Friday 19 April 2013

Fri 19 April 2013 Little Ouse Moorings

The wind kept it up until after we had gone to bed. This morning I received a message from the weather, it said that the wind couldn’t come to play all day today so he would send his mate, Rain to help out. Sure enough we woke to the sound of rain.

We were hoping the small cruiser ahead would set off first at half ten as they would be travelling faster than us, but it wasn’t to be and at 11AM we said good by only to find out that we would see them later, as they also moor at Little Ouse Moorings

The first thing to catch our eye after leaving our moor was two people that looked as if they were collecting reed plants in one of the meres. They had some kind of floating container to put them in. I think 1 was male and 1 female but with the waders, dry suits, life jackets etc it was hard to say.a PhotoDSCF1557 The buzzards put on a good display, some doing battle with the crows as the soared high in the sky. We also me a couple of Narrowboats heading upstream, the first enquiring if the Brandon moorings were free, which was probably the case as they were the first boat we had seen going that way.

A pair of swans we met took a short interest in us, I am not sure if we were seen as a threat of a source of food, which ever it was they soon left us to travel on alone.a PhotoDSCF1562 There is still the remains of some ancient stanches along this waterway, this is probably the most intact remains with both walls and the chamber, further upstream there are some more remains but they are only a small amount of brick against the bank.a PhotoDSCF1561

There is an old BCN work boat just waiting for restoration moored a short way down the river, I have been told the owner is going to do it but every time we pass it looks even more rundown.a PhotoDSCF1563 a PhotoDSCF1564





a PhotoDSCF1565Soon after this we arrived back at Little Ouse moorings and pulled up at the diesel pump ready to top up the tank. Rather than disturb the owners during their lunch, we had our own dinner. It was then that the little cruiser we had been sharing moorings with came by.

We put 265 litres of diesel in the tank before returning to our moorings and driving home.

Thursday 18 April 2013

Thur 18 April 2013 GOBA Moorings Lt Ouse

Last night was lively with the wind gusting up to 30MPH and we were partly sheltered by the banks.

This morning it was bright sunshine but still a stiff breeze. There is a fishing lake by the lock and weir and since we were last here it has seen some serious landscaping.a PhotoDSCF1533We waited until the cruiser moored ahead of us had departed before attempting to wind, I needed all the space available in these weather conditions. At 10-30 AM we set off forward towards the weir, the plan was to put the stern in the entrance channel to the lock so the flow from the weir took the bow round. The wind was blowing in the opposite direction to the water flow.
At the first attempt the bows shot round quite fast in the flow and I was unable to get the stern into the lock chamber, everything went well until we were almost 90° round and then the wind was stronger than the flow and I couldn’t get her round. On the second attempt I got much closer to the lock channel before starting the turn and loads of reverse pulled us into the channel, I was then to work the stern towards the lock and then drive out , down stream but into the wind. You can see the layout of the lock and weir on Google Earth 

As we carried on downstream the wind continued to freshen gusting 45 MPHa PhotoDSCF1538It wasn’t long before we reached the sluice that drops the excessa PhotoDSCF1539 flow into the Cut Off channel at times of flood and then it was on to the aqueduct to cross the Cut Off channel its self. This is quite a wide structure, probably about 60 feet.a PhotoDSCF1543 We were then heading out into more open country and I could see dust storms all around us, luckily they didn’t have to much effect, just dusty eyes as the surrounding land close to the rive is mainly lakes, woods and grazing marsh.a PhotoDSCF1546  Although we were protected from the dust we were not protected from the wind and this made the waves even larger.a PhotoDSCF1544 I have a short video but the upload connection is too slow to add it here.

By now we were approaching the GOBA moorings where we had stopped on Tuesday night and there at the end was the cruiser we had moored behind both last night and the night before, so we decided to call it a day and pull in behind them. The next moorings we would be coming to were our moorings at the end of the river where it joins the Gt. Ouse.

Wednesday 17 April 2013

Wednesday 17 April 2013 Brandon Staunch

Last night I sat listening to the birds and realised that the last time I heard a Bittern call was 1963 when I lived at Fleggburgh and was still at school. If you have never heard or seen one there is a BBC video HERE .

As we went to bed there was not a breath of wind and the river was like a mill pond. Something disturbed the geese over on the mere and they made a horrendous din for a couple on minutes but then it all went quiet again and stayed that way all night.

This morning was overcast with a light breeze, however this was soon to freshen again with gusts up to 28MPH. The cruiser that was moored behind us set off first and we followed at 1030 AM. There has been some repair work on the opposite flood bank this year year the top being levelled up.a PhotoDSCF1524 As we travelled upstream we met a Black Prince Narrowboat coming down, we had seen the same boat and crew at the head of the River Wissey.

It wasn’t long before we crossed the Cut Off Channel on the aqueduct and then under the sluice, this one is twice as big as the one on the Wissey with two gates for the river flow, also this one doesn’t have a bracket to prevent the gate being lowered.a PhotoDSCF1525 The gate on the left is used for navigation as the aperture has more head room, the one on the right is just for water flow.

We have seen lots of birds about including all sorts of geese, they  have been mainly Canada Geese but we have seen a few Egyptian ones.a PhotoDSCF1527  The next point of interest was the railway bridge, for some reason they have gone to the trouble of erecting a sign saying you can navigate ether arch, why they didn’t just put the normal “keep right” ones in I don’t know. I went through the right a PhotoDSCF1528arch, but the hire boat following went through the left arch.a PhotoDSCF1530 When the hire boat finally caught up I eased right off to let him pass, hoping he wouldn’t take the last mooring space at Brandon.

When we arrived at Brandon the cruiser that was behind us was moored right at the end of the jetty and the hire boat was negotiating his way into the lock approach which doglegs off to the left, so we were able to moor behind the cruiser, I expect that was where Black Prince were last night.
Unfortunately we can’t go any further, there is a perfectly serviceable, electrified lock ahead of us that the National Rivers Authority, now the EA rebuild in 1995, the problem is it just 40 foot long. At the time they said the reason for rebuilding it at the same length was that longer boats had never wanted to go through, they couldn't !!!!!!!!!

It took the hire boat some time to get into the lock approach, but then to our surprise they didn’t go through the lock but merely moored to the lock moorings for a couple of hours before turning round in the mouth of the lock and heading off downstream again.

Tuesday 16 April 2013

Tue 16 April 2013 GOBA moorings Little Ouse

Last night we ate at The Jenyns Arms and what a meal, Dian had enough pork left over for today’s lunch.

This morning we woke to the sound of rain, but fortunately it didn’t last. We decided not to leave until late hoping that a) the fresh breeze may have abated and b) the pumpout may be back in operation. Having walked round the pumpout and found there was now an emptying hose in the manhole, that one was a none runner, as for a) well the wind has gusted over 40MPH today. While on the moorings we had a little Sandpiper hopping around the boat.DSCF1504 

We finally left after lunch at 1-30pm in bright sun and blue sky, but with freshening wind. The EA have erected a Welcome to Denver sign on the river bank.a PhotoDSCF1507 The wind was brisk to put it mildly as we made our way along 10 Mile Bank to the Little Ouse. We could see dust storms in the area we experienced them on Sunday with the dust cloud going a good 200ft into the air.a PhotoDSCF1510 This EA chap was walking the bank, stopping to dig the odd hole, I think he may have been mole catching.a PhotoDSCF1508At The Ship we turned down the Little Ouse or Brandon Creek as its sometimes called, we were hoping it may be a bit more sheltered but after the first mile it was just as bad as the rest.   
We only passed through one dust storm and luckily we hit that at a lull, but it picked up behind us.a PhotoDSCF1514 This Kestrel just kept a weather eye on us as we passed down his river. a PhotoDSCF1512 We were to see much larger birds of pray than him, I think they were Harriers but can’t be 100% sure and also lots of Martins and swallows over the meres. As I write this I keep hearing a couple of Bitterns booming at each other, one much fainter than the other. Apart from the birds the only other sounds on this GOBA mooring is the odd plane and a few local trains passing down the line.

A walk along the flood bank reviled this siphon to transfer water from the river to the adjacent dykes.a PhotoDSCF1522

Monday 15 April 2013

Monday 15 April 2013Denver Sluice

I had forgotten just how noisy these moorings are with the heavy lorries battling across the bridge just at our bows. Sleep came in very small bit is the best I can say.

We set off at our normal 10AM to a bright day, slightly cooler than yesterday and a bit less wind thank goodness. It only gusted 28 MPH today. The boat is full of black from yesterdays dust storms and its surprising my shower water made it down the plug hole. Every time we moved something on the roof there wasa PhotoDSCF1446 a pile of black under it and inside the boat every surface was covered in dust.

As we passed under the guillotine sluice that is designed to stop high flows running down the river it was obvious it couldn’t be used as there are supports bolted under the gate. a PhotoDSCF1447Just below this sluice the EA have installed a fish siphon to allow the fish access between the river and the Cut Off Channel. I am not sure why they need the buoy so far out into the river.a PhotoDSCF1452   I managed to find a piece of video on the internet of the Fish Siphon being installed.

Wissey to Cut Off channel fish pass

We carried on downstream hoping to fill with water at Hilgay but the boat that was on the moorings covering the waterpoint was still there today, as its right by a bridge we decided to carry on to Denver.

Just below Hilgay I spotted a sheep in trouble, it was stuck in a wet mud hole between the piling and the bank, where the piling had dropped away. I didn’t think to take a photo first, but backed up to the piling and jumped ashore and proceeded to drag the poor thing out, getting a wet smelly foot in the process. She couldn't have been there that long as she was not exhausted, but she would never have gotten her self out. I did photograph her afterwards.a PhotoDSCF1458 We pulled over onto the GOBA moorings for lunch and a change of clothes and then set off again to Denver for water and a pump out.

Most of Silt Farm 24 hr moorings are closed, it looks as if the bank has subsided, maybe when they drained the river at Christmas time.a PhotoDSCF1460 We carried on to the service point only to find that the pumpout is out of action, good job we are not desperate or it would be a trip to Ely, however we were able to fill up with water before going to the 24 hr moorings by The Jenyns Arms for the night.

Once moored we went to look at some of the interpretation boards around the complex. There is a series of 5 and most of them were pretty illegible due to being dirty, so we did our second good deed fro the day and went round and cleaned them all.a photoDSCF1494

Sunday 14 April 2013

Sunday 14 April 2013 Grange Farm site Whittington

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 PhotoDSCF1416A 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.a PhotoDSCF1417

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.a PhotoDSCF1421 Just above the factory the river widens out and it was on this stretch that we experienced wing gusts of almost 40 MPH and wea PhotoDSCF1444crossed 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,a PhotoDSCF1424 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 flooda PhotoDSCF1437 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.a PhotoDSCF1440 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.a PhotoDSCF1441 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.a PhotoDSCF1436  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.a PhotoDSCF1443

Once round we dropped back downstream to moor at the GOBA moorings at Grange Farm Camping site, Whittington around 3 PM.

Saturday 13 April 2013

Saturday 13 April 2013 GOBA Mooring R.Wissey

Today’s cruising has been very short, just 30 minutes from Denver Sluice complex to the GOBA moorings on the River Wissey in the rain.

What was a great deal more interesting was our conducted tour of the full Denver Sluice complex arranged by Peter Webb of the Gt Ouse branch of IWA and lead by Dan Pollard of the EA.

The first port of call for our visit was the lock which happened to coincide with a Narrowboat locking out and a cruiser coming in. Dan talked of the history of this structure and how it has changed over the years including the large barge lock known as “Big Eye”.

From here we walked round to The Head Sluice or A.G.Wright Sluice that lets water out into the relief channel and down to Tail Sluice at Kings Lynn. This arrangement can pass about 150 million litres of water per second when fully open.

Next port of call was the” Hands Off Channel”, this is a much smaller metered channel with and automatic level control at the top end and metered volume adjustable sluices at the outflow end.

a PhotoDSCF1409

Automatic level control

a PhotoDSCF1410

Metered adjustable Sluice

The purpose of this is to ensure there is always a minimum flow of water down the relief channel to keep the water fresh. In parallel with this is a normal lock to allow boats to navigate the relief channel.

By the exit of the lock there is yet another channel coming in with its own sluice, called the Impounding Sluice, this is the Cut Off Channel and runs round collecting flood waters from higher up the Wissey, Brandon Creek and Lark to bring them direct to the relief Channel without them having to flow through the Ouse.
This channel serves a second purpose exporting water to Suffolk and Essex water via a large pipeline that connects in half way along its length.
There is a final sluice, the Diversion Sluice, again quite small that connects between the Ely Ouse and the Cut Off channel just above the Impounding sluice which can feed water into the Cut Off channel when water is required by Suffolk and Essex water but there is no flow coming in from the heads of the rivers of under the Impounding sluice from the relief channel.Denver 2

Many thanks to Peter Well of the Gt. Ouse IWA and Dan Pollard of the EA.

Friday 12 April 2013

Friday 12 April 2013 Denver Sluice

It was twenty to five before we were ready to set from the moorings. I decided to reverse back to the junction, which wasn’t quite as easy as I expected due to, a bit of a cross wind, a slight S bend, travelling with the flow and plastic boats moored on both banks of the river. It took me 10 minutes to reach the junction with the Great Ouse. Needless to say my arrival coincided exactly with the arrival of a cruiser travelling up stream, the only boat we were to see on the move until after we had moored up for the night. The rain held off and we even had some sun to take the edge of the cold wind. As we made our way down stream to Denver we passed two Swan nests, one with eggs and the other with a Swan sitting, I also saw my first Swallow of the season skimming over the water.

There were a few boats moored at Denver, one of which was there when we came through a fortnight ago. Not long after mooring at ten past six another Narrowboat arrived looking for somewhere to moor so I shuffled forward as far as I could and the boat behind went the other way and we just squeezed the Late arrival in between us.

Thursday 11 April 2013

At Home

No we are not on the boat but this post is just to let you know that as we now have a new mooring we also have a new map that is centred  on the new moorings.

I just hope I can find it when I update it tomorrow night. (That’s a clue)

Monday 8 April 2013

Monday 8 April 2013 Little Ouse Moorings

The weather had deteriorated when we got up this morning, it was a little bit bright but windy and cool. We were awake early with the sound of the farm traffic crossing the bridge and travelling up the lanes beside the river.

Before we set off at 11am I put another coat of paint on the bits I have been bodging up all week, at least now its the right colour and not rusty so that must be a plus.a PhotoDSCF1400

 a PhotoDSCF1247  a PhotoDSCF1246






We turned round and headed downstream until we reached the Great Ouse where we turned right. We were now punching straight into the wind and it made it feel much cooler that the actual 6°C it was. We even saw two other boats on the move. We pulled over on the EA moorings by The Ship for a spot of lunch before turning up the Little Ouse to find our new moorings.

We found our spot with no problems at all and after a chat with our new neighbours tied up and went to hand in our paper work to our new Landlords.

Sunday 7 April 2013

Sunday 7 April 2013 Prickwillow

After mooring up we wandered along the cut towards Upware Lock stopping to chat to a couple on there boat and give them a lift with their shopping, turned out he was the digger driver who is working at Denver Sluice. Round at the lock EA were in attendance and the cruiser who had been moored on the lock landing had now gone through as had two other waiting boats. We did consider going through but as the EA had not found the fault we didn’t want to be stuck the wrong side today.

A pleasant evening in the Five Miles from Anywhere, I think they must have the fastest service for food that I have ever come across in a pub that does more than burgers and chips. The portion sizes are good as well and three beers on the pumps, one from just down the road at Brandon. We left before the entertainment started and headed back to the boat.

This morning we woke to bright sun shine and very little wind, I didn’t even need the insulated overalls on. There were one or two boats about, but not many.
As we approached Dimmock’s Bridge I spotted a Barn Owl sitting on one of the notice boards.a photo Owl

At popes Corner we headed straight on towards Ely meeting a boat of 4 rowers on the way.
We moored in Ely just through the road bridge and had an excursion to Tesco’s, we haven’t done that recently. Returning to the boat I put a coat of white gloss on the the line on the cabin side, although it was over white undercoat its covering power is about the same as skimmed milk. There then took place a bit of chatting with local boaters and visiting ones before heading off again. We were going to stop for water in Ely but there was already some one doing a pump out and topping up their tanks. On the riverside in Ely they have built a new house on the end of the Babylon gallery. It doesn’t seem quite the right place for a new building.a PhotoDSCF1384

Leaving Ely we headed East towards the River Lark.Just outside the town there is a rowing club, I have never seen them out but they have lots of boats on there hard standing. They have recently (in the last week) replaced one of their floating pontoons and the base of the old one is laying on the bank, it looks to consist of hundreds of plastic milk bottles, I wonder if they had a campaign to collect them all.a PhotoDSCF1390

There was no change at Adelaide Railway bridge with the floating platform under the bridge and scaffolding reaching over half way across the river.a PhotoDSCF1393 Just before the River lark there are what can best be described as “Hanging Basket” hooks on the edge of the piling, they look to be made from something like reinforcing rod, I wonder if its yet another attempt to fill the river with weeds?a PhotoDSCF1397

When we reached the Lark we turned right with a view to mooring on the EA moorings, about half a mile from the junction on the left, although the river is almost straight for this section the moorings sit back from the reed line so you can’t see from the junction if they are vacant or not, today there was a narrow boat there so we continued on, we were almost out of sight when I saw him behind us, turn in the river and head back down stream. If we had been 5 minutes later the moorings would have been free. We carried on and moored in a deserted Prickwillow, this also gave us the opportunity to top up the water tank.
Once moored I slapped a bit of light and dark blue on the side of the boat over the white undercoat, it needs another coat and there are some sags in the light blue, but it looks much better that last week when it was rusty.