Monday 18 May 2015

Big Boys and traffic lights.

Newark Castle do Guided Tours, I discovered this slightly accidentally as when David and I were looking around the castle gardens/grounds the previous day,  I noticed that there were modern walkways up high in the gatehouse section, in looking for the doorway to the walkways I open a door and was greeted by Flossie the Castle Warden, who informed me that this was actually her office!  She was a lovely lady and seeing our disappointment that it was all locked up advised us to return the next morning and she would do a Guided Tour for us.  
So this morning four of us arrived to be joined by another couple who were Boaters too! 

The castle has a rich history and although only 20% survives after being "Slighted" by Oliver Cromwell after the English Civil War, the stone work then removed and re-used around the town.

The Gatehouse and the Bishops apartments were above

Wooden floors above long gone

Not dungeons but castle cellars used to store all the food and drink

Side view of the Gatehouse
Picture of Newark Castle in its day, only the riverside wall and towers remain sadly.

Several mediaeval houses are still standing in the town, like this one

The Old Bakery where we had a delicious lunch.

 After watering up on the other side of the river all four boats left Newark

Lesley and Geoff about to catch ropes to help us water up.

WaL was in the lead, for the short distance to Newark Nether Lock on the northern outskirts of Newark. 
 The geography of this lock is peculiar, try hard to imagine this.  Firstly the wind had picked up AGAIN,  the river here widens then takes a sharp left turn, at the same time the railway line goes overhead, and there is a weir flowing pretty fast too on the left, some of those nice metal posts here, no rubber attached of course so as you come around this sharp bend, facing you is that weir and a narrowing of the river and due to the railway bridge overhead, 
a very narrow way to pass through.   There are traffic lights here and a sign saying DO NOT APPROACH IF LIGHTS ARE RED.  

So knowing that Lesley had contacted the lock telling them of our approach David was a bit discombobulated to then see the red light, (I actually wonder how the lock keepers would ever know you are there as the lock is further around and unsighted of this 'Dog leg' of a corner....
I phoned Lesley again quickly as I could saying the lights were on red while David did a sterling job trying to hold WaL in the wind, away from the metal piling and not be dragged towards the weir, his wife was a tad twitchy...
So in the company of Clarence as the light turned green Hurrah we started through the narrow space and guess what, as our nose entered the bridge space the lights turned red again, shocking language from the captain with a declaration that there was no turning back now, we received a hefty clump from the piling and the blasted wind and WaL crept through.  As we made the right hand sharp turn to lock itself the gates opened and we entered slowly, the lock keeper was walking towards me as I sat in the cratch with the bow rope in hand all ready to attach WaL to the lock wall sides...
This lock keeper asked me if I knew we had just come through a red light?
Yes said I
Never ever come through a red light again he said in a voice worthy of a headmaster, now Reader ordinarily I am  the calmest most non confrontational person afloat, but to have him talking to me thus I was a bit cross, I may possibly have let rip, (anyway a good thing Amanda wasn't onboard or she might well well have climbed up and flattened him), I did point out to him that we had been waiting, the wind was battering us towards the weir etc etc and most importantly the bloody lights had gone green then red again...  

I have been the butt of jokes ever since Reader from the other crews laughing and David laughing the loudest.  Another time with no pictures, I was too busy in the BRACE position.

So into Nether Lock, I heard D tell another driver that I would need an especially large gin tonight.

Geoff and Margaret passing us out of Nether Lock as they knew the way.

Joe whipping past too trying to beat Seyella

Big Boys racing

Another quite big boy 

So just a short run to Cromwell Lock where we breasted up leaving room for another narrow boat, all to be ready for 9:30am the next morning to go through Cromwell onto the tidal section of the river Trent, 17 odd miles to Torksey where we turn right onto the Fossdyke.

Supper was courgette and chorizo pasta and yes a very large gin.


  1. I would've denied running a red light. After all you weren't at the helm? Should have sent lockie to berate man with hand on throttle!

    1. Or said, "Sorry, do I look as if I am in control of this boat?" David is still laughing.