Saturday, 11 April 2009

Back to Nottingham

It's a relatively early start and with our full crew, as Pat and Bill join us today for the short trip back into Nottingham. We are running to a schedule today as we are meeting more in-laws in town today.

We set off gently, and with no sign of the winds of earlier in the week, and pass quickly through the wonderful skewed turnover bridge. It's a listed monument now, unlike the lockside cottages at the weir. Odd.

The next mile is alongside the once extensive Boots complex to the north, with plenty of little intakes and shady spots where houseboats lie. It still is Boots - or whatever they are called now - but many of the factory buildings have been demolished. Although formerly industrial, this stretch of the Beeston Canal is now remarkably peaceful and green. It is irritating to see that there are high-voltage cables set in the towpath with warnings not to use mooring spikes. As there are no rings, it is therefore impossible to stop along here.

The peace is broken as the buildings crowd in around us again though. Most of the canal into Nottingham from Beeston is either industrial or post-modern cheap flats, but there is a short stretch of terraced houses and nearly all of them respect the canal that passes by behind them - tidy gardens, benches, even a few short moorings.

While we have been away, Castle Marina has had a new footbridge installed over the entrance. These days all footbridges have to meet the mobility and access requirements so they are all far bigger and far more grand than necessary. At least this one is not as bad as the staggeringly enormous affair that utterly obliterates the view of the front of the old South Mill maltings at home in Bishop's Stortford. You get to the stage sometimes that you reckon you'd rather go the long way round than have more of these enormous eye-sore bridges.

We moor up at the wonderfully named Tinker's Leem and wait for our guests: they include two toddlers so everything has to be tidied up and hidden away. Not much we can do about the stove though. Narrowboats need to be carefully toddler-proofed. Soon enough we spot them ambling along the canal, chattering away about the ducks. The kids are thrilled to be on the boat and even more so to watch her descend through the lock in town. We turn again at the Devil's Elbow, this time T does it and does a nice job, keeping the momentum at the back and we slide round smoothly, not touching at either end.

Anglers under the bridge scowl at us: we have only just passed them two minutes ago and they are having to lift their rods again. They avoid catching my eye. North Star returns to the city basin and we head for lunch at the Fellows Morton Clayton pub. The new owners are unaware of the importance of the FMC name: they know about the adjacent warehouse but the photos on the wall are from all over the network and few are relevant to FMC. Pity.

There are, I think, four pubs and bars in this little space and none are particularly good. Not one really relates to the canal outside except as a locational feature to attract drinkers to the outside terrace.

Later we return - up one lock - the mile to Nottingham Castle Marina.

5.1 miles, 2 locks - the same lock twice!

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