Leicester Ring Day 9, Part B: Sawley Locks to Zouch

Strictly speaking, this post should be numbered Day 9 & 10, because this morning we moved from our overnight mooring at Kegworth to Zouch, where we had a very nice lunch in the Rose & Crown. This involved going through a lock too, but even so was only a short trip – perhaps half an hour.

The remainder of Day 9, however, was every bit as spectacular as the previously described journey. Having left Sawley Locks, we hit the River Trent and the shore got ever further away as we enjoyed the thrill of open water. It was great to be able to give ‘Froth’ full throttle, without having to worry about moored boats or breaking wash.

As we approached the big junction, there was a complicated road sign:

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From this we learned that we wanted the first on the right after the two left turns and avoiding the weir is rather important! When the rivers are flowing fast and high, I imagine this would be a very serious warning indeed. Fortunately, despite a stiff breeze, we had less to worry about. So, we passed the mouth of the Erewash Canal…IMG_5313

…and the continuation of the River Trent to Nottingham and beyond…IMG_5314

…and steered a suitable course to avoid the big weir…IMG_5318

…finally to make the right turn onto the River Soar:IMG_5322

The upper reaches of the Soar are full of interesting sights, dominated by the ever-present Ratcliffe power station.

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What intrigued us the most were the houses on stilts that festoon the bank:

There were also some genuine houseboats:

All in all, this is a fabulous small community, perched precariously in a flooding area and backed by tall cliffs that themselves look none too stable.

We passed through flood locks, which are held open at this time of year:

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Cheered by this easy passage, we assumed it would be a simple enough journey to Kegworth, but we did not know that the locks would be so gigantic. Even Rosie seemed to be wondering what on earth was going on:

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She became ever more grumpy and a bit frightened as we went on, and given the scale of these you can see why:

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The blue lines to the side are necessary to hold the boat in position (using the centre rope) when the enormous body of water starts to cascade into the lock. Louise cut a heroic figure in the high winds and the lowering sky, windlass in hand, making her way carefully across the balance beams almost up in the sky. Ratcliffe Lock was set at a right angle to the canal, which is always difficult in a narrowboat, especially a 67-footer. But Kegworth Deep Lock (pictured) was the real monster, the boat thrashing about and requiring real strength to hold against the turbulence.

It was with relief, therefore, that we headed towards our mooring outside The Otter. We had gone to the trouble to phone ahead to check that moorings would be available for a 67′ narrowboat and were assured that there is always plenty of room. On arrival, this turned out to be not quite right, because the mooring by the pub garden, while empty, is not really suitable to a narrowboat at all. It’s more of a plastic cruiser mooring bay, really. So we ended up mooring opposite, which was not entirely satisfactory. The river was very shallow, and we were opposite the main road and out of reach of the pub. Tired and frustrated, we tried moving on briefly, but had to reverse to the same spot when it became clear that the moorings round the bend were even worse. A large gin and tonic and a curry before an early night were the only way to soothe our aching limbs and tired brains.

To our surprise, we awoke this morning feeling quite fine, and so made the short trip on to good moorings at Zouch and lunch with Louise’s parents. It is here we will stay for the night and re-gather our strength before heading on to Loughborough and maybe beyond tomorrow.

 

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