Tuesday 16 August 2011

Plodding on the Middle level 11/08/11

Last night I did wonder if we had made a mistake mooring overnight here. I went to bed early but there was no chance of sleep, the Town Hall clock strikes the hour, the traffic roars round the one way system, then its 11 pm. The clock chimes 11 times, but that is the last time it chimes until 7 am. in the morning. The noise from the traffic drifts away to silence and I get a good nights sleep.

This morning we set off at 10 am. I know the time, the clock wasDSCF6371 chiming. As we made our way through the town we started to be aware that it was yet again windy. We passed this charming little boat before once more passing the Middle Level Commissioner's new offices. I don’t know why they put in all that quay heading because they didn’t put in any mooring rings or bollards.

DSCF6380As we approached Botany Bay bridge we spotted a rather forlorn looking tug, I guess it must be the property of the MLC but it doesn’t look as it had been used for several years.



From here it was only a short run to our moorings at Floods Ferry and at 11 15 am. we were sliding into our slot. The wind was blowing straight down the cut towards us as we approached the moorings which made things much easier as I just put the bows round to the left and we slid straight in.

Wednesday 10 August 2011

Plodding on the Middle Level 10/8/11

Last night we went to The Five Bells which was a bit disappointing. The general atmosphere of the place was quite dismal with light fittings that had no shades and more importantly no beer on the pumps, only pressurised stuff and ice cold larger, if I want to drink bottled beer I can do it much cheaper and more comfortably indoors. The food however that we had was very good and I must admit it came as a pleasant surprise. We both had stir fry spicy beef that was both tender and tasty.
We found the moorings quite noisy with a road both sides of the cut, it was a mixture of cars and lorries overnight and then tractors and trailers speeding through early this morning.

We didn’t get away until 1040 this morning, we took Magic for a walk first and came across 3 lovely pear trees growing on the side of the road beside a field, we stopped and picked up a few fallen pears but they are not ripe yet. By now the 4 boats that had joined us last night after 6 pm had departed and just as we left another boat arrived to take our place.
A phone call to Maureen to tell her we were on our way was only answered by the answer phone, so I guess she was out locking the other boats down. When we arrived at Marmont Priory Lock it was empty and while Diana DSCF6350rang the bell for the lock keeper I closed the bottom gates, we had drawn the top paddles before she arrived with 3 nice bags of ripe plumbs in her hand, one of which we bought. As we were leaving the lock another boat appeared behind us.
We were now back on the old River Nene which is both wider and thankfully deeper.

DSCF6353A short way past the lock are some farm moorings, one of the house boats moored her is a bit unusual as it has a Sedum  roof on it, still the owner has a good supply of water to keep it moist.


DSCF6354but by the time we reached the wind turbines the conditions had freshened quite markedly and we were pushing straight into a good headwind.



The turbines closest to the water were quite audible with a slow steady beat in time with the vanes passing the pillar. I am  glad I don’t live next to the ones at home.

We decided to moor for the night in March and there was about half a boat length free on the Town Moorings so with the use of a centre line and a spring holding the bows both in and back from the bow of the cruiser moored ahead of us. They may be more space the other side of town, but once you are passed and there are no other spaces it a long way to the next mooring.

We were securely tied up by 2 pm and wandered off into town to find where my mother was born. The house she was born in has been demolished and rebuild but we were able to find the premises where my Grandfather was an apprentice grocer which is now an estate agents.

Tuesday 9 August 2011

Plodding on the Middle Level 9/8/11

DSCF6319Last night I expected the wind to die away with the setting sun, I was wrong, it blew all night and at some time we even had a little rain.


This morning we woke to bright sunshine and the wind had moderated quite a bit but it was still breezy and it strengthened as the morning progressed. After ringing my grandson to wish him happy birthday we were on our way, back up to The Old River Nene and then sharp right at the wind farm. Yesterday I had rung the lock keeper at Marmont Priory to tell we hoped to be there about 10 30 this morning and as I only got her answer phone I left a message. What I failed to tell her in that message was my direction of travel and about quarter to ten this morning she rang me back with the news that she had a boat coming down DSCF6323about then so everything should be set for us. In the event we arrived about quarter past ten just as the other boat had entered the lock. Maureen the Lock Keeper was able to give us information about shopping in Outwell, I doubt we would have even looked for a shop without her information.

At Marmont Priory Lock the water way becomes Well Creak, but it is still the old River Nene and is quite a bit shallower than the rest of the Middle Level, also the water level is much closer to the top of the banks which means that the view is much better.




As you progress through Upwell and Outwell, the villages run into each other there are some very interesting old buildings along the banks.

DSCF6345We stopped in Outwell in what is known as The Basin, here there are free 36 hour moorings provided by The Well Creak Trust on the left. I think it would be possible to wind a 60 foot Narrowboat there, I did try it with Harnser just to see if we could get round. DSCF6346DSCF6347

You pass under a bridge just before the basin, it is one of the few arched bridges on the Middle Level and interestingly on the south Key stone it inscribed 1852 and on the north side one it is 1682 After a bit of shopping we decided to continue to Nordelph and wind there where the un-navigable section of Popham’s Eau joins from the right.  On our return journey we noted that the staith on the right was actually a public staith, again with 36 hours mooring. It is right beside the main road but in the middle of DSCF6343nowhere about half a mile from Nordelph. This was before we crossed Marmont Aqueduct which was back pumping from the lower Middle Level Drain up to Well Creak

On the stretch between Outwell and Nordelph they were busy DSCF6338harvesting, I am not sure what they were cutting, it looked far to dark and brown for corn and far to short for rape, but the amount of dust coming from it was out of this world, its a good job the driver sits in an air conditioned cab, unlike my days when you sat on the front with a hanky round your mouth and a pair of government surplus orange goggles.

DSCF6326Once back in Upwell we moored for the night on the very pleasant town moorings beside the church, again these are free 36 hour moorings sponsored by The Five Bells pub where we will visit later


DSCF6337Question for today is this the fruit of the Monkey Puzzle Tree and would it germinate in the UK.

Thanks to Sean for telling me that yesterdays aircraft was a latest model RAF Hercules (six propeller blades -
the older ones have four)

Monday 8 August 2011

Plodding on the Middle Level 8/8/11

We arrived at the boat yesterday early evening and after unloading the car headed into March for something to eat at Wetherspoons. The one in March use to be the old Hippodrome cinema and like most old buildings that Wetherspoons have taken over has been very tastefully converted.

DSCF6293This morning we woke to a glorious,sunny day and after filling with water and walking the dog we backed out of our slot across the cut. By now it was quarter to ten and the wind had started to freshen, Diana said “which way are we going” as I crossed the cut the westerly wind caught the bow and we were heading for March. Through the first of many flat bridges, nothing like the nice brick ones on the canals, just a concrete deck on steel beams straight between the top of the banks. On out left we passed Botany Bay, It didn’t look much of a bay, just like the rest of the farm land around these parts.

DSCF6296We didn’t see any potatoes being grown, just corn and sugar beet, but them must grow an awful lot by the size of the stacks of potato boxes that we have passed.

As we approached the town of March we passed DSCF6300the “Middle Level Commissioners” new headquarters with about 300 feet of nice mooring outside, the only thing to spoil it was the “No Mooring” signs. This is not a bad project for an organisation that claims its strapped for cash.

DSCF6302Just after you go under the road bridge with a sign welcoming you to March you pass the “Middle Level DSCF6306Watermen's Club” They are members of AWCC so should offer reciprocal hospitality.


There have been some new moorings installed in March since we last passed this way. They are to the west of the town at a place called “Little London” just before the foot bridge. They are long enough for two Narrowboats and crossing the foot bridge soon brings you to Boots the Chemist, a nice Fish and Chip shop (we bought lunch there) and Lidl, its also handy for Wetherspoons, probably closer than the “Town Moorings” .

After lunch we continued on our way. There were only 3 boats on the Town Mooring and we did wonder about returning for the nigh, but if we did we would had to gone back a long way to wind.
DSCF6309There are lots of private moorings on the left as you make your way out of town, lots without any boats on them, but some may well be out cruising.

As we left the shelter of the town we found the wind had

freshened and had probably almost reached gale force, well there is a very good reason for all the wind turbines they have
erected in this part of the world. On the left hand bank someone DSCF6310DSCF6311  has a collection of military equipment including a field gun. Once we passed the Twenty Foot river we started to look for somewhere to moor as not only was it blowing a DSCF6315gale, the sky’s were dark and it was threatening with rain. We passed one likely looking spot but it was right opposite the wind turbines and I don’t know how noisy they would be in the quiet of night. We pushed on and turned right into Popham Eau heading for Three Holes, by now the wind was full on our stern and the threatened rain started, luckily it didn’t last long, as we approached the first bridge I spotted a landing stage on the left hand side, I think this is probably the DSCF6317property of MLC  and we are probably not suppose to use it, anyway I winded Harnser before we reached it and ran down onto it backwards so that we were bow to wind and we have moored with our bows against it, with the stern just clear of the bridge.

Since we have been moored up we have had several aircraft fly over us, some high, some low, sum fast and some slow, but all noisy.DSCF6316