After filling with water we were away at 7 30 AM this morning, It was a busy day on the river, we met one boat just above Gt Barford who told me all my locks were ready and he was right, we didn’t turn one all the way to the head of navigation. The second boat we met just as they left Bedford lock.
When we set off it was already 20°C, I don’t know what it is now as we had to lay the sensor down to get under the bridges at Bedford.
For those that have heard me refer to my Bimini her is a photo of it, I know its not traditional and I don’t care. We have only been this way once before so I will try not to bore you by repeating things.
We passed this boat absolutely covered with cobwebs. If a fly finds its way in it must be a miracle. Castleford Lock was our first problem where the sand bank runs back from the lock mouth to the landing stage. It is well marked but the edge of the bank is well the navigation side of the buoys. This lock has two paddles or slackers half way down the lock side connecting to the weir, one is above the weir crest to fill the lock, the other below to empty it. Filling the lock results in a very strong side flow pinning the boat to the wall.Bedford lock is quite small with a very low tail bridge, the place was swarming with kids in HiVis jackets, I bet they were warm. Last time we came this way the top gate was converted for electrical operation but the supply was not connected, so required lots of hand cranking, today its just press the button. Beside the lock is the operating wheel from the last manually operated guillotine gate on the Gt Ouse. It was this very lock the top one of them all Bedford Town Lock.
We decided to have another attempt at the head of navigation at Kempston. So it was up through the town past the County Court that opens onto the river, not the road and then under the road and railway bridges, these are kneel down on the counter bridges which just cleared or rubber duck radio aerials. Since we were hear last they have chopped down all the river side trees.
Just beyond the railway we spotted this gull feeding on bread with the ducks, I think he may have an identity crises and thinks he’s a duck.We pushed on upstream to the island where we turned last time we were here because we didn’t know which was the channel, we didn’t even know it was an island at the time. This time we turned hard right just before it and were surprised to find that it opened out into a good wide, deep river. As we didn’t know what to expect we travelled very slowly and cautiously until we came to the canoe centre. Here I chatted to one of the instructors who told me it was very shallow just after the next island and they couldn’t even get canoes up there. With this information we turned with ease just below the island and then reversed up the right hand side of the island until we ran out of water by a storm drain probably less than a boats length above the island. From here it is downhill all the way. Passing the end of the railway yard as we came back into town they have built an interesting spiral bridge over the lines. Once back in town we moored at the town moorings for lunch and a walk round town, this chap was sitting to greet us as we turned in behind yet another island. Like all the geese in the town he seems to like the rowing clubs floating moorings.
Just as we were setting off to visit the town’s museum at the old Higgins brewery the new Milton Keynes trip/community boat drew up behind us to drop off a load of school children. I wasn’t to
impressed with the design as it has very large windows the whole length of the boat that drop back like hopper windows but only open about an inch along the top. I bet they were frying in there today. I expect they will probably need to fit blowers if we have a good summer.
After visiting the museum we decided to get back on the river looking for a bit of breeze and maybe even head back down to Gt Barford for the night, but those plans were changed for us when we arrived at Cardington Lock. As we arrived we could see the lock was against us and someone pulling things on the lock side, I thought he was pulling big mooring ropes. Diana walked up while I moored before joining her. The lock was still empty and two chaps were trying to get a large cruiser through the bottom gates. He had to bring it to the head of the lock as it was too wide to come up at the tail, even then there was only a couple of inches to spare and the coping stones along the top of the lock protrude over the lock by half an inch. Once settled at the front and with both tail gates closed he raised the guillotine by about half an inch, the water was coming in so slowly it took over ten minutes to cover the cill. at this rate it would take over an hour to fill the lock. We did consider going back to Bedford but then he opened up another half inch. The rate of gate lift was so small that with three slight opening it didn’t start the timer, so even when the lock was full we had to wait another five and a half minutes for the timer before we could fully raise the gate. By now it was getting late so we moored on the GOBA moorings at Goldington and had a BBQ.