Ilkeston? Isn't that in Derbyshire? Yes it is, and, yes, that's where we are. Three quarters of the way up the Erewash Canal, and on waters new to us.
We left Weston-on-Trent at 0900 and didn't really stop until we got here at 1900. That's rather longer than the schedule, but every lock on the Erewash so far has had to be turned, and we were sharing with a fibreglass cruiser. Sharing should make things quicker, and, on balance, I think it did here, but I spent a lot of the time in the locks holding the steel bulk of Shadow to the side, away from the fragile-looking cruiser Jack Daniels. Hence my sore hands from pulling on the centre line. The other boat's crew were rather carefree with raising paddles, even when the water flow pushed our narrowboat into their cruiser.
But I'm jumping ahead slightly. The entrance to the Erewash Canal from the River Trent is an extremely sharp left turn. This went surprisingly well, considering that I'd assumed it was going to be a right-angle as per the waterway signpost before the junction. We had met Jack Daniels at Derwent Mouth Lock where we realised we were both going up the Erewash, so we had agreed to share locks. They were faster than us, so, in most cases, they were already turning the locks round when we arrived at them.
The bottom end of the Erewash is full of moored boats, which seemed to go on for miles. Eventually we found clear water, and then we seemed to be the only boats in existence! We saw no other moving boats.
This part of the world seems to be a train spotter's paradise. I don't think I've seen so many freight trains on one day. All diesel hauled, of course, making some wonderful noises. Especially when the line runs right next to the canal.
Our destination was Ilkeston as that is where friends Alan and Hazel from the Boaters' Christian Fellowship live. We were able to moor next to their boat at the end of their garden. Alan and Hazel are in the middle of moving, though, so we weren't able to see much of them.
For food this evening we walked to the Shah Jahan Indian restaurant and had a very good meal. I had a "Lonka" - new to me (and you, I suspect), and very tasty. We had enough rice between us to sink a narrowboat! While we were waiting for the food to arrive we were brought a free starter of salad with a sort of dressing. I think that was because we hadn't ordered a starter or poppadoms! The two brothers who run the place were very interested in the fact that we'd come by boat. We talked for ages about the intricacies of lock operation and boat ownership - all in response to their questions. We weren't just boring them!
As we were coming through Ilkeston a football suddenly landed in the water just ahead. I slowed, called to Jan, and then went aground on the offside manoeuvring into position. It made retrieving the ball easy, and I threw it back to the sheepish youngsters who had kicked it out of their garden. We were only on mud, and a bit of astern soon drew us clear.
That's about it for today. Tomorrow will see us to the head of navigation at Great Northern Basin, Langley Mill; then we'll come back down the Erewash. I'm anticipating the locks will be quicker and easier going downhill. Let's hope they're not all against us this time.
edited to add: The weather today has been actually spring-like! Again it's been dry, but the wind has been not as strong. It even felt warmish now and then. No ice on the cut, but I saw snow on a bank of the Trent as we passed.
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