A May 2004 trip
to Nottingham by getawayguy
Quote: We wanted a different kind of vacation, and we got it. We weren't sure what to expect, or even if we would be able to handle a narrowboat with no previous experience. We had such a great time, we would recommend it to everyone while they're still young and healthy.
We met many people who owned their own canal boats, some for holiday use and some for daily living. All were friendly and eager to lend a couple of tourists a helping hand when we needed it. Whenever possible, we shared access to the locks and shared the work involved in transferring our boats from one level to another.
During the day, we cruised the canals at 2 to 3 mph, stopping occasionally to explore a village or eat at a pub in a marina along our way. We took lots of pictures of the countryside we passed, some of which we imagined unchanged for hundreds of years, while some was as modern as tomorrow.
When we were planning this vacation, we worried about our ability to handle the boat and the locks. We found that with a little practice, we were soon feeling like we had done it all our lives. We cooked onboard and found it no more difficult than cooking at home. We were even able to prepare meals while underway. The boats are so well equipped, all you need to bring is your food and your camera. They’ve thought of everything else.
The first night, feeling a little insecure, we moored in a small town area next to other boaters. By the second night, we felt quite comfortable tying down along the banks of the canal wherever we were when dusk arrived. Since all traffic on the canals ceases at twilight, we slept peacefully through the night.
We spent 5 days and nights on the canals and returned to the marina for the last 2 days and nights so we could spend time with two email friends who live in Manchester and who had come to Nottingham for a day to meet us in person and show us around. We visited Nottingham Castle and ate at Ye Olde Inn to Jerusalem, which claims to be the oldest pub in England.
We had a wonderful vacation experience and would encourage everyone to try this once. With the exception of knocking a stool overboard and having to recover it, everything went perfectly.
As the custodian of Britain’s canals, they provide all sorts of material, from history to environmental policy. Their maps will give you an insight into the routes available from Nottingham Castle Marina. Just don’t plan on traveling any great distances in a week. At 2 to 3 mph, you won’t get far, especially with such beautiful and interesting scenery along the way. Remember that you will be operating the locks along the waterway yourselves. They do slow you down, but it makes for a much more interesting travel experience than you normally would have. You will have to put up a refundable security deposit and will be charged for diesel fuel when you first check in. Don't forget to bring a pair of work gloves that fit.
When you get to Nottingham, you have a choice. You can grab a cab (recommended) for a 5-minute ride to Nottingham Castle Marina, or you can walk along the canal for about 30 to 40 minutes with your luggage, as we mistakenly did. Once at the marina, you won’t need wheels of any kind for about a week, as you will be aboard your floating home, a 45-foot long canal boat. During the week, you will pass through small villages where you can moor and walk around if you like (recommended). At a speed of 2 to 3 mph, Nottingham is the largest city you’re likely to encounter in a week’s travel on the Trent-Mercy Canal. If you return to Nottingham to have a look around, as we did (highly recommended), there are many wonderful sights within easy walking distance of the marina.
I believe the quarters are a little small for four adults but large enough for two adults and two smaller children. It was ideal for two adults. The boat comes with a television, radio, and CD player. Reception varies by location, so you may want to bring along a book or some cards, games, etc.
Before starting out, a staff person at the marina demonstrates how to handle the boat and how everything works. They even have a video you are required to view before navigating on the canal. The boat has a diesel motor and comes with a full fuel tank that holds more than enough fuel for a week's cruising. We stopped once during the week to add more fresh water. The boats are kept in excellent condition, and everything worked perfectly for us.
Member Rating 5 out of 5 on March 10, 2005
Canaltime Canal Boat
Number one on our list was the legendary Nottingham Castle, but our hunger dictated a change in plans. Discovering we had yet to experience British pub food, they led us to Ye Olde Trip to Jerusalem, the oldest inn in England, established in 1189 AD. The menu was very extensive and moderately priced. We chose fish and chips, British bangers, and mashies and peas. The food was good, but lest we forget, it is a pub, after all. There were over 100 ales to choose from, but they look at you a little funny when you ask if you can have it cold. For those of you with children, or a disliking for alcohol, they offer all the popular soft drinks and milk, ice tea, hot tea and coffee. The food was better than we expected, and the locals made us feel very welcome.
Over the years, the Inn, which is cut into the hillside below the castle, has added more rooms until it now has three levels and an outside patio. One of the rooms is devoted to an ongoing dart tournament where enthusiastic fans noisily support their favorite players. We took our time eating and visiting with our friends before heading out to see the Castle and the rest of Nottingham. If you visit Nottingham, have lunch here and see the castle above.
Member Rating 5 out of 5 on March 13, 2005
Ye Olde Trip to Jerusalem
Brewhouse Yard Castle Road
Nottingham, England NG1 6AD
We had a very pleasant time visiting with the museum caretaker, who had a wealth of knowledge and was anxious to share it with anyone who took the time to stop. We were glad we had. There was no charge, but they recommend a £2 donation. It was well worth it.
Member Rating 5 out of 5 on March 11, 2005
Shardlow Heritage Center
Alongside the canal
Today the Castle houses Nottingham’s Decorative Art and Fine Art collections, the "Story of Nottingham" galleries, the Sherwood Foresters Regimental Museum and exhibits from local artists and internationally-renowned artists. During the year, the grounds are used to host the Shakespeare Festival, the Robin Hood Pageant, and other historical re-enactments. The café on the ground floor is open from 10am until 4pm and offers access to the East terrace with its’ panoramic views of Nottingham. Castle tours are free weekdays from 10am-5pm in the summer and from 10am-4pm in the winter. On weekends and bank holidays, the cost to tour is adults Ł2, children Ł1, and families Ł5.
Member Rating 5 out of 5 on April 6, 2005
Nottingham, East Midlands
+44 0115 915 3700
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