of page 7.

Wednesday, 27 February 2013

Chesterfield Canal - Worksop Towpath

Chesterfield Canal Guide
Maps 8 and 7  Towpath Improvements in Worksop, between Sandy Lane Bridge (41a) and Bridge Street Bridge (42)
Contractors on behalf of CRT are removing the existing towpath surface and installing a full replacement.
The work has been delayed, twice, by snow but is now underway, with a work-camp by Stret Lock.  Towpath closures are in place.  This photograph was taken on 27 February 2013, of a workparty between the Lady Lee Arm and Morse Lock (49) Map 8.

Thursday, 7 February 2013

Updates - February 2013

Lincolnshire Waterways
Page 12, text for Map 2. Walking and Cycling.  The towpath is now the Fossdyke Canal Trail, extended from Burton Waters to Saxilby in 2012.
Page 22, text for Map 7. The side-waters Timberland Delph and Billinghay Skirth have been added to the map. The Navigation Notes now contain information on pointing-doors, channel details, and turning points.

Approaching the "pointing doors" at the entrance to Timberland Delph.

Inside the entrance to Timberland Delph.  The locals rarely see boats on this waterway.

Richlow's Madeley Wood on the delph.

No wonder the locals were watching  -   Madeley Wood was not alone!

Madeley Wood exiting Timberland Delph, back onto the River Witham through the pointing doors.

Tuesday, 22 January 2013

Updates - January 2013 (2)

Chesterfield Canal
Map 1.  West Stockwith Lock (65).  The final approaches to the lock, on the Trent, will be dredged by March 2013.
Map 4.  Whitsunday Pie Lock (60).  The bottom cills and gates will be repaired during March 2013.
Map 7.  Between Manton Viaduct (45a) and Kilton Lock (52), Worksop.  The canal will be dredged during the early winter months of 2013.
Maps 7 and 8.  Between bridges 42 and 41a, at Worksop.  The towpath will be upgraded with a full replacement of its surface in Jan-Feb 2013.
Map 8.  Stret Lock (48) at Worksop.  The work to widen this lock was completed in late 2012.  The chamber has been rebuilt by CRT with a clear width of 7ft 0.5ins over a draught of 2ft 9ins.  CRT are working to the dimensions of the 1968 Transport Act which states that this canal should allow for craft 72ft long, 6ft 11ins beam, and a draught of 2ft 6ins.
Maps 8 and 9.  Between Worksop and the feeder at Kiveton Park on the summit pound. The canal will be spot-dredged during the early winter months of 2013. Also overhanging vegetation will be trimmed back.

Dredging-pans and push-tugs in Shireoaks Basin (map 8).
1 February 2013.

Monday, 7 January 2013

Updates - January 2013

North Yorkshire Waterways
Page 50.  River Foss.  Castle Mills Lock
The email for IWA North Yorkshire, to arrange operation of the lock, has been changed to   See Map 15.
South Pennine Ring - Part 1 of 2
Page 7 and Map 4.  Rochdale Canal.  Add - there is strictly no mooring between locks 38 and 44. (In a CRT email dated 5 December 2012).
Lincolnshire Waterways
Page 53.  Bardney Boat Club.  New entry - contact details
Location, on Maps 4 and 5.