Wednesday, 30 May 2012
Monday, 28 May 2012
Last night was a very peaceful mooring, we were the only ones there by 7 pm., there were two boats across on the Priory mooring and one of those left after having a Takeaway dinner. The river was virtually dead with next to nothing passing and we enjoyed a takeaway pizza on the front deck with a drop of red wine. It probably wont be so good next week as the fair has started to get set up ready for next weekend.
We saw the top ducks of St. Neots who spent the afternoon sat on the ridge of the Priory Centre.
This morning Diana went shopping while I washed one side of the boat, not before time as its not been done since the middle of last year. The down side to that is I can now see more places where the paint is falling off, it was already to hot to wash the roof. Diana returned fully armed for a BBQ so we will probably get the forecast thunder and lighting this evening.
We were away at 10 30 am. heading down stream, I completely missed the turning to St Neots lock. there is a keep left sign and a no entry sign but i sailed straight by, well it is the same width of the river and the lock channel looks like a back water. I went the 500 yard or so down to the weir and wondered where the lock was, luckily I managed to stop before the line strung across the cut, you can see it just ahead of us. This was followed by a spell of going backwards to the junction and then heading the right way.
St Neots lock is closing TONIGHT for 3 DAYS so that they can fit the new top gear and hang the new gate and counterweight. There will then be another stoppage to remove the old gate after the Jubilee weekend and before July as that is when they lose crane access to the site, so if it fails after that is anyone's guess.
We waited for a Narrowboat to leave the lock, they didn’t know about the closure, the only place I have seen details about it is on the GOBA web site. Once in the lock Diana operated the old gate but it only lifted a few inches so was very slow to drain. After a time she was able to continue lifting the gate which cause the boat to surge forward quit hard, and then back again. I don’t think I would have held it on the engine, I was a bit bothered about the centre rope going through because it was running on the concrete edge. The boat following us who arrived as we were going down, on finding out about the closure tonight changed his mind and went back.
A short way below St Neots lock are the remains of an old lock structure which now make someone a pleasant mooring. This is on the right hand side of the river when going upstream.
We only passed one pair of swans with signets but we did pass an abandoned swan’s nest full of eggs, it had been just like that when we came up. We have met quite a few cruisers this morning and a couple of Narrowboats and we are now moored back on Mailer’s Meadow where we were a few days ago.
Sunday, 27 May 2012
It was an interesting day moored at Gt.Barford. It was a good move arriving early as by lunch time it was full we even had a cruiser so close he was rubbing my bow fender and couple were breasted up. after lunch things quietened for a bit with people leaving before others arrived to take their place. One boat coming down stream caught the corner of his windscreen on the bridge smashing the glass, by the time he stopped he was half way out, but for some reason went backwards and stopped to clean up the glass, he then hit it again on his second attempt. This morning another one managed to damage his canopy. it quite a tricky angle coming downstream and when the cruisers slow down they are at the mercy of the wind.
About half a mile above Gt Barford lock there is an island, at one time this was home to a now disused lock and also a lock cottage which is still without mains electricity. There are some pleasant rural moorings behind the island on what would have been the lock cut.
As we were moored outside we ate in The Anchor again, not quite so impressed as dishes that had run out on Friday and Saturday had not been replaces so the menu was getting shorter.
It was quarter to twelve before we set off today heading down stream. Things were quiet quiet until we got to Roxton Lock with only a couple of planes doing a dog fight to keep us amused. Once through the lock we started meeting cruisers. There is a new development just above Eaton Socon Lock that has its own moorings in a large lake. The lake was excavated to compensate for the loss of flood plain, I am not quite sure how it does that as its already full of water so has no more capacity than before it was dug.
There was a large cruiser on the Eaton Socon lock moorings and they were in the process of setting the lock, luckily this is a wide lock and they invited me to enter first which was handy as I was just bobbing in the current until then. Its not helped by the lock landing being just past the entrance to the lock just into the weir channel and not before it, so we had no where to go.
Once through the lock you are more or less into St Neots and we started to look for somewhere to moor. I tried to get alongside the park but it was far to shallow where it wasn’t piled so we moored on the floating pontoons at the front of the Priory Centre. This was not ideal as it just leads into the streets of the town, not to dog friendly, but I guessed that a lot of the boats on the better moorings would be leaving before tea time which was correct and we were able to move across the river to moor on the piled edge of the park.
Saturday, 26 May 2012
For some reason around here the birds don’t all go to sleep and we could hear them at anytime we were awake throughout the night. There was a bit of noise until late in the evening from youngsters enjoying a warm Friday night but the were well away from the far side of the river and we didn’t even see them.
This morning we were away by quarter to eight, winded and heading downstream, we passed the entrance to Priory Marina which is now home to some Canalclub wide beams and on down to Cardington Lock. There was no one around to work us through this morning so we had to do it ourselves. This wasn’t a problem for us, but for anyone coming upstream there is no access from the lock landing to the lock, Diana had to climb down the lock ladder before we left the lock to get back onboard. The next port of call was Castle Mill Lock, this fills much faster than it empties, but with the side paddle of slacker there is no draw on the boat at all.
Here we met a Narrowboat who had moored at Great Barford the night before so enquired if there was any space outside the pub and he gave a hopeful reply. It also meant that Willington lock was with us.
We had considered mooring behind the island just above but there was a wide Narrowboat manoeuvring there as we came by, it turned out that he backing out and ended up following us down stream. When we arrived at the EA moorings at Gt Barford the space where “No Problem” had been moored was free, so I slid in backwards just before the wide beam came shooting through the bridge.
We moored up at 10 30 am another first for us, we are normally only then setting off for the day, not finishing. Since we have been here cruisers have come and gone but there would not have been space for us if we had arrived latter. A few canoes have arrived including a family in an inflatable canoe which looked quite impressive.
Friday, 25 May 2012
Last night we ate in The Anchor Inn which is just across the road from the EA moorings as well as having a drink with Sue and Vic plus a couple of their local friends. These are good EA moorings with the GOBA moorings on the opposite bank, before we left this morning people were shuffling boat from one to the other probably for the weekend.
We waved goodbye to Vic and Sue and then moved into their spot to top up with water, its was a rather urgent requirement as its the first fill up since Denver.
We were away through the bridge heading upstream at 1020 hrs. There is a team doing maintenance in the bridge archers but luckily not the navigation arch. They have a plastic raft which is moored by driving scaffold poles into the river bed. This is a multi arched bridge that also crosses the flood plains and a couple of weeks ago water was flowing through all the arches.
The new Bedford Bypass now crosses the river on Castle Mill Viaduct. This is a short way before Castle Mill Lock. This is an unusual lock as the paddles of slackers to both fill and empty the lock are mid way along the lock on one side. The water entering the lock also comes in on one side and erupts against the opposite wall pinning a Narrowboat quite firmly to the right hand wall. At the lock there were notices warning of construction work ahead, what they didn’t say was where it was and it was some time before we found out. It was Cardington Lock where they are installing new lock landings. Because its a “construction site” we were not allowed off the boat and a workman came and worked us through. The downstream lock landing looks complete but fully fenced off, however they are still working on the upstream one.
Not long after this we passed the GOBA moorings near the pyramid and this turned out to bee our moorings for the night but we were not stopping yet. Onward towards Bedford and I had to do an emergency stop at the footbridge, the exhaust was about an inch to high to get under and I stopped about 6 inches short of the bridge. At the end of the park there is a boating lake and they have Gondolas on it for hire. Bedford lock is a very sharp turn to the right as it is set at right angles to the river and effectively connects two parallel waterways which are still the Gt. Ouse. Coming out of the lock you are right into the town and turning left takes you upstream past the Law Courts, Swan Hotel and other fine buildings. A short way further upstream to the right of the island are the Town/EA visitor moorings and a water point. Now we were this far we had to continue to the head of navigation, this involved navigating some quite low railway bridges. I am not sure that we reached the head of navigation because we did not see any EA signage to that effect but we did come to a very narrow fork with no indication which was the channel so at that point I decided to turn round and head back down stream. There are lots of new flats being built along side this part of the river some of them 7 stories tall. We didn’t want to moor overnight in town even though the Town/EA moorings looked fine so we headed back to Bedford Lock, again at right angles to this section of river to lock down, unfortunately someone had turned the lock since we came up and the electricity supply has not been connected to the recently motorised guillotine gate yet. We wound it up by 100 turn which was not full up but sufficient to get under and then anther 100 turns down. Out of the lock and hard left downstream passed the park. There is a very nice mooring here long enough for a Narrowboat and a cruiser but being such a fine afternoon we thought the park could well be popular later tonight so continued on to the Pyramid and GOBA moorings. The Pyramid is actually The Oasis Beach Pool with a water feature round it.
Thursday, 24 May 2012
It has both a motor and a butty stern which is not very common. There is quite a large development around the locks now. As you can see there is hardly a breath of wind to ripple the water.
At St Neots Lock the whole guillotine is scaffolded in and they are planning to change the gate next week. As there is scaffolding over the lock chamber there is a yellow plastic pipe strung across to limit how far back in the lock you can stop, also the lock is closed overnight. The raising and lowering of the gate is now mechanised but it must be the slowest moving gate in the UK.
At Roxton Lock we found a cruiser moored about two bollards back from the front of the lock mooring, behind this by about another two bollards was his inflatable dingy. Luckily the lock was in our favour with the bottom gats open as if we had had to stop and turn it it is debatable if I could even have poked the bows against the staging to let Diana off. He was obviously there for the afternoon and asked if we had room to get round the front of him into the lock. This is the first lock we have encounter up here with mitre gates at each end. We were planning to stop at the next mooring we came to where we understand there is a water tap, the last one was at Earith. As we came up in Gt Barford Lock we could see a space on the EA moorings in front of the pub which was about 70 foot long but with a slip way at one end, We edged in with the bows just level with the slip way. What we didn’t know was the No Problem was moored at the upstream end of the moorings so after tying up we went for a cup of tea with Sue and Vic and also met Penny the new pup.
There is an interesting sluice structure at the head on Gt. Barford Lock, I am not sure what it is but will look on the way back
Since we have been here a group of lads have arrived with a canoe, the owner know what he is doing but the others have never done it before and they don’t have a lifejacket between them. Also three girls have gone by in a Canadian canoe with a small puppy on board and another group of well prepared lads who have gone to play with the weir.