Friday, May 4, 2012

Drought..........Are you sure ??

Our first trip of 2012 at the end of April saw us head off for the River Soar, intending to travel to the northern outskirts of Leicester. Much of the country was in drought with hosepipe bans, and the GU was due to be closed to through boating traffic on 13th April.

We set off at about 1.30pm on Saturday 31st April . The weather was cold and some wintery showers accompanied us as far as Alrewas. We managed to get a mooring near to the footbridge in the centre of the village. We intended to visit the Crown pub in the village for dinner, but on ringing to book a table, we were told that they weren't doing food that night ???? What a shame as the last time we visited, we had a lovely meal there. We settled for a Chinese from the local takeaway - and very nice it was too.
The following morning we were up early and greeted by quite a hard ground frost. We walked as far as Wychnor before returning for breakfast and then setting off about 10.30am. A few boats moving, but we weren't held up. We made contact with Louises's cousin Paul who planned to meet us at Barton and travel with us for the day. We duly met up with him about midday and enjoyed his company to Findern where we moored behind the Nadee restaurant and were met by Paul's wife Annette. We were tempted by the thought of a curry and it is one of our favourite local Indians, but a friend was due to visit us here and she had already eaten, so we ate on board.
Tattenhill Lock
Monday saw us travel down to Swarkestone where we met up with another friend of Louise. Debbie eventually managed to find us !! She then stayed with us down towards Weston-on-Trent before the thought of the distance back to her car at Swarkestone got the better of her and she hopped off to make the walk. We continued on through Shardlow as far as Sawley Cut and again ate on board.

Weston Lock
Tuesday was forecast to be wet after lunch, so we had a quick walk into Sawley to post our Easter cards before we set off for the Soar. The cloudy skies became darker as lunch approached and we decided to moor up at Zouch cut before the rain came. Once it started it kept coming, and rained almost continually for the next 30 hours. We had a nice meal in the Rose & Crown at Zouch.

Wednesday saw us stay put. We ventured out around tea time on Wednesday evening to find the water level below the lock well into the amber -  a rise of a good 2-3 feet from Tuesday. Hopefully it wouldn't go any higher !!

Mooring above Kegworth Deep Lock
Well into the red !!!!
We got up on Thursday morning and the rain had subsided. I walked to Zouch Lock to find the water level right on the border between amber and red !! A quick decision to turn back as quickly as possible and get off the river before it got any higher. We set off towards Normanton on Soar and were horrified to find the current of the water flowing over the weir just beyond the road bridge looking very menacing !! No turning back now, so full throttle and we got across the top of the weir quite easily, but the feeling in our stomachs was far from easy. We winded by the boat club at Normanton and then headed back to Kegworth. The flow meant we travelled at tick over.......I say 'we'.....that would be Moonie and I, as Louise decided it would be safer to walk !!! When we got to Kegworth I had a look at the water level indicator below the lock and it was a good two feet in the red - didn't expect that!! We moored up in a lovely spot above Kegworth Lock, the only boat there and had a good hearty breakfast, and there we stayed waiting for the level to drop. That afternoon we walked the 3 miles or so to Redhill. The flood lock was closed and the traffic lights were on red for boat traffic travelling onto the Soar, although green if going out onto the Trent. We walked back and into Kegworth village to get some provisions before returning to Moonie.

A beautiful frosty morning in April !!
Friday morning saw a drop in the water levels and we decided to leave our moorings at Kegworth. Our eldest son, Liam, was home from university in Cardiff and he had rung to say he was going to catch a bus and meet us at Shardlow. The water levels were safe enough to proceed and we met up with him at Derwent Mouth Lock. We travelled up to Weston for lunch and then on as far as Findern where we couldn't resist the temptation of Nadee and enjoyed a good indian meal. Liam decided to stay the night with us. The following morning we travelled up to Willington to make use of the services and then had a good breakfast before Liam got a taxi home and we continued towards Burton. We travelled as far as Wychnor and moored just above the river lock in a spot we had liked the look of on the way down. It proved popular with other boats, but despite being close to the A38, was really quiet and peaceful.

We had a good breakfast on Sunday before making the trip back to Kings Bromley. No real queues to contend with and we made our way up through Alrewas and Fradley and then back to base. A nice trip out but thwarted by the weather and we didn't get as far as we hoped, but then again does it really matter ?

Total 75 miles and 54 locks.

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