TUESDAY 15TH TO THURSDAY 17TH MAY 2012
Just before we left our berth at Barton Marina, after lunch time on Tuesday, we spotted this baby coot waiting for his mum to feed him and it begs the question, when is a coot chick no longer cute?
Our first stop would be on the eastern edge of Burton upon Trent, at Horninglow Basin. We had found, courtesy of Yell.com., that there was a vets nearby and it was within a five minute walk, fortunately Duggie’s little lump was diagnosed as a dried scab stuck in his bushy eyebrow, probably left over from when a tiny puppy was climbing all over his head a few days previous. This area is signposted as the mooring place to visit the Bass Brewing Museum, the first time we had tried to visit this place, nearly four years ago, to our disgust Coors had closed it, but it does now look open. I would have like to have stopped and visited, but it was too late today and I didn’t fancy an overnight, there were pubs in every direction a and several characters sitting about with cans in hands.
We moved on another four miles, to Willingdon, with me standing bravely at the helm enduring for the second time today, all that nature could throw at me including hail stones that hurt my head even through my hat. We moored a little way beyond the village and warmed ourselves around the stove.
The lovely thing about being in no hurry is having the time to explore a little further afield. On a bright Wednesday morning we walked back to Willingdon, turned left under the railway bridge, continued over the old toll bridge across the Trent and a mile further on we came to one of the oldest towns in Britain, Repton. Once the Capitol of Mercia, now better known for being home to a five hundred year old public school, scenes for both version of the film ‘Goodbye Mr Chips’ were filmed here. We enjoyed several hours wandering around, with our understanding of the history of the buildings much helped with the excellent guide, available from the imposing church.
We stayed another night at our mooring and in the morning received a text to say that our chums had been released from their watery prison on the Thames, the locks were now operational and they were making full steam ahead and hoped to catch us up in just over a week. We walked Duggie along the towpath to the new and extensive Mercia Marina, fortunately accessible from the towpath side via an old footbridge, Midland Chandlers have a store here and I bought a replacement bilge pump. I broke the outlet spigot on the old when I tried unsuccessfully to remove the hose which I had found chaffed right through. I discovered this when testing the pump well prior to our Wash crossing and realised that the pump was just recycling the water back to bilge from a split about eight inches above the pump, not an ideal situation. I will fit the pump when there is no chance of rain the sun is warm upon my back.
We moved on encountering our first double lock at Stenson and carried on through Swarkestone, stopping for the night near Sarson’s Bridge. This once carried a railway line and is now a major walk and cycleway connecting Derby and Leicester. The old track went on to cross the Trent on a splendid iron viaduct which is still in excellent shape, below which and right beside the swiftly flowing river, are the remains of an old vertical steam boiler, I can only think that it powered a steam pump for the extraction of water. Should this track way ever be resurrected by volunteer steam enthusiasts maybe that would call it ‘The Vinegar Line’.