Despite having winter moorings until the
end of January, the towpath resembled a mud bath. So it was time to move on. Now I can’t leave Swarkestone without talking about Swarkestone Bridge.
It’s just down the road from the canal and it has 17 arches, it’s the longest
stone bridge in England and it’s the longest inland bridge in England.
The bridge is Grade I listed and a scheduled ancient monument. It is 6 miles
south of Derby and for around 300 years, the Midlands’ main crossing of the Trent,
and the only crossing between Burton-on-Trent and Nottingham. The first
mention of the bridge was in 1204 and it has been modified, repaired and rebuilt.
The majority of the existing bridge dates from the late 13th and early 14th
century. The bridge is the subject of several local legends. Its construction
was said to have been financed by the two Bellamont sisters. Both had become
engaged and were to throw a joint celebration. Their fiancés however, had
to meet with the local barons on the far side of the river. Following a storm, the
Trent became swollen. Eager to return to their brides-to-be and their party, the
men tried to cross the river on horseback.
Both were swept away and drowned. The Bellamont sisters commissioned the
bridge, so that no one else would suffer the tragedy they had suffered. Neither
sister married and both died in poverty, having exhausted their fortune on
building the bridge. In 1745 Swarkestone Bridge was the southernmost point of
Bonnie Prince Charlie’s advance on London, in his attempt to claim the
British throne. However, finding no reports of support from the south, they
turned back to Derby and then retreated to Scotland. I’ve moved Alice down the
canal to where, at the start of December, in episode 28, I filmed Derwent Mouth Lock.
It’s the last lock on the Trent & Mersey Canal before it changes to a river. I’m
unable to go any further, as it’s in flood.
So all I can do, is just wait it out. I’ve got a full tank of water, I’ve got a
nice fridge full of food, I can generate my own electricity, my cars
nearby in Shardlow. So I’ve just got to sit and wait. I’m keeping an eye on
various websites to see the water levels, and all they seem to be doing at the
moment, is going up. So, I think it’ll probably be the new year till I move. The main website I
keep an eye on is gaugemap.co.uk. It has an interactive map that covers
British and Irish water levels. Around the system the Environment Agency has
level stations on rivers, streams and brooks. They record the water level every
15 minutes. You can select local stations and see if the water is at a typical
range, below it, or if it’s in flood. The other website I keep an eye on
for closures is the Canal & River Trust notice page. This has information
where there are navigation closures, restrictions, or issues with the towpath.
I’ve included links to both the GaugeMap and the Canal & River Trust pages in
the description below. Since being moored up on the final
stretch before the lock, the lights at the flood lock further back up the canal
have both gone into red, indicating both the River Soar and the River Trent are
flooding and are un-passible. The River Trent in the River Soar have been in flood
conditions for I think, about three or four days now. I knew I wouldn’t be able
to get out onto the Trent, but I knew I would be able to moor up in Shardlow. But
as I was coming down the canal, the day before yesterday. A boat was going up it
and they indicated that they had traveled from a Shardlow Marina, which is
out on the River Trent. Now they said that they had traveled whilst the river
was in flood. They realised that the lights were all red, they realised that
the level was in the red band, but they still decided to travel. It’s not really
advisable because if you look at the small print of many insurance documents,
it says, well on mine it says, if you travel when levels are in red
and the navigation is closed, your not insured. Whilst Molly and I wait it out
until the water levels drop, we would both like to wish you a very happy new
year and here’s to an exciting 2018! Until then, see you later.