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In this entry John details his river cruise from Birstall to Trent Lock.
A short day – only a bit over 4 hours. I started from the overnight mooring above Birstall Lock (see photo) and met another of the volunteer lock keepers there. He used to own a boat and now helps at the lock one day a week. These volunteers often do more than just work the lock. I found this one talking to the chair of the local parish council (who was walking her dog) about the need for signs to tell boaters how close shops were and about the walk around the water park.
I think the Soar is underrated. It doesn’t have the flood banks of the Severn or the Trent which hide the view. It’s rather more like the upper Thames -say, above Oxford. Today, it was warm and dry and there was little current in the River as a heron lazily flapped across from one bank to the other.
It was good to see bank protection work in progress just before the Hope & Anchor Bridge (see photo). Later on, I found a defective ground paddle at Cossington Lock and two willows 50% or more across the navigation. I reported these straight away.
Since I last came this way, the bridge over the River Wreake has been rebuilt and at a higher level. I’d been thinking about venturing up so was disappointed to find I couldn’t (see photo). I look forward to the day when the Wreake is open again to Melton Mowbray. If you’re interested, you can join the Melton and Oakham Waterways Society – google for their website.
Like so many rivers, there were lots of mills. Not many now remain but the one at Sileby has been converted (see main photo). Talking of buildings, I was surprised to see a nice boathouse under construction (see photo right) as I approached Barrow-on-Soar – which is where my journey ended for the day.
It was raining when I got up! Until now, the weather has varied from glorious to fine. But it was dry when I eventually started. I stopped in Loughborough Basin (see photo right). On the way, it was good to see works on bank protection (including provision of visitor moorings) by Bridge 35. (see photo below)
The navigation is canalised through Loughborough for about 4 miles. The River was wider when it re-joined and I had a pleasant journey down to the Trent. Industrial historians and others will be intrigued by the changes made by a 1980s flood alleviation scheme. Both Kegworth Deep and Ratcliffe Locks were rebuilt. Not in the same place but close by. As a result, you can see the half buried remains of the old locks. By the way, I recommend the large blackberries at Kegworth!
It was 7.30 when I got to Trent Lock at the start of the Erewash Canal and I was lucky that another boat was going up too. This was my first uphill lock since Watford last Friday! I tied for the night just above the Lock – tomorrow I head for Langley Mill.
John Dodwell was formerly one of our 10 trustees. He owns Helen, a 51ft old BCN tug/icebreaker which draws 3ft and is based near Stourbridge, West Midlands. His waterways interest goes back to the early 1960s.
John’s been involved in the waterways since the early 1960s and he enjoys all aspects of the waterways. To pick out one oddity, he was pleased and surprised to see about a dozen herons this June around the BCN Main Line, including two under the M6 motorway!