Victor gets a rough 'ride'

Published: Sunday, 20 June 2021

YES, my friends our two days trip up the Soar and back was rough indeed.

SawleyRepair400It started at the first lock—Sawley, with the crews of two boats at the front of us not understanding the new operating panel at the lock, with of course only one now in operation after the failure of Lock 2 last month.

The lock on which £22,000 was spent two months ago to 'make it last another 20 years'!  The picture shows the work being undertaken.

As it was getting late we had decided on a stop at Redhill with the choice of three mooring sites and paths for our usual walk.

Alas, once again it was not to be, for all the moorings were taken up with boats in the various stages of distress or with Redhill Marina trade plates.  Barges and boats with ner a licence in sight! So it had to be next stop Radcliffe Lock.


And it was a stopliterally, as we grounded away from the lock moorings!  This was another place where work had been done in the form of dredging just a fortnight ago, as silt prevented the lock operating.  But whoever was in charge gave no thought for dredging by the landing stage. 

But adding insult to injury, though the top lock gate was plastered with warning notices of not to use the landing stage, but nothing for boaters coming upstream to the lock, and from all accounts many receiving the same fate as us.

A narrowboat came up and offered to pull us off, with a rope tied to his centre ring, to pull us forward—that would make it worse, which we declined as the fella obviously hadn't a clue.

So it was the bow water tank emptied, the heavy anchor and suchlike dragged on to the stern deck, our giving the boat a rocking and then a gentle reverse, with the boat slowly coming free.  So we stayed above the lock for the night.

WidlessKegworthHard work

The following morning it was Kegworth Deep Lock, sorry, Kegworth New Lockmustn't frighten the newcomers. And it was damned hard work too.  If we had not had the extending windlass to wind the paddles and a passer-by helping with the lock gates it would have been a struggle indeed.  It had certainly become worse over the three years since we last passed through.

And it did not get any better, with great fun and games at the next lock at Zouch Cut.  Only one paddle working on the bottom gates, taking ages to empty, not helped by the now expected leaking gates.  Eventually we get in the lock, and would you believeof course you wouldonly one paddle working on the top gates, resulting in it taking ages to fill.  Luckily it is a fairly shallow lock so we were not unduly held up.

Same again

At least all the paddles were operating on Bishop's Meadow Lock, but again it was obvious the lock had had little attention as things were far from easy.  It was here we had the complaints from two seasoned boaters.  One told that boating was no longer a pleasure but 'difficulty after difficulty' and 'not knowing what's wrong next'.

PaddleLoughborougThe other boater told they were going to the tidal Trent, but we pointed out that going up that lock he was going in the opposite direction!  The lady pointed out that Gunthorpe was all silted-up and closed, so they turned back.  And it was the second time as the Newark Lock closure had stopped them then.  With the lady adding that Stoke Bardolph was also due for dredging, so it was all a non-starter.

More paddles out of action

Now to Loughborough Lock and a couple of more paddles out of action and of course the lock's leaking like the clappers. But by then we had had enough with only the two days at our disposal, so it was into Loughborough Basin and a bit of shopping and back below Bishop's Meadow for the night.  There was no way we were going to make it any further, not with the system in that condition.

At least we knew what to expect on the way back.

And what did that woman at the trust's stand tell us at Foxton. Ahh, yes. 'The Canal & River Trust was brought in to rectify the the problems left by British Waterways'.  Joke of the decade, eh?

Poor sods

Pity the poor sods on the Rochdale though with stoppage after stoppage.  So many  it is difficult to keep up but worse is the first intimation of a water shortage, that surely had to come.

So boaters are banned from the summit as the low level risks damage to cills.

And what's the betting the Leeds & Liverpool will be next for water shortage with so many leaking gates.

Poor Weaver

The Weaver isn't doing so good either with its long list of stoppages, and taking five weeks, would you believe—of course you would—to repair the lock collar at Saltersford Lock.

The latest notice telling that the team is on track to complete the works in the estimated  time frame of five weeks.

Complaints galore

Complaints galore from boaters unable to use the towpath at Great Hayward their condemning CaRT for the timing of the closure in the thick of the season with such short notice beforehand.

It's really pushing boaters' patience.

On our side

One thing for sure, there is one organisation at least on our side, with the National Association of Boat Owners (NABO) standing up to CaRT over its attempt to bring in unworkable mooring rules and regulations affecting boaters.

It has had CaRT issue its third draft of the miss-match of regulations, in an attempt to bring some clarity to the scheme, that is solely missing.

Try as I might I can find no comment whatsoever from the Inland Waterways Association about these anti-boater regulations, that since joining up with CART has certainly lost its interest in supporting boaters.

Victor Swift