About Us

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In 1977 we hired our first narrowboat from Anglo Welsh at Market Harborough.From that moment our destiny was set. In 2006 we finally purchased our own brand new 57' narrowboat which we named 'Free Spirit'. Our aim is to travel the length and breadth of all the navigable rivers and canals of the UK. This will be our story as it unfolds.

Saturday 27 May 2017

Micro pub opens at Sawley.

For those that have regularly travelled the upper Trent on their way to the T&M, you may remember  Dave who operated Sawley Lock for years until C&RT decided to move him elsewhere. Dave left C&RT a while ago and has now ventured on a new undertaking, opening a Micro Pub by the lock. Selling only real ales ( he was horrified when I asked for a Larger!) a small sample of each ale could be tried before making the final decision. Price is very comparable to other real ale pubs and the setting couldn't be more idyllic. Having only been open a little over two weeks the footfall through the door when we visited was constant and with his wife running a tea room next door, this is one venture I'm sure will be very successful.  So if you come through the lock Thursday, Friday, Saturday or Sunday it is well worth stopping to sample his ales.

Thursday 25 May 2017

And we're off.

In temperatures above 25 deg, we said goodbye to Sandiacre and the Derby Arms resident Heron and headed down the Erewash. Our destination was Sawley.

On our journey down to Trent lock a Weeping Willow with its curtains of leaves obscured our vision. For years the same Willow has blocked boaters view and I am hoping that when ECP&DA's ex C&RT work boat Pentland goes into the water at Langley Mill, this problem will be addressed.

 Then is the distance we spied what looked like buoys by Long Eaton lock. A warning to boaters not to alight there as the bank had subsided. Wow, when did that happen? as there was no sign of that crack when we came back last year. (or maybe there was and we just didn't see it) Also very noticeable were the paddles left up on both sides of the lock.

Next stop was the facilities at Trent Lock. Took over 40 minutes to fill both water tanks. Hadn't realised quite how low we had got on the water stakes. and it's a wonder we didn't actually run out! Then lock down to the River Trent and head upstream to Sawley lock. For the first time in years, (in fact since Dave the lock keeper left) it was manned by volunteers. What a welcome sight and one that all boaters can now look forward to as these volunteers are here to stay.

And you know that baby boom I mentioned 10 days ago? Well below Sandiacre lock the boom has already started.

Wednesday 17 May 2017

Cruising once again

Sunday 14th May

At last.... on the move but only as far as Sandiacre. What a glorious day to cruise down the Erewash especially as we met 5 boats on their way up to the Mill. So every lock bar one was with us and that one was due to a ground paddle being left partially up. Also, we had help from Christine, Kev and Josh. The making of young Thomas into a lock wheeler was yet to come, him being only 3. Only downside, no life jacket for Josh. Thankfully, having spent many a holiday on our other boat Merlin, he is very good at listening to orders and doing what he was told.

Langley Mill

The youngest member of the family Thomas enjoying the day. Kev (at the bow) looking for Pike in the clear water

Thomas doing his bit.

A selfie!

Leaving Pasture lock, two big notices had been pinned to a post. Seems like another part of the canal beauty spots  to be blighted by HS2.

Saw plenty of Swans and Moorhens sitting on nests, I'm expecting a baby boom in the not too distant future. Whether we will see the Cygnets or Moorhen chicks are debatable. All depends if the consultant deems Ian fit for another 6 months. Won't know that for another week.

Just before Sandiacre lock is the Derby Arm and a small section still in water. Derby and Sandiacre canal society are hoping to reinstate this canal which starts at Swarkestone on the T&M and ends here at Sandiacre This would mean a cruising link bypassing the River Trent completely, wonderful if the river happens to be in flood. To view the map click here
 It is also on this bit of water that we pull into when we arrive back at our bungalow. So lucky that our tenants allow us to plug into the electrics and with a water tap by the garage, we could happily stay for several weeks. Just a trip to Trent Lock every 5 days to empty both cassettes.

So keeping everything crossed that we can leave on our travels next Thursday. Hoping to do the River Nene, middle levels and the Great River Ouse, two rivers totally new to us and by all accounts very pretty.

And seen at the garden opposite,


Wednesday 3 May 2017

Chelmer and Blackwater canal

Our final family visit was to Ian's sister Sheila and brother in law Chris. They live in a bungalow overlooking the Blackwater estuary at a place called St Lawrence near Maldon. Having caught up with the family news and bored them silly with the holiday photos, it was suggested that a drive to Maldon and then a walk to the Chelmer and Blackwater canal would interest us. We jumped at the chance to visit yet another waterway especially when Beeleigh falls was mentioned. So a bit of history first taken from the C&RT web site.

This waterway runs through a largely unspoilt part of rural Essex and connects the county town of Chelmsford with the tidal estuary of the River Blackwater at Heybridge Basin.  The 13.8 miles broad navigation and the pound locks (of which there are 11 and one sea lock) measure on average 68 x 17 feet could only take vessels of up to 60 feet long, With a 16 feet of beam and only a two-foot draught, this made the Chelmer and Blackwater the shallowest navigation in the country.

 Kept asking Sheila when would we reach the falls. Those of you who followed our adventures in Australia and New Zealand will know what big fans we were of waterfalls. Slightly bemused then, when the 'falls' turned out to be an overflow weir! To be fair Sheila did mention the lack of rain and how normally the weir was a 'sight to behold'.

Beeleigh Falls

We ended the walk at Maldon Port.  Found this exert from Ports.org.uk

It was where the River Blackwater began to widen into the estuary that Maldon's harbour facilities were established at a detached suburb called the Hythe. The word 'Hythe' is an old Saxon word and roughly translated means landing place. The Hythe, Hythe Quay or however you wish to call it, has been in existence for well over a thousand years, and for all of that time, up to and including today, has been the gateway to Maldon for vessels arriving from the sea.

Tide was out when we arrived but I was interested to see the floating dry dock in use.

We are now back on FS and still preparing for the 'off' in a week or so. The well deck needs a coat of paint and although the rubbing down and primer has been applied, we have run out of paint so a trip to the chandlers is the order of the day.

Floating dry dock.

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