On the River Trent at last

After spending Friday night in the pub with Mike and Aileen we set off on Saturday morning with the intention of reaching the end of the Trent & Mersey canal and getting onto the River Trent.  Here are Mike and Aileen leaving in the opposite direction on their way to Liverpool and Lancaster.

It was raining so we were glad there were volunteer lock keepers at Stenson so we could stay on the boat.  This lock was the first broad lock we have been in since we were on the Rochdale canal going through Manchester.

We weren’t sure whether this sign was for road or canal users.

Even though it was raining we were excited as we would be on new territory soon.  We tried to go on the River Trent back in January but were either iced in on the canal or the flood gates were closed.  Fortunately they were open and the lights were off.

This field of poppies was a cheery sight in the rain.

This is the final flood lock at Shardlow before dropping down to the river.

Karen looking rather bonny in her rain hat.

This is entering the Trent at the end of the canal.  To the left is the River Derwent – to the right is upstream River Trent and we went downstream in front of us.

Going under the M1 was odd as we managed to get a picture with no traffic on the bridge.

At Sawley boats leave the river and join the Sawley cut for a while.  Here we are going through Sawley flood lock.

We moored up in Sawley which seemed to be packed.  The rain stopped and the sun came out and it was a glorious evening which we spent sitting outside.


The wind had got up in the morning which was a bit of a shame as I don’t really relax when we go on rivers in the wind.  We only had a couple of miles to do before turning off onto the Erewash canal so it wouldn’t be too bad.  Firstly we had a bit of fun in the wind getting over to Sawley marina for a pump out and diesel.  Sawley lock is at the end of Sawley cut and had lock keepers as do all the locks on the Trent in the summer.

Once through the lock we were back on the river again.

This is the junction we were looking for – turning left up the Erewash (pronounced Erry-wash) canal.

The canal entrance is in the raised brickwork on the left. 

Just at the entrance to the canal was the first lock, Trent lock.  There were plenty of gongoozlers as it is quite a touristy place with pubs and tea rooms.

The Erewash canal has 15 locks and is about 12 miles long.  Incredibly it only took a year to build and it opened in the summer of 1779.  It was one of the most profitable canals in the country and enabled coal to be transported from the Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire coalfields to towns in the Midlands.  In its heyday four other canals (the Cromford, Nottingham, Derby and Nutbrook canals) fed into it so many tolls could be charged.  Trade stopped in 1963 and Barbara Castle’s transport act of 1968 threatened to close and abandon the canal completely.  Support from locals and canal enthusiasts was so great that the canal was taken off the list and has remained open ever since.

The southern end of the canal is popular with houseboats which are obviously never going anywhere again.

We passed Sheetstores basin which is no longer used by sail makers (hence the name) but a marina for narrowboats. 

The canal is the clearest we have been on and lined with water lilies.  Not many people venture up it which I suspect is one of the reasons it is so clear.

This is Long Eaton lock.  Unfortunately we missed the carnival at Long Eaton by one day – the canal runs for about ½ mile along the high street so would have been a good vantage point.

We met some boaters coming down the canal at Dockholme lock.  The ladies were well into their Pimms and we couldn’t stop them talking.  They said the locks were difficult and they had turned round to get back to the river.   Their incessant moaning in their Brummie accents really wound me up so I got back on the boat.

We moored up after going through Sandiacre lock so we could have a look round the restored lock keeper’s cottage and toll house.  The guys who showed us round were real enthusiasts so made it very interesting for us.

This photograph on one of the walls is dated 1908 and shows leggers bringing a boat out of Crick tunnel.

The Derby canal used to join the Erewash canal just above Sandiacre lock – you can just make out an overgrown bridge - the canal was abandoned in 1964.

We passed several well preserved large mills.

We moored for the rest of the day just below Pasture lock.  We had had a brilliant weekend and were ready to relax for the evening.

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