Our time on the Doncaster mooring was due to expire at noon but we decided to leave earlier thinking we would be ahead of the Exol Pride tanker. It hadn’t passed us at the time of writing this post so I must have got the day wrong. Before we departed one of the local boaters told me we would find the river attractive and that proved to be the case it actually reminded us of our time on the Thames last year, albeit we only saw three moving boats today.
One of the numerous attractive reaches. The air was full of the smell and pollen from the hawthorns on the banks.
The imposing Conisbrough Railway Viaduct spans the valley. This massive structure was built in 1906-07 and consists of 21 arches, 14 to the north side of its iron girder section and seven to the south. The viaduct formed part of a connection between the Lancashire & Yorkshire Railway and those of the Great Northern and Great Eastern. It is 1,584 feet in length and was built with 15 million bricks.
Unfortunately it didn’t have a very long life, closing to rail traffic in 1966. In 2001 agreement was reached for its transfer to Railway Paths Ltd - a body set up to acquire and look after potentially useful railway land and structures on behalf of sustainable transport charity Sustrans, until such time as the latter was able to incorporate them into its National Cycle Network. In early 2008, the Railway Heritage Trust provided a grant for the installation of panels alongside the girder span’s existing cast iron handrails, making it safer for the public and the structure was converted into a combined cycle and pedestrian way.
Slightly further upstream we passed what appeared to be the side wall of a former lock. You can see the recesses for the lock gates and the vertical slot for stop boards.
An online search revealed this was once the location of Conisbrough Lock. The lock was removed in 1983 when a final attempt was made to keep the navigation commercially viable by upgrading it to 700-tonne Eurobarge standard by deepening the channels and enlarging the locks as far as Rotherham.
The new locks are 198 by 20 feet (60.4 by 6.1 m), and the navigation accommodates boats with a draught of 8.2 feet (2.5 m) and needing headroom of 10.5 feet (3.2 m). Beyond Rotherham, the locks are 70 by 15.1 feet (21.3 by 4.6 m), and so can accommodate a 70 feet (21 m) broad boat, but Rotherham lock is smaller, being only 61.5 feet (18.7 m) long, and so the upper reaches are effectively restricted to 60-foot (18 m) boats.
I hadn’t realised boats were limited to 60ft beyond Rotherham. Fortunately we will fit!
Shortly after passing under the viaduct Jan pointed out the Conisbrough Castle on our port side. After peering at the flag for a short time I realised it was English Heritage. This is yet another castle built in the 11th century on the order of William de Warenne, the Earl of Surrey, after the Norman conquest of England in 1066. By the 16th century it was almost derelict which prevented it being used during the civil war. In 1819 Sir Walter Scott used the castle as the setting for the novel Ivanhoe.
We rounded the bend to find a sign stating the railway bridge ahead was being worked on and to slow down. It wasn’t hard to see why work was being carried out. Several of the steel columns in the piers were looking far from perpendicular!
Temporary steel wire rope diagonal bracing has been fitted to prevent further movement.
It was just beyond here we met two narrowboats going in the opposite direction. The first we passed without difficulty but the second kept moving to our side of the river squeezing us closer and closer to the bank. In the end I was forced to aim Waiouru’s bow at him. As he passed us he called out “It’s hard getting around these corners!” It’s a damned river. If he’s struggling here then I feel for boaters who meet him on a canal!
Mick, yes I am looking to purchase a vacuum pump and think I might have found something suitable for £12.04.
Bill, I agree with you about the EU. I think it will probably fail because too much regulation and central government/bureaucracy will stifle competitive advantage. There are also a number of member countries who continue to be a liability and who show little sign of modifying their behaviour. I’ve now watched a film produced by the Brexit side (logical but of course bias) and a BBC documentary (more neutral). Whilst I think both Jan & I are eligible to vote, we won’t as we don’t intend to spend the rest of our lives in the UK. But if I were to vote, I think it would be for Leaving.