Thursday 20 July 2023

Goole to West Stockwith. Knottingley and Goole Canal, New Junction Canal, Stainforth and Keadby Canal, Tidal River Trent.

Because the South Yorkshire Navigations are all so big and wide, you can make decent progress without upsetting people or creating a huge wash. The Lister loved being at the top of its rev range, whisking us back to Southfield Reservoir where we turned left onto the New Junction Canal. Opened in 1905, the New Junction was the last canal to be built in this country and - until coal carrying to Ferrybridge stopped - was a highly successful freight route.

The aqueduct on the New Junction Canal. The huge sluice gates at either end enable it to be drained for maintenance.

We caught up with Keith and Kate on nb Donella Too half way down the New Junction and shared a couple of swing bridges with them, but at the junction with the Stainforth and Keadby we turned left towards Thorne and they carried on to Doncaster, so we never got to chat.

After lunch and services at Bramwith we carried on, through Stainforth, under the big M18 flyover, through the keeper operated swing-bridge/lock combo, and finally into Thorne. It took several attempts to get the swing footbridge to open in Thorne, but we got there eventually and moored up in a perfect Legend sized space on the big verge opposite the boat yard.

There's always something interesting going on in Thorne.

Our route to Keadby took us round a big loop, so although we’d been boating all day, when we got to Thorne it was only an hour’s walk back to Rawcliffe Bridge to get the car. While Dave went to get it, Ann-Marie packed her stuff up for five days away. After lunch we said goodbye to each other and off she went. Dave wasn’t lonely for long though, David turned up that evening to be First Mate on the trip to Keadby.  “The Boys” had a good couple of days together, moving David’s camper-van in the morning, and then walking back and boating in the afternoon.

Day one took them to Crowle Bridge, and day two to Keadby. The seven moveable bridges between Thorne and Keadby are all different....

They’re a mixture of manual and push button, one is right next to a level crossing and the signalman has to throw a switch before it’ll work, one lifts rather than swings, and finally just before Keadby, there’s an amazing sliding railway bridge that retracts sideways to let the boats through. The Boys had a camera set up on a tripod at the back to record the whole procedure, but it fell over, so here's a link to someone else's video.

After David left, the boat keys still hadn’t turned up so Dave had to begin cutting padlocks off. The first one was to get his bike out of the top box so he could cycle into Scunthorpe for parkrun.

And the second one was so he could check the diesel before we went out onto the tidal Trent. It was quite encouraging to find that, even with a mains powered angle grinder and a thin blade, it wasn’t particularly easy get the padlocks off, especially the one on the diesel cap which Dave had to virtually cut in half.

Nb Rosemary arrived on Sunday, so Dave had a nice time chatting to Paul and Maxine, who we hadn’t seen for ages. Unfortunately, although we were all going up the river on the following day, they were going all the way to Torksey and had to leave two hours before us to get there on the tide, so Ann-Marie missed them by an hour. Dave waved them goodbye as they left the lock.

When they'd gone out of sight, Dave got Legend river ready for our trip and had a chat with Mike and Julie on Nb Dream Come True who were going to be travelling with us. When Ann-Marie did get back it all went very smoothly. We had just enough time for a brew and a blueberry muffin, then the light went green, the swing bridge opened and we made our way into the lock. Dave was a bit confused to start with because the outer gates that point into the river were shut, but he’d not realised that since Paul and Maxine had gone out, the tide had come right in and the river was now higher than the canal, so instead of going down, we were going up!

We had a terrific, and rather speedy, trip up the tideway, with Dream Come True following us like an obedient puppy.

The wind was against the tide, so some of the straight stretches were really choppy, but nothing that Legend couldn’t handle.

The plan was to get to West Stockwith just as the tide turns, when getting into the lock would be as trouble free as possible. We got there about 10 minutes early, so although there was still a bit of flow upstream, it was easy enough to make the turn.

Up in the basin, we said goodbye to Mike and Julie who were carrying on up the Chesterfield and went over to the visitor moorings on the other side. Before long we had the washing hung out and were cycling back up to Keadby with a very helpful tailwind, and within two hours we’d got the car back, the bikes put away and the washing in, just before it started raining.

Perfect timing.

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