Thursday, 28 May 2015

Six and a half miles nearer Boston

We left our mooring at Bardney Village late morning and headed off towards Woodall Spa, some six and a half miles further alone the R. Witham towards Boston.   I sat on the tug deck in the sunshine with Floyd for perhaps an hour before a seasonal shower of hailstones drove dog and self inside, leaving Joe to cope with the elements.

 This is the extensive sugar beet works at Bardney, closed in 2003 because the economics of growing and processing beet made to sense...shame.

 We follow Geoff on Nb. Seyella and behind us is Nb. What a Lark and behind them Nb.Clarence

 Offside moorings at Southrey, typical of the R. Witham

 Seyella has just moored and we follow in

 The flotilla all moored up and secure
 
After tea and cakes aboard Seyella I head off with the dogs to explore our surroundings.

 The defunct Woodall rail station, a victim of the Dr Beeching cuts in 1963
 
Striking out towards Woodall Spa which is north of the river I turn a sharp right and head off into 'no mans land' looking for the remains of yet another Abbey.Lincolnshire seems to have been inundated with religious settlements they seem to occur every five miles or so. I imagine that this is productive land, the Church owns great tracts of it and therefore the Abbeys thrive.

 This thirty foot 'monolith' is almost all that remains of Kirkstead Abbey which was founded in 1139 and established in in 1187.  The ground around this tower of stone is testament to the extent of the former structures and the remnants of the fish pools are there to be seen.  Good King Henry saw the demise of this Abbey along with all the others when he dissolved the monasteries in his great 'land grab' and tax dodge, no more 'Peter's pence' heading of to Rome!


 Extinct fish pool

 And again, the remnants of another fish pool

 And here, just in water, another fish pool. This would have been a vital source of food


A little further along the lane is the church of St. Leonard.  Part of the Abbey and built in the thirteenth century it is quite exquisite.  I didn't see inside as it was locked but the outside was very interesting.

 Detail of the main door
 


Having returned from walking the boys I got the bike out and peddled up into Woodall Spa. This is an elegant settlement that was founded in 1811 when mineral rich waters were discovered and the fashion of 'taking the waters', allowed the area to become a Spa in the same way the Malvern or Tunbridge Wells or Harrogate had embraced the Regency fashion.

 I couldn't resist this, a tiny narrow building, replicated on the other side of the road, advertising itself as 'The smallest Shoe Shop@

Fun shoes!

The Kinema, a cinema in the woods built in the 1920's and equipped with a Compton organ. if I had more time I would dearly like to see a film here and soak up the ambiance.

A couple of days at Bardney

Having left Lincoln on Monday we moored above Bardney lock and stayed put until Wednesday morning.  It was a chance to explore on foot or bicycle and both options were utilised.

 Bardney lock jammed with reed

Setting off for a walk on Tuesday morning we found the lock jammed with floating reed.  We stayed to help clear it, opening the bottom gates and lifting the top slackers to flush it through but it after twenty minutes it didn't want to budge so Lisa called C&RT to inform them.  The keb (a rake like tool on a long handle) was too short to allow us to get to the reed from the lock side and squishing the bottom gates to alter the flow didn't help either.  When a boat showed up to lock down and the man proceeded to tell us that we needed to 'flush it through' and was dismissive of  David's assertion that we had been trying that for twenty minutes we left him to it...arrogance doesn't deserve or require help so we went to explore Bardney village.


 Tupholme (sheep island) Abbey remains
 
Within a couple of miles of each other are the remains/ruins of two former abbeys, one at Bardney and one at Tupholme.  Invited to join the Wally's (WaL crew) for a cycle ride I readily agreed, the first day we covered nine miles and the second day over twelve...I am somewhat wary of what a third day may bring!

 Intrepid cyclists, David and Lisa checking out the information board at Tupholme Abbey site
 

 Southey Church
At the village of Southey we came across this tiny church that was erected by the village towards the end of the 19th century and is kept in immaculate condition.
 
This newly commissioned stained glass window depicts the men of Southey that have died in war. The figures in khaki were the victims of the first world war, the figures to the right are aircrew from world war two and the chap in green lost his life in Afghanistan or Iraq.

The interior of Southey church

Tuesday, 26 May 2015

Farewell Lincoln

Monday dawned dull and cold. Is this really the end of May?? With last minute things completed in Lincoln we dismantled our connection to shore power and followed Nb. What a Lark, the Wally's, off across the Brayford Pool towards the far corner and the start of the R. Witham Navigation.

 Brayford Pool

 We have a green light to indicate that the river levels are fine, rather than it is clear to proceed through the narrows; as it happened the plastic boat coming the other way had a quick panic when confronted by two steel ditch crawlers coming towards him.

Wal makes the turn to go through the Glory Hole ahead of us
 
 The Glory Hole is created by a bridge that carries the old Roman Ermine Way, now the High Street, with its shops on top across the R. Witham. 



 The Glory Hole from the other side


 The river now passes between shops, offices,  inns and plazas until it reaches Stamp End Lock

 Lisa has prepared the lock for Wal while we hold off.  Concerns about the length of the cill in this lock and the safety of getting a 70' boat through without mishap meant that we were not sharing  the lock. 

 David positions Wal at the diagonal and keeps well forward of the elongated cill.  As it happened there was plenty of depth of water so we could have shared without incident - only when the river levels are low might it cause an issue.

 With Wal away I turned the lock again and Yarwood came in

 Seen en route, eat your heart out Milton Keynes, the R. Witham has a steel cow!
 
We reached the extensive pontoon visitor moorings above the next lock at Bardney and moored up rather than drop down.

 Walking back to the boat with the dogs..plenty of mooring and shore power should you want it.

NB. Clarence arrived early evening and breasted up to Yarwood

The evening scene...not three bad

Sunday, 24 May 2015

The jewel that is Lincoln!

I knew that Lincoln would be a big hit with my fellow boaters because I have been here a number of times having lived in Lincolnshire in a past life and if you are even a little interested in history this is a City that is packed with it!   If you haven't been to Lincoln because it is off the tourist routes you have missed a real jewel so get yourself here and enjoy.
Five of our eight crew members set off yesterday morning to walk UP the hill to the Tourist Information Office and book ourselves on a City walk. Waiting to cross the road as we left Brayford Pool, the former inland harbour at the base of the City hill we heard the distinct rumble of Harley Davidson motor cycles.  The International Harley Convention was in town and really boosting the tourist takings!

 Happy Harley owners

 Our first point of interest as we will be going through here tomorrow, was the Glory Hole which is our route east out of Lincoln, off the Fossdyke and on to the R. Witham.


 Wending through narrow alleys and steep steps we emerge on the High Street, the former Roman Ermine Way.

 The view along the R. Witham from the High Street

 One of the medieval city gates
 
Turning left we start to head up the hill towards the Cathedral Quarter and the original Roman and Medievil origins of the City of Lincoln.

 Steep Hill, and well named

 A former medieval bank, The Jews House and Jews Court.  Money lending was the forte of the Jews as Christianity forbad usury in much the same way the Islam does now.  Jews were a welcome addition to commerce and Kings when they needed money and a useful scapegoat when they didn't. Now a restaurant and the place that David, Lisa and I had a splendid lunch.

 Yet another former Jewish establishment.  Its robust construction of thick stone walls where the contempory in mid eleventh century would have been largely oak framed and wattle and daub infill indicates the likely use it was put to, i.e. a bank.
 
Arriving at the tourist Office we met Vic our guide and it was just us five!  Our extremely well informed and fascinating guide spent two and a half hours introducing us to Roman and medieval Lincoln and it was worth every minute.

 The west facade of the Cathedral.
 
I knew that the interior of the early churches were highly decorated with wall paintings but what I didn't realise until our guide explained was the exteriors were also highly decorated as well with white stone and rich red and blue and green paints and were a thing to behold. all this decoration was lost at the time of the Puritan Commonwealth, Oliver Cromwell and his cohorts deeming the idols and decoration ungodly and therefore condemned.

 The house occupied by Lady Katherine Swynford of Kettlethorpe Manor, widow of Sir Hugh Swynford, mistress of John of Gaunt and latterly his wife and Duchess.  The house is in Catheral Close and her mortal remains are entombed beneath the High Altar in the Catheral.

 Part of the Roman City wall
 
After our walking tour Joe and Geoff returned to our respective boats for lunch while Lisa, David and I lunched in town. Post lunch Geoff rejoined us for a tour of the Norman Castle.


Bank Holiday weekend and there was a joust going on as well as demonstrations of medieval crafts.



From atop the castle walls I am looking down on the Georgian fa├žade of the Victorian prison

 Within the precincts of the Castle is the County Court House and the former Victorian gaol. Lincoln Castle remained an administrative centre of Lincoln and although they don't imprison and execute in the grounds any longer justice is still administered here.

 
One of the two mottes/mounds in Lincoln Castle. This is the Observers tower and the other is the Lucy tower which is now a ruin and a place of burial for those executed at Lincoln Castle.  Public hangings were carried out on the top of Cobb tower where upwards of fifteen thousand spectators would gather to watch some poor sod spend half and hour dangling on a rope in their death throes,  this was in the days before 'the drop' that despatched you quickly by breaking your neck.

View of the west front of the Cathedral and the medieval street pattern laid out below us.
 
We went off to see the original copy of the Magna Carta in its secure and darkened vault before a refreshing ice cream and the tramp back down Steep Hill to Brayford Pool and our boats. Lovely day, lovely City!