Steppin’out; Solo Jolly day 7 Branston to Mercia marina.

Solo Jolly day7 001

A bit chilly this morning and put the central heating on to warm things up. Quite a few boaters up and about early and not all of them very curteous as they were passind a good line of moored boats. Some of the boats and some of the people looked like they should know better. Can’t go by looks though can we? This boating is not exactly hardship avenue while out cruising is it? I sat with a coffee studying the form for todays losers at Market Rasen and Newmarket then had a long conversation with my brother on the phone. It comes under “best of both worlds” I think and I’m not knocking it.

Off we go then heading down to Branston lock. It’s certainly just a tad up from breezy I think so paying more attention. I had a good line coming in to lock mooring area behind a boat already there and just as the bow got to the bank and I started to bring the stern in the bow shot off with a mind of its own. With the bow on the other bank now I could revers and try to give myself enough room to turn and point back to where I want to go. This time with a little more force and the chap from the moored boat came and took my middle rope and we got moored up.  Another came in behind as I pulled down once the first boat went in and we all came to lift and drop paddles and things. While there a cruiser came and he had a hell of a job mooring up too. Looks like being an interesting sort of day.

Solo Jolly day7 002Down and then on towards Burton with fields spreading out towards the hills and then you turn a corner and a great big square wharehouse built of sheet steel, as they do nowadays, is staring back at you. Another one on the other side of canal and the A38 to pass under and we are back in Burton. As I approached Shobnall marina at a sedate pace as there were boats moored someone was coming out so I had to sound the horn as I was about 10 yards from the entrance. They did stop and so no accident.

Meandering through Burton by canal isn’t too bad as it keeps to the outskirts and goes by Shobnall fields where there were at least 3 youth football matches in progress.Solo Jolly day7 003 Now we come to Dallow lock which will be my last of the journey. Solo Jolly day7 004The lock was full so only had to open the gate and enter. There was a Stenson day hire boat moored right up to the lock on the downside lock landing area with three couples in and one of them fishing. I decided to just say nothing as explaining they shouldn’t moor there might get heated and I didn’t fancy the hassle. I’m a coward really. As I came back to close the gates another boat approached so I waved to see if they were going through and no response. I stood waving with both arms above my and shouting hello loudly. I figured they were going through so opened the gate I’d shut and walked back down still waving and shouting and being ignored and I was virtually back to them before they acknowledged by existence. ” oh we were looking to see if they were going through” indicating the hire boat, which is fair, but I just wish people would respond when you’re waving and shouting. It’s my age, where are my pills.

Solo Jolly day7 009

To say how windy it is today there are lots of boats out and about which makes it a bit tight in places and I slowed down and a couple of times stopped and hovered to make life easier for all of us. Would a thanks mate or  a thank you be too much to ask?Solo Jolly day7 019 This makes up for yesterday I guess when all seemed to go right. However I passed one boat where it was narrowed by a tree and there is a very narrow bit of canal, looks like it might have been a bridge at some time, with a boat the other side of the narrow who did stop for me even though it blew him onto the wrong side of the canal and I thanked him profusely.Solo Jolly day7 013

There is a narrow bridge just before you enter Willington and met two boats coming through so a bit more hovering then through and on to Willington. I had had a boat behind me for a while and he was still there as I got to the marina entrance which is tight on a good day in this direction. I had the one behind and one coming up infront and thankfully the man coming out of Mercia was stopped in  pound just after the entrance so I could turn in and only bumped once. Home or very nearly now and as I entered the marina proper you could feel the wind coming at you. I negotiated a couple of turns and ran down the farside of my bay and turned in and was doing alright till the last minute and hadn’t quite got it right so bumped my mooring partner not too bad but not as gently as I would have liked. Good job he’s a nice man.

Solo Jolly day7 023Strange really but it does feel like I’ve come home and it does feel like I’ve been on holiday and thankfully it feels like I’ve had a good time and for a weeks holiday I’ve spent nothing really. If you ignore the boat running costs which you pay anyway a holiday like this is dirt cheap. I may have spent less than normal as I moored out in the wilds four nights and after all the fresh air each day I was a sleep quite early. I should be out night clubbing till all hours when on holiday, I’m only 56 I’m still young. Ok well maybe not and maybe I’ll do the boring stuff next time too.

The last picture is a cheat I will admit as I took it one night about 2 or 3 weeks ago so it’s not actually this outing but it is taken off the back of my boat where I’m moored and so it is home.

038I look forward to my next outing and must post a bit more regularly than I have been doing.

Thanks for following and your comments.

God bless


Useful Information
Our Nige

55 years old. I work in registered care as a care assistant and have my house up for sale and when sold will be buying a narrowboat of some kind to live on. Been a bit of a dream of mine for many years. Don't know for certain if I'll like it but I'm really looking forward to it and think that I will. I have been looking at boats and reading and talking to people over the last 6 to 9 monts and sometimes I feel like I might know what layout I want. I will be on a restricted budget of about 25 to 35k and will be looking for advice and tips to help me make a fair start on the water.

Paul Smith - Sunday,29 September, 2013

Welcome home Nige (and I bet your “home” looks just like your holiday accommodation).

I agree, a cruising holiday for a liveaboard narrowboat owner costs next to nothing. After my last two week cruise, I calculated that the holiday only cost me about £200 over and above what I would have normally spent in the same period. It’s a wonderful, exciting and very low cost way to recharge your batteries.

When’s the next cruise?


martincowin - Sunday,29 September, 2013

Hi Nige,

Enjoyed reading your posts this week, has made things a bit nicer for us what with us having no water here and all. Your pictures are really good to see.


Alan - Sunday,29 September, 2013

Great cruise diary, Nige.  Much enjoyed it.


deckhand - Monday,30 September, 2013

Lovely reading your expedition notes over the past few days.  We are planning to cruise from Nottingham Castle Marina to Mercia Marina ourselves the week after nest (our maiden voyage) so would be interested in any good mooring places you can recommend.


Our Nige - Monday,30 September, 2013

Thanks for the encouragement and comments. I could have sworn I’ve posted a reply similar to this one but can’t find it anywhere so excuse me if I repeat myself. I don’t think there will be any major outings till next year but while talking with my neighbours Chester was mentioned and I’ve always fancied going to Chester so that might be my first trip for next year. To coincide with a days racing. I prefer the jump racing but Chester is a beautiful and quirky course and has a couple of good guitar shops too, my friends tell me. I would also like to go to Lincoln which would be my first river journey along the Trent.

I have a few things to sort out before a major trip. I need a pole rack because when walking on the roof as you have to do sometimes when single handing having loose barge pole and boat hook is not the best idea and also to remove my windscreen and put it in the bedroom as again stepping over and kneeling down near glass there is the potential for a bit of injury to occur. 

Hi Deckhand I will keep a look out on here to see when you set off. Are you going to blog it? When you come into Shardlow there are a couple of pubs near a bridge but I haven’t been in them and another canal side pub a little further on called The Clock Warehouse which I think belongs to a chain but is quite good food and choices on the real ale front. I’m not a desert person but a friend of my thought it looked wonderful as they do a five desert cake/gateaux type thing. She was well impressed. Plenty of moorings in Shardlow and there is an Indian restaurant too. 

I don’t really know too much from Shardlow to Willington as I’ve only come up that stretch once and they are all deep nasty double locks which apparently don’t follow the trends necessarily about opening paddles to help keep your boat steady. So be careful with them. Stenson lock I’ve been through with only me in the lock and I had to get my crew to half close the one ground paddle when we were coming up as the turbulence was horrible and pinned me to the cill and that was only one paddle. Just take things at your pace and if you can pair up on the locks I don’t think they are as bad.

Have a good trip and we might bump into you once your here. Oh and the Bubble Inn at Stenson does excellent food and beer and the Green Man does good food too although they advertise hand cut chumky chips but I and a few friends think they might be of the frozen kind but their pies are delicious.

Have fun

Our Nige


Alan - Monday,30 September, 2013

deckhand said
Lovely reading your expedition notes over the past few days.  We are planning to cruise from Nottingham Castle Marina to Mercia Marina ourselves the week after nest (our maiden voyage) so would be interested in any good mooring places you can recommend.

As Nige has said go slowly on opening paddles.  Unlike most locks I think it is best to open ground paddles on opposite side first.  As said, Stenson is the worst.

Shardlow is a definite, although the moorings were full when I came through a week past Sunday, but mostly out for the day or weekend.  You shouldn’t have any trouble.  There is also a heritage centre but have not been in it.

Weston is also a good stop and there is a pub north of the bridge.  It is well worth the walk down to the river south of the bridge.

If you can manage a bit further Shobnall Fields at Burton is a great stop and you can experience the wonderful narrow locks from Burton on.

Some photos on my blog and should be more today or tomorrow – weather not looking conducive to cruising!




deckhand - Monday,30 September, 2013

Hi Our Nige and Alan


Thanks for the notes, advice and pointers. All noted.  The cruise is a necessary ,hopefully launching the boat on the 8th, moving it around to Castle Marina for a couple of days and then moving the boat up to our permanent mooring at Mercia, which we anticipate will take 2 days. We are all novices when it comes to river boating (cant say I am really looking forward to that bit) so aim in first day to at least get onto the Trent and Mersey.  Not fully sure how long the first day will take but we wont moor until we are on the canal part and off the river.

We will have a look and see where the stops you have mentioned sit on our route.

Duly noted about the locks, so will take great care and time.


Yes, will be doing a blog and I am drawing together some of the pictures we have taken throughout the build process.  We are going along to see her put onto the water too so will have plenty pics from that too.

I am hoping that the weather stays reasonable until at least we get onto the canal.  I hear and read so much about the River Trent in flood etc that I find that a bit scary.


Will look out for you Our Nige at Mercia.

Alan, did pm you back, did you receive? 



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