Last year our intrepid recreational rowers travelled from Sheffield Canal Basin to Rotherham, rowing, lifting and carrying Dora our Wintech Explorer quad with them. Following a frantic period of updating risk assessments, applying for an event licence and securing the all-important key (well done, Emma) they set on the next leg of Sheffield to the Sea: Rotherham to Doncaster (and back).
This year there was just the five of us – Emma, Donald, Sarah, Chris and Shirley – which was just as well because at Eastwood lock the towpath ends and you launch out into a stretch of canalised river built for heavier barges carrying coal, steel, aggregate and chemicals down to Goole and beyond. Here the locks – there are six of them between Rotherham and Doncaster - are operated hydraulically. Good oarsmanship was called for (and generally delivered by Donald) as we had to drop Chris off at each lock to operate the mechanism and pick him up on the other side.
The fairly drab industrial backdrop around the back of Asda and Thrybergh Rolling Mill soon gave way to more pleasant rural and then urban scenery as we passed through Kilnhurst, Swindon and Mexborough and then Conisbrough and the beautiful Don Gorge. We saw Kingfishers and Herons and plenty of friendly walkers as we made our way under the derelict viaduct to the east of the former Earth Centre and then to Sprotborough. Despite Shirley’s protestations we gave the pub a miss and pressed on to the Rowing Club at Hexthorpe where we ate lunch.
And then it was back the way we came, stopping only to apply suntan lotion, as by now the cloud cover had broken and the sun was bearing down through an unbroken blue sky. Next year we are contemplating taking a tent. Three days rowing would get us to York via Goole!