We arrived at the boat on Friday afternoon and just went down to Angle Bridge and back to heat the water, it only took a couple of hours in a brisk breeze mooring for the night back on our home mooring.
After tea we crossed the river on staffurth’s Bridge and walked down the far side to Floods Ferry bridge and then back to the marina. On the way we saw a Bran Owl catching tea and taking it back to his family.
Saturday we left the boat and drove into Peterborough by car as we were attending the East of England Regional Industrial Archaeology Conference which was being held at Perkins Engine works.
As it was Diana’s birthday in the evening we went to Shajahan Indian Restaurant in Dartford Rd. March. We have been before, so this time took our own drink as they don’t have a licence to sell alcohol.
We took the dog out to do what dogs are supposed to do, but he didn’t and as stopping for dog walking is not without problems on the Middle Level a plan was needed.
We set off at twenty past ten heading for Salters Lode. My tide table indicated hi tide at 1920 hrs. so we didn’t know if we would get over before the lock keeper leaves off for the night. First stop was March so that Diana could take Magic out again while I stayed and kept an eye to the boat, we were unable to moor close as there was a boat already moored so it was just the nose in.
After about 15 minutes we were off again, we had to slow as several points as there were a lot of fishermen and ladies about. On leaving March I rang Maureen at Marmont Priory lock and got her daughter to tell her we would be there about 1315 hrs. When we arrived Diana rang the bell but no Maureen so we set to turning the lock, both top gates were wide open and the paddle up. The lock refused to drain with a lot of water coming in the top, so we closed down, raised and lowered the top paddle but no improvement. Diana rang the bell again and the lady from Kingfisher Canoe Trails came out and we explained our problem, so she nipped in to have a word with Maureen who came out to see the problem. We checked the paddle again, then the gate paddles, all OK at this point Maureen said there is only one other cause, the other mechanical ground paddle that has no indication and is never used on the offside, Yes the hire boat going up had also left that up, so we were soon our way again. We met the two canoes from Kingfisher Trails in Outwell.
We arrived at Salters Load at 1720, just 7 hours after we set out, by now the wind had dropped to a whisper and the sun was quite warm, it felt a bit like mid June. Wandering over to look at the river the water was still running out at a reasonable rate, I could not see us making high tide before the locks closed but decided to ring Paul the lock keeper anyway, his number was engaged so I rang Denver and was informed that it was just right NOW but he could not contact Paul as his phone was engaged. This was easily solved, I walked round and knocked on his door and had a word with his good wife. About 5 minutes latter Paul was out to see us and we were off. We only locked up about 2 foot before we could get out on to the Gt Ouse. I queried the timing and it seams if the tide is less than 21 feet they can lock on a rising tide. As we left the tide had just started to make and as I pushed the nose out it swung slowly round to point upstream, none of the normal tiller hard over and bags of welly. Last time I passed out through here I complained to the EA about the damaged fendering and no X marker at the end of it to show where it was when covered by high water. This has now been repaired. We waved goodbye to Paul who said that on a rising tide in these conditions even I couldn’t get it wrong. It was a lovely trip up the river, the water was like a mill pond and the engine was at normal canal speed, not punching a tide. I kept well to the right until I was level with half way down the lock landing and the put it hard round to the left, the gentle incoming tide helping the back end round. Straight towards the landing stage at right angles, then round to the right and straight into the lock. Even at this state of the tide the silt bar was hidden with so much fresh coming down the river.
Such a relaxed and dignified crossing and there were even two people watching us. Once clear of the lock we pulled in for the night on the first EA moorings we came to on the right hand side as it was 1830 hrs. and plenty for one day.
A pair of geese where taking their family across the face of the sluices as we pulled in.