Victor finds it slow going

Published: Thursday, 13 September 2018

OUR latest forage up the Trent & Mersey has proven to be slow going.

Moored boats increased

It was exactly a year ago since we last cruised this Trent section, but the number of moored boats had increased dramatically, with even having to squeeze in to moor above Derwent Mouth owing no doubt to the ever increasing number of continuous cruisers/moorers.

Even at the top of Aston there was a line of obviously well settled boaters, but where they leave their vehicles, providing they have any, I just cannot reason as there is a locked gate some two large fields away leading off a road, and don't remember much parking space.

Needs a better method

Re repairedTime and time again the bridges over the Trent & Mersey above Weston are battered by vehicles that then have to be repaired, and as was obvious today, by Canal & River Trust, the workers uniforms giving the game away.

The normal suggestion is CCTV installed at each bridge, but as the roads over these bridges are used as a 'rat run' who would want the job of going through days of recording? And then of course would be the cost of installing and paying for power and lighting.

I have always thought that the normal steel barrier inserted in concrete on the road surface could be a possible answer. And as this will somewhat shorten the width, surely all the better as would be the answer to stopping the larger vehicles that are more likely to cause the damage.The picture shows a section that has obviously already been damaged and repaired previously. But the repair this time is not to that, but to the far side of the bridge that has also been damaged.

LeakingSixThe terrible six

But what about those 'terrible six' broad locks? I overheard dear Jan and a lady on the boat accompanying us through the locks, who too had been boating for over 20 years saying that they were the worst broad locks in the country!

To which I can but agree.  The paddles are stiff and the gates exrtremely difficult to move, some still needing two people to close.  These were the reason there was such an exodus from Sawley Marina to Mercia when it first opened, as most of the sytem was then open to them, without having to struggle through those six.

How long before the cill on the lock pictured above gives way, and of course it will be caused by a boater, as is the new policy.

Stenson leakStenson

Arrived at Stenson and seeing the state of the lock gates thought yet again how long will they last?  But it seemed to be the hell of a long time emptying, then when eventually going through we were told by one of the volunteers that they only let water out slowly because boaters have complained about the rush of water upsetting them when the paddles were fully opened!

Don't know about you, but I have two thoughts on that. The complaining wimps should make sure that their boats are properly secured and I for one will not be letting water out slowly on any lock when descending.

But that particular volunteer we could do well without, for with two narrowboats firmly positioned at the back of Stenson Lock all those who have been boating long enough to know, realise that no matter how much water is let into the lock when filling will have no effect on the boats whatsoever, but that volunteer insisted upon winding even the ground paddle inch by inch.

More silly Cart interference by someone who knows no better?

BranstonLakeMore moored boats

It would seem that marinas with lots of facilities are prone to boats mooring at their entrances, and Mercia is no exception, with so many that I lost count owing to a broad beam passing, causing quite a problem.

With Mercia's ten years bash coming up this month I wonder if I will get an invite?  After all I reckon I have been very supportive over the years—I can but hope. 

I wasn't too thrilled at Branston Lake, as the water level is extremely low with scum on its surface and a few dead fish floating. It really needs some rain as the picture shows.


With a pleasant wood, Fradley is a good stopping place for us, but before this I had a look at the progress of the new marina by Common Lock, but not too impressed, as there has been little progress since we last passed last September. Just some earth removed and a couple of machines on site was all there was to show.

Alas going up through Keeper's Lock, our normal stopping place was taken and all we could see was a long line of moored boats. Here we go again, thought I as we slowly moved along, then suddenly a boat pulled out of a mooring, and in we went somewhat quickly. So we managed a mooring and the dog had his run.

FradleyWaterPA little courtesy required

This time we were moored opposite the café that was serving drinks and food, with people sat at the tables by the side of the water, but it is also the mooring for the water point, (seen on the left of the picture) but was surprised that every narrowboat that pulled in for water during the afternoon had its engine left running.

Meaning those at the tables had to put up with the noise of boat engines and their exhausts. And two of them were the thump-thump variety, with of course their engine doors wide open so that everyone can suffer.

Perhaps for once a necessary notice politely telling boaters to have the courtesy of switching off their engines whist taking on water.

Ner a volunteer when we arrived around noon and none when we left the following morning, mind you we are a little early.  And most of the bottom gates still swing open, though the struts have been replaced on those at Junction Lock, to keep them closed.

ManMowingMore boats

It was at Fradley that we noticed not only the increase in moored boats, but more moving boats than normal, that became more pronounced with a great problem getting moorings at Rugeley, with so many taking advantage of its shopping facilities, and boats attempting to pass each other along the moorings.

Then we passed a most unusual sight—a man actually mowing the edges of the waterway. Not the towpath but the vegetation that prevents boaters mooring. Perhaps to further Cart's new policy of providing endless moorings for its ever increasing continuous cruisers/moorers.

We all thought that with the Four Counties Ring closed there will be fewer moving boats past Haywood Junction, but the opposite was the case, as moored at noon at Bridge 85 near Burston village it was like being on the M1, with a seemingly never ending stream of boats.

But of course with so many waterways closed the Trent & Mersey is just one of the few open without restrictionshence the increase in boats.

Victor Swift