Tuesday 29 November 2011

A few shots in Norfolk

When we went to Gt. Yarmouth last week and there were several boats on the move. It looked as if a boat yard were moving several of their hire boat up the Bure










As we crossed Breydon Water I spotted a pair of cruisers breasted up heading down stream so we stopped at the Bure to try for a photo or two. It turned out to be a cruiser bringing a brand new shell for fit out.











Boats can only get from the Yare to the Bure at low water as they have to get under the old Vauxhall railway bridge which use to carry the railway through the town. The tide was still running out as these boats pushed their way up the Bure but even so there was a lot of mud to be seen in the river.

















We also visited Ranworth where we climbed the church tower, you who follow me on Facebook may have seen the first photo before.













The views from the top are quite spectacular and you are free to clime the spiral stone stairs to the bell chamber and then up a ladder to the very top. Although you can do this at any time of the day I would suggest you avoid doing it just on the hour as it can be a bit noisy.



















As you can see the weather was not the best but we still enjoyed some great views across the broads.

Thursday 17 November 2011

Floods Ferry 6 Nov 2011 Day 9

Sorry this posting is rather late but just to close the trip off.

The moorings in March were very noisy last night with chanting and singing way into the early hours. We think people must have been on there way home from nightclubs.

We left the moorings in bright sun and had a steady journey back to our home moorings at Floods Ferry. This part of our trip takes just over an hour and a quarter. There were lots of fishermen out on the banks today including opposite our moorings, I did feel a bit sorry for those that pulled their gear in only for us to turn into our moorings.

We had planned to drain the boat ready for the winter but as the weather is still so warm and we are only a 2 hour drive from home we decided to leave the boat ready to go.

Until the next time.

Saturday 5 November 2011

March 5 Nov 2011 day 8

DSCF7181As we arrived at Salters Load 2 MLC workmen were removing the wooden handrail beside the steps on the lock landing and replacing it with a steel one. Over the years the wooden one had suffered not only from damp at DSCF7172ground level but also repeated attacks from a powerful strimmer. After dark the house just the other side of the Old Bedford River had a bonfire and fireworks for their kids, us two big kids just sat and watched from the Ouse flood wall.

DSCF7182When we left this morning there were a group of fishermen on the moorings nearer the bridge, I thanked them for drawing their tackle in as we passed, but not a word or a smile from any of them. When we got to Upwell there they were, sitting on the moorings fishing, hoping for better luck.

DSCF7185It was a sort of nothingness day, damp, misty, the odd spot of rain and the sun trying to break through.  For quite a length the north bank of  Well Creak is constructed against a brick wall between DSCF7186Nordelph and Outwell. This bank is a good 2 foot higher than the south bank so it the banks were overtopped the flood water would flow south towards the other drains within the Middle Level.

DSCF7196We crossed the Middle Level Main Drain on the Mullicourt Aqueduct and this has been the only time we have crossed without the pump starting to bring water up from the Main Drain. Just west of the aqueduct there are DSCF7198some angling platforms, these are designed for wheel chair users but I have never seen any disabled people using them, there were no anglers there at all today although we saw lots between Salters Lode and March.

DSCF7206Marmont lock was full ready for us and i had rung Maureen to tell her we were on our way, Diana went over to ring the bell to let her know we had arrived and then opened one gate leaving the offside for Maureen. It wasn’t long before we were on our way down to DSCF7209deeper water. Then past the wind farm and into March. One thing that caught my eye as we approached the town was one of the buildings had a row of seagulls all the way along the ridge. We moored up on the town moorings at 2 30 pm. we will stay here overnight and that will give us an hours run in the morning back to Floods Ferry to top the batteries up after tonight's use.

Friday 4 November 2011

Salters lode 4 Nov 2011 day 7

There is only one restaurant at this end of Littleport and they do a fixed price 4 course meal for £39-50 but the cheese course is complimentary, I couldn’t quite work that one out. It only opens twice a week other than for private functions, last night was one of the function nights with about a dozen men sitting at two tables.

Overnight it rained almost constantly, stopping just as we pushed off at 9 am but starting again quite soon afterwards. The reason for our early start was that we had to navigate a very silted up Denver Sluice and I wanted to see at low water where the best channel was. Just as we moored at Denver the rain stopped and the sun came back out. The silting is so bad now that the lock is virtually unusable on a DSCF7160neap tide. When we visited 3 years ago 3 boats sailed straight out of Salters Lode on the level, up the Ouse and straight through Denver Sluice on the level. Today nothing bigger than a canoe would get through on the level with only about 4” of water between the sand banks.

The lock keeper was very doubtful that we would get out today as we would need about another 3 Ft. to do it safely. The seagulls could walk across the channel at the moment, but it was almost 4 hours to the top of the tide. One possibility was to go out backwards as far as the sandbank and then forwards between the sandbank on the left and the front of the sluice but he could not recommend it.

To waste a bit of time we walked around the area looking at the relief channel and where you locked down into it. There are 3 lots of moorings on the channel and a possible thing to do if we can’t get out.

At about quarter past two we went back to look at the water level, High Water at Kings Lynn was 1345 hrs. and we had gained about 12” but it was still rising very slowly. Chatting again to the lock keeper he enquired as to whether we had a Bowthruster, if so we could easy out of the lock, swing 100 deg to the left, slide along between the sandbank and the front of the sluice until we hit the New Bedford River and then sharp right downstream to salters Lode, but of course it was up to us and I was game. We  we didn’t do this today we would be stuck here until next Thursday morning as tomorrow is the last daylight tide and its only about 6” more than today, also tomorrow wouldn’t be the resident keeper so the chances of sliding round the back would be less.

DSCF7162The lock keeper got the lock ready and I got Harnser ready and we were soon in the lock, as soon as the bottom gate was up I crept forward, used the bowthruster to pivot the boat round to the left with the stern at the lock entrance, then DSCF7166slowly forward towards the New Bedford River, easy to the right as I approached the channel to miss the sand bank on the point and then off down river to Salters Lode where Paul had the lock ready for us. I thought we were on slack water by now or even starting to run out so DSCF7169I swung hard left to line up with the lock entrance which points downstream, however the tide was still making slightly  which caused me to cut the corner a bit and I had to give it a bit of welly to get her bum round before just DSCF7171drifting into the lock, it was now 3 pm. Paul locked us up and we have Moored for the night on the lock moorings as we wouldn’t get to Outwell before dark.


Thursday 3 November 2011

Littleport 3 Nov 11 day 6

The weather was not so good this morning so we made a slow start at 1040 am. This worked well as we didn’t see any more rain all day.

DSCF7126The rivers are down by a good 4” as can be seen by the bottom of the air draught board below Prickwillow bridge.  Just by this bridge is the DSCF7125Prickwillow pumping museum which houses a large collection of diesel driven fen drainage pumps. The museum runs these pumps on special days through the summer months.
Once back on the Great Ouse we turned left and headed upstream towards Ely. Its a long wide straight run alongside the DSCF7133railway line on the right and a road on the left. As you travel along this straight there is a good view of Ely Cathedral which looks as if it is standing on a high hill, not just the low bump that takes it above sea level.


We continued our journey through the town and went as far as Soham Lode which is not navigatable. We turned here and DSCF7138headed back to town, on the way we passed under the railway bridge that had a goods train derailed on it shortly before IWA National festival at St Ives. The result of this was that all visiting boats had to go via The New Bedford River.

We stopped in Ely for lunch, while we were there we decided to do a pump out and also fill the water tank. This unfortunately made us a bit late getting away and made our chosen destination for the night, The Ship at Brandon Creak just out of reach, so we moored for the night at the Station Road, Littleport moorings, these are the other end of town from where we moored to visit The Swan.

DSCF7147On this stretch of rive the Environment Agency have installed a couple of markers so that boaters can check their speed as they hammer down the straight.

Wednesday 2 November 2011

Prickwillow 2 Nov 11 Day 5

Last night we ate at The DSCF7080Swan, last time we visited it was called The Black Horse but its changed a lot since then and has been poshed up a bit. The restaurant is closed on both Monday and Tuesday evening this time of the year, but the bar meals we had were first class and at a reasonable price.

DSCF7084This morning we pushed off at quarter to ten following a quiet night on the moorings opposite The Swan. Unlike last night when there wasn’t a ripple to be seen, the wind was now picking up and would continue to do so all day. In spite of the wind the sun was bright and warm, again unlike last night when we had to get the winter duvet out.

We continued upstream for about a mile before turning left up the River Lark. We have done a bit of this river before but only as far as Prickwillow, today we planned to go to the head of navigation. DSCF7114As we were heading towards Mildenhall there were quite a few aircraft about including a refuelling plane from the American Air force, I know it was American because it said so on the side. I think the pilot has his sun glasses on, but that may just be the suns reflection.

DSCF7111There is one lock on the Lark at Isleham and unlike the EA locks on the River Nene the guillotine gate is at the head of the lock, not the tail. The lock is fully powered including the V doors and the Slackers, one thing that surprised us was that the controls for the bottom gates were not DSCF7090in a locked enclosure, you only needed a key to get in the control box to raise/lower the guillotine gate.
Just before we arrived at the lock there was a fare sized flock of geese sitting in the river. These were not your commonal  garden Canada geese but DSCF7096real wild ones that took to the sky when we were still a good 200 Mt. from them
As we locked up a survey vessel that had been following us caught up and walked up to the lock. I asked if they were going through as well? It seemed they were, but as they DSCF7098didn’t know there was a lock they didn’t have a key. So we moored up and locked them up. We left them on the lock landing and continued on our way. A short time later we met a very smart EA patrol vessel complete with “go fast” hatching. I think DSCF7103they must have had a chat with the survey vessel and locked down again with them,as we didn’t see ether boat again.

From here the river is much bendier and on one of these bends we passed  DSCF7102a wooden hut with
“Horseferry Lodge” written on the end of it, so maybe once upon a time this was the site of a ferry. The house beside it is “Gravel House” and on the house sign they have a picture of what I take to be their Narrowboat.

DSCF7099We continued on to Judes Ferry which is the end of the Environments jurisdiction, apart from the wind it was quite easy to wind here as there is a cut beside the pub which was probably at one time the ferry landing. We did consider stopping at the pub overnight, but the moorings are not very Narrowboat friendly, being not only a bit to high but also cantilevered out by about 18” so would rub the cabin sides, I don’t think even our barrow wheels would have held us off, so its on the list for next time.

From here we retraced our steps passing the Lee Brook on our left. DSCF7097
At the moorings below the lock there is an elderly boat and on the cabin side he has 4 IWA swords. At one time the sword in a clenched gauntlet was part of the IWA insignia and the sword was awarded to boats that covered the more difficult parts of the system. Many feel that the IWA should not have dropped it as it signified the fighting spirit of the organisation and had been there I think from day one.

DSCF7108On our way up we passed what I thought was a grave stone on the river bank, so on the way back down I watch out for it. It turned out that it is to commemorate the baptism of the Rev. Spurgon in May 1850.

DSCF7118A little further downstream there is an old pumping station  that was built in 1844 on the wall is a plaque in memory of the first pumpman Joseph Flatt who attended the pump from when it opened until he died in 1900.
By now the it was getting cloudy and the wind continued to pick up as we made our way to the EA moorings at Prickwillow.

Tuesday 1 November 2011

Littleport 1Nov 2011 Day 4

DSCF7018Last night was not good,  but not as bad as I expected, but the traffic really picked up first thing this morning.

9-30 this morning I pulled the front pin and walked to the stern to take that one as well, it was at that point I saw someone walking towards me, thinking it was someone of authority I walked to meet them only to find it was a friend of mine who moors his Wilderness boat at the caravan site. We discussed the possibilities of doing the river right up to Oxborough Ferry at a later date when there is a bit more water in the river. We finally pushed off at twenty to ten.

DSCF7025In the village of Stoke ferry we passed under a steel road bridge, on the down side there is a plaque saying it was rebuilt by Norfolk Council in 1899 and the surveyors name was a Mr. Heslop.

DSCF7028As we passed Stoke Ferry sluice I spotted Ivan catching us up in his Wilderness, it wouldn’t be long before he was to overtake us. Well with a 10hp outboard engine he has a better power to weight ratio than us.

DSCF7012As you travel along this river it is easy to think you are on the Norfolk Broads except for two things, the lack of other boats and the strong smell of onions you get as you pass the onion fields.

DSCF6997We passed a field of sheep that were doing there best to keep up with a nautical theme by have red and green rub marks on their backs, I am not sure of the significance of the blue ones.

I should add that while we were doing this river this morning it was raining from time to time even though the chap on radio 4 said it was going to be the best day of the week, I think he must have stayed in bed on Sunday when it was lovely.

DSCF7036Once back on the Ouse we turned upstream and the weather did improve a bit, we met 4 boats on this stretch which was bit of a surprise. The Air force were playing again just like yesterday making lots of noise, Quite often you could not see them at all and other times they were quite low but not duck down low.

At Brandon Creak we turned down left down The Little Ouse as I wanted to see where the floating dry dock was, its about half a mile down from the junction on the left hand side at Bank Farm. They also sell diesel at 90p lt at the moment as well as controlling over half a mile of moorings. We just managed to wind where one of the online moorings was vacant, I don’t think you would get a 60 footer round here. We were going to carry on to Brandon but as its 14 miles and it had already turned 2 pm we would not have made it before dark and we don’t know of any recognised moorings on the way.

Back at The Ship we again turned left and carried on to Littleport for the night mooring opposite The Swan, last time we were here it was called The Black Horse and we stopped for Sunday lunch, we will see what it is like this evening.

Monday 31 October 2011

Whittington 31 October 2011 Day 3

At about five to ten this morning I untied and started to move down to the lock landing, Paul called from his garden to go straight into the lock and he would be there shortly. Once in the lock with the gates behind closed it is immediately obvious the danger of coming up under the walkways attached to the gate. I am going to suggest to the MLC that they remove them as they serve no useful purpose now that the slackers are mechanised.

High tide at Kings Lynn was at 0853 hrs. local time so by the time DSCF6976we entered the lock it had turned but we still had to wait for the river level to fall further before Paul commenced filling the lock. A little after 1030 hrs. he cracked the first slacker, thank goodness it wasn’t the one on the side we were sitting as dark brown water fountained up into the air. I had already removed the stove chimney and at Pauls suggestion I also removed the exhaust. The lock slowly filled and Harnser rose closer to the arch of the bridge. By the time the lock had filled the phone aerial was bent over and the pigeon box was about 2 inches from the under side of the arch, the water was just lapping the top gates. The bottom guillotine gate lifted and we could see out onto the river. We still couldn’t go anywhere as the lock at Denver was not ready but not only that we still wouldn’t fit under the bottom edge of the guillotine gate, when the water had dropped about another 4” at about 1050 hrs. we were just able to slide out. Even so early into the tide I was surprised how fast the river was running . It took a lot of engine power to turn into the flow and start making progress to Denver. I was advised to keep the power on to get there as soon as possible as Denver has a big problem with the lock mouth silting up and the more water there when we arrived the less problem it was likely to be. I held to the right of the river until I rounded the bend and then made my for the middle of the sluices reducing power as we moved out of the flow of the river, when I guessed we were past the bank I turned left to the lock sliding in by the right hand wall.

DSCF6985After locking down onto the none tidal Ouse we chugged round to the left to fill up with water. There is a water point and a free pumpout just by the slipway almost opposite the lock that drops down to The Great Ouse Relief Channel.

DSCF6994With the water tank once again full we headed south until we came to the River Wissey where we turned sharp left and stopped at the GOBA moorings for lunch. There was one small cruiser moored right in the middle of the moorings, he shot out and offered to move up a bit, saying he had not expected to see another boat on the river, I replied neither did we. As the moorings are probably in excess of 100 Mt. long there was tons of room for us without him moving.

DSCF7011The next point of interest is the Sugar Beet factory, East Anglia has several of these and from September to spring time they can bee DSCF7009seen belching out white steam, they are often adjacent to rivers both for the water they use and in times passed transporting the sugar beet by boat. One thing that has changed since last time we were here is the old concrete bridge has had its deck removed.

We winded at what is classed the end of navigation where the river forks, I understand you can get a bet further TNC style. If the bank had been better I would have moored here, but we have to get the poor old dog off, I am sure it would be much quieter than our intended mooring on the GOBA moorings at the caravan park right by the road bridge.

The moorings are only about 70 ft. long so we have taken it all up, but I am not expecting any one to turn up in the dark. Once moored you have to report in at reception, as expected there was no one there, but a couple in a caravan, who I suspect live on site said they were then coming to see me as the site manager was away. I gave them my name, the boat name and my GOBA membership number and then settled down for what looks like being a noisy night on Harnser.