Wednesday, 13 August 2014

Fossdyke and Witham

When we purchased 'Rosie' we collected her from Torksey. Our first trip was along the river Trent to Keadby. We had walked around the lock and moorings at Torksey to familiarise ourself with the layout. Then we did a short trip along the canal to familiarise ourself a bit more with the boat before setting off. One thing I was sure of was that one day, I would return and explore the whole length of the Fossdyke.

You might think of the canal and river down to Boston from Torksey as being something of a dead end, where you will eventually need to retrace your steps back. However, many boaters also make the estuary trip across the wash. Reconnecting with the inland waterways at the other side. For this you will need to use the expertise of a pilot. Many boats complete the adventurous trip every year. While we were at Boston, five narrowboats arrived from their crossing and everyone was quite exuberant. I'm not going to describe the Wash crossing because there are many accounts published elsewhere on the internet.

The trip I am going to describe is through three or four locks, depending if you are going to cross the wash.  Or unless you venture onto some of the side drains, where a few extra locks can be found. The Fossdyke and River Witham is food for some and poison for others. We actually like the trip down to Boston. It's good for the dogs as generally with the exception of Lincoln everything is very dog friendly. There are narrower sections with high flood banking that can seem quite hemmed in. These are often quoted by those who don't like the trip. However most of the banks on the wider sections appear to be quite low.  There are sections with long straights, there are twisty sections with tight bends. There is the Lincoln 'Glory Hole' and the much wider Brayford water so the trip is quite variable.

Our trip starts out from Torksey. The lock onto the River Trent is manned and you can call the lock up on VHF marine radio, to announce your arrival. There are good Trent side moorings at the lock where you can stay waiting for a tide to go to Cromwell Lock, or to pass through the lock and onto the Fossdyke. We have always found space to moor on the Torksey visitor moorings above the lock. There are finger moorings for about six short boats of 31ft or less. With space for a dozen larger boats. We experienced limited television coverage and a poor mobile phone and internet connection without using an external antenna. There is a pumpout facility, elsan, shower and toilets as well as a waterpoint located at the lock. Plus a small cafe which is well worth a visit.

A tip: Don't buy red diesel here, at a cost of 1.19 a litre, its as expensive as white diesel at a supermarket!

Torksey to Saxilby. (5 miles)

The cruise from Torksey to Saxilby is very rural and pleasant. For half the distance you share a road side and its not unusual to get a wave or a toot on a horn.  The canal is thought to be Roman in origin but there is little evidence left of their works. As you approach Saxilby, on the right you will see a mooring with room for about three boats, just before you pass through the railway bridge. This is a useful location if ever the Saxilby visitor moorings are full. Just after
the railway bridge on the right are the visitor moorings.

Saxilby has reasonable facilities with good moorings with the only downside being that the toilet facilities (managed by the local council) are locked at the weekend. The shower room is in the same block as the toilets and access can be gained at any time with a watermate key. The water point on the canal side opposite the moorings and can be accessed at any time with a watermate key.  There is a recreational area with barbecue facilities provided. There is room for about twenty boats, often the moorings are only half filled when we have been there.

Another tip: Don't eat at the Sun Inn - poor food and service. Pizza takaway 'mama luiza' is very good we especially like their Calizone. 

Saxilby to Washingborough. (7 miles)

Recommended places to eat are the 'Woodcock' about a mile before Burton waters marina with moorings for about six boats.  Burton waters marina has chandlers and diesel fuel at 94p a litre. The 'Pywipe Inn' is just after Burton Waters with moorings for about six boats. Food is on a par with the Woodcock but more expensive.

Lincoln is short of visitor mooring space.  We only stop in the centre of Lincoln for shopping and them move down to Washingborough Visitor moorings instead. As a venue popular for visitors - Lincoln needs more secure CaRT visitor mooring space. There is space for three/four boats near the sanitary station. Space for about four in the town centre. Not secure and can be very noisy overnight. There are two or three other mooring space just before Stamp End Lock. However, it can also be noisy overnight. 

Stamp End Lock: Guillotine on the top  side. Watch out for muddy drips down your neck!

During our recent extended if unintentional stay at the Stamp End Lock we were able to observed that the sluice was busy controlling the water and seems to pass through an hourly cycle. For about 20 mins - the colour light on the lock was on green and there was a small flow through the sluice. Then the colour light changed to red for about 20 mins. The amount of water passing the sluice was then quite significant. Then for the next 20 mins the colour light changed to flashing red - do not proceed. The amount of water was substantially increased and a huge vortex appeared in-front of the sluice gate. Empty plastic bottles were being drawn down into the vortex never to be seen again! A bit like a cosmic black hole.

Lincoln: We arrived in Lincoln and had to push hard against the flow of water through the bottle neck of the glory hole. (the sluice must have been on maximum flow)  Lincoln has a well kept secret - its the Lincoln Boat Club. One eagle eyed member of our small flotilla had spotted the small building next door to the sea cadets. Entrance is via a small black door in the side wall. However, once inside it is a nice cosy clubhouse and pleasant bar area. We all signed in t
he visitors book and then settled down again for a pleasant convivial evening. A wide selection of the extended range of bottled beer and wine was duly checked, sampled and passed as fit for boaters consumption, the consumption then began in earnest. The Club Chairlady introduced herself and made us all feel very welcome. Towards the end of our stay the barman and Commodore also introduced himself. We discovered a bit of the history of the club. As we left, we were invited to come again any-time. There is the rub - because the members prefer to be out boating - so the club is only open on Friday evenings from 8pm until 11pm.

Washingborough visitor moorings (pontoon) - room for four boats. Very quiet and rural, a short walk into the village for pubs and shops. We always plan to moor up here. Public footpath and cycleway nearby.

Washingborough VM to Bardney Lock VM (5 Miles)

Fiskerton Fen nature reserve visitor moorings. (pontoon) Room for about six boats, very quiet and rural. Nature reserve next to the moorings. No facilities available.

Bardney Lock visitor moorings, (pontoon) room for six or more boats. Electrical power available (CaRT Card) on the visitor moorings. Very quiet and rural. Sanitary station and water point at the lock, 5 mins walk from the visitor moorings.

Bardney Lock VM to Dunstan Fen VM (4 miles)

Bardney Lock.

Short navigable length of the River to the left out of the lock. Turn on reaching the first drain. (1 mile) Turn right under the old railway bridge for Boston.

Bardney Town visitor moorings. (pontoon) Room for about two or three boats. A few shops a short walk away.

Southery Visitor moorings (pontoon) room for 2 boats. Local pub a short distance away.
Dunstan Fen Visitor moorings. (pontoon) Room for 12 boats. The moorings are on opposite side of the river to Southery with no connecting bridge between. We prefer the Dunstan Fen mooring as boats can moor each side of the pontoon. Plus there is access to the Whitehorse Inn. Good food and the new landlord is trying to accommodate boaters by selling staples such as Bread, Milk and Eggs. 

Dunstan Fen VM to Dog Dyke VM (7 Miles)

Kirkstead Visitor moorings. (pontoon) - Sewage farm nearby, always a bit niffy...

Tattershall Bridge visitor moorings (split pontoon) A very noisy location due to nearby RAF airfield. Small shops in the immediate area.

Dogsdyke visitor moorings. (pontoon) Very quiet between the aircraft! and very rural. Room for a couple of boats on each mooring which are split in two with an access bridge. The Packet Inn offers good food and electrical hook-up if needed on request.

Dogsdyke VM to Langrick Bridge (7 miles)

Orchard visitor moorings. (pontoon) Room for about four boats. There is a mooring charge (£15 per night) so no wonder the place is always empty apart from a boat that seems to be moored on a long term basis.



Kyme Eau (River Slee) Sleaford Canal.  Navigable with care - narrow in places. Give it a miss unless you are on a boat with a shallow draft.

Langrick Bridge Visitor moorings. (pontoon) Shop, boatyard and small chandlers - gas and
coal available. Room for 4/5 boats.


Langrick Bridge to Boston Visitor moorings (4 miles)
Antons Gowt Lock Visitor moorings (pontoon) room for a couple of boats. Frith Bank Drain leading to Mauds Drain, access through Antons Gowt Lock. (60' max in winding hole) Boats are often moored off river, just above the lock. 

Boston Visitor moorings. (pontoon) With Boston Marina behind. Small chandler always seems to be closed! Boston is a busy cosmopolitan place. Great pubs to eat out. Room for 10/12  boats. There is an elsan facility, shower and toilets as well as a waterpoint located alongside the lock. Plus a small cafe which is well worth a visit. 

The trip down the Fossdyke and River Witham is a pleasant one.

1 comment:

  1. Im not so sure your write up of the visitor moorings really does them justice but each to their own I suppose.


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