It was quite wet and blowy last night, but by this morning things had improved, the rain had stopped and the sun was out, but the wind was still blowing and was going to get worse.
We pushed off at our normal 10 am in a stiff breeze, we had planned to fill with water at Hilgay moorings just through the bridge, but when we arrived there were already two boats there so we continued on up stream.
Today it really felt like spring had arrived with the sun and a flock of sheep with their lambs on the river bank.A little later we would see geese on their nests, some not as careful with their eggs as they should be letting them roll out onto the bank, still they will make a meal for something, be it rat or crow.
The Sugar beet factory at Wessington is laying idle again, the season having ended with just the odd puffs of steam escaping. They use the waste heat from the plant to heat some very large green houses on the other side of the rive and with the present weather I suspect they are still supplying heat as well as making a start on their annual maintenance program. Just above the factory the river widens out and it was on this stretch that we experienced wing gusts of almost 40 MPH and wecrossed the wide section with Harnser heeling like a sailing dingy.
It was just after this we ran into the first Fenland Dust storm, what looks like smoke blowing across the landscape is actually jet black dust dragged up from the fields and it gets everywhere, in your eyes, down your ears in the boat, there is no stopping it. we continued on back in fresh air passing over the aqueduct where the river crosses the Cut Off Channel that takes flood water straight to Denver. Just above the aqueduct we passed under a guillotine sluice, this can be closed in the time of floods to prevent the river flowing into the Ely Ouse. Instead they open another sluice a little further upstream and drop it into the Cut Off Channel. There is some doubt as to the operability of these two structures. Just wriggling around it the shallows I spotted a large grass snake, not a very good photograph as he caught me some what on the hop, but it give some idea of its size. We winded at what is considered the head of navigation at Stringside Drain although we have been probably a mile further up stream, for details you will need to look for our blog back for 19 June 2012. Since we were last this way there is quite a bit of silt in the junction, but there is still plenty of room to turn.
Once round we dropped back downstream to moor at the GOBA moorings at Grange Farm Camping site, Whittington around 3 PM.