Monday 26 March 2012

Monday 26 March 2012 Back Home

It was quite cold again last night, dropping below freezing and we woke up to a thick cold mist.02
Before setting off we took the dog for a walk along the bank, we had gone about 250 yards when a deer ran straight towards us and only veered off when less than a 100 yards away and then only skirted round us on the field. needless to say I didn’t have the camera with me.

We set off at 10 am and by now it was bright warm sunshine and the cut was dead straight, passing under several bridges, including a railway bridge. We were lucky enough to see a pair ofDSCF8162 Buzzards very low over the river and also a Barn Owl circling over the river and adjoining fields.

Over in the distance we could see the10 smoke from the brick works drifting over the country side.

Down at Angle Corner where the 20 foot river joins the11 Whittlesey Dyke. There it is a very sharp left turn, probably a bit less than 90° and none to wide. We were now back on familiar territory and its just a steady run back to our moorings arriving at 12-30 pm.

Sunday 25 March 2012

25 March 2012 20 Foot River

A strange thing happened today. My camera like most digital cameras date stamps the photographs. Today it started stamping them with the correct time, I didn’t change anything. Its really strange because its been an hour fast for months.

Last night we ate in The Jenyns Inn, on the next table were the08 couple from N.B. Ibis who would be locking out through Denver with us, but there were only going as far as Salters Lode.

We pushed off a 10 am  and did a large 180° turn to the lock landing, Ibis came and laid beside us. We went to chat with the lock keeper who told us that there was one boat coming up from Salters so we would pass on the tidal section. I went into the lock first and although the lock was filled straight away the lock keeper kept the exit gate gown to water level for some time. This 12was to prevent me leaving before Salters Lode was ready. With such a high tide there was no sign of the sand banks, they are due to start dredging next week. By the time he gave me the OK to leave a cruiser had joined our convoy. I met the other Narrowboat about 2/3 of the way to Salters and the tide was running out quite slowly. As I approached the lock I slowed to tick over speed and just as I was coming level with the lock, turned hard left and gave it lots of welly. coming straight into the lock mouth clean as a whistle, I had already been warned that there was quite a bit of debris in the lock entrance, but I was not expecting the branches hanging from the guillotine gate which brushed along the cabin side. We locked down onto Well Creek and just before the first bridge I decided to see if it was wide enough to wind, for future reference.

By now the sun’s out and it was warming up a bit, last night it had dropped below freezing again. Crossing the aqueduct the MLC were back pumping from the Middle Level Main Drain below.17
We met a Narrowboat in Outwell and lots of canoes from a company called Kingfisher Canoe Trails, http://www.kingfishercanoetrails.co.uk/ one moored in the middle of the moorings outside the Crown Lodge Hotel and one in the crumple zone on Outwell public moorings.  The lady that runs them was sitting picnicking on the landing stage at Marmont Priors Lock. The lock was ready for us as we had met a cruiser in Upwell but Maureen was out so we had to work ourselves down.

When we reached the 20 foot river just after the wind farm that was lying idle ( I hope all those who buy green electricity went without Sunday lunch) we turned right along the 20 Foot River, we have never been along here before  as about half way along there is a very low bridge but it looked wide enough to turn with luck. The first thing of note was the sewage works outfall that is helping to keep levels up. I wonder if the farmers pay extra for enriched irrigation fluid with their water abstraction licences?52
We passed two people fishing and then later another two chaps with a high speed radio controlled toy boat, there still was no wind and the sun was in an ever clearing sky. There is a bend where once a dyke joined the river about a quarter of a mile before Insfield Bridge where I could turn if we couldn’t make it under the bridge.
I approached the bridge very slowly indeed and could see the cabin would go under, but pulled back to move the cooker chimney that was laying on the centre of the roof over against the gunwale and then edged forward. The farmer stopped his tractor on the bridge and jumped out of the cab. I could now see that the pigeon boxes would clear but there were some bolts sticking down so I had to increase the power to straighten up. The only thing in doubt was the tiller and I pulled the pin out which was probably a good move. As I emerged from the other side the tractor driver told me that he had two go under here who topped them selves in the process, not the boats but their heads.60
As we left I looked back and could the level indicator board, there isn’t one on the other side which shows a clearance of about 1.6Mt, the book says 1.65Mt but I understand the level is high at the moment. We did about another quarter mile and pulled over for the night on a nice flat fishing peg.

Saturday 24 March 2012

24 March 2012 Denver Sluice EA moorings

Last night I was able to log on to a BT Openzone Hot Spot, this was quite surprising considering the nearest house was not only across the river from us but also the other side of the road. Still being a BT subscriber it was very useful.2

This morning we set off on the hottest day this year, we left the moorings at 10-15 after filling with water and almost immediately started meeting boats. I think we have seen a total of 9 on the move plus 7 canoes.

We carried on down stream for a bit and then turned right into the river Wissey. This is a delightful little river. As we made our way up stream there are loads of floating bramble stems, someone6 has cut the brambles on the south bank and just let them fall into the river. They won’t be much fun if they get round the prop.

We went as far as the Sugar Beet factory to turn, passing some boaters that we have got to know since we have been here. On the way back I saw yet another Grass Snake, this one was not so large and it didn’t dive when I tried to photograph it.7

At the junction with the Ouse we turned right again and continued down to the services at Denver Sluice, there were a bunch of young people (I was one once) about to launch their canoes and head off up the river, what a wonderful day for it. Listening to the comments I think that some may have been a lot less experienced than the others, maybe even first timers, but they will have fun that’s for sure. Once the tank was pumped out we headed across to the EA moorings just upstream from the Jenyns Arms WWW.Jenyns.co.uk to moor for the night, we are booked to lock out at 10-30 in the morning.

As it was just about low water I decided to go and see how much impression the dredging has made, but they are not even on site yet.9

Friday 23 March 2012

23 March 2012 Ten Mile Bank, Windmill Moorings

Last night I had a bit of a problem winding due to traveling sideways with the flow, this morning I timed the flow over 30 yards and it worked out to 2 mph.02

The moorings are right beside the allotments and we didn’t hear any disturbance overnight.04

After mooring yesterday we wandered into town for a look round, a quick trip into Aldi to get some dried fruit and what is there biggest display? Fishing tackle, no wonder people fish out of season if they just wander in and buy the stuff with no other knowledge.

This morning we had a wander round by the lock with the dog before setting off, The water at the tail of the lock was thick with small fish about 2” long.06 Above the lock the water was like a mill pond, not a ripple to be seen. We set off at twenty to eleven heading very gently with the flow down stream, as the river deepened so the flow reduced.
We passed a field of cows with caves and a large bull. 17When we came to the end of the field there was a calf laying between the barbed wire fence and the river. At first I thought it was dead, but then I saw an ear move, I stopped the boat and backed up, slowly bringing the stern into the shallow water, inching further up stream until the back of the boat was a couple of yards up stream of the calf, I then managed to get the stern in close enough to take a leap with the rope and get ashore. I tied the boat to a fence post and approached the calf, when I was about a yard away, it looked at me, got up, forced its way between the barbed wire strands and went back to its mum. This just left me the problem of leaping back onto the stern of the boat. Why it couldn’t have shown more sign of life while I was trying to get the boat in I don’t know, but all’s well that ends well. 
We continued down stream to the sound of aircraft, we didn’t see them very often due to the haze but every now and again a couple came into view.24

Once back on the Great Ouse we headed toward Denver, I rang the lock keeper to book a passage for Sunday morning at 10-30 new time when we will have company of another boat leaving.
A  short time after we joined the Great Ouse I saw a large Grass Snake swimming across the river, this led to two surprises, the first to see it this early in the year, the second, as I got the camera out it just disappeared under water, I have never seen one do that before.

We had considered going down the River Lark and mooring on the GOBA moorings but as it was p.m. we decided to stop on the EA visitor moorings at The Mile Bank, Windmill Moorings, I am not sure where the windmill is.

Thursday 22 March 2012

Thursday 22 March 2012 Brandon

It was a late start this morning due to domestic duties on the phone. So it was almost 11 am before we set off on a sunny but hazy day. 50 yards to the junction and sharp right up the Little Ouse.
A couple of days ago I rang round for diesel prices and Little Ouse Moorings http://www.littleousemoorings.co.uk/ came out the best at 90p lts self certification. A couple of the others only did 60/40 splits whereas in the winter I do 30/70 with the diesel heating and cooking.01 

LOM have an interesting floating dry dock, there are very few dry docks in the area, most yards lifting out for blacking and on bank winter storage, there are a lot of cruisers in this area. After filling up with 145lts I also a free copy of Tillergraph to read. 05

This interesting looking craft was here when we visited some 4 years ago as was this tug laying inside this pair. I doesn't look as if they have  been touched in that time.07

This old building looked a bit more forlorn after another 4 years of decay, I wonder if it will still be standing in 201612.

Not all was doom and gloom, I tried to tell this chap that it was now the closed season but he refused to listen to a word I said, he just carried on. I do wonder if I should report him,  I bet he doesn’t even have a rod licence!15

The last time a saw a narrow boat with Hartford Harnser on the side it was on the Canal du Midi many years ago.17

I often wonder about this old lock, I didn’t try going through it, but the levels must have been somewhat different 200 years ago to need it at all.18

We met an interesting craft, it was one of only two we saw on the move on the full length of the river. It was a peddle powered canoe and we were rather taken by it, it can be paddled in the normal way or even rigged with a sail. 26http://hobiekayaks.co.uk/id4.html but it costs about £2.5K
The next point of interest is where the Cut Off Channel passes under the river through a large concrete culvert.34 Just passed this we went under a guillotine gate that can be closed in times of flood and the water dumped via a sluice into the Cut Channel.36

A but further upstream we passed under the railway bridge, I am not sure why they went to the trouble putting up a sign to say you can use ether arch, it would have been more sense if the arrow only pointed to the right.38 It was here we saw the second moving craft of the day, another canoe.

One of the farmers had an interesting line in animal drinkers, 15 steal baths all lined up on the edge of the field.41



From a bird point of view today was the day of the Kingfisher, we saw more today than we have seen over the past 2 weeks. They weren't very obliging sitting to have their photo taken but I did get this one as he shot off up the river.DSCF7991

We also saw a few Deer lurking in the trees and across the fields.43

When we reached the lock at Brandon we had to wind because we are 57 feet long and the lock is only 40ft 6in. It is often said that Welches Dam is the shortest lock on the system but that is 47 ft. long.
By now the river was getting quite shallow and I was a bit concerned about winding as the water flow was carrying us down stream towards the narrower section of the river, it would have been better if I had gone up closer to the slice and put the stern into the lock mouth.

Wednesday 21 March 2012

Wednesday 21 March 2012 The Ship, Brandon Creek

If you moor on the GOBA moorings at Stretham the house opposite sells eggs, honey both set and runny as well as wooden bird nesting boxes.

When I looked out this morning I was somewhat surprised to see the river running in the wrong direction, i.e. the flow was going upstream, only slowly, but definitely flowing the wrong way.03

Diana decided that she would walk to Popes corner and meet me at the visitor moorings there. I passed a moored boat that still had a BCF fire extinguisher in the cockpit. My understanding is that these are now illegal so I wonder how he gets on with his02 BSS if he has one. In my opinion they are still the best fire extinguishers ever made.

I picked Diana up as arranged easily keeping pace with her on the river. As we approached the junction we met a cruiser, the first boat we have met for 3 days and right on the junction the EA09 have started maintenance work. The yellow container on the back of the pontoon is their welfare unit and contains some domestic goodies.08

By now the sun was well out and with very little wind we were enjoying our trip on this wide stretch of river. The normal wind conditions in the area can be seen from the electricity poles. 11

As we approached Ely we could see that the traffic on the A142 road bridge entering the town was at a standstill and had been for some little while.
We moored just beyond the bridge we moored up to visit Tesco which is less than 5 minutes away behind the railway station.
The cause of the traffic holdup was also evident, the level crossing had failed preventing the higher vehicles avoiding the low tunnel under the railway crossing the line. This had also blocked the cars from using the tunnel as they could not see to pass the lorries.
When we returned from Tesco things had improved with Rail staff manually raising and lowering the barriers, but this resulted in about 4 lorries getting over between the trains. We moved on into town to fill with water and here the waterway traffic started to pick up and we probably saw 8 boats on the move during the afternoon.19

EA were still working at the entrance to the River Lark and just down the Lark they were in the process of loading a digger onto a pontoon. They were ferrying bits and pieces about in a barge being pushed by a small tug fitted with a large outboard motor which didn’t seam overly efficient for the job.



From here it was not far to our overnight moorings on the EA visitor moorings outside The Ship Inn where we plan to eat tonight.

Tuesday 20 March 2012

Tuesday 20 March 2012 Stretham GOBA moorings

Last night I put the snout of Harnser in as close as I could to the  bank so that Magic could get on and off01, when we got up this morning not only did we have a new neighbour but we had a list to the left and the river had dropped a couple of inches, but because I had left the stern in deep water at twenty to ten she drew off easily. We headed further up stream for about an hour passing a couple fishing on the way to reach our forced destination of St Ives lock. Work here was due to be finished in February.11


Not only are they working on the lock its self but they are also installing new floating lock landing areas. The piles are in as it the top of the walkway that will run down to the pontoons.10 Even the walkway its self is sitting waiting for something to rest on.
The lock is still wrapped09 in protective polythene, they even put it over the lock closed sign.
There is a reasonable flow08 water coming over the weir and it was very evident as I tried to turn round, the river is not so wide now the new piles are in and the bushes stick out from the off side some way.

Well we have had the day of the Grebes, Oystercatchers and today has been the day of the swans, we even saw one building her nest.23

Its good to see the guided bus way working at last even if they are still arguing who’s to blame for the very late  completion. I know its working as I saw two busses21 cross it, I also saw a chap walking along it, I didn’t realise there was a footpath as well.

As we returned past the GOBA moorings30 that we were going to use last night we could see the cause of all the ground being chewed up.
Here was one of the several wrecks33 that we passed along this section, more than we had seen anywhere else.
The men were still working at Brownshill Staunch but they now removed all their scaffolding, so it was down to Diana to work the lock. From within the lock looking downstream the church of Bluntisham is perfectly framed37 and dead ahead.

Inside the lock there are 4 rollers at the water level40 of an empty lock, one at each corner. One of the rollers mounted at the head of the lock is quite worn. I can’t see what these rollers would have been used for.

As we approached Hermitage lock we had a single engine RAF plane cross low and fast ahead of us.52 The river above Hermitage lock is now silting badly opposite where the Bedford New River come in and it is necessary to hold to the left as you approach the lock.56

As well as swans we have encountered quite a few geese64 this afternoon both on the water and the river bank.083 We decided to moor for the night on the GOBA moorings at Stretham, just the other side of the bridge is Stretham Pumping station.087