Soar Away – No Sun

Clare has been writing poems in recent weeks.  I wrote one of my own yesterday.  Sorry if you don’t get the reference.   If you do get the reference, I’m very sorry.

Ode to a Small Piece of Blood and Earwax I Found in my Ear One Jubilee Bank Holiday
Been there five weeks
I heard.

We took the opportunity to fill the water tank again as we’d remembered that this tap was a fast filler, and then set off in to the lock back on to the River Trent.  There were a number of gongoozlers on the bridge watching us descend.  As Clare hopped on I heard somebody say “I bet they turn left”.  He didn’t wait long enough to see us go straight on.

Gongoozlers on the Erewash Canal Bridge
Gongoozlers Watching Bartimaeus Leave the Erewash Canal

We joined the River Trent and headed downstream towards the weir.  We then followed the huge arrows advising us to head up the River Soar instead.  Steering across moving water is always surprising.  The controls all do the usual sort of thing, but with a slide.  In this case as we crossed the main current there was a tendency to drift left – as we left the Trent we ended up further down than I intended.  Once we were pointing up the Soar, everything felt ordinary enough again.

We very quickly came to the first lock.  It turned out to be a “flood lock” so in these quiet times, both gates were wide open and we went through without stopping.  The lady on the bridge apologised for being in our photo.  We asked her if she minded being in our blog – she said she didn’t.

Flood Lock with Bridge Over
Friendly Gongoozler Above River Soar Flood Lock

Clare worked us through the next lock, though found the gate too heavy to close.  I climbed off the roof and tied the boat to a bollard before going to help.  By the time I got there, the man from a boat moored up above the lock had beaten me to it.  He also wanted to know if we had come from the marina and so might know if it was open today.  We couldn’t help him with that.

By now it was time for lunch, but there were few places to moor.  While I drove, Clare prepared salads, so when we arrived at the next lock, instead of working it, we tied up to the bollards and ate.  We were nearly finished when a cruiser appeared behind us.  I got up to look willing, only to realise that the previously empty lock was now full – someone had arrived at the other end!  So I finished my lunch before going to join in.

We offered to let the cruiser join us in the lock, but it turned out they were too wide to go in alongside, and we were too long to let them come in behind.  Another cruiser arrived before we had gone in, so they joined us in the lock instead.  This lock was very deep, and had cables down the side to fix ropes to.  The main paddles release water in to the lock from above roof height initially.  I stood on the roof and held the centre rope – owners of plastic boats can be very concerned about sharing a lock with 20 tonnes of steel.

Deep Lock Filling
View From the Cabin Roof as the Lock Fills

The cruiser soon sped off ahead of us.  We did a mix of diesel and electric driving, aiming to enjoy the peace of a gentle cruise, but still have the batteries full at the end of the day.  The cruise was punctuated with signs warning of the dangers of side weirs and strong currents.  One confusing sign warned us to keep left just as we were approaching a sharp right hand bend under a bridge.  We turned right and kept to the left of the channel – even today it might have been possible to get pulled against the bridge over the weir.

Bridge Over Side Weir
Keep Away from the Bridge – Strong Current

The sun was notable for its absence.  In the stiff breeze on the open water we both ended up wearing more layers than we thought we should need in June.  Though the day was brightened by a close-up sighting of a kingfisher eating a fish as we cruised by its branch.  Some light rain came on as we were leaving one lock.  We moored up on the bollards at Zouch to see if it would persist.  When it didn’t we pressed on to Loughborough.

To pronounce Loughborough correctly, just refer to the use of ough in this sentence:  The rough dough-faced ploughboy coughed and hiccoughed his way through Peterborough.

The river goes round the edge of the town.  Our route is along the four miles of canal that go through the town before rejoining the river.  There is a small basin where I’d plan to moor up, but it turned out to be full.  We went back to the junction and winded.  I then reversed a few boat lengths to some suitable bollards – that bow thruster is dead handy!