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Sawley & Long Eaton

The worst of the weather had passed by Monday morning so we were up and out and glad to be moving again although we didn’t plan on moving very far. There was a long slow crawl for a mile through Shardlow wharf and past all of the moored boats beyond before we reached our one and only lock of the day. Derwent Mouth lock marks the end of the Trent and Mersey canal and just below it there is the confluence of the river Trent and the Derwent. Suddenly, it was as if we were crossing a lake, the water was so wide.

Looking back at the Trent, Derwent and Trent & Mersey junction.

We passed under a pipe bridge that I used to see when travelling north on the M1 and then we passed under the motorway itself.

The view of the pipe bridge from the M1. (Courtesy of Google maps)

M1, Monday morning at a standstill – there’s a surprise!

We then passed the only other boat on the move before arriving at the moorings opposite Sawley marina.

The only two things on the move in this picture are ourselves and the other narrowboat.

Luckily enough, other boats were just starting to leave so we had our pick of the moorings. We found ourselves a straight stretch where the ring spacing was kind to us and tied up for the day.

It was only nine o’clock and since we had planned to catch the bus into Long Eaton to do a big supermarket shop, we took advantage of the Sawley marina café across the way. Breakfast didn’t disappoint, it was superb and ended up being our only meal of the day! Anyway, despite being full of breakfast we stuck to the task, walked to the bus stop and caught the Skylink bus into Long Eaton. The zigzag duo ticket allows two people to travel on the buses all day for £11. Twelve minutes later and we were getting off the bus again with Tesco, Asda and Aldi lined up in front of us to choose from.

After an hour, we had bought as much as we dared to carry back to the boat but it wasn’t too much of a hardship, the bus stop is opposite the supermarkets and at the other end, just a five minute walk from the towpath. After unpacking the groceries, we caught the bus again using our zigzag duo and returned to Long Eaton so that we could have a look around. It was alright too, all of the usual suspects were present when it came to the high street shops and we had a good wander around, picking up some bits that the supermarkets don’t stock. The bus route follows the Erewash canal for a little way into town and although we took a mild interest in it, we decided not to explore it by boat.

After we returned to our mooring later in the day, the chores couldn’t be avoided any longer so it was a case of dumping rubbish, emptying cassettes and filling the water tank – there is no glamourous side to narrowboating!

(On reading this, Sue remarked that there is a glamourous side – relaxing on the front deck with a glass of wine in the sunshine. I agree in principle but then she hasn’t just emptied five toilet cassettes into an elsan!).

Our original plan for Tuesday had been to have a lazy start but we were awoken early by some heavy rain showers. We weren’t travelling so it wasn’t a problem, we just lost a few hours sleep, that’s all. With no real plans for the day, we eventually decided to walk to Trent lock where the Erewash canal meets the rivers Trent and Soar. The rain had long gone by the time we started our walk but there were some good sized puddles along the way, confirmation that a lot of rain had fallen in a short period of time. When we arrived at the lock, we took a good look around the area before making our way to the Trent Lock pub where we had a leisurely lunch.

By the time we returned to the boat, we couldn’t be bothered to go anywhere else so we just stayed on board and turned our thoughts to the next part of our journey.


Our arrival in Shardlow was a little disorientating, it seemed like it should be mid afternoon but it was only just after 10 am due to the fact that we had started our journey just after six. Rather than just potter around the village, we decided to catch the bus into Derby, which is not too far away. It was an impromptu decision so we had no plans except to just look around. The bus runs every twenty minutes and it only takes twenty minutes to get into the city so we were there just before twelve. Just before twelve is just before lunch time so after a walk around Eagle Market, we went into Intu, the giant shopping centre and had lunch at Carluccio’s. We didn’t really do much else and definitely didn’t spend enough time in Derby to form an opinion of the place but the heat and humidity continued to oppress so we caught the bus back to Shardlow, returning to the boat just after three o’clock.

Shardlow is a strange place, once an inland port, it still retains a lot of its character due to the presence of so many old warehouses and other associated buildings – many of which are listed to one grade or another. In many ways there are similarities with Stourport but equally there are many differences. Shardlow boasts eight pubs but very little in the way of shops unless you count the local marina / caravan park which stocks a few basics and the distant Post Office / tiny general store (It’s up for sale if anyone fancies it – Rightmove. We weren’t too interested in either really, the heatwave broke down with an almighty crash bringing high winds and rain for the weekend. I did manage to pop out and visit 3/8ths of the local hostelries in the two days that we were moored in Shardlow but other than that we just hid indoors and enjoyed the cooler, fresher air.


We’ve been leaving the cratch cover open at night to keep the bedroom cool at night but with overnight rain forecast on Thursday night, we closed it all down and prepared for another day at Ragley Boat Stop. The rain didn’t come and it was boiling inside the boat with the result that we awoke at five in the morning. Seeing that sky was blue and that the forecast now said no rain until after 9pm, we decided to move on towards Shardlow. Nothing else was moving as we made our way along the Trent and Mersey, not too surprising at 6.30 am. After we had passed through Swarkestone lock, we got caught in a sudden sharp shower of rain. Soaked to the skin within the first two minutes, we managed to pull over and tie up until it passed over. We only had to endure one more of these downpours although we were pre-warned by some loud claps of thunder which gave us a chance to pull over again before the heavens opened properly.

That was as much as we saw of the forecast – all day, heavy rain and so we carried on until we found a mooring in Shardlow. Looking at the latest Wet Met Office forecast, we are going to be faced with the same dilemma that we faced at Willington, maybe we’ll just overstay on the 48 hour moorings.