Down River

Yesterday didn’t look a promising day to be in the middle of a big river.  I could think of two reasons to move on.  First, there was a marquee being built on the yacht club lawn across the water – was that a prelude to a noisy event?  The other was the lack of bread – I got on with making some straight after breakfast.  We walked along the canal a bit and found an excellent mooring opposite a field of cows – sorted.  It was only a short drive but it also brought us the other side of the flood gates – I didn’t think there was enough rain forecast for this to be significant.

Trent flood gates.  Lock gates viewed from a boat which has just passed through.  The gates are set in to a barrier with steel piling. The closed gates are higher than any of the land visible beyond, including the towpath which is itself several feet above the current water height.
Trent Flood Gates

This morning we had another reason to move on – we had now run out of milk!  There were only a few isolated showers in the forecast so we set off.  We decided to get our life jackets out of the cupboard for the big river.

There were volunteers operating Cranfleet Lock, so neither of us had to step off to pass through. I set off on to the Trent with the propellor hardly turning, knowing that the current would take us briskly along – if 3 or 4 mph is considered brisk.

Lock exit.  A man wearing a lifejacket is at the helm of a narrowboat leaving a large lock.  The gates of the lock are open, but there are people at each gate arm.
Shane Leaving Cranfleet Lock

On a walk yesterday we’d seen a large notice warning of a hazard.  Today I could see a hazard in the water too.  Looking at the picture, I can see a distance under the diagram.  I can’t see how far it says, and still don’t know if it means how far ahead it is, or how long it lasts.

Warning sign.  A large rectangular sign has a diagram showing that all craft should keep to the left bank while still passing on the right.  On the right hand side of the river an obstacle is shown as a triangle in a red box.  There is a distance at the bottom of the sign, but it is obscured by vegetation.
Hazard Ahead, Keep Left, Pass on the Right, Unknown Distance

A little further downstream there was an obvious hazard.  I presume it has been placed there to mark something else.  I kept to the middle of the river anyway, the flow downstream is generally faster there, and we didn’t see any other moving boats, so there was nothing else to avoid.

Hazard marker.  Four lengths of piling protruding above the water of the river.  Two have extra lengths of metal welded on that are higher than the bank.
Hazard or Hazard Marker

Some distance further downstream we came across a similar arrangement.  This one however had a sign on it for boats coming the other way.  Perhaps this was the end of the section we were warned about earlier.

Hazard marker.  Metal poles protrude from the surface of a river.  Hanging from some of the poles is a large sign with black and white chevrons pointing away from the bank.  In the foreground an arm rests on the tiller of a narrowboat.
Clearer Warning for Those Going Upstream

Another sign further on made it clear which side of an island I should go.  I steered gently left as suggested, but soon realised that all this had achieved was putting the boat side on in to the flow that was going to the right.  A short burst of throttle fixed the problem, but reminded me again that driving in moving water is quite different from our usual canal travels.

It wasn’t far to Beeston Lock.  I got Clare to be ready to tie the bow rope when we arrived at the lock landing.  I was being over cautious though – as I had hoped, we were in slack water above the lock, so controlling the boat was easy.  Clare went to operate the lock leaving me to untie the ropes at my leisure.

I had idly wondered if there was an alternative to going through Nottingham, but a walk later on revealed what a bad idea it would be to attempt to stay with the main flow.

Beeston Weir.  The water of the river cascades down the steeped weir.  Above it a line of bright orange floats mark the danger for boats.  The upstream far bank beyond is lined with moored boats.
Beeston Weir